CD Projekt Red, the team behind the critically acclaimed Witcher franchise, has chosen to delay their upcoming RPG, Cyberpunk 2077. Previously slated for an April 2020 release date, the developers have confirmed Cyberpunk 2077 will now release on September 17, 2020. Although most fans are typically understanding of the need for delays, there may be more to it than meets the eye.
This delay is one of many games—including Watch Dogs Legion, Dying Light 2, The Last Of Us Part II, and Animal Crossing New Horizons to name a few. On January 16, the official CD Projekt Red Twitter page sent out the following statement:
“Night City is massive — full of stories, content and places to visit, but due to the sheer scale and complexity of it all, we need more time to finish playtesting, fixing and polishing. We want Cyberpunk 2077 to be our crowning achievement for this generation and postponing launch will give us the precious months we need to make the game perfect.”
Delays mean developers have more time to work on the game, which results in a more polished experience. The Witcher 3 has found massive success, recently marking 50,000 concurrent players following the release of The Witcher Netflix Series. Needless to say, Cyberpunk has high expectations to live up to. Any level of additional polish can help satisfy those prospects.
The Reason for the Cyberpunk Delay
A new rumor from supposed insider, Borys Niespielak, claims the delay is due to “performance issues” on current-gen consoles. According to Niespielak, there was a deadline for fixing these issues. Otherwise, a delay would be necessary.
The credibility of this rumor cannot be confirmed and should be taken with a grain of salt. However, given the visual fidelity and scale of Cyberpunk 2077, it does seem plausible. After all, when the game was revealed, many believed it to be a next-gen title.
Minimizing bugs may also be taking priority. Many gamers will not soon forget the numerous issues plaguing Assassin’s Creed Unity at launch. Bugs ranged anywhere from the player character falling through the ground to nightmare inducing faceless NPCs.
CD Projekt Red games have come with their own set of issues in their own comical moments, such as when The Witcher 3 first launched. Much of the extra time may be spent finding and eliminating these bugs before Cyberpunk 2077’s release.
Delays and Developer Crunch
When discussing delays, one of the more important aspects is they can mitigate the need for developer ‘crunch’—an issue that CD Projekt Red has suffered from in the past during the development of The Witcher 3. CD Projekt Red has gone as far as saying that crunch work on the Witcher 3 was “inhumane.” The company assured gaming outlets they would work hard to rectify this in the future, stating, “We’ve created a lot of force functions for us to improve. Making this commitment, I hope it shows that we are treating this matter very seriously…If they need to take time off, they can take time off. Nobody will be frowned upon if this will be requested.”
Recent Statements coming from Co-CEO Adam Kiciński appear to reaffirm these promises. Following the announcement of the Cyberpunk 2077 delay, the company hosted an investor Q&A in which Kiciński was asked, “Is the development team required to put in crunch hours?” Adam Responded with the following:
“To some degree, yes – to be honest. We try to limit crunch as much as possible, but it is the final stage. We try to be reasonable in this regard, but yes. Unfortunately.”
YouTuber Madqueen Show has alledgeldy reached out to developers in the studio who have affirmed that conditions are not near the level of what was seen during The Witcher 3. “Right now, we are in ‘crunch’ mode; however, it’s not as bad as before.”
Crunch Throughout the Industry
Video game crunch is nothing new; it is an issue that has increased in awareness over the last several years. At its worst, employees go weeks without seeing friends, family, or even leaving the office.
In an interview with Jason Schrier, one developer commented, “The longest I ever spent in the office was almost 30 hours. I did not sleep. We had a huge demo for a potential publisher, some division of Sony, and we had to get everything just right.” In cases like this, stress extends beyond the individual, reaching as far as affecting personal relationships. The fact will always remain: Crunch to this extent is unsustainable professionally and socially.
“The longest I ever spent in the office was almost 30 hours. I did not sleep.”
Despite the “optional” nature of working extra hours, developers may feel pressured into staying for various reasons—especially those that are new—for fear of losing their job, a desire to perform on the same level as their peers, and pressure to not let down their teammates to name a few.
Gaming crunch is not just limited to large triple-A studios. Many indie developers are also forced into the practice. Failing to meet key deadlines for many indie developers means they will deplete their budget.
With any project, some degree of crunch will likely take place. The difference lies in how studios handle the approach. CD Projekt Red taking a stance on the issue is a positive step in the right direction. With any luck, other studios will follow suit.
In Cyberpunk 2077, players take control of “V”—a mercenary in the futuristic metropolis of Night City, Northern California. The game features six sprawling districts to explore, choice and consequence, and multiple endings for players to experience. Cyberpunk 2077 will be released on PS4, Xbox One, and PC.