Home Features Cyberpunk 2077’s current consumer catastrophe, explained

Cyberpunk 2077’s current consumer catastrophe, explained

9 min read
Cyberpunk (1)

Eight years, a breath-taking cameo, and several delays later, and Cyberpunk 2077 has finally arrived. It hasn’t been the kind of hotly-anticipated launch, has it?

Everywhere you look, people are upset. Cyberpunk 2077 is finally out, and while the game is a fantastic RPG in its own right, it’s not exactly the modern-day messiah that many were hoping for. Launch day issues have exposed calamitous bugs within the game, leading CD Projekt Red to come under fire for a number of managerial reasons in the post-launch environment of the game. There’s a number of reasons why people are so upset, so let’s take a look at them.

Bugs, bugs everywhere

Cyberpunk (4)

The cyber-elephant in the room is the most obvious one, as Cyberpunk 2077 clearly wasn’t finished before it finally launched. More time was needed, as a sandbox of its scale and ambition is currently home to enough game-breaking bugs to give Bethesda a run for its day one crown. It’s less pronounced on PC, but on PS5 and Xbox Series X? It’s absolutely frustrating.

Barring my own sessions where I’ve had several hard crashes on PS5 within the span of an hour because I dared to aim my gun or get out of a car, forums are filled with numerous examples of the game acting like an escaped insane asylum patient. What’s damning is that CDPR’s top brass knew about this, and rushed the game to meet certification on console so that it would be playable, not polished.

“In terms of the certification process and the third parties – this is definitely on our side,” business development SVP Michal Nowakowski said in an emergency investor’s call. “I can only assume that they trusted that we’re going to fix things upon release, and that obviously did not come together exactly as we had planned.”

Is the game slowly getting better? Yes, but it is still aggravating to play Cyberpunk 2077 knowing that even a mighty next-gen console is no guarantee that you’ll get a smooth experience.

It’s almost unplayable on older consoles

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If PS5 and Xbox Series X feels like a turbulent ocean to play Cyberpunk 2077 in, then PS4 and Xbox One is the Bermuda Triangle of options available to fans. The game regularly chugs along at an embarrassingly last-gen clip, and if your input is “it plays just fine on my PC” please know that your comment is about as useless as screen doors on a submarine.

Believe it or not, people don’t have $500 to throw at a new console thanks to 2020 being devastating for the income of many families. Many people have to stick with what they’ve got, and that just so happens to be last-gen hardware that is still capable of so much more. Should Cyberpunk have even been released on those consoles? That’s debatable, but when a lot of the marketing has promised consumers that the experience will be just fine on old-gen and even included console bundles, it’s a slap in the face to see the game suffer glaring faults on those devices.

CDPR has no shortage of talent who can make the game work on PS4 or Xbox One, but it simply chose to focus on newer platforms first and treat the old-gen like an afterthought. This fumble falls again on the shoulders of CD Projekt’s leadership, as Nowakowski admitted that “it is more about us looking – as was previously stated – at the PC and next-gen performance rather than current-gen.”

We definitely did not spend enough time looking at that. I wouldn’t say that we felt any external or internal pressure to launch on the date – other than the normal pressure, which is typical for any release. So that was not the cause. In terms of the certification process and the third parties – this is definitely on our side.

If you want to see just how bad Cyberpunk 2077 currently is on last-gen, take a look at Digital Foundry’s wrap-up, which calls the game an unacceptable hodge-podge of dropped frame and drastically reduced screen resolution at the best of times.

The refund policy is a joke

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Cyberpunk 2077’s launch has also highlighted just how broken the entire process for returning a video game is. Physical retailers have always been notoriously stiff on the refund process, flatout refusing to take anything back even if it’s a completely buggered experience, while digital downloads come with their own pitfalls.

Yes, Sony, Steam, and Xbox do have processes for returning a game, but you’d have better luck teaching a cat to take a bath. At this point, Sony’s not even entertaining refunds and is instead urging consumers to wait for future patches. Joint-CEO Marcin Iwinski said, “We are not encouraging gamers to return to the game. We hope they will give us a chance to improve the game on the original consoles. There was one fix last weekend. There is another coming in seven days. But there is an option.”

“You have to understand, Microsoft and Sony, for every product that is released digitally on their storefronts have refund policies. Despite various articles that have shown up, that things are being opened just for us, It’s actually not true,” Nowakowski added.

“These policies are in place and have always been in place. They are not opened up specifically for us. Anybody who has purchased any title on PlayStation Network or Microsoft’s storefront can ask for a refund.

While CDPR does have an email you can contact them at for a refund, for many gamers faced with the harsh reality of a broken video game return policy across the world, they’re shit out of luck.

CDPR no longer looks untouchable

Cyberpunk (2)

In an industry where every big AAA game release comes with many strings attached to it, CDPR built up a reputation as the last of the good guys. The studio and publisher that wanted to make a good game first, massive profits a distant second. Their approach to DLC and monetisation was something to be lauded, an approach that we wished that other companies would emulate.

Eight years for a big-budget video game is nothing if you believe that the end product will justify the wait, but then came stories of CDPR enforcing a crunch policy to finally get Cyberpunk 2077 out. There were stories of how employees were enticed to crunch on the game in exchange for tokens that would reward them with bonuses if certain criteria were met.

Mericfully Cyberpunk 2077’s requirement for a high Metacritic score being tied to employee bonuses was terminated after the game launched. The review process itself was incredibly dodgy, as our own NDA for the Cyberpunk 2077 review prohibited us from showing any original gameplay capture before the official launch date. Usually for video reviews, a publisher will ask us not to show any glitches as a day one patch normally sorts them out. There’ll also be restrictions of using certain story content in videos, but the general meat and potatoes experience is fair game.

Not being allowed to show any footage save for B-roll content and not being allowed to mention that either? Our warning bells were ringing pretty hard when we spotted that on the NDA form.

It’s a crushing blow to the psyche though, because seeing CDPR in this position, is like realising that your dad isn’t invincible. It’s a devastating blow to your morale to see the last holdout in a semi-monopolised AAA game development space reduced to a state that you’ve seen so many times before, tarnished armor on a single knight who for many years carried a flag of excellence and care for its consumers.

This isn’t a slight against the people working in the trenches at CDPR, legions of individuals who toiled away for months and years on a project and had to deal with management that wanted to push the product out well before it was ready. Right now, CDPR is paying the price for that attitude, as the poor launch has had an impact on CD Projekt Red’s stock value, hitting its founders net worth hard with $1 billion loss in only a few days.

People are tired after the year from hell

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It’s sad that by now, we’re used to this. A big game launches, fans rush in to have a good time and are met with a product that is horribly broken. We saw this with Anthem last year, Marvel’s Avengers failed on multiple levels to be a fun time, and Cyberpunk 2077 may be the straw that broke the camel’s back.

In a year that has taken a massive toll on the psyches of people who have had to sacrifice so much, holding out for Cyberpunk 2077 was the last flicker of hope in a terrible trip around the sun. Knowing that you’d have a game from a company that made a name for itself by being consumer-friendly was a powerful beacon to rally around…and then the end result was an alright dive into a world that can best be described as a horny version of Skyrim that spent far too much time watching Blade Runner.

Yes, I absolutely understand how weird it must sound that a buggy video game was a mental breaking point for many, but that’s the world we live in. When your options for existence revolve around megalomaniacal idiots winning their way into the highest office of the land, a high chance of catching a highly-virulent plague, a world that is slowly burning due to societal neglect and late-stage capitalism running amok while making life miserable for everyone else, you need some escapism.

And being let down like that at the eleventh hour? It’s no wonder that people are upset. Cyberpunk 2077 will likely cement its legacy as having one of the rockiest launches in video game history ever, CDPR will recover its stock value in time, and we’ll probably get mad at another upcoming game for the silliest of reasons in 2021 because that’s how the wheel turns.

But for now, the 2020 gaming calendar is going to end on a disappointing note, a soul-crushing bodyslam that was eight years in the making.

Last Updated: December 17, 2020


  1. At the very least we can depend on Critical Hit to deliver the goods week in and week out. Keep it up guys!


  2. MechMachine

    December 17, 2020 at 12:27

    Good grief, there are bigger things in life then a god damn fucking video game. My cousin died a few weeks ago from Covid, I’ve just just been told that I need to find a new job in the new year. What the actual hell is this article ? Perspective, sometimes people need that shit on their lives.


    • For the Emperor!

      December 17, 2020 at 12:34

      Good luck with the job hunt.


    • Original Heretic

      December 17, 2020 at 12:38

      Ah damn, condolences dude. And hope the job seeking is painless.

      Yes, there are bigger things in the world, but please do bear in mind that this is a gaming/entertainment website. It’s their job to report stories like this.
      While I completely agree with you that people have completely overreacted to a game having bugs, it is sadly quite a regular thing in the gaming world.


    • OddSockZA

      December 17, 2020 at 12:40

      Condolences on your loss, and good luck in your job hunt.


    • The D

      December 17, 2020 at 12:45

      Sincere condolences dude, sorry to hear about your loss.


    • Sageville

      December 17, 2020 at 13:02

      If this was a Government Website posting Gaming info, your comment would be fair.

      This is not the case.


    • Skyblue

      December 18, 2020 at 21:50

      Sorry for your loss and I wish you goodwill in your job hunt. All the best.


  3. For the Emperor!

    December 17, 2020 at 12:37

    Lucky enough not to have BIG issues. Small things only. Knew there would be issues and was planning on waiting, but the play through videos were just too much so I caved. Hope they sort it for more people to enjoy the gem that is hidden underneath.


  4. I Forget Myself

    December 17, 2020 at 12:52

    ” …like realising that your dad isn’t invincible.”

    39 hours in on PC, the CD-corpo-Red’s bugs are horrifically annoying and I just don’t see 8 years of effort here considering they already had the engine in place and a massive team. Incredible letdown and nowhere near the grandiose scale of The Witcher 3. It’s like a different company made this. Credit where credit is due, I’m having a fair amount of fun (still a huge price tag attached), although I’ll likely wrap up before the 50 hour mark and am not really incentivised to explore this world of re-used assets. This was pitched to fans, delay after delay, as the most earth-shattering RPG to ever be made: far from it. They really should have just focused on releasing and implementing this at 99% on one platform to begin with. I’m hoping the DLC will be free by way of apology to consumers.


  5. Krabby Paddy

    December 17, 2020 at 13:02

    To those who have had a kak year and was hoping this game would provide some light, even just a small one and it unfortunately turned out to be a false hope for you. May you find another light somewhere that can put a smile on your face and help you forget the kak things.


    • Mark Treloar

      December 17, 2020 at 13:19

      What I would love to see is the faces of the ones who issued death threats to the developers. Gamer expectations would have played no small part in the pressure to release the game.

      Do you think they would be happy with the state of the game since they wanted I so badly?


      • Krabby Paddy

        December 17, 2020 at 13:42

        Those who sent death threats have no excuse. My message is definitely not an excuse for them. Also there are many who worked hard on this game and had nothing to do with the release choices made. They don’t deserve anything but praise (the game is still a great achievement).

        My comment is more just about recognising that people still have a right to be angry or upset. Yes it is only a game but if I had a kak year (which I haven’t, it has just maybe been a hard year) and forked out over R1k for a game and it didn’t work properly (big bugs not just small ones) I’d be pissed. I’m not as I have a PC version and it works “fine” but I’ve seen enough reviews and videos to know many have been let down big time. Are people part of the problem as well with wanting things now and not being able to wait? Well yes but not all would have had this attitude. Also CDPR set the release dates and decided to release it in its state. No one forced them to do it. Yes I can see that the pressures are not nice and hard to deal with, especially with the idiots out there. Still they probably thought that another delay was the bigger PR nightmare than releasing a very buggy game. My feeling is they made the wrong choice. There are many who still have the right to be disappointed.

        To add: In the way game releases work today, why was early access not an option? Those who can’t wait can deal with the buggy mess and those who want can wait for the more polished game release.


  6. Alien Emperor Trevor

    December 17, 2020 at 14:30

  7. Tbone187

    December 17, 2020 at 14:52

    So what ever happened to the promised 120 fps on new gen? Struggling to maintain 60 fps here without any pixilation.

    I can understand perhaps the scale of this game in particular but have guys been hitting any higher frame rates on any PS5 or SX games Darryn?


    • For the Emperor!

      December 17, 2020 at 17:27

      Is it not currently just an “upscaled” version of the old gen, with the official “proper” new gen version coming next year? That is how I have it…


      • Tbone187

        December 17, 2020 at 23:21

        Figured, misleading never the less. We can load Pacman to hit those rates I suppose 😉

        Notice how the PS range has better balance/consistency than the Xbox tho? Despite weaker specs.

        Is it ported code or build from the ground up? Another Crysis we have now I feel. Heck even Max Payne one was temperamental at the time.


        • For the Emperor!

          December 18, 2020 at 06:24

          I am pretty sure it was “known” for quite a while though. @Darryn_Bonthuys:disqus or his peeps might know more, as I was not fully following the game until after release.


    • The D

      December 18, 2020 at 06:43

      It’s a stable 60fps for me on PS5 and Xbox Series X I’d say, with some minor hiccups here and there. Which is pretty standard for games running through backwards compatibility mode on these consoles.


  8. D4m@E

    December 17, 2020 at 15:15

    I just hope that this brings up a public conversation surrounding the release of broken games with promises based on a day one patch like Battlefront 2 brought up the conversation surrounding loot boxes.
    No game should be allowed to ship if it can’t be played to completion without a day one patch.
    This has gotten out of hand ages ago already.


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