The Unlikely Link: Cyberpunk 2077 & Automobilista 2

Cyberpunk 2077 is an upcoming Action Role Playing Game or ARPG, developed by CD Projekt and it has an interesting link to Automobilista 2, a simracing title developed by Reiza Studios, using the Madness Engine.

So before you click away thinking this is just click-bait, let me add some validity to the title by sharing that this unlikely link has nothing to do with genre, gameplay, publisher, platforms or hype but everything to do with the discussion around the developers and the meaning of “Going Gold”, Delays and constant updates.

For some context before we move on, the term “Going Gold” refers to the moment when the game is considered “complete” and in a state which copies can begin being produced. “Going Gold” is an ironic term these days, due to the industries use of game update road-maps, day zero patches etc…

Gold certification was achieved for Cyberpunk 2077 back on October 5th 2020 which came alongside an announcement of a November 19th release date but as of October 28th, that initial release date was pushed back to December 10th 2020.

It was the announcement made by CD Projekt, just after this news broke, which is the foundations of the following discussion and observation. The two paragraphs which we’ll focus on read as follows;

Some of you might also be wondering what these words mean in light of us saying we achieved gold master some time ago. Passing certification, or ‘going gold’, means the game is ready, can be completed, and has all content in it. But it doesn’t mean we stop working on it and raising the quality bar. On the contrary, this is the time where many improvements are being made which will then be distributed via a Day 0 patch. This is the time period we undercalculated.

We feel we have an amazing game on our hands and are willing to make every decision, even the hardest ones, if it ultimately leads to you getting a video game you’ll fall in love with.

It was the line But it doesn’t mean we stop working on it and raising the quality bar which to an extent links Cyberpunk 2077 to AMS2

Automobilista 2 as of writing has been on a two year journey of development and was first seen by the general public in April 2020, as part of Steam’s Early Access program.

Games or Software at this phase of development are somewhat playable but it is generally accepted that anything at this development stage will not represent the final quality. This was true in the case of AMS2, with V1.0 or the “Full Release/Final Product” bearing countless tweaks and additions since it first became accessible to the public in Early Access.

This is where the discussion of delays, gold certification and frequent updates begins to link the two games here.

Having reviewed AMS2 shortly after it’s full release, it was of my subjective opinion that the title had been somewhat rushed or pressured to fulfil its planned release date. Some minor graphical glitches, the unfinished/bugged career mode and small gameplay defects where present in its V1.0 product, though this didn’t render it unplayable, by observation alone, you could see that updates where required.

It is also important to remember Reiza Studios have made it clear from day dot, that AMS2 will be continually built and improved upon. While they employ an aggressive development strategy, with monthly targets, it has meant poor quality updates have made its way to the public releases, which fans sometimes become frustrated and disappointed over. While they have simultaneously said tidier and reliable releases are the goal.

In the recent October update and developers post for AMS2 , new GT3 and GT4 cars have been revealed to be added to the Sims car selection lineup and It was the small line in that post, which read;

AMS2 was designed to evolve over time – The first version of anything will always be the least developed version.

So now the question arises, why bother with Gold Certifications if its definition doesn’t apply in today’s modern gaming landscape ?

Why bother with Early Access, if even the technically defined final release, isn’t the final version at all ?

Well in both these games/developers cases, time isn’t always on your side, so leveraging patches to evolve, improve and polish is a great way to get copies into the hands of prospective players sooner. Though it is very important to balance incomplete or rough features with a highly enjoyable and playable experience and “Going Gold” should atleast let consumers know, that what you are purchasing is of a defined standard.

As for Early Access programs, the same concept applies, its an indicator that helps define the current state of the game and for the risk involved by getting in early, you will save a significant amount of money over the full releases price. At the end of the day it’s a tool for you, the consumer, which should ultimately result in a win too.

So whether or not AMS2 was pushed out too fast and should have possibly been delayed, Reiza have kept to the promise of providing quality improvements monthly, which builds trust in the brand from the community engaged. The same thing applies also for Cyberpunk 2077 and the recent decision to delay, time was a factor and it was the best decision they saw for the situation.

 While not unique to both AMS2 and Cyberpunk 2077, it has bought forward the discussion about ongoing development which goes on well past launch day and how the community engages with that news.

Developers and publishers need to balance time, staff and the community, while simultaneously providing a quality release that can be enjoyed. So whether something has gone gold or taken out of early access, we can use that to atleast provide piece of mind, a litmus test of sorts, which can help indicate that what you are buying meets a standard. As for updates being added long into the games life, as long as the initial launch has content, quality and polish, road-maps and updates mean we all get to enjoy RPG’ing or Simracing for longer, with more options to boot, hopefully extending the game’s life-cycle and value for money.

Both AMS2 and Cyberpunk 2077 promise better and improved visions for each games future but my question for you is this:

Do you care that you may be paying for a game which on launch day might be noticeably incomplete, even though the developers promised a road-map ?

Or

Should we see more games delay a few weeks or maybe months in order to provide the best possible, initial product and most importantly relieve our favourite development teams from the horror that is Crunch ?

At the end of the day, for most developers and publishers you can send the message by saying it with your wallet.