Last week, CD Projekt Red hosted a conference call regarding the situation surrounding Cyberpunk 2077's suboptimal performance on last-generation consoles, specifically when compared to the game's performance on next-gen consoles and PC. The purpose was for CDPR to address the game's problems on last-gen consoles, provide perspective on what led to the problems, the developer's perspective on the problems, and how future plans have been adjusted.
CD Projekt Red's conference call was deemed as an emergency by the developer, and invited members of the Board of Directors, investors, and the press to join the conference call and stay for a following Q&A session. Four representatives of CD Projekt Red spoke on the conference call: Co-CEO Adam Kiciński, CFO and Board of Directors member Piotr Nielubowicz, Co-CEO Marcin Iwiński, and Board of Directors member responsible for publishing Michał Nowakowski.
Kiciński began the call by acknowledging that Cyberpunk 2077 is performing far below the CDPR's expectations on the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4, and explained the company's mistake that led to this scenario.
Essentially, Cyberpunk 2077, which was initially announced in May 2012, had already been delayed thrice since its first reveal at E3 2019, and CD Projekt Red felt pressured to deliver without further delays.
"After three delays we as the management board were too focused on releasing the game," Kiciński explained. "We underestimated the scale and complexity of the issues and ignored the signals about the additional time needed to refine the game on the base last-gen consoles. It was the wrong approach and against our business philosophy."
Kiciński acknowledged that the majority of any game footage used in previews leading up to Cyberpunk 2077's release, and it was clarified in the Q&A section following the conference call that while some of the previews featured gameplay on the Xbox One and the Playstation 5, none of the game on the Xbox One and PS4 had been revealed prior to the game's release on December 10, 2020.
The call was concluded by Kiciński outlining CD Projekt Red's two-step plan to remedy the situation surrounding Cyberpunk's 2077's performance on last-gen consoles. First, CDPR's concentration would be entirely on fixing the myriad of issues affecting gamers' experience on the PS4 and Xbox One.
In addition to standard maintenance and bugfixes, a separate series of bugfixes would be implemented into the last-gen version of Cyberpunk 2077. The initial set of bugfixes in this series was implemented over the weekend of December 19, and a second set is scheduled to deploy no later than December 22. The second step, Kiciński said, was for CDPR to regain its playerbase's trust:
"This caused the loss of gamers’ trust and the reputation that we’ve been building through a big part of our lives...Big updates are planned for January and February, together with smaller fixes. Of course, PC gamers will also be getting regular updates and fixes to improve the game. We will do everything possible to prove that we stick to our values."
Kiciński's call only lasted 3 minutes, but the following Q&A with the media crested 45 minutes and featured answers from all four CD Projekt Red representatives that gave context or clarification to the last-generation console problems and Cyberpunk 2077's success in general since its release five days prior to the conference call.
When asked if the inability to solve the problems with Cyberpunk 2077's last-gen editions prior to release was due to a lack of necessary manpower, Nowakowski clarified that an increased quantity of development staff, even in the 200-500 range, would not have changed the outcome of the situation.
Kiciński mentioned that the global COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent shutdown was an unforeseen obstacle in developing Cyberpunk 2077. Internal testers were provided with equipment, but the number of testers overall was much lower because a majority of external testers were not able to participate in testing due to closed facilities. Kiciński stated that this was not a major contributor to the issues plaguing Cyberpunk 2077's last-gen edition, but was a factor nonetheless.
Kiciński had previously stated that it was unlikely multiplayer was headed to Cyberpunk 2077 in 2021, and when asked about how the multiplayer timeline was affected by the problems affecting last-gen gamers, the Co-CEO confirmed that there was no launch date set for multiplayer and that the timeline would be hard to judge because CDPR did not plan for the current situation. Kiciński reiterated that the top priority of CD Projekt Red is bringing last-gen Cyberpunk 2077 up to par.
Because of the gap between PC/next-generation consoles and last-generation consoles, the PS4 and Xbox One editions of Cyberpunk 2077 was approached in terms of development as entities separate from the Xbox Series X, Playstation 5, and PC editions. This could have directly contributed to the problems afflicting the last-generation editions, but that was not specifically mentioned by any representative of CD Projekt Red.
Based on the answers, it's possible that Cyberpunk 2077's last-gen edition had more problems throughout its development than previously expected and the window of time to fix them towards the end of development was simply too small regardless of how many people were trying to find a solution.
Overall, the Q&A confirmed the general stance of CD Projekt Red's representatives previously outlined by Kiciński' in the conference call — not enough time was spent on the last-generation console editions of Cyberpunk 2077 and that the top priority for the developer was to provide gamers on the PS4 and Xbox One a playable experience as soon as possible.
On December 17, Sony pulled the game from the Playstation store and offered its customers full refunds. In the Q&A following the conference call, Nielubowicz stated CD Projekt Red's stance and plan regarding full refunds for gamers who had purchased Cyberpunk 2077.
"We are not encouraging gamers to return the game. We hope they’ll give us a chance to improve the game on the older generation consoles," explained the CFO. "Of course, we give them an option, and the easiest way is to ask the retailer for a refund, but we are also providing help with that...we sincerely hope gamers will wait for the next update after waiting so long for this game, but that is but our humble hope."
On December 18, CD Projekt Red unveiled a new returns initiative for anyone who had purchased Cyberpunk 2077 regardless of which platform the game was purchased for that applied to both digital and physical copies of the game, albeit with slightly different procedures.
The majority of the questions asked by the media were regarding CD Projekt Red's sales figures for Cyberpunk 2077. Nielubowicz stated that while CDPR expected console sales to drop following the conference call due to the severity of the issues on last-generation consoles, but that it was too early to provide feedback at the time of the call. However, Nielubowicz stated that CDPR planned to release its sales numbers before the holiday break.
On December 22, an investor report published by CD Projekt Red confirmed that as of December 20, Cyberpunk 2077 had sold over 13 million copies EVEN when including all refunds processed up to the same date. While it is possible refunds will increase over time, the success of the game was seemingly unaffected by its less than pre and post-launch stumbles.
This story will continue to be updated with future updates regarding Cyberpunk 2077.
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