It was inevitable. Cyberpunk 2077 had simply existed in the hype cycle for too long. When it finally arrived in early December, after many delays, controversies, sizzling reels and premieres, it was as if a collective, howling mania was doomed to subsume the culture. All this energy, finally exhausted, in an instant heated to white. Few studios appreciate CD Projekt Red’s double pedigree; both an independent messiah and a gargantuan triple-A, and when the company announced it would be leaving The Witcher for a stay in the shining universe of Mike Pondsmith’s Cyberpunk gutter tech in 2012, it already looked like the media hype boiled to a dangerous smoke point. Understandably, at the end of 2020, Cyberpunk taught the rest of the gaming industry a valuable lesson; if your product falls out of the door after years and years of hype, your community will let you know. And in Cyberpunk’s case, nowhere was this more evident than in its subreddit.
Cyberpunk 2077 Night City Photo Mode Gallery
You know the story. Cyberpunk 2077 kicked off a positive review ovation for the PC version, with caveats. Critics noted a litany of bugs and hiccups, and also confirmed, with concern, that they had not received codes for the PS4 or Xbox One. Considering how rocky Cyberpunk was on high powered PCs, that seemed like a particularly bad omen. The base consoles are significantly less powerful than what is possible on a modern desktop, so how would they hold up under the bright skylines of Night City?
Not good, as it turned out. At the stroke of midnight on December 10, 2020, Twitter slowly began to fill with overwhelming evidence of Cyberpunk’s shortcuts and technical shortcomings on its console versions. AI has been proven fragile, mercurial and easily broken. Car models were falling from the sky. Some gamers have reported that they are lucky enough to hit 720p on their expensive LCD screens, and often the framerate drops to about 20 frames per second. As much as Twitter felt explosive, so much the excoriation was most brutal on its own subreddit. Once a place saturated with vibrant and carefree Cyberpunk hype, the discourse has now ignited with increasingly serious accusations against the publisher. “This game is unfinished and a total disaster!” wrote one user, who got 34,000 upvotes. “I can’t believe I’m saying this, but this game needs another year of development,” rang another, for 33,000 more.
It’s hard to overestimate how quickly the tone of the forum has changed. Cellymdewitt, the user who posted this “unfinished and a total disaster!” thread, tells me that, for the most part, the r / Cyberpunk community spent their time in the preview cycle coveting the scintillating map of Night City, or generating their own adorable Johnny Silverhand memes. No one saw the coming revolt. “I guess people were pretty excited and trusted CD Projekt Red,” says Cellymdewitt. “I know the gaming community can be too excited about things and weirdly toxic, so I’ve tried to keep my expectations up. [in check.] But I was still waiting for something really good. Once Cellymdewitt saw how badly his copy of Cyberpunk performed on basic consoles, he decided to cut the bait and delete the game from his hard drive. Next year, he might give it another chance after a few other issues are corrected.
This is not a particularly new saga. Countless other games have met the same fate throughout history. Think No Man’s Sky, or Fallout 76, or the real old ones, Daikatana. But something about this debacle was more difficult than usual. If a family member out of the gaming news cycle mentioned it to you, it’s because they made the news. The hype for this particular Cyberpunk has escaped the orbit of the game itself.The dust has settled a bit since those chaotic days – the Cyberpunk drama gave way to much more pressing concerns around the world – and I was curious to regroup with some of the people who lived through every twist in the narrative. I contacted the moderators of r / Cyberpunk; those responsible for maintaining civil discussions, even when the community is on the verge of mutiny. I spoke to a user going through Dani who forwarded my questions to the rest of the mod panel. Dani edited their responses together to provide a holistic voice of their experiences. According to them, the team recruited five more members in the weeks leading up to Cyberpunk’s release, with the total number of subscribers dropping from 500,000 to 800,000. Each of them believed that the biggest problem they would face when the affected game would enter the ecosystem would be the usual crowd of bad actors eager to spoil everyone else’s fun by releasing the first spoilers.
“We expected a lot of malicious users to intentionally post spoilers, but we realized within weeks of launch that this would become the least of our worries,” Dani said, later adding, “We expected a fire. forest and we had a meteor blow. . “
Initially, Dani says, as the reviews were posted on the internet and it became clear that Cyberpunk was crippled by a Skyrim-style open-world jank, a number of users trusted the patch’s promise. Day One – a bit of a classic gamedev chicanery aimed to eliminate a few lingering bugs that the studio couldn’t deal with until the records went into production. In fact, the majority of the community has remained fully optimistic about CD Projekt Red’s ultimate intentions.
“When CDPR blocked the release of gameplay footage, we assumed it was to avoid spoilers. We were strict about this, classifying all non-CDPR footage released as leaked, and were deleted, ”adds Dani. Of course, chaos unleashed as soon as the game found its way into the wild.
“Toxic trafficking has completely drowned out any form of discussion, and those who posted something positive were shunned. It was a balancing act for us; if we removed the reviews we would be considered CDPR rats, but if we allowed the reviews we were allowing the subreddit to turn into a cesspool of hate and toxicity, ”they tell me. “As a team, we decided to go with the latter, provided the message wasn’t just like, ‘I hate this game, the CDPR sucks.’ We just wanted to make sure the reviews were constructive and removed all harassment. messages. “
Cyberpunk 2077 Portraits Photo Mode Gallery
When the team looks back on those crazy weeks now, their memory drifts into a litany of topics and controversies that occupied the top half of the forum. The complaints ranged from hyperspecific (“my hairstyle changes when I put on a hat!”) To almost existential in scope; some doubting the integrity of CD Projekt Red, and mourning the almost unfulfilled decade that many players were waiting for this game.
“Eight years of the hype ended in two days for me,” one user wrote, right after of the output. “My girlfriend gave me this game after I got constantly turned on by the trailers and everything, but now I feel really sad that I couldn’t enjoy this game the way I should have. It was meant to be. being the next big thing and I’m ‘I’m sure I’ll come back to it once they update it more, but first impressions count, and I’m really disappointed with CDPR.’
However, the volume of grievances was so high that they drowned out any discussion of what the game had done right, which was still plentiful. “Much of the user base was tired of the lack of discussion, and at one point a user asked us to decline any form of criticism,” Dani explains. “We finally decided to allow the return of media posts to allow users to express their frustrations in meme format; it worked the best it could, i guess. It got worse when Sony announced it allowed full refunds, and worse when they took the game out of the store. The patches did little to ease user stress, and the sub got busier as the holidays rolled in. ”
In fact, some users, who enjoyed Cyberpunk despite some of its issues, eventually burned out due to the constant negativity. A group of them launched an alternative sub-program, called r / LowSodiumCyberpunk, which is described as a “fun and light” place to discuss the game – an alternative to the all-consuming negativity on its main forum. “The constant complaints chased me away,” says one user, passing by Beethy, who is one of those refugees. “People were downright hateful of the developers. It got pretty ugly in there.” Beethy notes that they played on a PC and found minimal bugs during their time with the game, and points to the PS3 versions of Red Dead Redemption and Grand Theft Auto IV, which both had their share of bugs and frequency. images when released, as a precedent for Cyberpunk’s choppy performance on base consoles. “People have short-term memories,” Beethy adds.
Angst has simmered considerably on the main Cyberpunk subreddit since then. CD Projekt Red still has a lot to answer – the lack of transparency in the distribution of reviews, the events that saw these basic console versions sent into the wild – but the further we get from this calamity, the more people have come. to realize that under all the rubble Cyberpunk 2077 can be a compelling video game. In fact, Dani tells me that most of the content they see on the subreddit right now consists of fans lusting over Panam and Judy. This is how you know that a fandom has been firmly certified; when he has a corresponding legion of senders.That said, it’s not hard to see a launch like this happen again in the future. This problem is not going anywhere; this industry is bustling with hype and development cycles are only skyrocketing with increasingly daring time frames. (It took us seven years to get The Last of Us 2. It will probably take more than a decade until we get the next full Elder Scrolls.) Hopefully someday soon, the leadership of the studio will no longer be afraid to admit their audiences that video games are inherently deadly creations. The way they look at an E3 storefront is totally irrelevant; there are probably hundreds of wobbly animations and obtuse bugs simmering under the hood. This has been true of just about every open world game since Grand Theft Auto III, no matter what a flashy marketing cycle may have you believe. Cyberpunk 2077 might have always been janky when it first came out, but for those who have been waiting for it for 8 years, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise.
Luke Winkie is a writer and former pizza maker in Brooklyn. Follow him on Twitter.