Some recent team-leader level departures from Cyberpunk 2077 led to speculation there was trouble in paradise - and paradise began sounding worse and worse the more CD Projekt Red company reviews on employee feedback site Glassdoor I read.
Evidently the groundswell of negativity and whispering rose to such a level CD Projekt Red felt inclined to wade in. Co-founder Marcin Iwinski, and studio manager Adam Badowski, today issued a statement "regarding morale here at the studio".
"We'd normally avoid commenting on company reviews on spaces like Glassdoor, but this time around - especially in light of the fact we haven't communicated anything about Cyberpunk 2077 for a long time and saw some gamers getting worried about the project - we'd like to elaborate on a few things."
It boils down to CD Projekt Red being a lot larger than it used to be - twice the 200-person size of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt development - and having an uncompromising stance about what it wants to make.
"Every role-playing game we ever developed seemed impossible to achieve at the moment we set out to create it ... [but] even if something feels impossible, it doesn't mean it is. As it turns out, most often things are perfectly possible, they just require a lot of faith, commitment and spirit," the statement said.
"This approach to making games is not for everyone. It often requires a conscious effort to 'reinvent the wheel' - even if you personally think it already works like a charm. But you know what? We believe reinventing that wheel every friggin' time is what makes a better game. It's what creates innovation and makes it possible for us to say we've worked really hard on something, and we think it's worth your hard-earned-cash. If you make games with a 'close enough is good enough' attitude, you end up in a comfort zone. And you know where the magic happens.
"Cyberpunk 2077 is progressing as planned but we are taking our time - in this case the silence is the cost of making a great game."
Which all sounds rousingly heroic and exactly what I want from a company making a game I really want to play - no compromise! But it comes at a human cost. We shouldn't forget that.In praise of Morrowind A game about game design.
I spoke anonymously to people who had worked at CD Projekt Red in the past and they pointed to negative Glassdoor reviews as being accurate of the situation there. In essence people were feeling overworked, underpaid and as though there was little organisation or they weren't being heard. (Of course extreme Glassdoor reviews on one side of the scale or the other - either very positive or very negative - should be taken with a hefty pinch of salt. CD Projekt Red's overall rating is 3.1 out of five stars.)
But these were often people who had been there less than a year and had come from other big studios organised in other ways, maybe better ways. How do you convince all of these new people that your bruteforce (perhaps) way of facing the tidal wave of work ahead is the best way? The diehard veterans will be with you until the end, but the less devoted newcomer? There's bound to be friction.
But such is CD Projekt Red's new burden. Life in the limelight will be tough.
Cyberpunk 2077 will not be released before 2018, CD Projekt Red has previously said. If I were a gambling man - and I once backed seven horses in a row who all came last, so I'm not - I'd expect a release sometime in 2019. Excruciatingly far away isn't it? Felt all the keener after I caught up with Cyberpunk pen-and-paper creator - and Cyberpunk 2077 advisor - Mike Pondsmith recently.