Cyberpunk 2077 may be the most anticipated game of 2020 but its long road to release can be measured by numerous controversies that have often attracted the wrong kind of attention.
From delays to questionable tweets, Cyberpunk 2077 can easily be considered one of the most controversial games in recent memory, and it hasn’t even been released yet. While time will tell if Cyberpunk 2077 can “usurp” The Last of Us Part 2 and become 2020’s most divisive game, the project is already at the center of several heated debates that are causing fans to take sides.
If you’re wondering where you stand on the game’s most contested topics, here’s a rundown of every notable Cyberpunk 2077 controversy (so far):
The Numerous Delays and Long Development Time
Believe it or not, there have only been three official Cyberpunk 2077 delays so far and all of them have happened in 2020.
Cyberpunk 2077‘s first official release date was April 16, 2020. While developer CD Projekt Red noted early in the year that the game was “complete and playable,” the studio delayed the game to September 17 as part of an effort to better optimize its performance.
On June 18, the Cyberpunk 2077 team announced via Twitter that the game’s release had been delayed again and was now (at least at that time) scheduled to be released on November 19. Again, CD Projekt Red cited a “huge number of things to iron out” as the reason for the delay.
Finally, on October 27, CD Projekt Red announced that Cyberpunk 2077‘s final release date had been rescheduled for December 10. This time, the team cited not just bug fixes and optimization as the reason for the delay but the challenges presented by their desire to release the game across so many platforms.
Before we dive into some of the other delay related controversies, we should point out that much of the fan frustration regarding Cyberpunk 2077‘s delays are closely related to the fact the game was first showcased via a teaser trailer released in 2013 (although it was announced in 2012). While we don’t know what the status of the game was at that time, the popular perception is that Cyberpunk 2077 has been in development for seven or more years. That means that each one of the game’s 2020 delays has stung some fans harder than they otherwise may have.
The Crunch Schedule
You can’t talk about Cyberpunk 2077‘s delays without talking about the game’s controversial crunch development schedule.
We’ve covered this topic before in greater detail (you can read our full report on this subject here), but the gist of the situation is that developer CD Projekt Red had previously stated that they would not force the Cyberpunk 2077 team to work through a crunch schedule. In September, though, CD Projekt Red boss Adam Badowski confirmed reports that the studio asked employees to begin working additional hours. In exchange for the extra work, they would be compensated with overtime pay and additional funds offered by the company’s profit-sharing program.
That information triggered two additional debates. The first saw those who opposed the company’s crunch schedule battle those who claimed the company’s employees were being fairly compensated for their extra work. While it was generally agreed the company was compensating its employees for overtime more than other game developers have done in the past (and that some employees anonymously stated they were fine with the schedule), many argued that crunch development is an industry problem which needs to be addressed whenever it appears.
Finally, there’s the matter of the game’s delays. The latest Cyberpunk 2077 delay was confirmed after the report of the company’s crunch schedule had broke. If the insinuation was that the crunch schedule was implemented as a desperate measure intended to ensure the game was released on time, then could CD Projekt Red have skipped the crunch schedule and just delayed the game a little longer?
The PS4/Xbox One Controversy
When news broke that the most recent Cyberpunk 2077 delay was partially attributed to the struggles of launching the game across so many platforms, it didn’t take long for some fans to worry about the PS4 and Xbox One editions of the game.
Why? Well, some people expressed their concern that the previous-gen versions of Cyberpunk 2077 may hinder the day one quality of the next-gen editions. CD Projekt Red has stated that the PS5 and Xbox Series X versions of Cyberpunk 2077 will benefit from day one upgrades, but the “full” next-gen versions of each title will not be available until a later date.
Others had the opposite concern and worried that the next-gen editions of Cyberpunk 2077 would be the “real” versions of the game and that the PS4 and Xbox One versions would suffer from serious performance downgrades. There’s currently no evidence which strongly supports that claim, but it does ring loud at a time when it’s nearly impossible to find a PS5 or Xbox Series X/S.
The Gender Tweet
One of the earlier Cyberpunk 2077 controversies involved this now-deleted tweet from the Cyberpunk 2077 Twitter account:
The tweet itself was sent in the midst of a greater debate over the use of that term and whether or not it had become a way to mock transgender people or those who sympathize with the struggles of transgender people. Basically, there was some concern that the Cyberpunk 2077 team’s use of that term was meant as an insult
CD Projekt Red deleted the tweet and issued the following statement regarding it:
“Sorry to all those offended by one of the responses sent out from our account earlier. Harming anyone was never our intention.”
As some noted at the time, this controversy was amplified by another incident in which GOG (a digital store owned by CD Projekt Red) tweeted a GIF of a Postal character urinating on a tombstone that read “Games Journalism” and “August 28th, 2014.” That date is believed to be a reference to GamerGate.
The Transgender Poster
Arguably the most infamous Cyberpunk 2077 controversy involved this in-game poster:
The poster showcases a transgender model advertising a soda with slogans could be interpreted as references to transgender people. Given that this poster was circulated shortly after the aforementioned tweets, some felt that this was another example of CD Projekt Red using transgender people as a punchline.
In an interview with Polygon, the CD Projekt Red artist who designed this poster, Kasia Redesiuk, explained her thought process behind it.
“Personally, for me, this person is sexy,” Redesiuk said. “I like how this person looks. However, this model is used — their beautiful body is used — for corporate reasons. They are displayed there just as a thing, and that’s the terrible part of it.”
Redesiuk also stated that she had no intentions of directly offending people but did note that she was aware the image was inherently provocative.
“I would say it was never the intention to offend anyone,” Redesiuk said. “However, with this image of an oversexualized person, we did want to show how over-sexualization of people is bad. And that’s it.
The Gender Choice Character Creator
Cyberpunk 2077 would once again find itself at the center of a gender-related controversy, but this one was a bit different than the others.
In an interview with Metro, Cyberpunk 2077 artist Marthe Jonkers explained that the game would not offer simple male and female gender options during the character creation process.
“You don’t choose, ‘I want to be a female or male character’ you now choose a body type,” Jonkers explained. “So you choose your body type and we have two voices, one that’s male sounding, one is female sounding. You can mix and match. You can just connect them any way you want. And then we have a lot of extra skin tones and tattoos and hairstyles. So we really want to give people the freedom to make their own character and play the way they want to play.”
While some felt that this was the company’s attempt to cover up for their previous actions, much of the blowback in this instance came from fans who saw this as an example of the Cyberpunk 2077 team “pandering” to critics. There is currently no information available that suggests the game’s character creation process was drastically altered in response to any such criticisms.
The Animals and Voodoo Boys
The reveal of Cyberpunk 2077‘s gangs caused some to question whether or not the game was relying on racial stereotypes.
This debate focused on two gangs: The Animals and Voodoo Boys. Some fans felt that the “Animals” name was intended as an insult directed towards a gang that appeared to largely be comprised of people of color. As for the Voodoo Boys, there were concerns that the gang’s name, design, and background were designed to exploit racial and cultural stereotypes.
CD Projekt Red later stated that The Animals is actually a multi-racial gang and that that the initial portrayal of them as a gang that consisted entirely of people of color was based on the specific scenario of the gameplay demo they were showcased in. Cyberpunk 2020‘s creator also offered this response in regards to these controversies:
“As for the Animals–the WHOLE FREAKING POINT is that they think of themselves as POWERFUL, DANGEROUS, WILD ANIMALS. You’d have thought the Lady named ‘Sasquatch’ would have given them a clue…The original Voodoo Boys were a scathing commentary on cultural appropriation. I LOVE the idea that real practitioners of Voudon moved in and took back their turf. And they even got the Creole right…Who the (bleep) do YOU think you are to tell ME whether or not MY creation was done right or not?”
Earlier this year, CD Projekt Red’s Adam Kicinski caused a stir by implying that Cyberpunk 2077 would have microtransactions despite previous implications that the game would not.
“We’re never aggressive towards our fans!” Kicinski said during an earnings call. “We treat them fairly and we’re friendly. So of course not – we won’t be aggressive – but you can expect great things to be bought. The goal is to design monetization in a way that makes people happy to spend money. I’m not trying to be cynical or hide something; it’s about creating a feeling of value.”
The Cyberpunk team later clarified that statement somewhat with the following tweet:
The issue of microtransactions is typically controversial in and of itself, but the debate was amplified in this instance by CD Project Red’s apparent “anti-microtransaction” culture and outward consumer-friendly image. Furthermore, Cyberpunk 2077‘s multiplayer has been its own source of controversy due to the mysterious nature of the concept and concerns its development has further delayed the release of the Cyberpunk 2077 campaign.
The First-Person Controversy
It feels so quaint now, but one of the earlier Cyberpunk 2077 controversies involved the game’s first-person perspective.
In 2019, the Cyberpunk 2077 team confirmed the game would largely take place in first-person with third-person angles being used for certain cutscenes and driving sequences. This upset some fans who were not only led to believe the game would be third-person based on early footage (and The Witcher 3) but were concerned by the implications of a first-person game. Namely, they worried that the game would end up being a first-person shooter and that first-person cutscenes would not be nearly as “immersive” as the third-person storytelling featured in The Witcher 3.
Some fans also felt that a first-person perspective would limit the impact of the game’s character customization options, but CD Projekt Red later clarified that you’ll be able to see your character in mirrors and on the inventory screen.