Don’t Blame QA For Cyberpunk 2077’s Buggy Launch – They Absolutely Knew About The Game’s Problems
There’s an old joke about game testers – or quality assurance (QA) – that I’m almost certainly going to massacre, but it goes a little something like this: a game tester walks into a bar, dives into a bar, sprints into a bar, slides into a bar, crawls into a bar.
CD Projekt Red’s CEO just took that bar and cracked the QA department around the head with it.
In case you missed it, CD Projekt co-founder Marcin Iwinski posted a video to the official Cyberpunk 2077 Twitter account last night, apologising for the state of the game’s console launch and bugs, while promising fixes and laying out the roadmap.
While the apology is appreciated and I’m inclined to believe that the studio will turn things around, there’s something in the video that bothers me. It’s this bit: “Every change and improvement needed to be tested and, as it turned out, our testing did not show a big part of the issues.”
Let me tell you a story about a person I know who used to work in QA at Rockstar games. Before GTA 4, their job for a year was to play the pool minigame in GTA San Andreas over and over, marking down every ball impact, pocket, and other tiny statistics to make sure they matched the on-screen stats players could see in the menus. On GTA 4, they spent over a year running around the open-world with a metal baseball bat and other objects, hitting every single piece of scenery in the game to make sure they made the correct sound upon impact. There’s likely nobody alive who knows GTA 4’s open-world better than the game testers who worked on it.
Game developers absolutely know the problems with their games, and QA are the librarians of this cursed knowledge. If we’re talking about bugs and streaming issues, which CD Projekt Red appears to be, the QA department would have known about them and reported them. At some point – due to deadlines and other pressures – these bugs and issues would have been marked shippable, with the aim of fixing the bulk of them in post-launch patches.
There’s no way the QA department missed all the floating objects, or your character T-posing out the top of your car, stripped completely naked. They would be aware that Quest X breaks if a player happens to look at it funny. QA specialists are some of the most important, underappreciated developers on a project. It’s just a case of what the other developers have to prioritise to make a deadline, or what potential errors one fix might create somewhere else.
I don’t think Iwinski meant to throw QA under the bus like this, but the mainstream gaming audience doesn’t generally understand or care how the Polish sausage is made. You constantly see posts like “fire the QA” or “haven’t you heard about quality assurance?” in response to buggy games, so I feel like it needs to be stated: QA specialists are the unsung heroes of game development. They’re often overworked and underpaid, their jobs are sometimes monotonous and repetitive, but their sole objective is to make the finished product as polished as possible.
“Please don’t fault any of our teams for what happened,” Iwinski said earlier in his apology video. “They are all incredibly talented and hardworking. Myself and the board are the final decision-makers and it was our call to release the game. Although, believe me, we never intended for anything like this to happen.” I just hope people extend this sentiment to the hard-working souls in CD Projekt Red’s QA department.
Next: Masahiro Sakurai Considers Cyberpunk 2077 A ‘Dream Game,’ Is Saddened By Refund Situation
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Kirk is the Editor-in-Chief at The Gamer. He likes Arkane games a little too much.
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