A reader hopes that the silver lining behind CD Projekt’s failure will be the end of half-finished games that don’t work properly at launch.
If you’d told me two weeks ago that the release of Cyberpunk 2077 would be so disastrous that it end up with Sony pulling it from the PlayStation Store and almost $3 billion being wiped off the value of CD Projekt I would have thought you were a madman. There’s not a person in the world that wouldn’t have thought you were a madman. And yet here we are and it’s all true.
Never mind video games, I can’t think of anything else in any media that’s comparable to the fall from grace that CD Projekt have engineered for themselves. I assume this whole story is going to end with the majority of execs, including the company’s founders, quitting the company and very possibly it being bought on the cheap (probably by Microsoft) as its market value sinks through the floor.
The most likely scenario now is that most of the talented developers will probably leave and the studio will never really recover. Not, as many have already pointed out, primarily because of the state of the game on last gen consoles but because of CD Projekt’s brazen lies and transparent attempts to keep the truth hidden until the last moment (although what they thought was going to happen after that is a mystery to me).
CD Projekt weren’t just respected for the quality of their games – or rather one game, The Witcher 3 – but the way they treated their fans. The high quality, free DLC and the honesty and enthusiasm they seemed to show made them a legend but now we see that that was really just stage-managed PR. They were probably always like this, it just wasn’t obvious until they made a mistake.
But now they’ve thrown that all away and put themselves into serious financial trouble and you know the rest of the industry has been watching it all and taking very detailed notes. And that may end up being the silver lining to this whole debacle.
The games industry is made up of followers and very few leaders. One company does something, either a mistake or a success, and everyone else tends to follow. EA took microtransactions too far with Star Wars: Battlefront 2 and they basically ruined the concept for everyone (thank god) to the point where other publishers even started taking microtransactions out of games that already had them.
If they react in the same way to what’s happened with Cyberpunk 2077 then the lessons they’re going to take away are: 1) don’t lie to your customers, especially when it’s super obvious you’re doing it 2) don’t treat reviewers like chumps who aren’t going to pout two and two together when you don’t send them review copies and 3) don’t release broken ass games and expect to fix them later.
Point number three is the most important one and for me has been the big problem with video games during the last generation. Whether this will truly mean the end to massive day one patches and games not working properly till six months later I’m not sure, but it will surely end up reducing it. Microtransactions didn’t go away entirely after Battlefront 2 but they were reduced drastically and are only prominent in a few types of games, mostly sports titles.
It’s my hope that the disaster of Cyberpunk 2077 will make it clear that it’s simply good business sense not to release a broken game, with a clear example now existing of what happens when you get things badly wrong.
The lesson everyone, including CD Projekt themselves, should’ve taken from the success of The Witcher 3 is to make a good game, be honest with your fans, and… that’s it. It shouldn’t be any more complicated than that. Making a good game is the only thing these companies need to worry about – except that that includes making sure it’s finished when you launch it. Sure, you need to market it but if it’s good the job’s already half done for you.
Perhaps I’m being naïve but the reason I’m optimistic is that CD Projekt has made a clear business case for doing all this. Make a good game that works and you can reap the rewards. Make a broken game and lie to your customers, regardless of whether the game is good underneath or not, and you’ll be in trouble. And considering the amount of trouble CD Projekt are currently in I don’t see anyone wanting to make the same mistake in the future.
By reader Olliephant
The reader’s feature does not necessary represent the views of GameCentral or Metro.
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