After an extremely long and troubled development, Cyberpunk 2077 has finally released. The result is a mixed bag – half of the internet seems to think it’s literally unplayable, and the other half are having a fantastic time in CD PROJEKT RED’s dystopian future sandbox. A lot of that seems to come down to which platform they’re playing on – there’s a decent sized controversy brewing surrounding the game’s performance on last-gen consoles. Despite being pushed pretty hard on PS4 and Xbox One – with one statement saying the game ran “surprisingly well” on the older hardware – players using those machines have been having a pretty rough time of it.
The internet has been bombarded with clips comparing the game’s 2018 E3 trailer to the actual gameplay, to hilarious (and probably slightly depressing) effect. Even gamers who’ve managed to get the game looking and performing properly have been let down by Night City’s delights, and the flaws are all the more evident on hardware struggling to keep up. What we’re looking at may simply be a case of poor optimization – there are plenty of games that look just as good, if not outright better on PS4. 2018’s God of War comes to mind, but that was built specifically to get the most out of the PS4’s hardware.
Whether you’re enjoying the game or not, it’s kind of hard to ignore the noise from either side – the people who are entirely let down by what CD PROJEKT RED have delivered, or those making the best of it despite some of the early game bugs. If you’re familiar with the open-world RPG genre at all, you come to expect a certain degree of instability. Whether or not that’s acceptable from a consumer standpoint is an entirely different question – the game is here, it’s smashed pre-order records and made back its development costs in an absurdly short amount of time, and people want to be able to enjoy it. There’s no doubt that the game will be tightened up over time, so now it’s just a case of playing the waiting game – again – until that happens.
Regardless of the game’s current state, it’s a huge “moment” for the gaming industry – all eyes seem to be on Cyberpunk, for better or for worse. What sort of effect is that going to have on the industry as a whole? Will the esports scene see a drop-off in engagement as a result of Cyberpunk’s long-awaited debut? That’s extraordinarily unlikely. Sure, it’s the biggest game of the decade, launching purely as a single-player experience with no multiplayer component whatsoever. But let’s not forget, esports like CS:GO are being followed by more than 25M worldwide. There’s multiplayer planned, sure – but given the amount of work that needs to be done on the game as it is, that might as well be twenty years from now. They need to get what they’ve sold to players working as well as possible before even thinking about expanding on the experience.
Imagine the outcry if they start building multiplayer or trying to sell DLC when the game itself is already at the core of so much controversy. The truth is, players who prefer multiplayer games will not turn away from them. Cyberpunk will either hold their attention between engagement with their games of choice, and the larger esports scene, or it will sit unplayed in their libraries until it’s had some serious work done and multiplayer is a realistic concept. Cyberpunk is a huge event, sure – but it’s flash in the pan, and the industry’s fascination with it will not last long. Especially not with the potential re-emergence of the live scene just around the corner, as hopes of widespread Coronavirus vaccinations begin to expand around the globe.
Whether or not Cyberpunk 2077 is worth your money and time is a more personal question that can be answered in this short article. How many bugs and optimization issues can you put up with in return for your time in Night City? The most sensible option is to simply wait a few months – treat it as yet another delay – and wait for those sweet, sweet patches to roll out, tightening up the experience into something more like what was promised. But don’t worry about Cyberpunk 2077 having any impact on the popularity of your favorite esport – that’s just not going to happen.