I don't think it's terribly surprising to anyone that Cyberpunk 2077 is one of the most highly-anticipated games of the year, or really the last several years. The amount of hype I've seen around the game has reached a level I've scarcely seen for a video game before; maybe Skyrim would have been the last time people were this excited for a game? This is all well and good, people have every right to be excited for a game that was announced, what, eight years ago by one of the most beloved development studios in the industry?
That being said…I worry people are setting themselves up for disappointment. Let me explain.
Presumably Cyberpunk 2077 has been in some stage of development ever since its initial announcement way back in 2012. That's an eight-year development time. Consider the masterpieces of gaming that have been made in substantially less than that: both The Last Of Us games, most every Zelda game, pretty much everything FromSoft makes, just to name a few. A game with this much time and this many resources put into it is bound to be exceptional, right?
So why does the last year of its development concern me so much?
It's a common practice in the industry to delay games that developers don't think are worth releasing until they're just right. Cyberpunk 2077 was initially slated for an April 2020 release per its 2019 E3 trailer, which subsequently got delayed to September, then again to November, and finally the game is coming out this Friday, the tenth of December. What I can't help but notice is that these delays got shorter and shorter, even as the pandemic stretched on and on through the year. Rumors of developer crunch began to circulate, and were subsequently verified.
So it feels like there's a weird dissonance here, between CDPR's willingness to delay the game, but not to delay it enough that they needn't crunch their developers. It feels like, while they were willing to delay the game as late as needed in 2020, the game had to make it out in 2020, no matter what.
Here's what really concerns me: The initial release date of the game wasn't even eight months ago, and this is a game that's been in development for eight years. The game's development time has only been lengthened by about a twelfth of its entire duration. If the delays were just to hammer out a few bugs to make it more polished, that I would understand. But the crunch time really has me concerned because it signals to me that what remains to be developed is urgent enough that a) it requires dubiously-ethical treatment of CDPR developers, and b) it affects the gameplay experience enough that it can't be easily found and fixed post-launch.
Add all of this onto recent news that the game will require a 40+ GB update on day one alongside the proper "Day 1 Patch", and I'm very concerned about the state the game is going to launch in.
And all of this doesn't take into consideration the unfathomable levels of hype I've seen all over the internet. This game has been expertly marketed in the last year or two, and as such there are people convinced that Cyberpunk is already the greatest game ever made before it even comes out. I'm in no place to tell them they can't be excited–I'm rather excited to get my hands on it too, assuming it accomplishes everything it sets out to accomplish–but I wish I could tell people to hamper their expectations a bit.
What I explained above gives me pause about both the ethical side of Cyberpunk's development and the corners potentially cut to make a seemingly-crucial 2020 release window, even in the midst of a pandemic. Am I wrong to be concerned? I know it's silly to write such a long wall of text over a video game that I haven't even played, I just felt like getting all my thoughts out on a very relevant video game and hopefully having an interesting discussion about it.
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