Moving On

Cyberpunk 2077 devs finally made a difficult choice — three years too late

Goodbye Night City

Cyberpunk 2077 screenshot
CD Projekt Red

The current generation of consoles launched at the end of 2020. Weeks after both PlayStation and Xbox gave gamers new shiny toys to get their hands on (if they could in a global pandemic) the long-awaited RPG Cyberpunk 2077 was released. Filled with bugs and nearly unplayable on last-gen consoles such as Xbox One and PlayStation 4, the game’s poor state required that developer CD Projekt Red spend months of demanding work post-launch just to deliver a semi-acceptable experience.

The game’s first story expansion is ditching last-gen altogether, a decision that will create a better overall experience for the DLC — but this is a line that should have been drawn in the sand at least three years ago.

Tactical Espionage Action — Titled Phantom Liberty, the story expansion coming to PlayStation 5, Xbox Series consoles, and PC in 2023 will see V and Johnny Silverhand offering their surfaces to the New United States of America. CD Projekt Red is calling it a spy-thriller story, and with a Kojima-worthy name like Phantom Liberty, it aims to deliver a futuristic tale of espionage in Night City’s cutthroat world.

Breathtaking actor Keanu Reeves confirmed he will be returning to voice the digital ghost of rocker past that is Johnny Silverhand.

The decision to abandon the last generation makes sense for many reasons. We are two years into the lifecycle of the current generation of consoles, and supporting the last-gen becomes less important as more gamers move to the newest hardware. Even with supply chain issues and rising prices due to inflation, games will need to leave the PS4 and Xbox One behind eventually. From a development standpoint, sooner is always better.

Cyberpunk as a game was, in the grand scheme of things, never meant for last gen-consoles. At launch the PC version performed admirably, letting CD Projekt’s expansive world and systems shine, but PS4 and Xbox One versions of the game were broken in so many ways that Sony stopped selling the game for months on the PlayStation store due to the abysmal performance.

Recall that when CD Projekt Red announced a delay for Cyberpunk 2077 in October 2020, the announcement cited the wide array of platforms as the primary reason: “The biggest challenge for us right now is shipping the game on current-gen, next-gen, and PC at the same time, which requires us to prepare and test 9 versions of it.” Maybe fewer versions would have been better from the get-go?

Ditching last-gen and focusing on the much better performing current-gen versions of Cyberpunk 2077 will give CD Projekt red to deliver a more consistent experience over the multiple versions since the new hardware can handle the load Phantom Liberty will ask them to handle, unlike the last-gen consoles.

But this decision probably isn’t enough to save Cyberpunk 2077, since CD Projekt Red is already moving on to bigger things.

Extended development on Cyberpunk 2077 has delayed multiple other projects.

CD Projekt

Too little too late — In a YouTube thread commenting on the new expansion that saw fans hoping this was the start of wonderful things for Cyberpunk 2077 were disappointed when the official game account responded that Phantom Liberty is the only planned expansion for the game.

In a 2021 earnings call for the company, CEO Adam Kiciński stated that people could expect even more post-release updates and expansions than The Witcher 3.

The development of Cyberpunk 2077 has gone on longer than intended in many ways. In addition to multiple delays of the game’s release date, the failure at launch demanded the dev team to essentially start full development again and spend months pushing game fixing updates. At the same time promised post-launch content like expansions and multiplayer have been put on the back burner or outright canceled.

The Witcher 3 received two major expansions, with the final one launching just over a year after the base game’s release. The development focus was then placed on Cyberpunk 2077. If Phantom Liberty is released in 2023, that will be three years after the base game. During that time CD Projekt Red has also struggled to deliver a promised current-gen version of The Witcher 3 and is ramping up production on the next Witcher game.

Support for Cyberpunk 2077 is diminishing as CD Projekt Red focuses on other projects.

CD Projekt

In a financial report for the company’s first half of 2022, CD Projekt Red revealed a chart showing the current projects in development and what percentage of the company is working on each. While development is currently focused on the delivery of Phantom Liberty, support for the base game has lowered to nearly 5 percent. Meanwhile, development on the next Witcher game has risen to nearly 20 percent.

CD Projekt Red is ready to move on from Cyberpunk 2077, the team has already spent more time on it than they ever wanted to. Phantom Liberty will be a small consolation for players, one final mediocre gift.

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