Cyberpunk 2077's creators evidently had high hopes for their sprawling Keanu-toting RPG. But with the game lander rougher (read: buggier) than expected, CD Projekt executives have reportedly chosen to rethink their bonus structure, promising to pay developers their full share of their bonuses regardless of how well Cyberpunk reviews - even if, y'know, gating employee bonuses behind extremely high performance expectations is the sort of dystopian "Corpo" attitude you'd expect from Night City's fictional CEOs.
As reported by Bloomberg, CDPR planned only to pay out bonuses if the game hit 90 or above on review aggregation site Metacritic. Granted, it's sitting with a 90 there right now, but with reviews of the particularly rough last-gen console versions dipping into the sub-50s, there's a good chance that score could easily slip.
Considering the game's technically troubled launch, however, it seems upper management feels it unfair to gate bonuses in this way, and will now be distributing them regardless of critical consensus.
"We initially had a bonus system that was focused on the game’s ratings and the release date, but after consideration, we believe that measure is simply not fair under the circumstances,” studio head Adam Badowski wrote in an internal email obtained by Bloomberg. “We underestimated the lengths and complexity involved to make this a reality, and still you did everything you could to deliver an ambitious, special game."
CD Projekt wouldn't be the first developer to gate bonuses in this way. Infamously, Bethesda promised only to pay Obsidian bonuses for Fallout: New Vegas on a Metacritic score of 85 or above. The game managed 84. It's a pretty callous practice, honestly, and there's some staggering hubris in CDPR asking for 90 or above - even if they did, eventually, call off the idea.
Bloomberg also shines a light on CDPR's bonus system itself, which sees team leads award small "red bird" tokens to developers who they feel have "deserved honors" each month. While this is speculation on my part, the idea of competing for bonus tokens in this way only adds to the impression of a company culture that strongly encourages overworking its developers.
We're still working on our own Cyberpunk 2077 review. Of course, we (correctly) don't score reviews here, but I'm not a fan of the idea that sites wot do use scores are complicit in how well developers are paid.