CD Projekt Red Denies Financial Troubles, Cyberpunk 2077 Crunch Will be “More Humane”

May 17, 2019
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CD Projekt Red’s upcoming Cyberpunk 2077 is one of the most anticipated titles on the horizon, and rightfully so – the game’s E3 2018 demo was astonishing stuff. That said, if you’ve been keeping your ear to the ground, there are some concerning murmurs surrounding CD Projekt Red and Cyberpunk 2077. Rumors the studio may be in financial trouble following the disappointing response to Thronebreaker and flagging GOG sales, and that Cyberpunk’s development may not be on track.

Well, in a new interview with Kotaku’s Jason Schreier, CD Projekt Red’s Marcin Iwiński and Adam Badowski denied any financial issues, saying they have a “large war chest,” although they did admit that transition from The Witcher 3 to Cyberpunk and to new technology was challenging.

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It’s always the same story across the entire industry. If you’re changing the technology and at the same time you’re producing the game, it’s a nightmare for most of the companies.

The subject of crunch also came up during the Kotaku interview, in fact, Iwiński and Badowski specifically reached out to address it. The subject has been very much in the news lately, with studios like Rockstar, Epic, and NetherRealm being accused of excessive crunch, and CD Projekt Red has a reputation for working their employees hard as well. While Iwiński isn’t committing to getting rid of crunch, he insists it’s “non-obligatory” and that the studio wants to be “more humane” to their employees…

We are known for treating gamers with respect. This is what we’ve been working hard toward. And I actually would [like] for us to also be known for treating developers with respect.

We’ve been communicating clearly to people that of course there are certain moments where we need to work harder — like I think the E3 demo is a pretty good example — but we want to be more humane and treat people with respect. If they need to take time off, they can take time off. Nobody will be frowned upon if this will be requested. […] Making this commitment, I hope it shows that we are treating this matter very seriously.

Of course, as anybody who’s worked a high-pressure job knows, “non-obligatory” overtime is often anything but. Technically, it may not be required, but the social pressure to work extra hours can be strong. That said, CDPR’s leaders insist they’re serious about limiting crunch and that they opted to publicly address the issue to prove they’re committed to their employees’ health. A cynical mind might say CDPR’s just trying to ensure they’re not the subject of a scathing expose down the line, but if this genuinely results in less crunch for the studio’s employees, it’s still a good thing.

It would be nice to see CD Projekt Red make more concrete moves to cut down on crunch, but, as I’ve said before, it’s a complicated issue. Video games are an artistic medium, and sometimes creativity doesn’t happen on a strict Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 schedule, but they’re also an industry, a product, and those who make them deserve fair treatment. Cyberpunk 2077 is a hugely-promising project, so let’s hope the game doesn’t run into any financial or development difficulties and that everyone in Poland stays sane while making it. There are a lot of eyes on CDPR right now, so if they don’t hold to their “humane” promises, I’m sure we’ll hear all about it.

Cyberpunk 2077 doesn’t yet have a release date, although the game will be at E3 2019.

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