Thomas Mahler, a well-known game developer from Moon Studios (maker of such brilliant games as Ori And The Will Of The Wisps), has come out with a very strong statement about the Cyberpunk 2077 situation.
In the lead-up to the launch of Cyberpunk 2077, the developers at CD Projekt Red gave a lot of glowing statements, to the point that hype for the game was pretty much off the charts. When the game launched, though, it was riddled with bugs and errors, to such an extent that Sony pulled the game from its PS Store because the performance on PS4 consoles was that bad.
This has led some people, Mahler included, to compare CD Projekt Red's marketing techniques to that of a 'snake oil salesman'. That is to say, somebody that makes outlandish claims about a product in order to make you buy it, despite being fully aware that the product will fall short of those expectations.
To see everything that Mahler said about Cyberpunk 2077, keep on reading...
A history of 'snake oil salesmen' in gaming
As Mahler wrote in a post on the ResetEra forums, "This is something that's been bothering me for a while and I get kinda riled up about it every time I see it unfold. And every time it keeps happening, people keep falling for it...
"It all started with [Peter] Molyneux [the developer of Black & White, Fable and many more games]. He was the master of 'Instead of telling you what my product is, let me just go wild with what I think it could be and get you all excited!" - And that was fine, until you actually put your money down and then the game was nothing like what Peter was hyping it up to be. He pulled this shit for a good decade or more with journalists and gamers loving listening to Uncle Peter and the amazing things he's doing for the industry. It took him to release some pretty damn shoddy games for press and gamers to finally not listen to the lies anymore.
"Then came Sean Murray, who apparently had learned straight from the Peter Molyneux handbook. This guy apparently just loooooved the spotlight. Even days before No Man's Sky released, he hyped up the Multiplayer that didn't even exist and was all too happy to let people think that No Man's Sky was 'Minecraft in Space', where you could literally do everything (you being able to do everything is generally a common theme behind the gaming snake oil salesmen, cause hey, that sorta attracts everybody!). Obviously there was massive backlash when No Man's Sky finally released and the product being nothing like what Murray hyped it up to be. But what happened then? They released a bunch of updates, so let's forget about the initial lies and deception and hey, let's actually shower him with awards again, cause he finally kinda sorta delivered on what he said the game would be years earlier. Thanks, Geoff Keighley. Rewarding that kinda behavior will surely help the industry grow stronger."
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Ori developer slams Cyberpunk 2077 lies
Mahler continued: "And then came Cyberpunk. Made by the guys that made Witcher 3, so this shit had to be good. Here's our Cyberpunk universe and - trust us - you can do fucking everything! Here the entire CDPR PR department took all the cues from what worked for Molyneux and Murray and just went completely apeshit with it. Gamers were to believe that this is "Sci-Fi GTA in First Person". What's not to love? Every video released by CDPR was carefully crafted to create a picture in players minds that was just insanely compelling. They stopped just short of outright saying that this thing would cure cancer. This strategy resulted in a sensational 8 million pre-orders. What happened then was this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_CymqHdNYkg&ab_channel=BeatEmUps.
"The product was a fraction of what the developer hyped it up to be and on top of that it barely even ran on consoles that it was supposed to 'run surprisingly well on!'.
"I'd argue that all 3 of those are clear examples of you folks all being made fools of. And even the 'journalists' in this industry happily played along, each and every single time.
"And let me also say, from the perspective of a developer, all of this just sucks. Back in 2014, I remember some journalist from some big publication telling us that Ori almost got the cover article of some magazine I read frequently, but ultimately they had to pick No Man's Sky cause it was the 'bigger game'. I kinda agreed back then, thinking to myself: "Ok, I get it, they have to promote the bigger game, they obviously have to go for the clicks. Sucks, but that's how the game is played." But then I really felt bamboozled once No Man's Sky came out and it became clear that all this hype was really just built on lies and the honest guy who just showed his actual product really got kicked in the balls because the lying guy was able to make up some tall tales that held absolutely no substance.
"I know this whole thread might come off as me sounding bitter and I'm sure there'll be some people that see this as me shitting on other devs. No, I'm not. I'm shitting on liars and people that are okay with openly deceiving others. I'd argue that we should all agree that this shit is not okay. If I go and buy a car and the car salesman sells me a car that supposedly has 300 horse power, but on the drive home after the purchase I notice that he switched out the motor when I wasn't looking, I'd be rightfully pissed off, cause I was deceived.
"And yet, gamers and journalists don't really seem to mind all that much. Yeah, the backlash is coming, but usually you see a ton of people then arguing that they like the game that came out of it anyway. That is so not the point. It doesn't matter if the snake oil actually tastes fine. Don't sell me on features that don't exist. Don't paint a picture that you'll not be able to deliver. Just don't fucking lie to me. You're fucking over gamers, you're fucking over journalists (that should know better, so shame on you!) and you're fucking over other developers.
"There, I said my piece, felt like a chip I needed to get off my shoulder and I think this is a wrong that we should set right so that this won't happen anymore."
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UPDATE: Now he's apologised!
A lot can change in a few hours on the internet, and not long after his impassioned post went viral, Mahler took to Twitter to apologise with this serious statement:
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