Cyberpunk Game Maker Faces Hostile Staff After Failed Launch

Rebellion is in the air at Polish video game publisher CD Projekt SA after the company’s highly anticipated, and thrice-delayed, latest title was released to scathing reviews about glitches.

Frustrated and angry staff fired questions at the board during an internal video meeting Thursday that opened with management apologizing for Cyberpunk 2077’s disastrous launch, according to two people who were present. It was a fitting atmosphere for a company whose slogan, plastered on posters all around its Warsaw office, is “We are rebels.”

Developers asked blunt questions about the company’s reputation, the game’s unrealistic deadlines and the relentless overtime in the months and years leading up to the game’s Dec. 10 release.

The meeting took place before Sony Corp.’s shocking announcement that it was pulling Cyberpunk 2077 from the PlayStation Store and will offer full refunds to any customer who requests one. During the staff meeting, CD Projekt’s directors said they had come to an arrangement with Sony but didn’t offer specifics. In a Twitter post on Friday, the company said that “following our discussion with PlayStation, a decision was made to temporarily suspend digital distribution” of the game.

A CD Projekt spokeswoman said the company wouldn’t comment on internal meeting discussions.

Cyberpunk 2077 is one of the biggest games of the year and has been a financial success, selling more than 8 million pre-orders and notching sales records for PC games. But players have found the game full of bugs, particularly on the last-generation PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles, sending CD Projekt shares plummeting and leading fans and critics to describe Cyberpunk 2077 as unfinished. CD Projekt’s stock fell 12% in Warsaw Friday, punctuating a steady decline this month that has wiped out gains for the year.

During Cyberpunk 2077’s development, staff endured multiple periods of extensive overtime including mandatory six-day weeks to finish the game, Bloomberg has reported. When asked about this crunch time in the Q&A, the directors said they had plans to improve production practices in the future but didn’t elaborate, according to one person who was there.

One employee asked the board why it had said in January that the game was “complete and playable” when that wasn’t true, to which the board answered that it would take responsibility. Another developer asked whether CD Projekt’s directors felt it was hypocritical to make a game about corporate exploitation while expecting that their employees work overtime. The response was vague and noncommital.

Many industry observers have wondered why Cyberpunk 2077, which was first announced in 2012 and was delayed three times in 2020, still appears to be unfinished. Several current and former staff who worked on Cyberpunk 2077 have all said the same thing: The game’s deadlines, set by the board of directors, were always unrealistic. It was clear to many of the developers that they needed more time.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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