Cyberpunk 2077’s delay until September means it will get another five months of polish, but also five more months of staff crunching – working overtime – to some degree.
Developer CD Projekt Red addressed the matter in an investor Q&A session last night, held following the delay’s announcement.
In it, exec Adam Kiciński explained why the delay was happening, why it had been decided upon now, and when the rest of the studio had been told (“minutes” before).
We also heard this delay would have a knock-on effect for the studio’s other big Cyberpunk project in production – a multiplayer thing which will get a separate release, likely now sometime after 2021.
“Why now? Why three months before release?” Kiciński said of the delay. “Well, we have been waiting and there always comes the moment to decision. We are constantly evaluating the game and we decided if we are to delay this is the right moment, and that with the decision to add five months we would be really sure that we can deliver what we had planned.
“Of course, it was a tough decision, but we and our team – which was informed minutes ago – think that this was a good decision and that having an extra five months will enable us to deliver a perfect game.”
And what about crunch, Kiciński was asked? Did the delay mean five months five months of extra overtime?
“To some degree, yes – to be honest,” Kiciński replied. “We try to limit crunch as much as possible, but it is the final stage. We try to be reasonable in this regard, but yes. Unfortunately.”
All of which begs the question – when was the delay decided? Especially as it seems, until yesterday, staff were under the impression they were shipping the game in a matter of weeks.
“There are things that are on schedule and things that are behind schedule,” Kiciński said. “Once you have the whole game and you see all dependencies, and you play it – you
get the ‘feel’ of the game and you start to have an idea what has to be tweaked and polished.
“Of course, there are bugs, various bugs, new and old – but playing such a big game you start to think that maybe you need to tweak this or that… so there was not a specific moment. It’s an ongoing process, and we knew that this was the last moment for a delay. We weren’t able to discuss further so we decided now because that was the last reasonable window to decide about the delay.”
As I wrote in yesterday’s initial story on the delay, development crunch is something CD Projekt Red has struggled with in the past.
It is also something unfortunately endemic in big-budget game development throughout the industry. And it comes with a very real human cost.
Back at E3 2019, I spoke with Cyberpunk 2077 designer Paweł Sasko about hitting the game’s now-delayed release date as part of a wide-ranging interview.
“We’re pretty comfortable we can deliver on this date and not kill ourselves,” he told me at the time. “It’s a complex topic. We just love this project and we want to work on it. And if someone was to tell me to stop, or that I didn’t need to do something, I’d say – I want to make this better. Am I supposed to agree to something that’s worse? I won’t. I fucking won’t do it. I’ll never do it. And the guys here? They’ll say the same. We won’t agree to release something that’s crap. Ever.
“No one’s going to say it’s crap. But there’s a balance to that and working 100 hour weeks. 100 hour weeks are extreme. It’s more about being clever and picking the right battles. There are things you can invest time in which are invisible to player, whereas there are small things you can do that are players will absolutely appreciate. [Crunch] is a huge mistake which this industry needs to better at, but it’s a complex topic.”