Cyberpunk 2077 PS4 re-release exposes CD Projekt Red's biggest mistake

The latest wrinkle in the Cyberpunk 2077 saga reveals a broken promise from CD Projekt Red.

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Has any game lost more goodwill faster than Cyberpunk 2077?

Infamous for its troubled launch, onslaught of bugs, and subsequent removal from the PlayStation Store, Cyberpunk 2077 stands in a league of its own.

Now, six months after its initial launch, Cyberpunk 2077 is back on the PlayStation Store, though it comes with a warning label that advises players to avoid playing it on a base PlayStation 4 system.

“Users continue to experience performance issues with this game,” the warning reads. “Purchase for use on PS4 systems is not recommended.”

This is troublesome for many reasons, but the most egregious sheds light on perhaps CD Projekt Red’s single biggest mistake when it came to developing Cyberpunk 2077.

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A tarnished reputation

The previous generation versions of Cyberpunk 2077 are to blame for its troubled development.

CD Projekt RED

Before Cyberpunk 2077 was released in December 2020, the game had suffered several delays. On October 27, 2020, it was delayed from November to December, as announced by a lengthy post from CDPR’s Twitter account.

The company explained that part of the game’s development troubles was tied to the previous generation versions of Cyberpunk 2077, which was proving to be a difficult task for the team.

“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 while working from home,” the tweet reads. “Since Cyberpunk 2077 evolved towards almost being a next-gen title somewhere along the way, we need to make sure everything works well and every version runs smoothly.”

The PS4 version wasn’t up to par, which is why it was removed from the PlayStation Store just shortly after its launch. You could still buy a physical copy of it at the time, but getting it digitally was impossible on PlayStation platforms. That leads us to the obvious: Why did CDPR ever bother with last-gen if it wound up causing so many problems in the months leading up to, and after, the game’s release?

The PS4 version is still in rough shape

“For the best Cyberpunk experience on PlayStation, play on PS4 Pro and PS5 systems,” Sony says.

CD Projekt RED

Several updates later, Cyberpunk 2077 is back on the PlayStation Store, and users can once again purchase it digitally. Though, it comes with an ominous warning: “For the best Cyberpunk experience on PlayStation, play on PS4 Pro and PS5 systems.” So it’s clear that the PS4 version remains not up to the standards Sony wants from its games.

This is despite CD Projekt Red’s promise to ensure each and every version of the game would work “well,” and run “smoothly.” It might be tempting to completely disregard the PS4 version since the PS5 is out now, but with such a huge install base on the previous generation, it’s impractical to ignore so many players who just want to get what they paid for.

There are millions of base PS4 owners out there who bought a game that doesn’t work as intended — even six months later. Cyberpunk 2077 on PS4 certainly runs better than it did at launch, but the fact that Sony still had to give the game a warning label is a terrible look. It’s unprecedented, especially for a game of this budget and scope. It’s clear that in the last six months since release, CDPR has been putting out dozens of metaphorical fires. Sorting out the biggest problems with the PSN version of the game is one of many, and it’s one that developers simply don’t have the resources to address properly.

Why did Sony re-list the game at all?

If it’s so bad that it needs a warning label, it probably shouldn’t be sold. It’s as if the parties involved have given up on the PS4 version in favor of supporting PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X editions. We’ll likely never know all the details of the conversation between Sony and CD Projekt Red about Cyberpunk 2077’s presence on the PS Store, but from the outside looking in, it doesn’t bode well.

Game development is a time-consuming and challenging process. Things change over the course of a game’s production, unexpected issues arise, and budgets dwindle. It’s a miracle that video games get made at all. The ongoing Cyberpunk 2077 saga remains unprecedented, leaving CDPR with a tarnished reputation that it will need to rebuild over time.

But re-releasing a still-busted PS4 version for purchase doesn’t even feel like a step in the right direction. Focusing too much on last-gen versions of such an ambitious game is probably the root of these issues as is, and right now the PS4 listing is a brazen reminder of past mistakes that leaves little confidence in the future of Cyberpunk 2077 and CDPR at large.

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