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?
 

Darthagnon

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:'( I don't really get it; surely it's suits investing that are the problem, pushing for release? Cyberpunk ain't my type of game, but even so, people been asking for it to be released. imo, they should have taken as long as they need. I don't like playing games until they're "complete", which, these days, means a couple years after release with all the bugfixes and DLC. If people were patient, then there wouldn't be any problem (unless there are suits behind it somewhere).

I believe CDPR is one of the few "good" companies in existence.
 

nani17

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:'( I don't really get it; surely it's suits investing that are the problem, pushing for release? Cyberpunk ain't my type of game, but even so, people been asking for it to be released. imo, they should have taken as long as they need. I don't like playing games until they're "complete", which, these days, means a couple years after release with all the bugfixes and DLC. If people were patient, then there wouldn't be any problem (unless there are suits behind it somewhere).

I believe CDPR is one of the few "good" companies in existence.

Sure I can agree on that but if any other company does this they get trashed so because everyone loves and respects CPDR should we just treat them differently? I don't think so at all. If they were more transparent with the players about the condition of the games they wouldn't have been so angry and the delays. Even the PS4 trailer was a lie it was PC gameplay again EA or Ubisoft does this instant backlash and hate
 
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notimp

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:'( I don't really get it; surely it's suits investing that are the problem, pushing for release?
Write own game engine, write own driving model, write own shooter model, write own world simulation (cut corners), cut out stuff that makes it special - because of time constraints, understand that this is too large to fix entirely - 'what are some bugs' users will cut us slack mindset.

All of those systems are created from scratch, for this game, for the first time, after Witcher 3 (which had none of those), by a studio that hadnt done those before.

Have a management, that overlooks how many of your sales are on last gen consoles. Scale down existing systems to 'make it work'. Understand, that your lead platform for reviewers needs to be PC. (All correct until this point.) Realize far too late, that you have to fix the last gen console versions. Announce another delay to get them to a playable state. Start holding back review copies for the console version. Full embargo, makes people post console gameplay first - when the copies leak through retail channels, have the first word out, the day before release - on youtube, be a sensationalistic, borderline insane youtuber, that grafted a PS4 retail copy before release say this thing is sh*t. Bugfest. Have this be the first impression aside of 'official review channels', have not realized, how important the gold code on the disc is - in a youtube ecosystem that THRIVES on HYPE, or HATE - so

- people played without installing the day one patch (those were the first that drove your narrative)
- everyone went bug hunting
- day one patch was not enough (first 'not so much hotfix' release wasnt even 1.05)

- PS4 version still unplayable (10ish framerates in some regions, all systems scaled back, resolution, animation accuracy, crowd, ...)

- PS4 owners flood to reddit - _not happy_ griefing
- realization kicks in, that this is half of your userbase

- realization kicks in, that you wont fix most of the issues championed as 'big' (police system, low res, low framerate) issues, half of your market worth is GOG, so instantly try to repair reputation damage (which is starting to ramp up), be forward in your communication, be consumer centric, people want refunds - pay them, they most vocal people want exactly that, you can deal with the rest over time.

- Dont realize what you are doing to Sony. Sony says f*ck you - then it becomes the "bug game of the millenium", mainstream media starts to pick it up... And everything goes to hell. Youtube HYPE or HATE? Machine has their answer as well. :) So from now on its just bashing... :)
--

All in all, the bugs - 10 days after release, arent that bad. Issue: Some of them still are immersion breaking.
(One of them is unfixable game breaking (8mb savestate). (And they had the same issue in Witcher 3. No one cared.))

In a game whose scope is incredible. But that isnt 'exceptional' in almost any aspect, because you cut most of the ambitious stuff out, as time management issues became visible.
--

If Sony didnt happen, people would not talk about this Game as being the huge failure that it is perceived right now. With that in mind, selling more copies over the holiday period might have still been more valuable. Game isnt special enough, that another large release delay would have been met with 'understanding' on release, imho. Also marketing ramped up to this point.

For what it was, it probably was the right decision. Even on part of the management. Before everything (perception management wise) went to hell. Time management probably was the main issue.

The unfixable 'system jank' (first time making such a system at that level) isnt so huge, that you'd have to say, that it went over their head. They struck it pretty close to where the thing needed to be. They arent far off. But that doesnt make people fall in love with your product, or protect you for your ambition, or praise you for world design, when you made a world so huge - you HAD to fill it with auto generated fetch quest stuff, just so it wouldnt feel empty.
 
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MikaDubbz

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I dunno, it depends on the studio I guess. If they've proven themselves many times in the past to be an overall great developer, they can release a bad or broken game once in awhile. Nintendo can have a dud every now and then and I still trust they'll release more great games in the future. However, if you promise the moon with only your second game and your first major one at that, and its much too ambitious for you so the game you launch is a big disappointment, then you've immediately lost my faith in you (shoutout to Hello Games). CD Projekt Red definitely falls somewhere in the middle of that spectrum of Hello Games to Nintendo. I have some faith in them, as they've released great games in the past. But the state this game launched in is embarrassing and I think shows signs of bigger problems within the studio. As such, I've got my doubts that they'll be able to fix the full mess they have here, but I'm also willing to at least see them out. Maybe they can get the bugs worked out and maybe they can get the PS4 and Xbone versions to play decently with updates and patches in the future. I suppose we shall see.
 
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notimp

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If you want to get a sense of the insane scale of the game -

The clothing system is set up in a way, that you can bring along clothing items that you like all the way through your playthrough. As long as they are 'basic' versions, which doesnt matter so much for armor rating, you can scale them up through crafting. People asking for a transmog system havent realized, that its already in there - common crafting materials arent that limited. Issue savegame bug prevents you from exploiting those systems to 'use them'. :)

Back to the point I was making.. ;) Those 63 items, all are 'viable' (automatically level scaled, later upgradeable, legendaries come with armor slots, which are most valuable), almost none of them are level gated. (Because their stats are dynamically scaled.) And you need guides for them, because on a normal playthrough, you might find two or three - if you are not looking too hard. This games scale is _massive_. The city is so large, you could litter 63 items, mostly in remote spots, and people need crowdsourcing efforts to find them And when they are found, you need a 40 minute video just to explain locations.

And those are just the legendary armor pieces (the ones manually placed).

And only armor pieces. Overall there are 190 'secret stashes', randomly littered around the world to encourage exploration.
 
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Urbanshadow

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I just normally do the opposite to the general noise online. When everyone loves something, I usually become suspicious. When everyone is crybabing online, then I want the game. Hell, I purchased and played No Man's Sky when everyone was shitting over the game like they had nothing else to do, I loved it to this day despite its room for improvement.

So guys please keep the shitting circlejerk going just to see if they drop the price further so I can enjoy this game at a discount just because it didn't meet 0 day hyped elitists expectations. Thing is, they probably are going to fix it if its truly broken, tweak it if it just not right. This is CDPR we talking about, not EA or Ubi (sorry, not sorry).
 

MikaDubbz

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I just normally do the opposite to the general noise online. When everyone loves something, I usually become suspicious. When everyone is crybabing online, then I want the game. Hell, I purchased and played No Man's Sky when everyone was shitting over the game like they had nothing else to do, I loved it to this day despite its room for improvement.

So guys please keep the shitting circlejerk going just to see if they drop the price further so I can enjoy this game at a discount just because it didn't meet 0 day hyped elitists expectations. Thing is, they probably are going to fix it if its truly broken, tweak it if it just not right. This is CDPR we talking about, not EA or Ubi (sorry, not sorry).
Thing is, while the likes of EA and Ubi have their own issues that ruin games in other ways, at least with them I can trust they won't launch any title in as broken of a state as this one. Their games at launch always run just fine, they may have other things I hate like microtransactions, but bugs are at least minimal when it comes to them.
 

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Thing is, while the likes of EA and Ubi have their own issues that ruin games in other ways, at least with them I can trust they won't launch any title in as broken of a state as this one. Their games at launch always run just fine, they may have other things I hate like microtransactions, but bugs are at least minimal when it comes to them.

Seems you have not walked into a need for speed for a while, for starters. Let´s say if the game is not a copy of the game launched last year with a 1 added to the year count in the title, the launch success of EA severely diminishes (which I kinda fell into my own trap because even copying and relaunching NFS they keep screwing up at launch...)

With a little research I´m sure I could bring something of Ubi out as well. In fact, people were complaining about the new AC:Valhalla on launch date, but I believe it's fixed by now.
 

MikaDubbz

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Seems you have not walked into a need for speed for a while, for starters. Let´s say if the game is not a copy of the game launched last year with a 1 added to the year count in the title, the launch success of EA severely diminishes (which I kinda fell into my own trap because even copying and relaunching NFS they keep screwing up at launch...)

With a little research I´m sure I could bring something of Ubi out as well. In fact, people were complaining about the new AC:Valhalla on launch date, but I believe it's fixed by now.
Oh I'm not saying they aren't lazy releases, but at least they aren't fundamentally broken on day one. I have plenty of other issues with such releases, but just the ability to smoothly play those games on release date really isn't one of those issues.
 

mightymuffy

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If you followed the game it became quite apparent in the last couple of years that the range of last gen consoles weren't going to run it: the Jaguar processors are slightly more powerful than a fukkin calculator, and frankly this game should've been cancelled from the get go on them, and moved over to PS5/Series, releasing sometime next year ....but then could you imagine the backlash for doing that...:lol:
I don't think there was any way they could come up smelling of roses here.

I'm still looking forward to playing it anyway! ..But (and I think I've mentioned this already on here) - I remember the launch of The Witcher 3 :blink: - I bought it day one and it was catastrophically bad, worse than even Bethesda games for bugs: the Witcher 3 you see now is an entire world of different than the one at launch, and I was already expecting the same thing here.. Looks like I wasn't wrong!

As for the PR stuff, well, it's just fukkin PR stuff - who in their right mind likes that? The game obviously cost a few quid to make, they're a company and wish to make a profit from it, yadda yadda yadda... hardly gonna make me 'lose faith' in them.
 

Urbanshadow

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Oh I'm not saying they aren't lazy releases, but at least they aren't fundamentally broken on day one. I have plenty of other issues with such releases, but just the ability to smoothly play those games on release date really isn't one of those issues.

I'll be specific then. NFS Heat Steam Edition didn't even run on many modern computers (It was not spec related) on launch date. Refunds galore. Not this level of crying by the comunity because the hype for a new NFS game nowadays is mostly niche.

Heck, CP2077 may be broken, but you get to see the menu. Paying 60 dollarios to see a crash...
 
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MikaDubbz

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I'll be specific then. NFS Heat Steam Edition didn't even run on many modern computers on launch date. Refunds galore. Not this level of crying by the comunity because the hype for a new NFS game nowadays is mostly niche.

Heck, CP2077 may be broken, but you get to see the menu. Paying 60 dollarios to see a crash...
I can forgive a PC release not being playable on every PC since those can vary so much. It's when your console games don't play on the standardized system across the board that you've got a far more concerning issue in my opinion.
 

Urbanshadow

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I can forgive a PC release not being playable on every PC since those can vary so much. It's when your console games don't play on the standardized system across the board that you've got a far more concerning issue in my opinion.

I cannot forgive a 60$ game crashing on me after purchasing, no matter the excuse. I payed for the thing dang it. It doesn't matter "how concerning" you believe it to be, it's just not acceptable.

And almost every AAA firm does it anyways...
 
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MikaDubbz

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I cannot forgive a 60$ game crashing on me after purchasing, no matter the excuse. I payed for the thing dang it. It doesn't matter "how concerning" you believe it to be, it's just not acceptable.
That's cool, I'm just saying I think its far more understandable for a PC release to not be playable on every PC, as every PC can be so drastically different than the last, I get that. I don't get how you can get to launch date for a console release with a game in the state that Cyberpunk is, knowing that literally everyone playing it on a standard Xbone or PS4 are going to have an awful time and be ok with putting that on store shelves. That's a much greater level of fucked up in my opinion.
 

NeroAngelo

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I stopped being "loyal" to companies years ago, let your wallet speak, wait for a game to launch, if it's good no issues; buy it.
otherwise, they can fuck off.

what I really hate is how most of the gaming community has turned into "so what? most games release with bugs, they will patch them"... this should NOT be the norm.
 
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FAST6191

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what I really hate is how most of the gaming community has turned into "so what? most games release with bugs, they will patch them"... this should NOT be the norm.

I am of several minds in this one

On the one hand. Yes. Some of the bugs I have seen should not have passed any kind of code review, code test, or sometimes even have been programmed at all/this is why you don't get your coders off the street for a pittance and why you really really really want to have a spec you work to (any engineering field, building trade, or the like will tell you the importance of those ones) and utilise the now decades old concepts for stats balance taught by game theory and known to pen and paper/tabletop games for probably longer still.
Were I running a game company my devs would certainly be versed in game theory (seems to be largely absent going by conversations and interviews at game dev conferences) and while I would probably not go quite for the safe coding approaches used in mission critical stuff (healthcare, nuclear plants, bridge falls down if this messes up...) as they are slow as sin then the fast and loose stuff that sees most of the issues would be toned down massively. That said we have known the equivalents in art, story writing, film making and music for possibly centuries in some instances and we still get any amount of dross, even from those sinking millions into their creation.

On the other hand. A NES era platformer that runs through 8 levels and then ends does not exactly leave as much scope for weird and wonderful to creep in as full physics engine open world affair (even more if it is "truly" open world unlike some older open world games that were series of small maps with teleports in the middle. Some of that weird and wonderful will also only get encountered after the game sells the better part of a million and gets said million to effectively play test it for 20 hours a piece.

On a further hand still. I am sure every business wonk somewhere has a chart figuring out the optimal time to release a game to get maximum sales and an equivalent one for how many bugs you can get away with before you tank your sales (or the early sales that net you all the monies if the longer term ones are just a nice bonus). As a filthy consumer I like my stuff to spring fully formed but practical realities of business and all that. This also says nothing of longer development = more time paying devs, and possibly more time for the state of the art to advance beyond what you can reasonably compare against (if engine change is basically synonymous with total rewrite and some devs are farting out basic games with the new shiny shiny where you are taking years to build a monster then yeah).
 
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GothicIII

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To answer the question from title:

Make the game online only. Make a good game (important!)
Then release addons as DLCs for 20$ each.
Release like 40 DLCs.
Then announce that the service will be discontinued.
See e.g. DJMax Technica q (rhythm game)

Years of progress lost, money lost too. Tyvm
 

pedro702

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To answer the question from title:

Make the game online only. Make a good game (important!)
Then release addons as DLCs for 20$ each.
Release like 40 DLCs.
Then announce that the service will be discontinued.
See e.g. DJMax Technica q (rhythm game)

Years of progress lost, money lost too. Tyvm
yeah making online only games and then keep doing season passes and dlc and then after like 2 or 3 years kill the severs and your money just went down the drain, it should be mandatory for every game to have an offline component ven with bots imo, its ridiculous.
 
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