The world was waiting for CD Projekt Red's latest title - Cyberpunk - with bated breath. It finally arrived after a lot of delays, and the experience left everyone stumped. Let's see what went wrong.
Cyberpunk 2077 was probably the most awaited game in recent gaming history. One may wonder how a trailer of fewer than 5 minutes generated such interest in millions of fans. The makers of The Witcher franchise were riding high on their fame and recognition from previous titles. But after a few weeks since Cyberpunk’s launch, its success now seems like a fairy tale.
Why Did Cyberpunk Fail?
Cyberpunk had been in development for the better part of six years. First teased in 2014 with a nifty little trailer, the graphics and the concept blew everyone’s mind away. The hype that began with the trailer never died down but only increased exponentially every year. The game was scheduled to launch in April 2020 with much fanfare.
However, 2020 had other plans (COVID much?), and like most things, it affected the studio. CD Projekt Red announced that Cyberpunk was delayed to November 2020 to work on the game a little more and make it better and “complete”. Surprisingly, Cyberpunk got delayed by another month to December 2020 as a lot of work was yet to be done. The project was ambitious, no doubt since it took six years to make but it still wasn’t enough.
The game launched in December and the internet broke, and for all the wrong reasons. Cyberpunk was a graphical and technical disaster- a tragedy. Well, tragedy is a strong word, but it was not worth the six-year wait. It was plagued with bugs, glitches, inconsistencies, performance issues, and so much more. At least it was somewhat alright for PC gamers but it downright disappointed the players on consoles.
So, why did this happen?
Studio Crunches are the Culprits
A rising trend amongst major game studios is something called “Studio Crunch”. This entails excessive workloads and ridiculous work hours from all employees to meet targets. CD Projekt Red is the latest organisation to make their employees go through a studio crunch to meet the release date.
Sadly, it didn’t go according to plan as the company faced two delays and a very botchy end product. Things got so bad that CDPR had to recall the game copies for PlayStation consoles and even offered a full refund to players who purchased Cyberpunk. The PC version was subpar, but improvements started rolling out to make amends.
And the fault doesn’t lie with only CDPR. A host of major companies did this before the Polish studio. EA and Rockstar are the primary culprits who started this trend with FIFA and Madden, and Grand Theft Auto series. In a world of growing automation with the help of AI, human overload does sound quizzical.
Widescale Effects of a Studio Crunch
At first glance, studio crunches may seem harmless and merely another way of meeting deadlines ASAP. But these acts do more harm than good. For starters, no guarantee crunching on the game will make it better. Quality is heavily compromised to make up time and sometimes, even that isn’t enough. The products still get delayed, and consumer backlash is a real possibility.
And that is just the company-based effects. The effects on the employees are severely worse. Mental health is the first to go topsy turvy—stress, anxiety, panic-inducing environments and much more plague each employee. The physical conditions are also brutal, with some studios making employees work 24/7. They miss holidays, can’t spend time with their families and often have to work non-stop.
Players and gamers are also affected, but to compare their plight with that of the employees would be selfish. Nevertheless, they invest in the game (monetary and time-wise), and the shoddy work often ruins the entire experience for them. The level of trust in that game studio also fades away, and all credibility has to be built again, along with the onslaught of negative press.
The environment and the after-effects created by studio crunches is a very toxic occurrence. Studios should properly gauge their targets and set realistic timelines. If a game taking more than half a decade to make cannot meet a deadline, it is better to delay it indefinitely rather than compromising the efforts and reputation of all the parties involved. In the age of universal connectivity, it doesn’t take much to evaluate our options, and studio crunches are certainly an appendage of any company.