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Even Cyberpunk 2077's developers are confronting management about its launch

Braindance technician Judy Alvarez in a Cyberpunk 2077 screenshot.

As I’m sure most have gathered by now, it’s been a challenging week for Cyberpunk 2077. The techy RPG launched with quite a lot of bugs for PC players, prompting both players and investors to pepper CD Projekt Red with questions about how the game wound up launching in this state and what their plans for the future would be. Even the staff themselves have questions, according to a new report about a company meeting in which developers confronted the studio’s board about the conditions under which the game was developed and launched.

According to Bloomberg, “frustrated and angry staff fired questions at the board during an internal video meeting” on Thursday. Developers asked about crunch, unrealistic deadlines, and overtime during the game’s development.

“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,” Bloomberg reports. Management’s apparent misrepresentation of the state of Cyberpunk 2077 during the announcement of its first delay was only the beginning of a long year for employees.

In September, CDPR backtracked their stance on “no mandatory crunch”, telling developers that they would be expected to work a total of six paid days per week leading up to the game’s launch. After that, the game was delayed again, which the developers learned about at the same time we did. Understandable, then, that employees asked during Thursday’s meeting about crunch practices. “The directors said they had plans to improve production practices in the future but didn’t elaborate,” Bloomberg says.

“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,” according to Bloomberg.

Indicating that they plan to change internal practices to prevent future overwork is positive, but the promises don’t mean all that much when, after push came to shove, CDPR’s management decided in September to institute extra days of work, which studio head Adam Badowski then called “in direct opposition to what I personally grew to believe a while back—that crunch should never be the answer. But we’ve extended all other possible means of navigating the situation.”

It seems a given that CDPR’s leaders will be put in the position to choose between their stated values and overtime work again. They’ve already promised “regular updates and fixes” on PC, which has called into question the timeline for their planned free DLCs and the eventual multiplayer mode. I’m glad that CDPR’s developers have gotten a chance to speak their minds. I hope they will continue to have that opportunity as the timelines for inevitable continued work on Cyberpunk 2077 are hammered out.

If there’s a silver lining, it’s that Cyberpunk 2077 has already sold quite well and CDPR have decided to grant employees their full share of bonuses regardless of review scores.

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