How Cyberpunk 2077 Sold a Pledge – and Rigged the System

CD Projekt Red had almost a decade to build the excellent one Cyberpunk 2077 myths. Game reviewers had only a few days to evaluate it, and were hampered as they were able to portray it. Players who dropped $ 60 on this cyberpunk pleasure mansion back in 2019 have faltered; all the hot air blew out. One professional reviewer, Kallie Plagge, gave Cyberpunk 2077 a 7/10 plu GameSpot– Not even a pan – criticizing it for one-dimensional world-building, disconnected side quests and large-scale technical problems. Mass persecution attended the review. Reactive YouTubers who did not have access to the game dedicated long videos to dismantling her criticism, dissecting her playing time and style of play. But only days later, once players finally played Cyberpunk 2077 herself, many did 180. “Everyone was talking nonsense about her, but I’m starting to agree with Kelly [sp] Plagge, “read one popular post at / r / cyberpunkgame.

CD Projekt Red is not the first or only gaming company to do marketing psychopathies. In 2016, No Heaven literally promised the world and endless others; it was planned to be the most expansive, the most immersive, the most most play up to that point. But because the studio behind it, Hello Games, didn’t offer it at all to reviewers before the launch, players learned the hard way, as it failed to give basic elements like multiplayer connectivity. This year alone WIRED has received more than a dozen bids to review major games that came with NDAs tied. It is not always to hide flaws; sometimes it is to prevent spoilers, or the result of too keen a PR team. But putting such handcuffs on reviewers ultimately hurts the people who buy the games.

As the market gaming industry totals $ 60.4 billion, the pressure to micromanage the review system is growing. For example, Bloomberg reported that CD Projekt Red’s developer bonuses depend on 90+ in Metacritic. (That changed after release.) The company built the video game equivalent of a fairy in a bottle. So it’s what everyone does when they gain some power: mastering the story. CD Projekt Red declined WIRED’s request for comment.

The same incentives also rig the system against developers who tighten six-day workweeks and sacrifice work-life balance to manifest slogans such as “a city bigger than life,” “setting new standards in terms of imagery, complexity and depth.” These are the modern expectations of a 60-hour AAA open world game – an increasingly bloated and increasingly unsustainable genre. In June, former PlayStation boss Sean Layden lamented the huge financial and workload of developing such games to “I think the industry as a whole needs to sit down and say,‘ Okay, what are we building? What is the expectation of the public? What is the best way to convey our story and say what we need to say? ‘”

Eight million pre-orders, however, say this stage management is useful to someone. Video games are particularly sensitive to the bait-and-switch. Games are both identities and hobbies: a place to be yourself and explore who you are, and a thing you do and own. Better customization, bigger worlds, bigger graphics – more, more, more – it can’t last exponentially. But a system that eats away at hope will grow just as much as the faith placed in it.

More Great Cable Stories