On Tuesday of last week, CD Project Red shared that the hotly anticipated video game Cyberpunk 2077 has been delayed yet again. The developer only pushed the release back 3 weeks, but the move from November 19 to December 10 reverberates across the entire video game industry and video game fandom. Read about how the delay shakes things up for everyone from Microsoft and Sony to the everyday video game enthusiast.
1. A hit to next-gen hype
The Xbox Series and PlayStation 5 are launching later this month, a November filled with high-profile releases. Cyberpunk, however, was expected to be the crown jewel and most exciting start to the next console generation. The delay isn’t a huge loss for Sony. The PlayStation will still launch with major exclusives Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Bluepoint’s remake of Demon Souls. Microsoft, on the other hand, doesn’t have any first-party titles debuting with its new systems. Due to the delay of Halo Infinite, the only new content coming exclusively to Xbox in November is enhanced versions of previous releases, the console debut of Gears of War Tactics, and a couple of timed exclusives.
Microsoft counted on Cyberpunk to drum up interest in the Xbox Series X, boasting that, as the more powerful console, it was the best place to play the game. Microsoft holds the marketing rights for Cyberpunk 2077, so the Xbox team was pushing the game hard. The delay means the console has even less immediate appeal for gamers, which puts them in a tough spot during a head-to-head battle for mindshare with the PlayStation 5.
2. A boon for AAA games
Every video game publisher was concerned about competing with Cyberpunk 2077 since the massive open-world game has been top of mind for so many gamers. The December release date will only help November titles like Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Watch Dogs: Legion, and Call of Duty: Black Ops. They’re all major beneficiaries of the delay, soaking up consumers’ attention thanks to Cyberpunk’s absence.
3. A bummer for AA games
December is suddenly a scary time for a company to release a new video game. Normally it’s a period when smaller-scale projects with more modest budgets than tentpole franchises are released. Now AA titles like Immortals Fenyx Rising are competing with the most anticipated game of the year. Both Everspace 2 and Path of Exile moved out of the way, both citing Cyberpunk 2077 as the reason why. The big question is if Fenyx Rising will follow suit, or if Ubisoft feels comfortable releasing the Zelda-like 6 days before what could potentially be the biggest video game launch of the year.
4. A disappointment for gamers
Obviously, gamers excited for Cyberpunk 2077 are disappointed by the delay. But it’s worth considering the people who requested time off work to make room in their schedules to play the open-world RPG. Not all of them will have the option to rescind their requests, forcing them to waste days of vacation time. That’s just one consequence of a video game delay, something that happens frequently. Games miss their release dates more than any other form of entertainment. That’s due in part because of how complicated video game production is, certainly. But publishers set release dates long before studios can make accurate assessments of how long it will take to finish production. Unreliable release dates aren’t good for anyone, except maybe corporations’ quarterly earnings reports.
5. The human cost
Cyberpunk‘s delay has the most crushing impact on the developers at CD Projekt Red. The studio promised that it wouldn’t implement crunch on the game after horror stories came out about the mind-boggling number of hours employees were forced to put into the production of The Witcher 3. Projekt Red failed to keep its word, emailing employees in September that it was instituting mandatory crunch to meet its “can’t miss” November release date. You would think that now that they’ve missed that date, CD Project Red can afford to give its team time to rest and recharge. But the short length of the delay signals that employees will need to endure crunch for even longer so that the game can release in time for the holiday season. Again, CD Project Red shows itself to be a company that cares more about profit than people.
Between the harsh working conditions and the transphobic content in Cyberpunk 2077 promotional material, CD Projekt Red’s bad behavior is getting more and more difficult to ignore. Projekt Red’s actions force people simply looking for an escape from the real world to make hard decisions about whether or not they can support the studio. Even the gamers who buy Cyberpunk will be left with a sour taste in their mouths, not just about content within the game but also knowledge of the human cost of making it.