It seems so long ago now, but once upon a time Cyberpunk 2077 had a record breaking launch. Way back in the winter of 2020, Cyberpunk 2077’s hype cycle finally ended and the game was in our hands. After the review period saw the strange and decidedly shady strategy of only providing codes to journalists with the highest of high end PCs (I have never otherwise known a game available on console not be offered to review on at least one of them), Cyberpunk 2077 was critically acclaimed. It wasn’t until the rest of us played it that we found out it was a buggy, broken mess. Now, CDPR is trying to rip us off again.
I didn’t play Cyberpunk in the review bubble, likely because I didn’t have a good enough PC back then. I’m still not sure if my decent but inexpensive gaming laptop clears the bar. I did however play it at launch, experiencing a hubris so powerful I feel Cyberpunk 1.0 should be preserved in a museum. I played on my PS5, and still had the game crash every 25 minutes or so. Even without that, I wasn’t sold by the drawn out trying-too-hard storyline, the smattering of thin characters, and the by the numbers gameplay, but many would try to tell you that without the bugs this was a perfect game. Well, there’s no bugs now and the game is still a long way off what we were promised. I’m sure this next update will make us all believers again. The last six updates didn’t, but this one’s definitely going to be the one, right?!
While I played on my PS5, the game itself launched on PS4. Due to the hypercrunched development cycle that still didn’t result in the game being anywhere near playable, the XSX and PS5 versions were cut to allow more time on the Xbox One and PS4 versions of the game. As we all know, the game didn’t work anyway, but the theory is that if CDPR also made (then) next-gen versions, development would have suffered even further. Still, even those with the shiny new consoles could still play thanks to backwards compatibility, so everyone’s a winner. Or loser, when you consider they had to play Cyberpunk 2077.
Part of the reason the game had such a monumental launch was the parasocial promotional cycle. CDPR weren’t just selling a game, they were your friends. In a world of ‘no preorders’, Cyberpunk 2077 was the exception. Having earned a peerless reputation through the success of The Witcher 3, and then its substantial and fairly priced expansions alongside a smattering of free content, the world was on CDPR’s side. The company burned that reputation spectacularly and absolutely.
First, there was the fact the game launched in such a shoddy state in the first place, hiding this from the public with its sneaky review tactics. Then it promised refunds to the unsatisfied, only for its offer to be ‘ask Sony lol’. As a result, Cyberpunk 2077 was pulled from the PS storefront entirely in an unprecedented rebuttal. Then it came back and we were all told not to buy it.
If you can’t remember this (I don’t blame you, for we collectively gave these anti-consumer tactics a pass), what happened was Cyberpunk 2077 for PS4 returned to the storefront, where the game was clearly labelled PS4 and was available for purchase on PS4. But we were also told not to play it unless we had a PS5. It staggers me how much CDPR got away with this one. At least the full launch had the excuse of deadlines and pressure to launch for Christmas. But this time around it didn’t need to come back until it was ready… and then couldn’t even do that.
This brings me to the DLC. Cyberpunk 2077 recently had a next-gen update and while that did not bring hoards of people back (maybe it’s just not that good, eh?) it did create a divide. At launch, when the game broke records, it was on PS4 and Xbox One alone. You could play it on an Xbox Series X or PS5, but the game was made for old tech. Now the update makes it ready for new tech, and everyone who bought it at launch can whistle for it. The upcoming expansion Phantom Liberty (the only expansion, if you want to add that to the pile of broken promises) will not be available on PS4 and Xbox One. Despite the game being sold with the promise of massive expansions, and despite the last-gen games still being the base game.
While this feels like small potatoes for a company so wildly anti-consumer it sold broken copies on two separate occasions, it’s inconceivable that the game continues to get a pass for this. It’s a PS4 game! How can it cut content from the PS4 version? It was sold with extraordinary tales of added content and an experience like no other, and now it’s just a shrug. Yeah, well. Guess you should have upgraded to the incredibly expensive and impossibly rare console by now, ya dingus.
It’s laughable that the game continues to get a pass for this, but I suppose I’m not surprised. Every decision CDPR has made around this game has been deceitful, and every time it has been welcomed by the community with open arms. Keanu’s back?! Take all of my money and good press, but don’t worry about the accountability. CDPR can roll on without it, eh? Cyberpunk 2077 keeps digging itself deeper and deeper into a hole, and it’s endlessly frustrating to be surrounded by people acting as if it’s ascending higher and higher.
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