Cyberpunk 2077 — Refund Mess and Current Gen Perspective
I think I will probably about Cyberpunk 2077 for a few more days. I do not watch TV dramas. I wonder if this is what they experience on a regular basis.
The latest episode in the Cyberpunk drama is that retailers (online and offline) are not excited about refunds. I agree with my fellow gamers (I was able to cancel my pre-order before all this drama started, and I had bought on GOG.COM which is extremely gamer friendly. They even gave me Witcher 3 GOTY on PC because I had bought it on PS4) that retailers should be more flexible with refunds.
I have written here about my recent experience with getting refunds (for an unrelated gaming purchase) from Xbox, for example.
At the same time, anytime we buy stuff, we are implicitly agreeing to certain terms. This is there to protect the company/retailer/developer/store, and gamers as well. I am very sure, since GOG.COM has no DRM, and has a 30 day return policy, enough gamers might be taking advantage on that. As long as there is a hole to exploit, someone somewhere is exploiting it vigorously.
CD Projekt Lack Of Clarity
The issue, I think, is the PR team at CD Projekt, to save face, stock value and gamer trust, putting out an apology (I have written about the apology stuff here) that gave an impression (its all marketing stuff, not legally binding or anything) that they have an arrangement with the stores to help with refunds.
That’s not the case.
This is precisely what they did with the game itself. Hype up the game like crazy, only for the gamers to discover that it runs real bad on their current gen consoles. Now, again, they hype their apology/refund thing, and boom, Sony and many retailers are refusing refund, which they have every right to do so. Bulk refunds have happened in the past. It may happen again.
[Note : Xbox players seem to have a better chance of getting refunds. In general, (not related to Cyberpunk 2077), I have found Microsoft far more relaxed when it comes refunds and such, especially when the issue is genuine]
Current Gen Perspective
I play on Xbox One S. I play on PS4 and PC as well. Like so many folks, I bought the game on PC, did not like things, and got a hassle free refund.
However, I don’t know how many people can afford to have the flexible in terms of gaming platforms like how I have. For a lot of people, its just one thing. Either an Xbox or a PlayStation. PCs for gaming continue to be expensive. I currently have a gaming PC powered by a 1060 6 GB, I bought 2 years ago. It cost me upwards of $2500 with all the upgrades, UPS and 2 K monitor and what.
Even in India, with its high import prices, a gamer can enjoy Xbox + TV gaming at roughly $800 dollars.
Right now, I am ready to buy the Xbox Series S (I have written about why Series S makes sense for an Indian gamer, here) but its not in stock. The delivery is one week or two weeks or nobody knows. Further, it makes good sense for a lot of people to wait out a few months when a new hardware launches. Sony and Microsoft, as with any new gadget, will discover new bugs and glitches once its sold to public.
Successive releases of both consoles have always been more refined, fine tuned and less buggy than the initial releases. This is true for everything in life, not just consoles or TVs or software.
Greed — Accidental or Intentional
I continue to be a big fan of CD Projekt. I love the Witcher 3. the GOG.com are super cool, and I bought some nostalgia fueled games on their platform. They gave me Witcher 3 for free, just because I paid for it on the PS4. They are very nice.
As a gamer, I regularly forgive even big companies for the many, many mistakes they do with games. For instance, 10 minutes of internet disconnection, Xbox Game Pass quits me out of a game. Come on! Ten Minutes? But, its okay. Sims 4 runs, a game from years ago, still drops down to 20 to 10 frames on my PC (and its a total mess on Xbox). It’s alright. I can live with it.
Perhaps, the best thing for Projekt to do would have been to just postpone the current gen release, in hindsight. I have some Xbox friends and I messaged them to ask about Cyberpunk 2077. Two of them are on Series X and they say, it looks good. They are having fun. Steam user reviews, which are insanely reliable as far as I am concerned) are also good if not RDR 2 level satisfaction.
There is no doubt that the game is not optimized. At the same time, the ageing hardware is also at fault here. This week, I am playing Call Of The Sea (my impressions on the game here), and its absolutely beautiful on the Xbox One S. I am sure it will look incredible on my PC as I have the Game Pass Ultimate thing. I got choices. It uses Unreal, which is incredibly optimized, but I still found occasional low frame rates on the Xbox One.
Not jarring but noticeable.
The Xbox One S is just old technology. Console 2 to 3 years before they are actually released. We trying to run today’s games on hardware that was designed some 10 years ago. Once I get my Series S, I will probably not use the One S except to play the games that came before 2020. Projekt should have just announced a delayed release or cancelled it altogether.
Right now there are millions of old gen consoles (PS4 and Xbox One) and only a few hundreds on the current gen out there. If they had cancelled, this money would never come. They would not get to claim millions of orders at launch, perhaps to justify the years of hype. I think they got greedy. Trick people into buying and then conveniently place the blame on retailers and stores for not issuing a refund.
I do not know if you watch The Office, US Version. In one instance, Dwight explains, he puts the ‘attractive’ beets called as ‘money beets’ on display to attract customers. Then, when they show up, he only sells them regular beets. In another instance, he promises a client (his own CEO!) exotic animal meat. Later, in a talking head segment, confesses that he will disguise goat meat as whatever exotic meat the client asked for.
He’s like that. He’s devious. Right now, Projekt looks like that devious Dwight.
Perhaps this is some global social experiment to see how much crap gamers will tolerate out of devotion to their favorite developer. Anyway, this post has already gone too long.
Drama. So much Drama.