Let's be honest here, Cyberpunk 2077 left a bad taste owing not just to the massive number of bugs, but also the underwhelming world and dynamics. What was supposed to be the best game of the decade, as per the massive hype and marketing campaign around it, turned out to be underwhelming to say the absolute least.
CD Projekt Red is a small-ish studio with a staff of fewer than 1,000 employees, located in two cities in Poland. While Witcher 3's massive success brought about a ton of goodwill for the studio, Cyberpunk 2077's launch state tarnished that reputation. It's not just the fans and critics that have turned against the studio, but their own investors have filed multiple lawsuits against them. From such a cornered state, can CD Projekt Red make a grand comeback from the disaster called Cyberpunk 2077?
The Rise of CD Projekt Red
CD Projekt Red has the perfect underdog's story. Started with a bunch of boys selling games in Poland, then going on to start their own studio with minimal success. They kept working towards the dream and finally, in 2015, they shot to the top with the Witcher 3. The Witcher 3 was an awe-inspiring achievement for a then small and unknown CD Projekt Red. The game brought them good name and fortune.
While we remember Witcher 3 as this near-perfect game, it wasn't so great when it came out. Witcher 3 had quite a rocky launch as well, full of bugs. However, since CD Projekt Red was a rather unknown studio back then, no one really gave much thought to it. The devs on the other hand kept working hard on updates and expansions to make it the success it is today.
The Fall of CD Projekt Red
While many out there have compared the launch of Cyberpunk 2077 to the Witcher 3, I believe it's quite a different story, at least from a financial investor's aspect. After the huge success of The Witcher 3, CD Projekt Red was playing in the big leagues with the likes of Rockstar and Bethesda, though their team and quite likely their funding wasn't anywhere near them. [HOW MUCH DID THEY SPEND ON MARKETING THOUGH?]
So while Witcher 3 was a slightly buggy game from an underdog at launch, Cyberpunk 2077 was a corrupted and abject failure from the table of big-league players. Furthermore, it's not just the bugs and glitches that brought about the bad name. CD Projekt Red had promised far more than they could deliver and the fans were hyped for even more than what CD Projekt Red had promised.
Sure, CDPR can work on multiple updates and hotfixes to deliver what they told everyone the game would be, but it's next to impossible to deliver what fans had anticipated from the game. The studio is working hard on fixes to make Cyberpunk 2077 as smooth as possible, but I don't think they can change the very fundamentals of the title. Witcher 3, on the other hand, had its fundamentals on point.
Cyberpunk 2077 is a massive open-world game in a dense city. The only real comparison for such a title is Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto V and Red Dead Redemption 2. However, what we often forget is the fact that Rockstar is almost 4x as big as CD Project Red in terms of team size, and they're funded by much deeper pockets.
But all that doesn't matter to gamers, does it? For us, Cyberpunk 2077 costs the same as Red Red Redemption 2, but the latter has much more to offer. Keeping the bugs aside, the world of RDR2 is much, much more alive, with a better thought out AI and police that actually chase you more than 10 feet.
As such, CD Projekt Red finds itself in a deeper pit with Cyberpunk 2077 than it did with Witcher 3 since the studio is now sitting in the big leagues.
The Comeback of CD Projekt Red
So, I just listed several reasons that seem to suggest CD Projekt Red isn't making a comeback. However, I do believe that CD Projekt Red has a lot more to offer, even if that's not in the form of Cyberpunk 2077.
The developers have been working hard to make Cyberpunk 2077 playable and remove glitches. In fact, many hotfixes have already been implemented and made the game so much better than it was at launch. At this point, Cyberpunk 2077 is already a half-decent title. The only problem is that it was a game developed to compete against the likes of the aforementioned Red Dead Redemption 2, so you can't exactly blame people for still feeling unsatisfied.
With that said, it's not the end for CD Projekt Red and Cyberpunk 2077 yet. There've been countless other titles that have weathered the proverbial storm and succeeded despite a disastrous launch. Hello Games' No Man's Sky is a good example of this.
For those who've forgotten, No Man's Sky was one of the most hyped games of the 2010s. Unfortunately, it fell way short of expectations at launch. Still, Hello Games kept on it and today, it has since become one of the best games out there. But, Hello Games did not walk away from the ordeal without some painful lessons. In fact, one of the founders, Sean Murray, has even gone on the record to say that they intend to keep the specifics of their future projects quiet so that the studio doesn't have to go through the same thing ever again.
Although the acquisitions and changes haven't led to Cyberpunk 2077 doing a No Man's Sky just yet (and it probably never will), CD Projekt Red has put itself in a better position to make sure that its future titles will not suffer the same fate.
Besides, it's not like CD Projekt Red can afford to make the same mistake. Unlike BioWare, which has the full backing of Electronic Arts and is a much more established studio that can go ahead and cancel projects like Shadow Realms and Anthem, all the while working on a critically-panned title like Mass Effect: Andromeda, CD Projekt Red's goodwill with the video game community was built on the backs of The Witcher franchise and they can only milk that proverbial cow so much.
So, even if it's not with Cyberpunk 2077, CD Projekt Red is bound to ultimately make a recovery with their next title if only because they have no other choice left.