Cyberpunk 2077 last-gen build was worked on “until the last minute”

Keanu Reeves as Johnny Silverhand looking smug

Cyberpunk 2077 has almost certainly become the most talked about game of 2020 for several reasons. In terms of performance and technical capabilities, its immersive world and stunning visuals on PC have drawn praise, but on some consoles its a different story.

While those playing on last-gen consoles always knew it would never look as glitzy as it would on PC or even next-gen hardware, the crashes, bugs, and graphics of the PS4 and Xbox One versions have drawn heavy criticism – so much so in fact, the developer issued a statement this week offering players refunds. In a conference call, members of CDPR’s board have now lifted the lid on how it plans to appease disappointed last-gen players and has revealed why fans never saw a glimpse or a review of the last-gen version prior to launch.

According to the transcript of the conference call on December 14, CDPR admits that the last-gen build of Cyberpunk was being worked on by the team “until the very last minute,” which is why no gameplay was shown and why reviewers only managed to get their hands on PC versions.

“With regard to not showing the console version, we’ve actually shown console footage, but never on the last-gen consoles,” says CDPR’s co-founder and joint-CEO Marcin Iwińnski. “The reason is that we were updating the game on last-gen consoles until the very last minute, and we thought we’d make it in time. Unfortunately this resulted in giving it to reviewers just one day before the release, which was definitely too late and the media didn’t get the chance to review it properly. That was not intended; we were just fixing the game until the very last moment.”

Despite making a clear reminder that refunds are available, CDPR says in the call that it hopes players will stick with Cyberpunk 2077. A number of updates between now and February will aim to improve the last-gen experience, but the developer says its intention is just to make PS4 and Xbox One versions “a good, playable, stable game, without glitches and crashes,” with a limited amount of graphical improvements.

It also hopes players will show faith in Cyberpunk 2077 and not seek refunds because of its free upgrade to the next-gen version of the game in 2021.

“We have not released a proper next-gen version – we don’t have it ready yet,” says Iwinski. “What we did instead was promise that every single gamer who bought the game on last-gen consoles will get a proper next-gen update next year. This is what we’re working on and I sincerely hope that this will serve as another incentive for the gamers to keep the game and not return it – they will be able to plug their PlayStation or Xbox version into the next-gen consoles and the game will auto-update to a full-blown next-gen experience at no additional cost.”

While CDPR’s focus was always going to be on the PC and next-gen builds of Cyberpunk, to learn that the last-gen version was being worked until the last possible moment certainly explains why it has been a somewhat ropey experience on the PS4 or Xbox One.

CDPR now has to hope that the lure of near-future patches and the free upgrade to next-gen next year is enough to stop too many people returning the game.