When Cyberpunk 2077's Twitter account bleeped into life this week for the first time since 2013, it was enough to set pulses racing. After all, why wouldn't we be excited about the next game from the exceptional talent behind The Witcher 3? The only thing is, CDPR is a studio acutely aware that goods things take time. It won't be hurried, it won't rush; Cyberpunk 2077 will be done when it's done. But when will Cyberpunk 2077 launch?
The usual form for something like this would be to take a look back at CD Projekt RED’s history and see what the usual pattern is for its releases. Only, that from goes right out the window when we consider Cyberpunk 2077 was announced before The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, a game that’s coming up to three years old now. We could potentially look even further back, at The Witcher and The Witcher 3, although the truth is that game development has changed so dramatically in the past 13 years that any comparisons are practically irrelevant.
CD Projekt RED is a studio marching to the beat of its own drum, and it’s certainly got the money to do that right now. Clearly, the Polish outfit is unafraid to take the ‘it’s ready when it’s ready’ approach, happy to let an anticipated game lie dormant for years until it feels the time is right for a re-reveal.
To that end, our best point of comparison is still probably The Witcher 3. At the time it was tentatively announced in 2013, CD Projekt RED said it would release in 2014. However, an open letter to fans eventually confirmed The Witcher 3 would be delayed from the third quarter of 2014 to February 24th, 2015. This date came and went without a whiff of a release, until in April CD Projekt RED finally nailed down a worldwide release of May 19th, 2015, the day one of the greatest RPG’s of all time would be released.
In total, we’re looking at just over two years between The Witcher 3’s announcement and its release. That’s no small stretch of time, although it’s already been six years since Cyberpunk 2077’s announcement. That’s hardly fair point of comparison, but what about from the time The Witcher 3’s marketing campaign really began to kick into gear? I think we can pinpoint that to June 10th, 2013, the day that infamous gameplay trailer became a reality. It was the one we ended up having countless comparisons to and cries of “Downgrade!”, “Burn them at the stake!”. Go back and watch it and the actual open-world parts look pretty rough, a sure sign that it still had a way to go. The action elements we were looking at were vertical slices of gameplay stitched together for demo purposes, rather than a cohesive look at the final game.
I would argue that despite the length of time it took The Witcher 3 to finally come out after its numerous delays, this isn’t a sign of things to come but instead the perfect opportunity for CD Projekt RED to learn from its own mistakes. The difference between saying a game is in development and boldly proclaiming it’s out soon is huge. In the former scenario we know nothing, and in effect, we’ve got nothing to clamour for. Ignorance is bliss. In the latter instance, fans are incredibly eager for more details, screenshots, videos, gameplay demos, and interviews.
Everything about this is a time sink for CDPR, outside of the obvious marketing benefits. Gameplay demos aren’t thrown together in days, they’re typically vertical slices that take months of time to develop and ultimately often stray far from the final product because of exactly that - vertical slices. Chunks of the game created specifically for the purpose of showing it off, rather than an indicator of the final gameplay systems interacting with one another. Just look at Rainbow Six Siege’s E3 2015 reveal trailer as a prime example of how drastically a game can change in the six months before launch, forcing Ubisoft to put together a staged demo that had Ubisoft's own worker bees guessing at what the final game would be.
If we were to base Cyberpunk 2077's launch on The Witcher 3’s announcement/hype/marketing cycle, that same approach would mean Cyberpunk 2077 will be ready to launch at some point in early 2020, assuming we get the first gameplay trailer within the next few months.
The alternative though, is that CDPR is preferring to keep the limelight off itself this time around. No gameplay demos, no trailers. It’s preoccupied with making the game. No distractions, few interviews, and managing expectations. Then, when it feels it’s truly good and ready, the marketing onslaught begins. “Beep”. I think it's highly likely that Cyberpunk 2077's launch will be much quicker than The Witcher 3's. From the moment new info drops, it's doubtful CD Projekt RED thinks it's more than a year from launch. While some may call it highly optimistic, I think the Cyberpunk 2077 Twitter account's activity this week is a sign that Cyberpunk 2077 will be out in 2018.
What are your thoughts on this, do you still think we have a long wait on our hands for Cyberpunk 2077? Or is CDPR's teasing a sure that Cyberpunk 2077 is launching soon? Get voting and let us know why below!