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Cyberpunk 2077 wasn’t as bad as it seemed at launch, but it was “cool” to hate, CDPR says

As studio vows to ultimately make good with players.

Cyberpunk 2077 was better than reviewers gave it credit for when it first released, but it struggled to overcome a “a critical mass of negativity”, the VP of PR and communications for studio CD Projekt Red has said.

In a far-reaching interview with, Michał Platkow-Gilewski admitted that Cyberpunk 2077’s “road was bumpy” between its first pre-release previews - including that now-iconic appearance from Keanu at E3 - and eventual launch in December 2020, facing “big pressure” as the result of the hype surrounding The Witcher 3 dev’s long-awaited next project.

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As you may remember, 2077 faced multiple delays - amidst reports of heavy crunch despite CDPR promising it wouldn’t happen - before eventually launching to widespread complaints of bugs ranging from poor performance, corrupted saves and camera problems to silly things like vanishing penises and much more serious issues like epilepsy triggers. Even so, it still managed to sell like neon hotcakes, setting a new record on Steam. (But not on PlayStation, where it was temporarily pulled from sale and offered for refund as the result of its messy state.)

While Platkow-Gilewski didn’t shy away from admitting that Cyberpunk had its problems - calling the launch “a tough moment for everyone” and saying “We knew that we had to work hard to come back” - he did push back on the idea that 2077 was as bad as pretty much everyone said it was. Instead, part of the problem was more that it became “cool” to hate on the buggy, broken game around its release.

“I actually believe Cyberpunk on launch was way better than it was received, and even the first reviews were positive," he said. “Then it became a cool thing not to like it. We went from hero to zero really fast.”

Judy hacks a server in a Cyberpunk 2077 screenshot.

With something to prove in the wake of 2077’s reception, Platkow-Gilewski said CDPR got to work on fixing things, both in the game and within the studio itself.

“It was a wake-up call, to say: ‘Let's rebuild, let's restructure, let's rethink… What can [we] learn from this?’ It's not an easy fix,” he said, adding that the move to remote working during the pandemic had made things even more difficult.

“We are improving, rebuilding, reshaping the studio on so many levels that it's hard to say precisely what's happening. But work-life balance, how we work together, how we empower even smaller teams, what are the pipelines, how we speak with management, all that... it's constantly changing.”

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Since Cyberpunk 2077’s launch, the game has been patched multiple times, improving AI, visuals, performance and much more besides, as well as adding new features such as a path-tracing Overdrive Mode. Platkow-Gilewski said that the efforts come as part of an understanding that CD Projekt Red needed to “fix our relationship” with players by ultimately delivering on Cyberpunk’s promise.

“The only thing we can truly do is just deliver what we are capable of,” he explained.

“The biggest thing was standing up and saying 'We have to do it'. Yes, we were expecting a different launch for Cyberpunk, but now we have another chance in front of us. For me, as the person responsible for communication, I want to rebuild the connection with gamers, because we had people following us for years and they were disappointed. That, for me, is the biggest thing. We have to make the game for them."

More cyberaction in a Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty screenshot.
Image credit: CD Projekt Red

The next step on that journey is 2077’s upcoming expansion, Phantom Liberty, which sees Idris Elba’s NUSA agent Solomon Reed join Keanu’s Johnny Silverhand in Night City this September. Platkow-Gilewski suggested that the scale and ambition of the expansion compared to smaller updates shows how much effort the studio continues to put into the game.

"For us, expansions are really important,” he said. “When we add content... we have DLC that is free because they don't involve a lot of effort, and then we have people working on something more significant, for a longer period, and there's a price for that. That's an expansion.

"For us, an expansion should be visibly big. In the base game, we have Keanu, so we said, ‘If we're going to do something else significant, we need an actor who can [represent that] and show that this isn't some small side mission, but a big chunk of content that we care about.’”

The full interview with Platkow-Gilewski is well worth reading for its often candid look at one of the more troubled game launches in recent memory, and the ongoing efforts to claw back goodwill among fans who were left feeling burned.

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