Here's the Thing

No Man’s Sky vs. Cyberpunk 2077

This column is a reprint from Unwinnable Monthly #135. If you like what you see, grab the magazine for less than ten dollars, or subscribe and get all future magazines for half price.


Here’s the Thing is where Rob dumps his random thoughts and strong opinions on all manner of nerdy subjects – from videogames and movies to board games and toys.


So. Cyberpunk 2077. That sure was a shitshow, wasn’t it?

I could drone on about how the game was such a mess upon its release that people began alleging that CDProjekt Red outright lied about the state of the game, or even the lowest hanging and most obvious fruit of how the game was literally so much of a goddamn mess at launch that Sony actually pulled it off of the PSN marketplace and offered refunds to everyone who bought it on the platform. I could (and might still) do that, but instead I have a question for us all to ponder: “What the fuck?” Because a little over four years ago we had a similar situation with an equally hyped-up game that had a very disappointing launch that resulted in people demanding refunds and accusing the developers of lying. But here’s the thing: people (read: The Gamers) were utterly furious about No Man’s Sky to the point where Hello Games’ Sean Murray – who had sort of become the face of the project – was getting death threats. And yet Cyberpunk 2077’s very similar (arguably worse, in my opinion) transgressions seem to be regarded as more funny than infuriating.

I’m gonna tell you all upfront that I don’t have any answers to any of this. The best I can offer is speculation and more questions, but I think these are things very much worth thinking about even if we can’t find definitive causes or perfect solutions.

I remember people angrily digging into No Man’s Sky to try and prove how Sean Murray was maliciously lying about the game during development in order to effectively steal money from innocent gamers (*gagging noises). People lost their fucking minds when they discovered two players could be in the same location but not see each other or interact. It was a goddamn scandal. But CDProjekt Red supposedly lied about performance and stability on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, currently a much bigger install base than the PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X that both just released a little over a month ago and are still proving difficult to get a hold of for a lot of people. Why is there not a bigger stink about a company (allegedly) misleading consumers to such a degree?

Granted, yes, stinks are definitely being made. Some people and some outlets are talking about the mess that is Cyberpunk 2077 in a greater capacity than just reporting on Sony pulling the game off of PSN or the fact that OpenCritic is openly accusing the company of lying. This is good. But the masses by and large don’t seem to care all that much. Or rather, they do care in the sense that they can post videos to Twitter about how goofy the game is when a car randomly decided to do a barrel roll or a player character gets punted so far into the air that the entire game world’s map becomes a single pixel on a screen. Why is it okay that CDProjekt Red dropped the ball so spectacularly on a game that, supposedly, so many people were looking forward to more than any videogame ever? Why was it not okay when little indie studio Hello Games did the same thing with No Man’s Sky?

I’ve got three theories that are based entirely on my own speculation, so, you know, don’t try to interpret any of this as Definitely What Happened. But I’m going to share them anyway. First, maybe it was mostly the “edgelords” that were mad about No Man’s Sky, and maybe because Cyberpunk’s marketing and CDPR’s social media accounts have made it a point to pander to “edgelords” they’re far more willing to give Cyberpunk 2077 a pass? Or second and far more likely but still just theoretical, maybe it’s because for all its many, many, many faults, CDProjekt Red is highly regarded as a AAA game company while Hello Games was just “those folks that made Joe Danger” until Sean Murray became history’s greatest monster because he . . . said something would be in the game that wasn’t in the game when it came out? Third and also more likely, maybe it’s because people had a face and a name to associate with No Man’s Sky throughout its development, so they had a specific target rather than a nebulous brand to attack?

Look the point is it’s not okay for a videogame developer to mislead customers. It’s not okay for a company to lie about their intentions to not overwork their employees. It’s not okay to celebrate a company or developer for doing either or both of those things (or celebrate them in spite of it) It’s not okay for someone to threaten the life of another person because of a perceived slight. It’s not okay. So why is it okay for some people?


Rob Rich is a guy who’s loved video games since the 80s, and has had the good fortune of being able to write about them. The same goes for other nerdy stuff from Anime to Godzilla, and from Power Rangers toys to Transformers. He gave up on Twitter, because Twitter is garbage, but you can still find him on Instagram and Mastodon.

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