Cyberpunk 2077 Refunds: Why Some Players Are Calling the Game a Failure

How has Cyberpunk 2077 gone from one of the year's most anticipated games to a title that has fans begging for refunds? Here's what you need to know.

Cyberpunk 2077
Photo: CD Projekt Red

We knew fans were going to want to manage their expectations for Cyberpunk 2077, but the post-release conversations and mad dashes for refunds have ensured that Cyberpunk 2077 will contend with The Last of Us Part 2 for the honor of being this year’s most divisive title.

While we’ve previously covered the many, many controversies that impacted Cyberpunk 2077 ahead of its release, few could have predicted that the pre-release debates would only be the start of a much larger argument that has turned Cyberpunk 2077 into a title that has inspired venomous scorn and outright hate from many.

While it would take quite an effort to cover every grievance against Cyberpunk 2077, there are a few key elements of the experience that have attracted the most…passionate responses to CD Projekt Red’s much-anticipated follow-up to The Witcher 3. We’re going to look at some of those elements in an attempt to better understand how we got here.

Cyberpunk 2077 Is Nearly Unplayable on PS4 and Xbox One

While this particular collection of grievances is in no particular order, this has to be Cyberpunk 2077’s biggest problem at the moment.

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Recent Cyberpunk 2077 delays strongly suggested that the game was going to poorly optimized for PS4 and Xbox One, but nothing could have prepared people for how bad those versions of the game really are. Beyond the downgraded graphics and additional bugs is the plain fact that previous-gen consoles are not equipped to effectively run Cyberpunk 2077

The constant crashes that plague those versions of the game make it nearly impossible for console gamers to even try and enjoy Cyberpunk 2077. At a time when it’s nearly impossible to find next-gen consoles and new GPUs, the fact that Cyberpunk 2077 is borderline unplayable on the gaming platforms with the largest active install bases is hard to accept no matter how much you’re enjoying the game. 

Cyberpunk 2077’s Refund Situation

Recently, Cyberpunk 2077 developer CD Projekt Red issued a statement in which they apologized for the Xbox One and PS4 versions of the game and told players on those platforms that they “can opt to refund” their copies of the game if they don’t want to wait for improvements. 

Recently, though, players began reporting that Sony and Microsoft are not necessarily honoring those requests. In an investors’ call, CD Projekt Red followed-up on this situation by essentially noting that they were just pointing people towards those retailers’ standard refund systems rather than any special arrangements that had been made just for them

While CD Projekt Red has set-up an email address that fans can use for additional refund assistance, it’s not clear how much help they’re actually able to offer. Overall, many fans are seeing this refund situation as an example of CD Projekt Red’s communication problems and subpar support.

Cyberpunk 2077 Is A Very Buggy Game

It honestly wasn’t difficult to guess that Cyberpunk 2077 was going to be a buggy game. There was almos no chance that the game wouldn’t launch with the usual array of open-world bugs even if it was delayed another year. 

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That said, Cyberpunk 2077 might just be the buggiest game of the modern era. Along with constant visual bugs, Cyberpunk 2077 features a number of glitches that severely hinder the game’s performance and, in some cases, have broken the game and made progress impossible.

CD Projekt Red has already addressed some of those bugs in early patches and promise to target the rest in the coming weeks and months. However, even PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X players are currently having to contend with a nearly constant barrage of bugs that come to define most of the time spent with the game.

Cyberpunk 2077’s Missing Features

One of the most contested talking points of the Cyberpunk 2077 debate involves the game’s missing features. 

Fans have brought up features like wall-running, customizable cars, and multiple apartment options as examples of features that are missing from the game. However, others have pointed out that CD Projekt Red did state at different points during the development process that some of those specific features were cut and not intended to be in the final game. 

Even then, there’s a popular belief that CD Projekt Red may have oversold the impact of certain elements of the game such as the role of police, expanded hacking options, and the global ramifications of your in-game choices. Players feel that many of the smaller elements of the game were either oversold, altered, or simply delivered in a way that matched expectations associated with some of CD Projekt Red’s previous statements. 

Cyberpunk 2077’s Potentially Offensive Characterizations and Writing

At multiple points during the game’s development, some fans pointed out that aspects of Cyberpunk 2077’s gangs, characters, and world felt stereotypical and potentially offensive. CD Projekt Red downplayed some of those concerns by suggesting that some of them could be attributed to only seeing slices of a game that was still a work in progress. 

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Now that we’re playing the final (or at least the “retail”) version of the game, though, many of those concerns remain valid. Players have been quick to point out the game’s use of cultural stereotypes and cheap characterizations don’t belong in the year 2020 or 2077. Others have stated that the game’s generally immature tone prevents it from being able to meaningfully address the social commentary elements featured in notable examples of the Cyberpunk genre in different mediums

The debate surrounding this issue will continue, but it’s important to remember that you can’t tell someone whether they have the “right’ to be offended. At the very least, this topic warrants a conversation involving Cyberpunk 2077’s triumphs and shortcomings in this area and how both can be used as practical examples of doing better in the future. 

Cyberpunk 2077’s “Empty” City and Immersion Issues

Cyberpunk 2077’s recreation of Night City was touted as a key component of the game’s overall experience, but some fans are finding that the retail version of the urban hub leaves them feeling cold. 

While some have suggested that CD Projekt Red exaggerated certain technical elements of the city (most notably crowd size), the bigger debate concerns the perceived lack of interactive elements in the city itself. Fans lament not being able to play arcade games, lose themselves in city life that exists without their input, or, generally speaking, interact with the city in ways that we’ve seen in other notable large world titles such as the Yakuza and Grand Theft Auto series. 

It’s been suggested that the expectation for some of these features were based on wishlists rather than unofficial information, but there’s a popular perception that Night City feels more like a vessel for the missions and collectibles rather than one of the game’s major characters. 

Cyberpunk 2077’s Limited Lifepaths

One of the most hyped elements of Cyberpunk 2077 was the game’s multiple optional origin stories. CD Projekt Red told fans that you’d be able to choose between Corpo, Street Kid, and Nomad lifepaths and that the game would play out differently based on your selection. 

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While those lifepath choices are in the game, some fans feel that this was one of those core experiences that was exaggerated during the build-up period. Each lifepath does offer somewhat unique prologue experiences, but the difference between the various lifepaths largely amounts to which dialog options will be available to you during certain conversations.  

Again, the question is whether this system is working as CD Projekt Red always intended or whether there were more ambitious plans that were somehow cut short by the game’s development.

Cyberpunk 2077’s Broken AI

While there are various “little” aspects of the Cyberpunk 2077 experience that many fans are dissatisfied with, one of the more prevalent concerns involves the game’s AI.

Cyberpunk 2077’s enemy AI is passable (if more than a little buggy and certainly not revolutionary), but the game’s police and civilian NPC AI have both come under fire for their perceived fundamental inadequacies. Specifically, some players have pointed out that NPCs feel much more static in comparison to the NPCs in other open-world games that often follow their own schedules. Most NPCs won’t even react if you steal things from right under their noses. Many of those same fans have noted that the game’s police feel oddly omnipotent and don’t seem to follow any logical patterns based on their position and your criminal activity. In other words, they kind of just spawn around you like in old-school GTA games. 

AI is one of those elements of the game that CD Projekt Red absolutely hyped up during the Cyberpunk 2077 pre-release period, so it’s easy to understand why some have pointed out that the final product feels underwhelming. 

Cyberpunk 2077’s Limited Character Customization

In an in-game world that’s practically built around people modifying their bodies and the ways those modifications have reshaped society, it’s more than a little strange that Cyberpunk 2077 won’t even let you get a haircut

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While it’s certainly possible to build a Cyberpunk 2077 character equipped with the best cybernetic implants and perks, you’re seemingly never given the chance to meaningfully modify your character’s physical appearance outside of the initial creation process. For that matter, it’s been pointed out that Cyberpunk 2077’s character creation process feels bare in comparison to other major games that offer similar features. 

While CD Projekt Red has noted that features such as car customization were cut during development, this is yet another one of those instances where it’s not clear whether or not we’re experiencing CD Projekt Red’s intended vision for the game or a version of the experience that was compromised by production problems. 

Cyberpunk 2077’s Review Process

It’s hardly a surprise that there are fans who disagree with early Cyberpunk 2077 reviews, but Cyberpunk 2077’s review process is further complicated by the restrictions reviewers had to adhere to. 

Not only were all reviewers sent a copy of the PC version of Cyberpunk 2077 (which appears to be the only version of the game that’s even close to working as intended) but it seems that reviewers were not allowed to use their own gameplay footage in video reviews. This was seen as an attempt to prevent footage of the game’s buggy performance from leaking ahead of the game’s release. 

There are some who feel that these restrictions and the shape of the game at launch do not currently justify some of the high review scores the game has received so far. At the very least, others are criticizing CD Projekt Red for what they see as an anti-consumer form of damage control.