A recent Bloomberg report from journalist, Jason Schreier covers the tumultuous development and launch of Cyberpunk 2077, featuring interviews with CD Projekt RED developers who tell the tale of a game that was not ready to ship. As part of the report, Bloomberg makes mention that Cyberpunk 2077's E3 2018 demo was “almost entirely fake,” a statement that CD Projekt took issue with.
In response to the report, Head of CD Projekt RED Adam Badowski took to Twitter, denying that the demo was “fake,” instead calling the final product “way better” than what was shown at E3 2018.
— Adam Badowski⚡️ (@AdamBadowski) January 16, 2021
In regards to the report stating the E3 demo was fake, Badowski said “it's hard for a trade show game demo not to be a test of vision or vertical slice two years before the game ships, but that doesn't mean it's fake. Badowski added, “compare the demo with the game. Look at the Dumdum scene or the car chase, or the many other things.
“What the people reading your article may not know is that games are not made in a linear fashion and start looking like the final product only a few months before launch. If you look at that demo now, it's different yes, but that's what the ‘work in progress' watermark is for. Our final game looks and plays way better than what that demo ever was.”
In response to Badowski's rebuttal, Schreier said on Twitter, “Adam, I appreciate the responses. As I'm sure you're aware, the team declined to respond to my specific questions or provide an interview before my article went live. But if you'd like to give your perspective on the topics you didn't cover here, I'd be happy to chat any time.” This could mean we'll get more clarification on Bloomberg's findings.
While it's ultimately subjective whether the demo is better or worse than the final product, there's no denying the issues with Cyberpunk 2077 following its release. And at the very least, CD Projekt's employees thought the demo was a huge waste of time.
Schreier's Bloomberg report also includes interviews with employees who claimed they worked long, grueling hours while trying to complete the game. Crunch is not an unusual practice in the games industry, but one that nonetheless impacted the game's development.
According to former audio programmer Adrian Jakubiak, it was not uncommon for them to “crunch up to 13 hours a day.” Though, even with employees working long hours, the game was still behind schedule. Bloomberg makes note that “most of” the staff knew the game would not be ready by 2020, which Badowski disputes.
I deleted a tweet from this thread because I worded it poorly last night. Clearer version: CD Projekt mandates English be spoken in any work meetings with non-Polish speakers. Some said colleagues violated that rule during meetings and reviews, which made them feel uncomfortable
— Jason Schreier (@jasonschreier) January 16, 2021
One of the other issues tackled in Bloomberg's report focused on cultural barriers at CD Projekt RED. According to employees, it was not uncommon for people to speak Polish in front of other non-Polish speaking individuals. The studio, as Badowski explains, is “multicultural,” where speaking English is “mandatory” during meetings and company-wide emails — but some developers said this rule was not always followed, making non-Polish speakers feel “uncomfortable,” as Schreier described on Twitter.
At the end of the day, Cyberpunk 2077 is the result of many managerial issues — from unrealistic deadlines, to crunch, poor planning, cultural barriers, and focusing on shareholders rather than a fully functioning, high quality product.