Cyberpunk 2077’s Delay Raises Questions About Development Crunch and Cut Content

Another Cyberpunk 2077 delay has left fans debating the merits of crunch, cut content, and having to "settle' for the PS4 and Xbox One versions of the game.

Cyberpunk 2077
Photo: CD Projekt Red

We should be used to Cyberpunk 2077 delays by now, but the recent news that Cyberpunk 2077 has been delayed until December 10 seems to have hit fans especially hard.

While some of those fan frustrations can be attributed to their “But I want it now!” outlook, the disappointment, confusion, and even anger over this recent delay certainly seems to have something to do with recent updates regarding Cyberpunk 2077‘s development which complicate how fans are dealing with this information.

For example, you may recall that CD Projekt Red recently confirmed reports that they’ve asked their employees to begin working six-day weeks despite the studio’s previous promises not to institute a crunch schedule. That decision attracted quite a bit of criticism at the time, and that criticism certainly hasn’t slowed down now that Cyberpunk 2077 has been delayed yet again.

We should note that CD Projekt Red has yet to officially confirm that they’re still asking their employees to continue the previously instituted crunch schedule, but the assumption at this time is that this delay will not necessarily result in a return to normal working hours.

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Even if it does, CD Projekt Red’s use of a crunch schedule has to be reexamined in the light of this latest delay. At the time that the studio confirmed their new crunch policy, they seemed to indicate that the schedule change was the only way that they could get the game out on time and that they had “extended all other possible means” in an attempt to avoid having to make that decision. Well, now the game has been delayed again despite the studio’s suggestions that the crunch schedule was necessary.

So why wasn’t the game just delayed again in the first place if that was an option? We know that CD Projekt Red doesn’t want to delay the game if they can help it (especially if they end up having to delay it until 2021) but were they just desperate to finish the game in time for a November release date or did the team underestimate how much work still needed to be done until the game was ready for release?

The answer to that question may have something to do with the increasingly popular theory that Cyberpunk 2077‘s delay can partially be blamed on current-gen consoles.

In fairness to this theory, it’s a little more than just a theory. In their official statement regarding this delay, the Cyberpunk team mentions that the game has “evolved towards almost being a next-gen title” and that they need to “make sure everything works well and every version runs smoothly.”

Even if you don’t buy into the idea that the current-gen (which will become “previous-gen” by the time that Cyberpunk is released) platforms are limiting the team’s ambitions for the project, it does sound like the process of releasing this game across two different generations and so many platform options has presented additional logistical hurdles that the team is still trying to overcome. All things considered, it’s enough to make you wonder if CD Projekt Red would go back in time and develop Cyberpunk 2077 as a full next-gen title.

Even if current-gen consoles won’t feature a “water-downed” version of Cyberpunk 2077 that is actually being designed with next-gen consoles in mind, CD Projekt Red has been clear that these various delays and crunch schedules haven’t prevented them from needing to cut content from the final game. In fact, Cyberpunk 2077 senior level designer Miles Tost recently stated via Cyberpunk‘s discord that they have had to cut content from the game but that “cutting features and scope is a very normal part of development.” At the time of that statement, most fans seemed to accept that cutting content is a necessary evil.

While cut content is indeed a standard part of the game development process, we’re starting to see more fans ask questions about the nature of this cut content and whether or not the game’s various delays mean that some of that content should have been preserved. There were already some fans who were speculating that the game’s reportedly smaller size (in comparison to The Witcher 3) wasn’t an intentional design decision but another compromise the team needed to make to get the game out the door.

Personally, I believe that Cyberpunk 2077‘s cut content likely wasn’t a case of needing to shed weight to keep the ship afloat and ensure that the game was released ASAP. However, as you’ve probably seen, the real problem here is that every Cyberpunk 2077 delay has resulted in increasingly complicated questions regarding the efficiency of the game’s development process and whether or not we’re here because of bad decisions made along the way.

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Everything we’ve seen and heard of Cyberpunk 2077 suggests it will be a very good game at the least. However, we’re probably one more Cyberpunk 2077 delay away from the conversation surrounding this game to focus on everything else besides the game itself.