Cyberpunk 2077 debacle calls for change by Sony

In December 1982, under a Christmas flurry of hype, anticipation and cutting corners, Atari released the video game ET Extra-Terrestrial long enough for parents to have it under the tree until 25.

The game has been a hasty disappointment for centuries. It now resonates loudly 38 years later, as the gaming and investment world twists around the failed December 10 launch. 2077. Cyberpunk. The futuristic adventure has had so many mistakes that, within days of launch, there is an industry of YouTube cottages that collects the worst of them.

Last week, in addition to offering refunds, Sony abruptly removed the game from the PlayStation Store online – a radical move that suggests a new bet on the changing landscape of the gaming industry.

cyberpunk, produced by the Polish developer CD Projekt Red, listed in Warsaw, has already had a period of eight years. It comes in a long line of half-cooked festive games for the $ 160 billion gaming industry. The monstrosity that arose when Atari tried to capitalize AND the fever was the manual result of excessive excess, excess of promise, and excessive pressure from the leader.

Players, in that intermediate period since that launch, have become extremely hard-working customers: polarized between manic excitability and the furious steadiness of games that cost around $ 70.

Some copies of 8 million cyberpunk were pre-ordered on all PlayStation, Xbox and PC platforms before launch. The rush to launch by CD Projekt Red, which has suffered a 35% drop in share prices since the game was launched, is understandable. The company has generated a colossal global fan base as the producer of the 2015 blockbuster Witcher 3. Anticipation for cyberpunk I fed on that, as did the disappointment when the game’s launch was postponed twice earlier this year.

Sony’s decision to remove the game from its online store while CD Projekt is working on a major solution (the first of which was promised for January) is a particularly striking departure from the traditional approach.

It reveals a lot about the corporate computing involved in the game, as the Japanese console manufacturer considers its relationships with critical third-party developers, such as CD Projekt. Sony faces the threat of future disruption to streaming services by Amazon and Google as it navigates the opening weeks of what is likely to be a seven-year “console war” with rival Xbox maker Microsoft.

Sony’s gentle explanation for the decision is that “it strives to ensure a high level of customer satisfaction.” In this sentence is understood what he put into play. Anger at half a game could rightly be directed at the developer, but it’s a Sony-branded controller that the player owns when the game breaks down and the anger is contagious.

Sony’s problem here is that it has invested decades in actively depositing a direct association between the game and the platform in the minds of gamers. It now intends to capitalize even more on the cohesive power and reputation of its platform: both as a shield against disrupting streaming services for newcomers, and as a sword as it handles the next-generation Microsoft console.

The company’s shares are now at a 20-year high, largely because investors believe Sony has made the right strategic call. But these are delicate times: cyberpunk debacle catches Sony as it tries to move its powerful user base of 114 million PlayStation 4 owners to the next generation PlayStation 5 launched in mid-November, even if it can’t produce enough new cars to meet demand.

Given its long-term strategy, Sony seems to have decided on a zero-tolerance approach to protect its brand. He sent a message that players have the “right” to an almost perfect product at launch and that developers should never mess with it.

Sony can’t afford to be angry with players. There is a very fine line between disappointment in a late game and anger in a half game. Sony has decided to design itself as a platform that will zealously choose the former over the former. Microsoft has decided (so far) not to shoot cyberpunk from its online store. This can give Sony what it hopes will be a moral superiority that players will eventually reward. They’re probably more fickle than that.

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