What does it take for you to lose your faith in a game studio?

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It's been an eventful week, and you've no doubt read a veritable deluge of information and ranting about Cyberpunk 2077's highly-criticized launch. Why don't we take a little time to reflect, and recap these recent events? Or, perhaps, even compare CD Projekt Red and their woes to a very familiar bug-prone studio.

For a time, Bethesda could do no wrong. Consumer support was strong after the landmark release of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, and their revival of the Fallout series in its third installment. Followed by publishing Dishonored, DOOM, and Wolfenstein reboots, it seemed the company was the prodigal child of the industry. Beloved by all, even in the face of its flaws.

It peaked when Bethesda revealed Fallout 4 for the very first time, with a release date just mere months away. But when the game did launch, the praise and hype were marred by complaints of bugs, a weak narrative, and endless vapid radiant side quests. The dissent was taken further when gamers began questioning Bethesda’s writing abilities, going back to Fallout 3 and claiming that it was never good in the first place, compared to what came before. The drama further unfurled when Bethesda released Fallout 76, a few years later, and the game suffered a downright terrible launch, which brings us to their reputation today: a studio that is still popular, but has lost a fair amount of the vocal and dedicated fan base it built in a decade in a matter of years, thanks to questionable practices and endlessly buggy releases.

In a very similar vein, it took a little over a week to sour gamers’ opinions of the once darling studio that could also do no wrong: CD Projekt.

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Having developed one of the most renowned modern RPGs, The Witcher 3, and their creation of Good Old Games, a storefront dedicated to releasing DRM-free PC games, CD Projekt became an absolute titan of a company. Combined with their PR department valuing being transparent with fans, it was the perfect recipe for success. With Cyberpunk 2077’s hype through the roof and looking like the perfect send-off to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, the stage was set for them to take the throne as the most-loved company in the industry, besides Nintendo, of course.

Then, the delays hit. Pushed back a few months here, delayed a few weeks there. But players had waited nearly a decade for the game, and a few more months didn’t matter much in the long run: after all, a delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad, right? Around the time of one of the few delays that Cyberpunk 2077 faced, questions began to arise regarding the working conditions of those at CD Projekt Red, hard at work on the game. While 2020 has featured many dramatic industry revelations, one of the biggest topics has been that of development “crunch” at major game studios.

So, when the higher-ups at CD Projekt Red ensured that its team wouldn’t force crunch on its workers, at least on a large, mandatory scale, it seemed like yet another win for everyone’s favorite developer...Until it wasn’t. As the new September release date loomed ever closer, an investor call revealed that there would be some degree of crunch happening in order to get the game out on time, followed by further reports of crunch becoming “mandatory”, to hit the shifted November release date, then things began to involve over-time and 6-day workweeks, all to reach a newly-established launch date of December 10th. A game eight years in the making had been unable to meet multiple deadlines, and the development team had been pushing themselves for over a year like this. Still, many defended the choice, as CD Projekt would be kind enough to compensate their workers, and even promised a large bonus to its team, based on the profits made following Cyberpunk 2077’s release. Not many other companies would do the same.

Still, it was enough to begin to shake some peoples’ faith in the game, or even the company itself. Even so, CD Projekt Red was still beloved by many, and fans fervently defended them across the internet when anyone dared question their developmental problems.

When review scores were published, it seemed like Cyberpunk had hit the mark, delivering well within instant-classic status, with Opencritic’s average sitting at 88/100, and its Metacritic score similarly around 90/100. It was curiously observed that review codes for the console versions of the game weren’t being provided prior to release, but the concern didn’t really gain traction until after Cyberpunk 2077 had hit retail shelves. By then, the public had realized that the game was not nearly what players had expected, to the point of refunds being demanded.

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As aggregates began to publish reviews for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 versions of the game, the Opencritic average score of 88 fell to an 81, while Metacritic’s decreased from 90 to 87 (as of the time of writing). It was then that CD Projekt began to walk back its initial claims of giving employees a bonus payment if Cyberpunk 2077 hit a 90 or above on Metacritic, to promising a bonus no matter what the score was, as it had fallen from its threshold, and continued to tick down with every passing day.

Now, the fanbase had become incensed, thanks to a launch that saw reportedly awful performance on last-gen consoles, low resolution textures that hit instant meme status, and so many bugs and glitches on PC that players had lost count. The rage furthered, as PS4 users continued to demand refunds for digital copies, which were no longer being offered, despite being guaranteed originally. CD Projekt publicly apologized for releasing the game in such a state, attempting to smooth things over by promising performance patches and constant quality updates, though the biggest bugfixes would require patiently waiting until February--more than two months after launch.

Irritation grew towards CD Projekt issuing yet another yellow-background apology note, and for the inconsistent quality of the game. As if they hadn’t hogged the entire news flow for a week, things got worse, as CD Projekt barred the sale of Devotion from their GOG storefront, mere hours after the developer announced its release on the platform, with minimal explanation other than a vague and confusing “many messages from gamers” had influenced their decision.


With the ongoing drama regarding refunds and shady subterfuge over the console release of Cyberpunk 2077, Sony stepped in, removing the game from sale on the PlayStation Store entirely, and refunding any and all customers who bought the game and wished for their money back. A major AAA title had been pulled from sale overnight--a rather startling sight to behold. If things couldn't get worse, physical retailers like Best Buy were allowing refunds for the game, alongside Microsoft also letting digital buyers refund their copy, even if it was over the 2-hours played limitation.

The story isn’t even close to ending yet--it’s only a matter of time before the next headline regarding CD Projekt’s latest move or Cyberpunk 2077’s most recent pitfall hits the front page of every gaming website out there. But in this past week alone, it seems that the company has repeatedly shot itself in the foot, to the point where even the most devout of fans have been shaken. At the same time, CD Projekt appears willing to please unsatisfied customers by allowing these refunds on the basis of false promises and constant crashes, to the point of saying they'll pay for some players' refunds out of their own pocket. Even the game that helped boost CD Projekt to their critical acclaim--The Witcher 3--didn't release without its own set of issues, all the way back in 2015.

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Have the negative events of this past week been dramatic enough to deter you from CD Projekt and their practices, despite years of quality content prior to this, much like how gamers found themselves done with Bethesda after Fallout 76's mess of a release? Was Cyberpunk 2077 doomed to never live up to its hype, even if it launched bug-free? And have you given up on the game, or are you holding out hope, waiting for that eventual bug-fixing patch or PS5/XSX|S release?
 

GABO1423

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It's funny how a single game can do wonders in destroying a company's reputation overnight. It's way easier to destroy than to build after all. But to answer the question of the title, for me all that it takes is not only this kind of dumpster fire to occur, but for the company to keep making consistent fuck up after fuck up afterwards.

While I was never a fan of Bethesda, shit like Fallout 1st certainly does not help their case. So would the same happen with CD Projekt? Only time will tell honestly, but I do think this is something that will require a lot of time and effort for the company to recover from. And even if they do end up earning people's trust back, they will always remember this. So I really do have a lot of concerns of how this will play out in the future.

But this just confirmed to me how little I am going to care about many AAA titles from now on, which is a shame for sure. But we live in the age of patches and live service games after all! Damn shame to see this happen...
 

Daggot

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I honestly think the Cyberpunk 2077 drama with CD Projekt Red is a bit overblown but the Devotion shit GOG pulled killed it for me. If this is what it looks like and CD Projeckt S.A and GoG by extension will go as far as to bar a Taiwanese game from sale because of a Winnie the Pooh joke then I won't be supporting them or their ventures going forward.
 

linuxares

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I generally don't have faith in game studios. Some smaller once that really seem to prove themselves are Super Giant Games and Coffee Stain Studios.

Coffee Stain for example release daily updates (atleast bi-daily) for their latest endeavor called Satisfactory. They talk with the community and generally try to make the best game possible.
 

RetroMonkey

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It's all about how a company responds and what they do. As long as they keep to their word, "fix" the current situation, and make sure not to let a fuck up as big as this happen again. I think there is some form of redemption.
 
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sarkwalvein

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For me CDPR has gone from a trusted developer whose games I would buy day one, to a fishy developer whose games I would only get months after release when I could check gameplay and reviews from average people playing the game.

The reason is not Cyberpunk's gameplay and bugs per-se, but how they manipulated the review process for early reviewers, that's not something I am willing to let pass.

Still I am not that much bothered with the company, I still trust they will patch the game well and support it in the years to come... but the review fiasco is not a good look.
 
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xdarkmario

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whats it take? be nintendo -__-. they are becoming a shitty company ethics wise. i loved nintendo, grew up with them and even as a pc gamer i always have a nintendo console but they are becoming more and more assholes. and its NOT like they are financially suffering to have to protect everything they own with a iron fist.
 

MasterJ360

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It's the fear of buying the 1st version of something for me, then 2 years later there will be a better version with better OST extended content like how Square robbed us from Dragon Quest XI or Persona 5/R. These companies get away with tactics like this b/c they know how popular their franchises are. Logically it could have been a DLC add-on or better yet added in the first release, but instead we have to pay as a full separate title. Even going to back to when Koei made (THREE) different versions of Warriors Orochi 3- WO3,WO3 Hyper, WO3 Ultimate. Its definitely about the money when devs milk the same game for a full price with little extra content or they rushed the game to have better ideas later in the future.

CyberBugs 2020 is in a terrible situation b/c the game had been delayed all year only to be rushed at the very end with mountains of bugs. I had a debate with some dude on Twitch saying "Every game has flaws its up to us to find them and report"
I replied and said no its not, our job is to spend our money on a final product as customers we aren't testers.... its the devs job to find and remove as many bugs before launch. If they have to spam multiple patches to fix/add things during a title launch then they clearly rushed their shit.
 
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I believe this whole situation is a result of the times we live in. Had people not been under pandemic circumstances for almost a year, there's no way there would be so much attention being generated around this subject. We also seem to be hitting a peak in relation to how much platforms such as Twitter can influence public opinion by means of a few irate groups, because, again, a lot of people are still locked up, or jobless, or both.

CDPR has as much fault as any AAA developers nowadays. Mainstream games are becoming very hard and expensive to develop, there is too much spread in terms of platforms and use cases, and expectations are very high due to the enormous supply of video game releases happening every day, some of them even for "free" (Genshin, LoL).

Their project management is clearly flawed, though. This is their fault, and their fault alone. They should not be patted in the back. But this whole crucifixion episode is just transparently a product of the global situation.

whats it take? be nintendo -__-. they are becoming a shitty company ethics wise. i loved nintendo, grew up with them and even as a pc gamer i always have a nintendo console but they are becoming more and more assholes. and its NOT like they are financially suffering to have to protect everything they own with a iron fist.
That's two of us, bro.
 
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Digs

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Honestly, there is just way too much drama in the gaming industry for such small beans, we need to relax.
People are holding CDPR to be the next EA simply because they were pressured to beat the holidays by investors, it was more an act of desperation than an evil scheme like twitter would have you believe. All while an actual scumbag company like Ubisoft is selling $70 games with half the content of Cyberpunk with microtransactions and we're just shrugging it off.

As for Devotion, eh, they were unapologetically antagonistic to another country, a country that for better or worse foots the bill on most of the games we enjoy today. China can suck a big one, but to sacrifice jobs for one games "freedom" is unreasonable.
My faith is still chill with CDPR.
 
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mat128

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There were no winning moves here for CDPR. It's clear in development that their scope was too grand for the PS4 and Xbox One so they went ahead building the game around high-end PC as the lead platform opting to scale down the finished product later. They wanted the money from last gen consoles and the holiday season rush but weren't ready to compromise on the experience for it.

I already beat Cyberpunk on PC, it was an incredible game. The world building was A+ and the visuals were breathtaking. Lots of interesting questions about the human brain, consciousness, the soul, artificial intelligence and what it is "to be" that very few games have ever touched on. The game needed more time in the oven and it sucks that their first showing left a lot to be desired on consoles.
 
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raxadian

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They knew the console versions were in Beta stage at best and they did everything they could to prevent people from leaking videos before release.

Now, I understand they were being Christmas rushed, but would it have been so hard to not release the versions of the game that were unfinished for a few months and just give people who preordered a digital demo? Not the full game just the first few levels so it didn't weight that much.
 
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bobmcjr

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As for Devotion, eh, they were unapologetically antagonistic to another country, a country that for better or worse foots the bill on most of the games we enjoy today. China can suck a big one, but to sacrifice jobs for one games "freedom" is unreasonable.
My faith is still chill with CDPR.

I mean I guess it's pretty clear that China in one way or another has some financial control over CDP in some way (be it direct investment, or asshole shareholders who want to keep China as a potential market despite GOG not even supporting the currency), but this Chinese bootlicking is absolutely going to cause significant problems. GOG could have easily kept the moral highground they've kept by being reasonably pro-consumer with their lack of DRM, etc, but this just throws it all away.

I have absolutely no interest in purchasing further games from GOG at this time, and I hope at least a few more indie devs shun the platform as at least one or two have already done.


It's not going to happen, but I think it'd be hilarious if Epic Games picked it up and put it on EGS given who owns 40% of them. That'd actually put EGS on my acceptable list.
 
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