CDPR CEO blames “in-game streaming” for Cyberpunk’s console problems
CD Projekt Red is still trying to contain the damage from widespread reports of major technical problems in the versions of Cyberpunk 2077 released for the PS4 and Xbox One last month. To that end, studio co-founder and CEO Marcin Iwinski today tweeted a video message seeking to explain the internal situation leading up to the problematic launch.
“Despite good reviews on PC, the console version of Cyberpunk 2077 did not meet the quality standard we wanted it to meet,” Iwinski said in the message. “I, and the entire leadership team, are deeply sorry for this, and this video is me publicly owning up to that.”
Sifting through the stream
The core of the problem, Iwinski said, was the “in-game streaming system” that Cyberpunk 2077 used to “feed” content and game mechanics to the engine without frequent breaks for loading. That system had to be “constantly improved” for last-gen consoles during development, Iwinski said, in order to keep up with the “epic” look of the PC version (which saw its graphics and other assets scaled down to work on more limited, older console hardware).
“Things did not look super difficult at first, [but] I think that time has proven we underestimated the task,” Iwinski said. “Because the city is so packed and the disk bandwidth of old-gen consoles is what it is, it constantly challenged us.”
Iwinski was less direct about why these problems with the console versions weren’t discovered and either fixed or delayed before launch. “Every change and improvement needed to be tested, and as it turned out, our testing did not show a big part of the issues you experienced while playing the game,” Iwinski said. He added that communication problems caused by the team working from home amid COVID-related restrictions meant some issues got lost over video calls or emails.
“We saw significant improvements each and every day leading up to release [and] really thought we’d deliver in the day zero [version on consoles],” he said.
Iwinski said these late-in-development improvements and constant testing on consoles were the reason review code for the console versions of the game was not offered to reviewers alongside PC code in early December. While Iwinski said console code was sent out December 8 (later than was originally planned), Ars Technica was not provided with any console version to test before the game’s launch on December 10 (much less ahead of the initial PC review embargo on December 7).
Iwinski’s statement also doesn’t address the significant (but less-than-game-breaking) bugs initially found in the PC version of the game. As we stated in our review of the PC version, “non-hostile characters will stand motionless in midair, stuck in a ridiculous T-pose, or pace back and forth in tight corridors for no reason. People phase in and out of existence before my eyes. A crowded table at a club will feature one drink hovering in the hands of an invisible patron.”
In addition to three hotfixes already released, Iwinski reiterated a promise for a major update dropping “within 10 days” and another significant update “in the following weeks.” After that, the development team will focus on previously promised free DLC and free update for PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series S/X-native versions of the game, now expected in the second half of 2021.
Iwinski’s latest message follows a December conference call in which he admitted the CDPR leadership team “ignored the signals about the need for additional time to refine the game on the base last-gen consoles.” Since that call, the game has been delisted from both the PlayStation and Xbox online stores and CD Projekt Red has been faced with a lawsuit from unhappy shareholders.