Image source: CD Projekt Red

"Haven't forgotten a thing. Never will." - Johnny Silverhand

It’s safe to say that we at We Game Daily love Cyberpunk 2077. From its fleshed-out, immersive world to the deep, winding story, CD Projekt Red’s foray into Night City has become one of the best RPGs of the generation. But, we should absolutely celebrate and enjoy this redemption story, it’s equally important we don’t forget the game’s launch debacle.

Breathtaking Hype

Let’s jump back in time a few years to June 2019. To E3, specifically, not that we’ll be seeing any more of those now. The Hollywood legend Keanu Reeves strides on stage, delivers his now iconic, “You’re breathtaking” line, and asks if the audience wants to know Cyberpunk 2077‘s release date. The responding roar that echoes around the exhibition hall speaks volumes. 

It’s hard to remember now, given that everything has been colored by the launch farce, but following CD Projekt Red’s success with The Witcher 3, excitement levels were at a fever pitch for Cyberpunk 2077. Any potential fears we had about how the game may perform on the PS4 and Xbox One were allayed by CD Projekt Red president Adam Kiciński in an earnings call with investors. Kiciński described the PS4 and Xbox One performance as “surprisingly good[…]for such a huge world.” 

Spoiler alert: it wasn’t. But, at the time, we had no idea just how much of a fib that was.

A V Bad Situation

As Cyberpunk 2077’s delayed 10 December 2020 launch date rolled closer, it became evident that CD Projekt Red was only issuing PC codes to game reviewers, and under strict embargo conditions. What’s more, only footage provided by the studio was permitted to be shown in reviews. Even at the time, I recall that this incredibly stringent, some would say rigged behavior screamed a disturbing level of insecurity. Not allowing reviewers to use their own gameplay footage is shocking and has no place in this industry. How can players make informed decisions if everything is so tightly controlled by the publishers with a vested interest?

Image source: CD Project Red

Okay. Rant over. Anyway, as we now know Cyberpunk 2077 wasn’t in a good state on release. Even on PC and next-gen consoles, it was plagued with bugs and fumbled fundamental mechanics such as the police response to criminal activity. Nevertheless, due to CD Projekt Red’s careful management of review material and “breathtaking” hype campaign, Cyberpunk 2077 received “generally favorable” review scores. It also sold pretty darn well thanks to a slew of pre-orders, with over 13 million copies sold in its first week.

But the PS4 and Xbox One situation was different. Abysmal, in fact. The game was almost unplayable on those last-generation platforms, despite Kiciński’s early insistence that they held up well. The backlash was so dramatic, in fact, that CD Projekt Red had to issue a hasty apology. Cyberpunk 2077 was pulled from the PlayStation Store for months. The game’s launch turned into a meme-rich disaster.

Never Stop Fighting

It’s hard to say for sure whether or not CD Projekt Red has learned its lesson. After all, earlier this year their VP of PR tried to claim that the backlash was because it “became a cool thing not to like it.” Placing the blame on reviewers and players is frankly reprehensible considering the deception that CD Projekt Red engaged in.  

But there’s no denying the studio has worked very hard over the last three years to turn things around. And turn it around they have. In July of this year, Cyberpunk 2077 finally clawed its way to a ‘Very Positive’ rating on Steam. The recent Phantom Liberty DLC has sold in excess of 4 million copies. Moreover, Cyberpunk 2077 itself has sold more than 25 million copies.

And it seems that CD Projekt Red isn’t done yet. The recent 2.1 patch added a number of significant features, including replayable car races and a working metro system. 

Life’ll Shake You, Roll You, Maybe Embrace You

So, there you have it. A brief tour through Cyberpunk 2077‘s rise, fall and rise once more. CD Projekt Red were quite rightly called out for a disastrous launch, marred by deception and highly questionable practices. But they’ve pulled it together in what many are calling the game’s redemption arc. 

Whether or not we should forgive CD Projekt Red for their past demeanors is up to each of us individually. One thing I’m certain about, though, is that we shouldn’t forget. The industry that produces the games we love so much is sadly riddled with such dubious schemes, and this year thousands of developers have suffered as a result.

For now, though, I think we should raise a glass to the developers at CD Projekt Red who turned the Cyberpunk 2077 ship around. Let’s just hope the new The Witcher game doesn’t see past mistakes repeated.  If you’re just starting out in Night City, check out our handy guides on the best weapons and katanas you can find in Cyberpunk 2077.