Mar 29, 2021 - Technology

Notoriously broken video game “Cyberpunk 2077” finally gets big fixes

Image of a character standing next to their car in the video game Cyberpunk 2077

Screenshot: CD Projekt Red

Game publisher CD Projekt Red rolled out a massive downloadable patch for “Cyberpunk 2077” today, promising that the update will apply over 500 fixes and improvements to the futuristic action-adventure.

Why it matters: “Cyberpunk 2077” was one of 2020’s most-hyped new video games, but it launched in December in rough shape and became one of the industry’s biggest debacles. Today’s patch is part of an attempt to meet the game’s original expectations.

  • If you haven't seen “Cyberpunk 2077,” think “Grand Theft Auto,” but in the future. The game lets players craft and control a protagonist named V, who explores and shoots their way through the crime-riddled metropolis of Night City.
  • "Cyberpunk" had a hot start, selling more than 13 million copies in its first two weeks of release across PC, Google's Stadia service and game consoles.
  • But it ran so poorly, especially on the aging but widely used PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles, that CD Projekt swiftly began encouraging and offering refunds, even as Sony PlayStation delisted the marquee release from its online store.

Between the lines: As soon as the game was released, CDPR was pilloried by frustrated fans who said they were bait-and-switched by months of promotion of a much better-looking game than what was released. The studio swiftly began apologizing.

  • When asked during a December 14 call with investors about the game’s performance on consoles, CEO Marcin Iwiński said, “We definitely did not spend enough time looking at that.”

This new fix, patch 1.20, was scheduled for February, but the studio said late last month that it would be delayed due to a ransomware attack on the company’s computers.

The big picture: Game developers and publishers are often able to use post-release patches to repair games that launch in rough shape.

  • In recent years, Square-Enix’s “Final Fantasy XIV,” Ubisoft’s “Rainbow Six Siege,” and Hello Games’ “No Man’s Sky” were all shredded by critics and players at launch and were digitally rehabilitated into beloved and lucrative hits.

For CDPR, “Cyberpunk”’s problems are particularly embarrassing. The studio is a cultural institution in its native Poland, to the point that in 2011, then-prime minister Donald Tusk gave then-U.S. president Barack Obama a copy of CDPR’s game “The Witcher 2.”

  • Its previous game, “The Witcher 3,” has sold 50 million copies and was expected to augur future success.
  • CDPR went all-out with “Cyberpunk,” even hiring Keanu Reeves to digitally guest-star in the game and to physically hype the game in TV commercials.
  • The company's stock hit an all-time high of $31 a week before “Cyberpunk” was released, but soon plummeted. It’s at $15 today.

What they’re saying. A rep for CDPR told Axios that the new patch should demonstrate that they are not bailing on the game.

  • But CDPR declined to say when “Cyberpunk” would be sold again on the online PlayStation store, as it remains off-sale in one of its biggest potential markets.
  • A Sony rep also did not have a comment about when the game would be back.

What’s next: The massive patch, which is over 40GB on Xbox (the game itself is nearly 60 GB on Xbox), will take time for players to download and even longer to try out.

  • Early reports indicate that the patched version plays somewhat better.
  • But the problem remains that “Cyberpunk” on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 doesn't look nearly as good as it did the game's long promotional campaign.
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