Cyberpunk 2077
Cyberpunk 2077/CD Projekt Red
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UPDATE:

Somehow it only got even worse for CD Projekt Red in the matter of hours, Microsoft, through a statement from the Xbox Support Twitter account have now followed Sony’s lead and also promised Cyberpunk 2077 full refunds.

Microsoft actually had already been quietly giving out refunds to pretty much anyone that requested one without much pushback against consumers. But it seems that Sony’s earlier decision gave Microsoft the opportunity to just go ahead and fully give anyone that requests it, a complete refund. The support team did acknowledge the issues and also provided their own form to fill out for those that want said refund.

From a customer service perspective, this also greatly helps alleviate the load on their support staff who have undoubtedly had to field a consistent barrage of calls, emails, and chat messages regarding the issues present right now in Cyberpunk 2077. On the bright side, unlike with PlayStation Store, Cyberpunk 2077 can still be purchased by anyone that wishes to do so on the Microsoft store and through the Xbox consoles.

Microsoft’s return policy is a bit looser than Sony’s strict policy. They have an “extenuating circumstances” clause in their policy, which in this case, involves Cyberpunk 2077 and all of the issues surrounding it.

Unfortunately, this puts even more pressure on the development team to really make sure these patches work out and fix the major issues. Not to mention, there are still PS5 and Xbox Series versions coming down the line as well. So for now, if you want to play the game on your PS5 or PS4 console or buy it for someone for Christmas that has one of those consoles, you can only do so by purchasing it physically.

The Original Story with more of a Sony and PlayStation focus continues below…

Sadly, things have gone from bad to worse for CD Projekt Red as Sony has decisively removed Cyberpunk 2077 from its digital storefront. The console maker’s customer service twitter account, @AskPlayStation, put out a tweet confirming the unprecedented decision along with a subsequent form players can fill out for refunds.

This comes in stark contrast to a few days ago when Sony was not issuing refunds due to being blindsided by CD Projekt Red’s initial statement on December 14 where they urged players to use each console maker’s digital return system.

Sony Makes a Huge Decision

It is certainly one thing for a developer or publisher to remove their own game from a storefront, as happened to Batman: Arkham Knight in 2015 due to the game having major technical issues on PC. Recently, GOG did not put the Taiwanese horror game Devotion on its storefront due to external pressures stemming from when Steam removed the game last year because it contained a poster of Chinese President Xi Jingping in it.

Sony’s decision to make Cyberpunk 2077 unpurchasable from the PlayStation Store, even on the more powerful and speedier PlayStation 5 is absolutely jarring. This is one of the year’s most anticipated games and a game that’s had a very prominent spot on the storefront since release. For those wondering, although the game does run much better on PS5, players are still experiencing major crashing issues, and many of the same bugs present in the PlayStation 4 version also exist on PS5 because it is playing in backwards compatibility mode.

Some of this also is due to Sony’s stringent return policy, which basically boils down to “if you stream it or download the game to your console, it is now yours.” This is pretty much akin to a retail store’s “once you open any entertainment software product, it cannot be returned.” So, if you think about it, Sony is declaring Cyberpunk 2077 defective in order to give out full unquestioned refunds. So delisting the game from the store comes along with that too.

Looking at it from another perspective, Sony may also be looking at the mountain of people asking for refunds and made the best decision for everyone’s sanity. Christmas is literally next week and there are probably a large number of people that wanted to use their gift cards or gifted money to buy the game. Meaning they would be dealing with this problem in greater mass for a long while. Especially considering the incredible amount of PlayStation 4’s and PlayStation 5’s sitting in consumer’s homes. Better to cut it now and save a lot of headaches later. Although I’m sure there will still be plenty from gamers or parents that don’t see every news announcement in existence.

CD Projekt Red Responds

Hours afterward in response, CD Projekt Red released its own statement in a tweet acknowledging the removal from the PlayStation Store.

Also in this same statement, they urge PlayStation users to still seek out the game physically via other stores and that any digital versions would receive upcoming updates. Then there’s the inclusion of the words “those not willing to wait for updates” can seek refunds at the link provided earlier. Suggesting that customers should just play the game as is, while CDPR fixes the game in the coming months. It is absolutely incredible how CDPR just cannot get out of its own way in this entire debacle. Every time the company releases some sort of statement there’s befuddling wording included. An entire console manufacturer is no longer selling the game digitally because it is having some considerable issues, and your response is “you can still buy it physically.” The lack of empathy is astounding.

As I just outlined above, the holidays are upon us, and CDPR as a business doesn’t want potential sales affected by this news. However, this is not a situation where people are coming out en masse and deciding the game is arbitrarily bad or even hating on it due to some social issue, this is a problem management constructed. Yes, the original statement four days ago was intended as their official apology, but to then come out with a response in this way makes that “apology” feel extremely hollow.

Especially when management once again misled everyone in that same statement by suggesting that they already had conversations with Sony and Microsoft regarding refunds. Turns out, after being asked during an investors call, there’s nothing special in place as far as refunds go for Cyberpunk 2077. This whole launch has been done in a haphazard way and that directly led to what happened here with Sony.

What’s Next For Cyberpunk 2077

So what about the gamers who are actually enjoying the game, or others who would love to play Cyberpunk 2077 in a better state? Well, so far the only thing there is to go on is the original statement put out by CDPR management. Players must wait to see what happens with the patches coming in January and February 2021. While the actual development team has to continue working hard and possibly even overworking themselves to put out these patches.

Ultimately, as awful as this is for gamers to deal with, the actual development team suffers the most in this situation. They’ve had to deal with crunch, vitriol from the internet before launch, and now to watch all their tremendous passion and hard work be experienced in a less than optimal way. It truly is a heartbreaking situation for them.

Possible Long-term Ramifications?

And although I’m sure in the coming weeks there may be a number of gaming outlets that give Cyberpunk 2077 numerous awards, especially on the PC side of things. This entire ordeal may change a lot of gaming habits. This could certainly make gamers think twice before blindly preordering a game again. Retailers may learn to temper their expectations with some huge releases. Plus, this could give any developer that is still considering producing cross-gen titles a moment of pause. Most of all though I really hope for two things.

For one, Sony and Microsoft should take a hard look at their digital return policies. Considering they are both now selling digital-only consoles, something more user-friendly needs to exist. Perhaps something more akin to Steam’s, “play for a certain amount of hours.” There’s only so much you can gain from watching streams or reviews. Many of Cyberpunk 2077‘s issues seem to be individual console specific. Some players even on base PS4 or Xbox One are experiencing different problems from each other. Some amount of gameplay time needs to be allowed to let each individual person find out if they are having problems or not. The amount of people that are going to take advantage of a more expanded digital return policy is honestly very slim. The broad user experience is more important than what a few outliers may do.

Secondly, I truly hope that publishers look at what is happening to a company like CD Projekt Red that built up so much goodwill with its player base, only to see that turn into dust. Delaying games is not bad. Even if it means getting ridiculous and unnecessarily stupid comments from social media, angering some investors, or other external matters. First impressions still mean a lot and if the game is not ready, either release it in Early Access or push it back. Gaming is ultimately about enjoying a product and having fun. It is aggravating and upsetting to see such a long-awaited title wind-up being a worst-case scenario meme, instead of one of the games of the PS4 and Xbox generation as everyone was hoping it would be.

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