It’s been a few days since the CDPR investor call which dropped the bombshell of them rethinking their approach to Cyberpunk 2077 multiplayer. The presentation and call appeared to indicate that CDPR has been shocked into making some big changes at the studio due to the reception of Cyberpunk 2077 by the games press and some of the gaming community.
It has to be said that Cyberpunk 2077 has numerous problems thanks to the plethora of bugs when the game launched. With the release of the v1.2 update last week, CDPR at least appears to be attempting to tackle some of the major issues. Let’s not pretend though that this v1.2 update was perfect. There are still many issues that need to be dealt with in future updates.
When gamers picked up a copy of Cyberpunk 2077 they were aware that some kind of multiplayer would appear and that would require an additional purchase of a standalone multiplayer game. That always struck me as a bit odd. We’re more used to seeing games have features added to an existing product over time with DLC or feature add-ons. A bit like the Watchdogs Legion model where the single-player released first with multiplayer to follow.
Last week’s investor call made for some miserable headline reading. Clickbait “multiplayer canceled” or “multiplayer pulled” headlines were all over the place. In fact, the real wording was “reconsidered” which has a whole different meaning when put in the context of the presentation and Q&A section of the investor call.
What we don’t know at the moment is the exact plans of CDPR for Cyberpunk 2077 beyond the next twelve months. There’s DLC, there are the next-gen updates and the bug fixes. That’s pretty much all that’s been confirmed. Considering the amount of work that still needs to be done to get the game in tip-top shape, that’s plenty to be getting on with.
CDPR “Reconsiders” Cyberpunk 2077 multiplayer
Back to the Cyberpunk 2077 multiplayer. What can we expect? Well, we have to look at exactly what they said and then interpret it as best we can right now.
This technology will power online components we choose to introduce in our games. With this technology in place, we can start to grow an online community powered by our own GOG Galaxy platform which connects players both inside and outside of our games”.
Is multiplayer dead? Here’s why it’s unlikely canned
What it sounds like is that CDPR is scrapping its plans for a standalone release and going back to the drawing board. I read this as the company now developing in-house online tech that can be slipped into games as they evolve with updates. This could in effect end up happening with Cyberpunk 2077 which could change over time as new updates are launched which would include added tech to handle online functionality and eventually a proper Cyberpunk 2077 multiplayer experience.
These updates could start small but I’ll admit I am struggling to see what online functionality they could add that wasn’t full-blown multiplayer that would add much to the game. What I would have loved to have seen is co-op play, it would have meant reworking how the dialogue works and how a second protagonist could slip into the game alongside V. A kind of sidekick helping V on his/her journey through the game. That’s unlikely to happen but it would have been great.
So is multiplayer dead? I think it’s more likely delayed for a lot longer than fans expected than actually dead in the water. They need time to carry out the changes at the studio, fix the game, win gamers back, and then reveal any future online functionality. That said, what a full multiplayer experience would actually look like in Cyberpunk 2077 is hard to envision at the moment but they obviously had plans.
There was also a lot of emphasis on CDPR’s marketing strategy too during the CDPR strategy slides. No longer will they be pushing out development updates years in advance. Marketing will be more measured and not kick in until closer to a product’s release.
It has to be said that CDPR is not the only party to blame for this, the press played just as big a role extolling the brilliance of the game well in advance of even playing it. Writing about a game demo behind closed doors no longer cuts it and gamers need to be savvier and take what’s written with a pinch of salt. Journalists also need to stop thinking about hits and start thinking about consumers. I know it’s hard for games journalists but they need to at least try.
There’s a lot of work ahead but there’s a game here that could reach its full potential given more time. I know, you’ve read that a thousand times already but Cyberpunk 2077 is far from a disaster, especially on PC. Will gamers hang around to find out if the game’s been improved and hanker after a potential Cyberpunk 2077 multiplayer experience? Probably.
The game’s issues have caused such a ruckus it’s likely going to get column inches in the media for some time yet. The games press always looks for the most sensational stories to keep readers coming back and that could benefit CDPR in the long term whether they be good or bad headlines in the weeks and months ahead.