OPINION

Cyberpunk 2077: When Marketing and Material Collide.

Cyberpunk 2077 was announced more than 8 years ago in May of 2012 and was officially unveiled to the world via a “Title Trailer” in October of 2012. More than 8 years later, the game is merely a few days away from being released after a long development and marketing cycle.

Cyberpunk 2077 will be a landmark game. A game of this scale and scope doesn’t come out very often, and it will dominate the discussion cycle for a long time after it releases. In many ways, it’s a cultural event when it comes to gaming, and it’s something that will be impossible to ignore.

The question that surrounds Cyberpunk 2077 is if it is even possible for the game to live up to the monumental hype surrounding it. Eight years is a long time for anything to exist, and for nearly a decade gamers have been anticipating, theorising, imagining a world they have yet to step into. These eight years have felt like eighty for multiple reasons, and a lot has happened in the world and a lot has impacted the discourse of the game.

What needs the most attention is the controversy surrounding the game and CD Project Red. There have been several accusations and discussions around transphobia, crunch culture, and other worrying and toxic actions. A lot of what has transpired has been worrying, and a lot of great points have been made about what message CDPR is sending with their imagery and comments. In a game where you can be anyone, why do some marginalised communities have to be made sideshow attractions of in order to sell the game? It could have done that on it’s own.

For these transgressions alone it is understandable why anyone would be put off by Cyberpunk 2077 and CDPR at large. We encourage anyone who is either disinterested or interested in this game to read a recent article from Stacey Henley over at Polygon as well as very well put together thread over at Resetera. It does a great job of discussing the many issues surrounding the game and gives a valuable and important perspective on how CDPR is marketing this game to the detriment of others.

There is also the issue of crunch, which has been a hot topic over the past few years and CDPR has often been at center stage. The game has been delayed multiple times, which gives the developers more time to complete the game, but also means a lot more crunch. Jason Schreier has done a good job reporting on this issue, including the CEO telling his investors one story while telling his employees another.

Strictly on the basis of the game itself, it may be impossible to live up to the hype based on its own merits. An Open World game in a futuristic, “Cyberpunk” setting made by the team who created The Witcher 3 is a dream game to many. The initial reveal at E3 2018 was incredible and showed a slice of what was possible.

It also explains why the above points can cause so much frustration to the ones hurt by them. How can you argue against the biggest game of 2020 and an army of passionate, dedicated fans, fuelled by a marketing cycle powered by a well funded developer and publisher? The toxicity on Twitter and social media in general when these points are raised makes it clear that this second coming in video games may not be questioned. It may only be “enjoyed”.

Keanu Reeves, Cyberpunk 2077 Actor, unveils the release date at the Xbox E3 2019 Briefing at the Microsoft Theater at L.A. Live, Sunday, June 9, 2019 in Los Angeles. (Photo by Casey Rodgers/Invision for Xbox/AP Images)

E3 2019 introduced Keanu Reeves as a persistent character – Johnny Silverhands – in the game, making this a truly cultural crossover and pushing the game into the mainstream. The game felt significant before this moment, but after E3 2019 it transcended previously held boundaries.

With only a few days remaining, it is hard to grasp exactly what we will be getting. Will we be getting the “next generation of open world adventure” CDPR has alluded too? Will the games world and it’s inclusion of being able to “be anyone or anything” soften a marketing campaign and history of behaviour that has often gone too far?

That is what a lot of people are hoping for, and we only have a few days to see what the game is all about when it is here, standing on it’s own.

But for a product set in a world where you fight against the system, against corporations and corruption, the company that built Cyberpunk 2077 seemed to ignore the human costs in order to sell its product to you.

Bear them in mind when you play.

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