Developer CD Projekt Red has confirmed that there will be no more DLC content made for 2020’s Cyberpunk 2077 after this month’s release of “Phantom Liberty.” But that decision is being driven less by analysis of player interest or sales potential and more by behind-the-scenes changes in the studio’s development pipeline.
“It’s a technological decision to be honest,” CDPR Senior VP of Business Development Michal Nowakowski said in a recent Q&A session (as transcribed by Video Games Chronicle). “This is the last time we’re working on the Red Engine for the time being at least, and in the foreseeable future as you know we are working on the Unreal Engine from Epic. This was one of the key reasons why we decided this was the only one.”
“This is the only expansion of the game, and it has nothing to do with the numbers and how satisfied or not we are with sales or anything of the kind,” Nowakowski added.
Since 2011’s release of The Witcher 2, CDPR has relied on its proprietary REDengine to build all of its open world games, including Cyberpunk 2077. But CDPR announced back in March of 2022 that it would be transitioning to the Unreal Engine for development of the next installment in The Witcher franchise. That represents the beginning of a 15-year partnership between CDPR and Epic that the developer said would “elevate development predictability and efficiency, while simultaneously granting us access to cutting-edge game development tools.”
CDPR’s partnership with Unreal came after Cyberpunk 2077‘s bug-laden launch led to an investor lawsuit and a widespread refund offer for the console version of the game. In early 2021, CDPR CEO Marcin Iwinski blamed those issues on REDEngine’s “in-game streaming system,” which constantly feeds content to the processor without the need for explicit loading breaks.
Working with a well-established third-party engine like Unreal could allow CDPR to focus more on game design and content and less on patching up that underlying engine technology. Hopefully that will help shorten the overall development time the studio needs for its next Witcher title; Cyberpunk 2077 development stretched out over numerous delays between its January 2013 cinematic teaser and its eventual December 2020 launch.
Alongside the release of “Phantom Liberty” later this month, CDPR is planning a free 2.0 Update to the base game. That update will include new features like vehicle combat and car chases as well as redesigns for the user interface, skill trees, and combat AI.