If you happen to be playing Cyberpunk 2077, you have likely run into hilarious bugs, game-breaking bugs, possible console or platform crashes (especially on PS4 and or XBO), or a hugely misleading marketing campaign that lead to unmet expectations. Trust us, we know. We have the game and we feel it, too.
Bugs aside, and there are plenty, perhaps two of the larger issues plaguing the game right now is the lack of RPG elements and lack of immersion that Cyberpunk 2077 boasted at great length but failed to deliver spectacularly, among many other things. We are talking specifically about the awful AI that the game launched with (and still has on all platforms), which left more people than we can count wondering just what in the hell CDPR was talking about in all their marketing material. Well, it seems that the poor AI may in fact be just another bug…
Earlier this week, an audio call of a Stakeholders meeting was recorded and made available to the public that detailed a lot of information regarding the present state of the company surrounding Gwent, The Witcher 4 (not announced but allegedly in early stages of development), but mainly Cyberpunk 2077 (admittedly the call is about 99% all talk on CP2077) and the focus that CDPR has on its future. Among the chatter in the 47m23s call, CDPR allows a Q&A that highlights a lot of concerns on the performance of the game on last-gen consoles and so much more, including a question regarding the poor AI and NPC behavior, to which CDPR flat out refers to as a bug.
Author’s Note: Accept wherein quotes, the questions and answers were paraphrased to give you the short and sweet of both the questions and the answers. However, we are confident that our summary of this call is in no way misleading and does hold true to the call itself and the responses provided by CDPR. Should you doubt this in any way or wish to hear the call for yourself, we highly encourage you to do so. The call can be listened to in its entirety here.
AI and NPC Behavior – These Are Bugs As Well
“are the patches purely focused on performance and fixing bugs or are you also looking to improve the gameplay in some way- for example the AI… and NPC behaviors?”
CDPR: “whether we are focusing on the technicalities of gameplay or AI for example… to be honest, these are the same for us from the production standpoint. AI and NPC behavior, for example, is part of the bugs. So when we were giving you the answer, I actually think it includes that as well.”
If you aren’t familiar with what makes the AI so bad in this game, it really boils down to what CDPR promised in the first place. They talked about the world as having a life of its own with NPCs having their own separate agendas, and full lives to live with schedules to keep, places to be, and unique personalities to boot. CDPR has gone on record many times since 2017 talking about how this would be a fully living and breathing world along with, for example, a unique wanted system with police that you could experience. Only thing is, many players have discovered that the NPCs have near no AI at all, failing to compare to even GTAIII from 2001. As for the police encounters… players have also discovered that they spawn at random near V (the player character) within about 10 feet or so no matter where you are. For example- if you stand on the edge of a tall building and snipe someone on the ground a dozen stories below, a police officer will spawn in front of V, seemingly out of nowhere within seconds, sometimes popping up literally in mid-air off the ground.
I will be the first to say that I don’t know the first thing about developing a video game (other than, you know, don’t release your product in such a sorry state with a jarring amount of false promises that left your entire fanbase feeling lied to and taken advantage of), but if the AI is, in fact, acting poorly due to a bug, this bodes well somewhat in that they have recognized it and are able to quite possibly rectify that as well, among other glaring bugs that plague the game right now. Hopefully, the AI can be fixed, but it’s hard to have faith in a business these days, even if it’s CDPR, considering their poor choices and extremely shady practices leading up to launch (such as hiding PS4 and XBO gameplay).
The AI wasn’t the only juicy bit that was shared during the stakeholder call. Questions were coming in from various sources, including the topic of refunds after CDPR Tweeted out that they would be allowing this up until December 21st. CDPR states in this call that they are “not encouraging refunds” and that they hope that gamers will give them a chance to fix the game as they have already released patch 1.04 to PC, PS4, XBO and another patch is on the way within the next seven days (at the time of this writing).
— Cyberpunk 2077 (@CyberpunkGame) December 14, 2020
I pointed out that I recommend you listen to the call in its entirety, but if you don’t have the time or are unable to listen for some reason, here are a handful of other questions and responses from CDPR in order based on when they were asked during the call, and not necessarily in order of what may interest you.
Not Enough Testers?
Another hot topic discussed was internal testing, something that many internal CDPR employees were doing at home while external testers were not able to do so, presumably because of COVID-19. According to CDPR, many of their external testers have test centers that they come to like an office space of some sort where they play the game and report bugs, etc., and are not able to take the game home with them for testing like CDPR does with its internal staff. This suggests that while anyone playing the game on any platform can easily find dozens of bugs within the first fifteen minutes of playtime, CDPR was short on testers, specifically externally but we suspect internally as well. Whether they were short on internal testers was not confirmed, but CDPR made it sound like external testers were not able to do their jobs simply because they could not go into their designated testing centers.
The Future of Multiplayer
CDPR states that there is no confirmed date yet for multiplayer. CDPR says it’s hard to judge the situation on when they can release multiplayer as they are dealing with the backlash from the community and the bugs and patches that need to be addressed. CDPR adds that multiplayer will need to be re-assessed with their timelines and will likely have a better idea after the holidays in January as to when they can target a release for it.
Corporate Suits Focused on Release and Ignoring Known Bugs and Performance Problems?
One person on the call asked whether or not it should be taken that there was internal pressure from higher-ups, specifically “the board” (so upper management), on pushing the game out in such a sorry state and to not wait until next year when the game felt a little more ready and cooked. This individual expands on this as well wondering just how Sony and Microsoft could have both signed off on such poor experiences on PS4 and XBO specifically, and all platforms in general, and whether or not these parties and certification processes failed to identify these issues with performance and crashes.
“Was it more about the launch is important or more about we underestimated how bad last-gen was?”
“Are you confident that last-gen machines will be able to produce an acceptable version of this game? And I say this as a PS4 owner.”
CDPR addressed this/these question(s) in multiple parts first regarding the pressure that the person asking inquired about. CDPR stated that they felt no pressure that was outside the norm (meaning in the industry, presumably) and that was not the case. As for the certification process, CDPR takes responsibility but alludes to the fact that both Sony and Microsoft knew about the issues but assumed that CDPR would be able to patch the game to be in much better shape at launch time but they simply were not quick enough to get the patches out before the game made its way into players hands. Basically, CDPR is making it sound like Sony and Microsoft expected CDPR would fix the game and trusted them to get the job done, which CDPR failed to do. CDPR then adds that they plan on improving the experience on last-gen consoles but stresses that it won’t match new/current-gen (PS5 and Xbox Series X) or PC performance but that the game will be better and it will be playable.
Why Did CDPR Hide Last-Gen Console Gameplay?
“Gameplay from old-gen consoles wasn’t shown very much. Can you explain why you decided to hold that back?”
CDPR: “With regards to not showing consoles, the reason for it is that we are updating the game on the consoles, the last-gen consoles, up to the last minute and we thought we would make it on time. it was too late and we are the ones to blame. We were fixing the game until the very last moment.”
They knew the game as in a lousy state but released it anyway. There is no other takeaway. Sure, maybe they thought that they could have fixed it before players got their hands on it, but clearly, all platforms are suffering buy mostly last-gen consoles. They knew it. They released it. And they said nothing about it and left players expecting nothing less than what was previously reported in past interviews where CDPR stated that the game runs surprisingly well on last-gen consoles.
Sure, maybe you can amount this to human error but in my humble opinion, no matter what way you spin it, CDPR wants your money, they knew the consumer would suffer from this, and they did a lot of shady and morally reprehensible acts to cover it up. Whether or not they thought they could fix it is not the point. Their lack of transparency is what did them in. They should have released a note or memo or shared it on social media, shot out an email blast, anything, literally anything to let consumers know what they were truly buying and that the experience would be less than ideal on launch day with promises to fix it asap. Heck, maybe even delay one more week until patch 1.04 was ready for all platforms.
How Are Microsoft and Sony Handling the Refunds?
When asked about refunds with partners, CDPR stated that their refund policy with the likes of Sony and Microsoft is no different than any other product purchased on their digital storefronts. The issue here is that many people who have purchased the game and are looking for a refund have gone on social media and on the designated Cyberpunk 2077 Subreddit to reveal that CDPR’s tweet about refunds doesn’t mean much to Sony and Microsoft. Many are reporting that Sony and Microsoft are turning them away when asked for a refund by saying that their policies are not changing for CDPR, and that regardless of what they say, the user has to abide by the Sony and Microsoft digital purchase user agreement, specifically regarding returns and refunds. So despite the attempted public relations move, CDPR’s Tweet doesn’t do much for the consumer. CDPR also doubled down by saying you can reach out to them for assistance in your refund, but if Sony and Microsoft say you are out of luck, then that is the end of it. So, from the sounds of it, from third-hand experiences, CDPR saying that they will accept refunds just days before Christmas, means next to nothing. We feel sorry for anyone who has a PS4 or XBO copy of the game wrapped and tucked neatly under their Christmas trees.
Will CDPR Discount the Price of Cyberpunk 2077 on Last-Gen Consoles?
Nope. CDPR is not planning on doing anything of the sort. Same price for everyone on all platforms. They are not considering making the game cheaper for PS4 or XBO owners. Players were never promised that last-gen performance would match new-gen or PC so no one should expect a difference in price either. CDPR stated they are focusing on fixing bugs and that there are no internal discussions happening about this topic.
When Can Players Expect More Updates?
With the holiday season right around the corner and countless bugs to be found during any and all play sessions across multiple platforms, it will probably be a while for all the major stuff to be fixed. As of this writing, patch 1.04 has gone live on all platforms but that hasn’t fixed much beyond barely making the game universally playable for many, but not nearly all. CDPR stated that another patch is expected within the next week (from the time of this writing), with more patches coming in both January and February. We do expect that there will be even more crunch with a handful of sorry devs working their way through Christmas and the New Year, but CDPR was adamant about making sure everyone on the call knew how focused and determined they are to making sure this game lives up to the hype and player expectations. CDPR hopes that players will be able to enjoy the game during Christmas break and any time off while they are improving the experience for everyone on all platforms.
How Many Players on Last-Gen vs Current-Gen?
CDPR talked a lot about numbers but dodged quite a bit regarding sales. This is due in part that only digital sales are more readily trackable, or seem to be more easily accessible at the moment. They suspect they will have more to share as the year comes to a close but they found that PC players took up 59% of digital pre-order sales while consoles took up the remaining 41%. They stated that they do not have the split between PS4 and PS5 or XBO and XBSX, as they only have one trackable SKU for PlayStation and one SKU for Xbox, which would put them all under their same console roof, so to speak. And even though CDPR was unable to share this info, either because they didn’t want to or truly because they are unable, it is safe to say that there are more last-gen consoles out there on both sides that are being used today, considering how long both PS4 and XBO have been around and also considering how rare it is to get one of the new consoles. However, when talked about projections, CDPR expected PC to have more sales in pre-ordering as that is a more common practice since most PC gamers purchase digitally these days and prefer to pre-order while console gamers often buy after the game has launched. However, it is far too early for CDPR to be more specific on all fronts of this question and any variations of it. But they did say that sales are “inline” with what they expected. Whatever that figure is (though it should be noted that pre-orders were reportedly in the ballpark of 8 million).
So What Now?
It is hard to decide at this point what to do strictly from a consumer’s perspective. At the end of the day, all companies care about is making money and making shareholders happy. And according to CDPR, they had no pressure that was outside of the norm to release the game early, but we can’t help but find that questionable simply due to having patches in the works that weren’t ready for launch. Sure, there was pressure from fans who wanted to play the game, but CDPR has gone so far out of their way to completely obliterate trust that many are claiming they will never buy another CDPR product again. Is this something that people are just shooting off in online comments because of frustration? Probably for many. But over the last 5 or so years, video game companies have been more and more greedy making more predatory decisions that hurt their once respectable names and gaming franchises all in the name of making a quick buck. From EA to Star Wars Battlefront II (“a sense of pride and accomplishment”), to pretty much every Destiny release from Bungie, to Bioware and Anthem (whatever happened to that game?), to Bethesda and Fallout 76, the once-mighty continue to fall victim to their own greed while dragging their own names in the mud. Was it worth it? Only time will tell, as with most things, but we would be remiss not to remind you that the launch of Cyberpunk 2077, while a complete and unmitigated disaster, sort of mirrors and echos that of The Witcher 3, another CDPR title. The game launched in such a poor state, that not many remember how bad it once was as TW3 has become known by many in most gaming circles as one of the greatest RPGs of all time. And while you sit there and claim that Cyberpunk 2077 isn’t an RPG that can be compared and it never will, just remember what Hello Games did with No Man’s Sky. Even the once-mighty that have fallen have often found their way back to the top. It just may take some time for that to happen. So ask yourself, is it worth waiting?