TL;DR: The launch of CD Projekt Red’s opus Cyberpunk 2077 did not go off without a hitch. The game is riddled with bugs and performance issues, especially on PS4 and XB1 base units. Despite these problems, CDPR management is reportedly promising to pay out bonuses regardless of how the game fairs with critics.
In an email addressed to staff and obtained by Bloomberg, CDPR studio head Adam Badowski took responsibility for Cyberpunk 2077’s turbulent release. The email, which was sent out Friday, said that the employees would receive bonus checks regardless of the game’s reception.
“We initially had a bonus system that was focused on the game’s ratings and the release date, but after consideration, we believe that measure is simply not fair under the circumstances,” Badowski wrote. “We underestimated the lengths and complexity involved to make this a reality, and still, you did everything you could to deliver an ambitious, special game.”
It is probably in CDPR’s best interest to pay out the bonuses in light of the criticism it has faced regarding crunch time. After delaying the game for the second time, management announced that all employees would be required to work overtime until the game was finished.
Crunch time is not unusual for game developers trying to make their scheduled release date. Still, it came after co-founder Marcin Iwiński promised that overtime would not be obligatory back in May of 2019. Not only was the crunch “forced” starting in September 2020, but the game also suffered another nearly month-long delay, extending the mandatory overtime even further.
Holding back performance bonuses when the crew was working hard and putting in extra effort for three months might have shed an unwelcome PR light on executives, especially considering the game moved more than 8 million units on day one. Additionally, Cyberpunk 2077 is not as bad as social media is making it out to be.
Most of the performance issues are related to running the game on the lower-powered PS4 and Xbox One standard units—devices the company made clear it would struggle running the game. The rest of the bugs are reasonably par-for-the-course as game development is concerned and will surely be ironed out in due course.