Almost a time of promotion prompted an upset delivery filled with glitches, an enraged fan base, discounts for conceivably a great many players and a potential legal claim.
The Most Anticipated Game of The Year
Almost a decade of promotion and hype that was surrounding Cyberpunk 2077 as it was probably the most anticipated game of the decade. But what went wrong?
A dystopian romp around a Blade Runner-inspired city, it had all the ingredients for a perfect storm of hype: it’s been nearly a decade in the making; its creator, Warsaw’s CD Projekt Red, was behind one of the greatest games of the last decade (The Witcher 3 – think Game of Thrones but grimier); it stars Keanu Reeves, who is as popular with gamers as he is with everybody else. Eight million people had pre-ordered and paid for the game before it came out. But since 10 December, it’s all gone horribly wrong.
On launch day, the reviews were good – great, even. Many critics praised the fictional Night City’s realism, its striking skyscraping architecture and grubby alleys; they loved the invigorating gunplay, ballsy characters and neon swagger. Some expressed reservations about the game’s rather adolescent tone and its eagerness to objectify women’s bodies – neither of which were a surprise to anyone who’d been keeping an eye on the game’s marketing.
But soon those early reviews gave way to complaints from irritated players. The game they had waited years for was faulty, the code clearly unfinished. Bizarre glitches were impeding people’s adventures in Night City, or the game was crashing so often that it was barely playable. Several scenes were reported to have caused epileptic seizures, prompting the game’s maker to tweet: “We’re working on adding a separate warning in the game, aside from the one that exists in the [end-user license agreement. Regarding a more permanent solution, Dev team is currently exploring that and will be implementing it as soon as possible.”
On 18 December, Sony pulled the game from sale on its digital PlayStation store and offered refunds to anyone who’d purchased it – an exceptionally rare event that I can only recall happening once before, when the game Ashes Cricket 2013 was so fantastically broken that it was removed from sale and never seen again. The current situation is a costly one for Sony and CD Projekt Red, both of which are now missing out on sales in the pre-Christmas period.
Cyberpunk 2077 will probably be fixed, and it may even end up in the black. But a fiasco like this leaves a mark on the reputation of a developer, even if it does eventually end up making good. This year, people have been even more desperate than usual for an escape from reality, and paying £50 for a game that barely works feels like an extra kick in the guts.
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