Cyberpunk 2077 is unquestionably, the strangest video game story of the year. “It’s a disaster” is actually too neat a bow on how things have played out, as it’s more complicated than that. Yes, the game performed so badly on last gen consoles it’s now actually inspiring lawsuits, and even on other versions, the amount of bugs present would make Bethesda blush.
And yet, I can see how the worm is turning. After all the T-poses and no pants glitches, I’m seeing a lot of people discuss the game itself, and many…genuinely like it a lot. And in terms of it being a “failure”? Well, even after refunds, Cyberpunk 2077 already sold 13 million copies, making it one of the fastest-selling games ever, and I’m sure that number is about to jump after Christmas. A financial failure, this is not, no matter what CDPR’s stock price is doing because of the launch issues and their poor response.
But while it’s clear CDPR will spend the next few months at least fixing what’s broken and unfinished about the game (with big patches already announced for January and February), I want to look further down the road. No, not to “free DLC” promised next year, which if that’s Witcher 3 level, should be relatively minor additions. And not paid DLC later, which will be much meatier, though if we ever see something on the scale of Blood and Wine again, I’d be surprised.
No, rather I’m talking about CDPR’s announced multiplayer for Cyberpunk 2077, something they said would take place in Night City but be a separate experience from the main campaign. And the more I’ve played Cyberpunk 2077, the more I understand exactly what they’re doing.
It’s GTA Online. They’re trying to do a GTA Online.
It is, of course, hard to blame them. GTA Online is a money printing machine for Rockstar, and while it may be the reason GTA 6 never seems like it’s going to arrive, it has helped turn GTA 5 into the best selling major release of all time and the online component alone has generated billions in revenue from its microtransactions.
Playing Cyberpunk, you can obviously see the framework in place. The pricey guns, outfits, cars are all there. There are the barebones of races, robberies, assassinations and other GTA Online-style activities. Hell even photomode keeps producing shots that literally look they could be pulled from GTA Online. The groundwork is all laid and really the only major thing to add is the inevitable PvP component, the difference being Cyberpunk is all FPS, all the time, with no third person option.
Believe me when I say this is the endgame, and when it arrives, it will be full of all manner of new CDPR-based controversies, I’m sure. For instance, the reason that GTA Online is as profitable as it is? Boundless microtransactions that pervade every inch of the game, and whale players that spend hundreds of even thousands to have all the highest tier stuff. “Shark Cards” are a never-ending debate point for GTA Online, and whatever their equivalent would be in Cyberpunk Online would no doubt cause players to question CDPR’s previously-held position of not having obtrusive microtranasctions. Granted, I’m bringing up something that CDPR hasn’t even done yet, and yet if the online mode is free, and the point is the make money, it’s hard to envision a system that does not involve GTA Online-style microtransactions, at least to some degree. CDPR has already lost a lot of reputation points among fans with the state of Cyberpunk 2077 at release, so what’s another bridge to cross, if it’s profitable enough?
As was the case with GTA Online, I am less interested in Cyberpunk Online than I would be some substantive single player DLC for Cyberpunk 2077, something GTA 5 never got. I do believe CDPR will do both, but I am absolutely expecting a big push to become the next GTA Online by 2022 at the latest. These launch issues will fade, but this game will go through a number of phases, and you can bet Online is the final endgame.
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