CD Projekt’s head of studio and director of Cyberpunk 2077 Adam Badowski has denounced some of the claims in a report by Bloomberg.
Bloomberg reported that in interviews with 20 current and former CD Projekt staff, those anonymous individuals painted a damning picture of the project. The allegations include the project being over ambitious (with “poor planning and technical shortcomings”), focusing on marketing over development, and using new technology and techniques staff were unfamiliar with.
Staff were also allegedly poorly organized thanks to a larger team size that felt isolated from one another. An unrealistic timeline had also been set that left little time to fix issues, and resulted in extensive overtime; sometimes over 13 hours, five days a week.
There is also the claim that some developers spoke Polish in staff meetings. For a Polish developer this might seem a strange complaint, except some members of “expat” staff were from America and Western Europe, and only spoke English.
Other accusations included development being restarted in 2016 (after being announced in 2012), along with Adam Badowski demanding total overhauls in gameplay and story once he became director. Several “top developers” allegedly left because of clashing with Badowski’s vision of the game.
The most damning of these claims was that the E3 2018 demo was “almost entirely fake.”
“CD Projekt hadn’t yet finalized and coded the underlying gameplay systems, which is why so many features, such as car ambushes, were missing from the final product. Developers said they felt like the demo was a waste of months that should have gone toward making the game.”
By E3 2019, the then release date of April 16th, 2020 allegedly seemed dubious to staff. One felt that 2022 would have been a more realistic release date, and the developers even “created memes about the game getting delayed, making bets on when it would happen.”
Managements goal allegedly was to launch the game on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, so that they could “double dip” when the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S launched in (the then expected) Fall 2020.
While free upgrades were planned, some engineers felt the game was to complex to run on the current generation consoles. These concerns were allegedly dismissed by management, citing the success of The Witcher 3.
Nonetheless, management allegedly admitted the game needed to be delayed by the end of 2019. Thanks to staff having to work from home due to lockdown orders and allegedly not having access to console development kits (having to play builds on their own PCs), the external tests began to show performance issues.
Major bugs were allegedly being discovered even after the game had gone gold in October 2020. The anonymous developers claim that many of the glitches and graphical issues can be fixed, but that it will take time for the game to return the game to the PlayStation Store.
CD Projekt declined to comment when approached by Bloomberg, which is hardly surprising. Bloomberg sources had previously accused CD Projekt Red of crunch, which was later denied by inside sources at the company.
During a conference call with investors, CD Projekt Red’s SVP of business development Michał Nowakowski addressed Bloomberg’s claim that staff would still receive bonuses despite the game’s review scores.“We’re not really making any comments to what somebody else has stated about what’s going on in the studio outside.” This comment can also been seen as address both prior reports by Bloomberg.
After Bloomberg published their latest article, Badowski took to Twitter to denounce the claims, specifically addressing the summery posted to Twitter by the article’s author; former Kotaku journalist Jason Schreier. Schreier was also the author of the prior Bloomberg articles.
Badowski denied the allegations of a fake demo, that staff knew the game would not be in a fit state to launch in 2020, and that some staff refused to speak English. Badowski also denounced Schreier’s claim on Twitter that some staff spoke Polish to “talk shit” about their colleagues without them knowing.
Badowski explained that trade show game demos are likely to be a test of vision or vertical slice of the game years before it ships, but that it is not fake. He explains how games are not developed in a linear fashion, and “start looking like the final product only a few months before launch.”
He also stands by the demo being a “work in progress” of the game, hence the absent features and watermark stating as such. Badowski also cites the final game’s “multiple 9/10s and 10/10s on PC from many renown [sic] gaming outlets in the world,” and that the game is “not what I’d call disastrous.”
Regarding “most of the staff knew and openly said” the game was not ready for a 2020 release, Badowski dismissed the small sample size. “You’ve talked with 20 people, some being ex employees, only 1 of whom is not anonymous. I wouldn’t call that ‘most’ of the over 500-people staff openly said what you claim.”
Finally, Badowski flatly denies the claim that some staff spoke Polish and made English speaking staff uncomfortable. He states it is mandatory for all staff to speak and email in English, and to do so in casual conversation for when someone cannot speak “a given language.” He notes the developer has 44 nationalities working there.
Schreier thanked Adam publicly on Twitter for his responses, and addressed why Badowski had found the claims inconsistent. “As I’m sure you’re aware, the team declined to respond to my specific questions or provide an interview before my article went live,” Schreier explained. “But if you’d like to give your perspective on the topics you didn’t cover here, I’d be happy to chat any time.”
After deleting his tweet regarding how some developers felt those not speaking English were “talking shit,” Schreier clarified his claim by stating “Some said colleagues violated that rule during meetings and reviews, which made them feel uncomfortable.”
Schreier also tweeted that “Yup the people involved didn’t accuse anyone of malicious intent. But combined with other factors, like the fact that all of the directors are Polish men, it created an atmosphere where some non-Polish folks felt almost like second-class citizens.”
As previously reported, the game’s numerous delays and leaked footage were not the end of the woes for CD Projekt Red. One reviewer suffered a major epileptic seizure, and accused the developer on basing the Braindance headset off a medical device designed to intentionally induce seizures.
Despite high praise from initial reviews, users complained of Cyberpunk 2077‘s numerous glitches and bugs; along with poor optimization, and the console version having inferior graphics and more bugs. Even critic reviews that praised the game also discussed those issues.
CD Projekt Red stock value dropped by 29% in a week after the game launched. The developer also had to recommend fans to complete the game quickly and avoid crafting too many items to prevent save file corruption, which was later patched.
A Q&A investor call reportedly had CD Projekt Red denying they had any special agreements for refunds for Cyberpunk 2077 on consoles, and that they were working on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions of the game “until the very last minute.”
Despite selling 13 million copies, the founders of developer CD Projekt Red were predicted to have lost $1 billion USD. The company also shared their “Commitment to Quality” agenda, and FAQ trying to explain how the issues came about. The Polish Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK) is also monitoring CD Projekt.
Cyberpunk 2077 is available on Windows PC (via Epic Games, GOG, and Steam), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Google Stadia. The game is also coming to PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S in 2021, and players on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One respectively will be able to upgrade to the next-gen for free.