I’ve been playing video games for most of my life. I’m old enough to remember the excitement surrounding “Super Mario Bros. 3,” “Legends of Zelda: Ocarina of Time,” and the first Pokémon craze. While I don’t consider myself an avid or hardcore gamer, I still have immense love and respect for gaming.
In the time I’ve been playing games and following the industry, I’ve seen many games that were heavily hyped. I vividly remember how games like “No Man’s Sky” and “Spore” were supposed to revolutionize the industry. Most of the time, the game was a letdown, relative to said hype. A few managed to deliver. Franchises like Zelda and Grand Theft Auto keep finding a way.
However, I’ve yet to see a game garner as much hype as “Cyberpunk 2077.” I’ve also yet to see a game garner such a mixed reaction in conjunction with such a chaotic launch. Now granted, some of that might be due to the general chaos of 2020, but the story surrounding this game has been a special kind of messy.
The long and short of that story is this.
- The game itself was announced was announced back in May 2012 by CD Projekt Red.
- The first trailers came out in 2018 and 2019.
- Keanu Reeves was announced to play a significant role in a memorable appearance at E3 2019.
- The game was originally slated for release in April 2020, but was delayed twice.
- Once the game finally did come out, it was found to be glitchy and buggy. Some older gaming systems, like the Playstation 4, could not effectively run it and even robust gaming PC’s struggled to play it.
- Due to the bugs and messy release, fans and critics alike were outraged. Some demanded refunds and Sony even removed the digital version of the game from its store.
Again, there’s a lot more to the story behind this game and how its release was handled, but those are the basics. I won’t get into the meaty details. Others more qualified than me have handled that far better and I’ll defer to them for more insight.
The reason I’m talking about “Cyberpunk 2077” has less to do with the game itself and more to do with the emerging trends behind it. This isn’t the first game to endure a messy, glitchy launch. It’s also not the first to invite massive backlash from fans and customers. I doubt it’ll be the last, either.
It all comes down to this.
Nobody should be surprised that a game as big, ambitious, and complex as “Cyberpunk 2077” had glitches at launch.
Nobody should be surprised when any game that runs on powerful, complex gaming systems aren’t perfect from the beginning.
Everyone should expect patches and fixes that come out years after a game comes out. They’re practically unavoidable.
I know that sounds like a broad generalization. It may even sound like I’m making excuses for game developers like CD Projekt Red. I promise that’s not the case. This is just me sharing my perspective and I feel it’s worth sharing in the current era of AAA gaming.
Like it or not, the gaming industry has evolved a lot since the days of Nintendo, Sega Genesis, and the first Playstation. It’s not just that the industry has become more consolidated and more impacted by games people play on their phones. That is also part of it, but let’s take a moment to appreciate the bigger picture here.
A game like “Tetris” or “Super Mario Bros” is much less complex than a game like “Grand Theft Auto V” or “Elder Scrolls: Skyrim.” I’m not just talking about the story or gameplay, either. These games require a lot more in terms of development, polishing, and refinement to go from the drawing board to a finished product.
The hardware is more powerful.
The mechanics are more complex.
The logistics are far greater.
You didn’t used to have to hire top quality voice acting talent on the level of Keanu Reeves to develop a game. You just had text boxes and sound effects. That’s all games like “Legends of Zelda: Ocarina of Time” and the first Pokémon games needed.
However, those games couldn’t come out now and be as successful. They were products of their time, limited by the hardware and software needed to develop them. It still took time and effort, but let’s not lose perspective here. The entire size of those games could comfortably fit on a $10 flash drive.
In essence, a game like “Cyberpunk 2077” is to “Super Mario Brothers” what a Saturn V rocket is to a standard wheel. It has far more moving parts, far more complexities, and far more investment needed in order to make work.
When you have something that complex, things aren’t always going to go smoothly. Patches and tweaks will be necessary. It’s just a matter of extent. Even top-rated games like “Grand Theft Auto V” needed a few patches to make work. Other games like “Destiny 2” required so many patches that the game was basically overhauled.
In both cases, the games were better because of this. Even if it wasn’t perfect on launch, it created the foundation from which a truly awesome experience could emerge. That’s the best way to approach games like “Cyberpunk 2077.” Regardless of what the release date says, assume that’s just the beginning and not the end.
That’s not to say we should overlook every glitch and flaw at launch. Some just cannot be fixed, no matter how many patches are thrown at it. Games like “Fallout 76” are an unfortunate testament to that.
At the same time, some games are so mired by their launch that nobody notices or appreciates it when the game is ultimately fixed. That’s what happened to “Mass Effect: Andromeda,” a game that was also plagued by a glitchy and messy launch. However, several patches helped fix many of the issues. Now, I can confirm that the game in its most updated form is a genuinely solid gaming experience.
Unfortunately, fans gave up on that game, and many like it, too quickly. I feel like others didn’t even give it a chance because they listened to those who made such a big deal about the glitches at launch. It would be like people avoiding cars for the rest of their lives because the first few crashed or didn’t run well enough.
For this reason, I’ve gotten into the habit of not buying any AAA game at launch. Unless it’s a remaster, I always wait at least three to four months before I consider investing in it. That usually affords enough time to work out the kinks and get the necessary patches in place for the game to realize its full potential.
Sometimes, it’s still a letdown. Games like “Anthem” have never really taken hold, no matter how many patches and tweaks they get.
For the most part, though, there’s a benefit to waiting until months after launch. The hardest part is not letting negative reviews from people bemoaning the early glitches color your opinion of the game. That’s what helped me enjoy “Mass Effect: Andromeda.” I never would’ve gotten that experience had I read all the complaints about the earlier version of the game.
Sometimes, you need to exercise a little patience to get the gaming experience you seek. That’s not easy these days, especially as the gaming industry has grown into a multi-billion dollar entertainment behemoth. I remember just how visceral some of the reactions were when “Cyberpunk 2077.” Now, some of those same people are whining about the game appearing to have been rushed.
It’s the kind of hypocrisy that makes you want to punch your computer screen.
On top of that, game development these days is subject to significant strain among developers. It’s what fuels a less-than-pleasant aspect of the industry called crunch. When a company is eager to get a product to the market or to meet a deadline, it’ll lean heavily on its workers. Many times, those workers will suffer as a result.
It’s a distressing part of the industry, but one I doubt will go away anytime soon. As long as there’s demand for AAA games on par with “Cyberpunk 2077,” we’re going to endure things like this. Games are going to be launched with bugs. Game developers are going to be overworked to death to meet a deadline rather than risk angering the consumer base.
Until these trends and dynamics change, it’s likely to get worse before it gets better. In the meantime, I’m still going to be patient with “Cyberpunk 2077.” I don’t think I’ll get it until several months have gone by, complete with patches, and I have a new Playstation 5 to play it on.
Hopefully, it’ll be worth the wait. After all, where else am I going to play a game in which I can customize a character’s genitals?