This is more of a personal thought rather than anything I can back up with a concrete “this is why” argument. I’ve witnessed the ongoing massacre of bad publicity, public opinion, and the overall response from CD Projekt Red.
We’ve seen this happen before, multiple times: No Man’s Sky, Mass Effect: Andromeda, Fallout 76. When a marketing department (or in NMS’s case, a publisher) goes so far out of its way to boost the presence of a game on social media, it becomes this massive black hole of hype. Everyone gets sucked in. Expectations skyrocket with the impressive pre-rendered visuals and promises made. It is the never-ending cycle of disappointment on all fronts when the game finally launches, and things players expected never come to pass. It’s almost as if the game development and game marketing departments never speak to one another.
The use of Keanu Reeves as a marketing ploy was very clever, but after a while there, the promotion was no longer about the game, but about Reeves playing a character. Just like how Take Me Home, Country Roads is now synonymous with F76, Keanu Reeves is now the face of Cyberpunk 2077 — for better or worse. Like in the case of F76, CD Projekt Red’s marketing department was no longer selling a game, but the idea of a game.
As gamers, we are constantly fooled by this. Cyberpunk 2077 has been in development for eight years — it was not unusual for players to assume that (especially after this year’s delay!) the game would be ready for release December 2020.
It was not. Not even close. In fact, it is still suffering Fallout 76-esq errors.
To think, this time last year CD Projekt Red was held to a higher standard than that of Bioware/EA and Bethesda/ZeniMax Media. They were in a league of their own. December 2020 has utterly smashed their “stellar” reputation to pieces as onlookers pick apart their every action over the last two years, looking for something, anything, to justify Cyberpunk 2077‘s devastating launch.
Now the marketing team has to run damage control of the game they over-marketed and hyped, because of its poor condition. Players can ask for refunds as per the guidelines of the seller they purchased it from. Just be aware that CD Projekt Red’s letter of apology did not reach Sony and Microsoft’s ears first — it may not matter what the developer says. You may no longer be entitled to a refund, dependant on how long you’ve played the game for.
So congratulations, CD Projekt Red. You are “the industry leader in creating video games that resonate with gamers from all around the world”, no longer.
I leave you now with a relevant Reddit post: