As the march to E3 (June 12-14) continues information about Cyberpunk 2077 continues to dribble out (with the presence of the game at E3 at last confirmed). Here's the news we have with my thoughts on it.
I mentioned in my original post that CD Project Red (CDPR) was looking to include a seamless multiplayer experience, even though this was not part of their original (2012) six promises for the game. There has since been some confusion over the multiplayer (with The Triple S League arguing nothing has changed). This is what company president Adam Kiciński said:
First of all we're going to deliver players a huge, story-driven role-playing game for a single player, as was the case with The Witcher 3. As to further extensions of the game, I don't like to comment on that, but I'm not saying it's [multiplayer] not going to be the case because we already said in the past that we wanted our future projects to integrate online components at some point. Technology-wise, Cyberpunk is very advanced. Our technology is ready to interface with future generations. The game is developed in such a way that it can use very powerful future equipment, but I cannot tell you more beyond that today, as no future generation of consoles has been announced.This largely echoes what Kiciński said back in November and we know they were looking to hire a multiplayer designer back in August, 2016. I agree with TSL that nothing he said suggests any change being made.
Kiciński referenced next gen consoles and evidence continues to accrue that the PS5 could come out later this year (a good summary is here, but also see below), something a high octane game like Cyberpunk 2077 would need to fully take advantage of what it can do (and separate itself from the Witcher 3).
The idea Cyberpunk 2077 being released sooner than later is being accepted by others who prominently cover the game--in the cited specific it's bizarrely based on information that's been out since 2016 (the planned major release schedule for CDPR--two major games between then and 2021).
Speaking of the release TSL recently went through their reasons for why they expect the game to come out in November (with caveats for early 2019, but that's not the plan):
- CDPR's studio is massive right now with 600+ employees (far larger than it typically is)
- CDPR is not giving out a revenue split in 2018 and that's only done when the company anticipates a major expense in that fiscal year; the most likely reason is to spend money marketing the game, which suggests a late 2018 or early 2019 release--for them not to do the split without a game release makes no sense
- There's a strong suggestion via statements they've made in financial presentations that their next major release (whatever comes after Cyberpunk) will be in 2020 (TSL says they have inside sources) and CDPR would not release games back-to-back (ie, in 2019)
- Many major releases are coming out in 2019 (ergo, extra competition)
- The game is almost certainly going to be released with a new console to separate it from the Witcher and take advantage of the new engine, as such: if, as expected, Sony releases a 25th anniversary playstation it has to be in November, 2018; the people covering the release of the new console are either saying 2018 or 2020 and the latter makes no sense (the reporting for the former is more reliable than the later, with the latter being Kotaku)--TSL says there are games coming out this year and following that cannot run on a PS4 even at 50% capacity (they make the example that Anthem can't run on a regular PS4 and that Horizon Zero Dawn had to make major adaptions to function on it). Sony Interactive Entertainment chief Kodera recently said "[PS4 is] finally entering the end of the console life cycle," adding yet more fuel to the fire
- CDPR's comment that their main source of revenue in 2018 will be Gwent and Witcher was made because to say anything else would be to announce Cyberpunk's release date
- Releasing in 2020 to match the best-known version of the RPG makes little sense because of how obscure that RPG is--it wouldn't be satisfying a significant market (I went over how quickly the game disappeared from the gaming scene in my previous post); I think if they wanted that connection they would have made the title Cyberpunk 2020
- Consoles like to launch with a new game/IP
In my first post I'd mentioned data being stolen from CDPR and held for ransom last June. There's finally an update: strong legal action was taken (unspecified) to deal with the situation immediately at that time.
Finally, and to me of limited interest, the ESRB rating will be the same as the Witcher. I don't think there was an expectation of anything else, but it certainly matches CDPR's original promise of a "mature RPG for mature audiences, realistic and brutal."
I mentioned previously that I believe a fourth Witcher game is the planned release after Cyberpunk 2077 and I wanted to briefly go over why. Beyond the fact that it simply makes sense--there is demand and it would make a ton of money--we also have comments in February at the Pareto Securities' Gaming Seminar where CDPR told the CFO's gathered that through 2021 the only IP they would be working on would be Witcher and Cyberpunk. That doesn't leave a lot of room for ambiguity. It's also the safe choice--while I expect Cyberpunk 2077 to be a very successful game, if it's not, or not as successful, going back to Witcher is the easiest way to carry on their legacy. My guess is that their consistent denials about a Witcher 4 means this won't be a continuation of Geralt's story, but rather an RPG like Cyberpunk 2077--one that isn't beholden to the Geralt story, although it will surely inform it. It's suggestive that Netflix is expected to release its Witcher series in 2020--even though the show is about Geralt, there's still synergy launching it around the game's release. CDPR doesn't have the same worries that original Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones material does because the Witcher games were original stories in the first place--the characters are adaptations, but the storytelling is all CDPR, so other than losing the titular character there's no loss in the caliber of what's available to them. A new Witcher in 2020 would also come close to their four-year release cycle for the franchise (2007, 2011, and 2015 previously)--giving some oomph to keeping Gwent humming along (new cards etc).
This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)