Development on CD Projekt RED's sci-fi RPG, Cyberpunk 2077, had appeared to be going well after the developer released a gameplay demo and offered tons of info including details about the game's weapons and combat systems. However, this progress may have been dealt a blow by the departure of one high profile team member.
According to an update on LinkedIn, Sebastian Stępień, who was the creative director on Cyberpunk 2077, has now left CD Projekt RED. The developer, who had been at the Polish studio since 2006 and has worked on all three of The Witcher games, is now a Blizzard Entertainment employee. The listing on LinkedIn explains that Stępień is also working as a creative director at Blizzard, reportedly on a new, secret project.
The hire of Stępień is being seen as a big win for Blizzard, which is also on a hiring spree for an unannounced Diablo project. In addition to expansions and spin-offs of its existing franchises, Blizzard is reportedly looking to build new franchises. This is apparently part of a revenue-boosting mandate from Blizzard's parent company, Activision, who has been concerned about slowing active user figures.
Cyberpunk 2077 fans have also been heavily speculating about what this could mean for the hotly anticipated game. The sci-fi RPG is an incredibly ambitious project, featuring multiple classes, online multiplayer elements, and an open-world that is larger than The Witcher 3's. The game would have benefitted heavily from Stępień's expertise and experience and there are some concerns that the game could be worse off without its creative director.
Others are taking this as a hopeful sign. If Cyberpunk 2077's creative director feels that his work is done and that it is time to look for new projects, it could mean that the game is close to completion. CD Projekt RED has previously indicated that there is a lot more work to do, but it's also possible that this was a red herring designed to throw players off the scent.
Moreover, there have been rumors that the game will be released in 2019. Although that release date speculation should be taken with a grain of salt, the departure of such a high profile member of the development team is prompting questions.
Cyberpunk 2077 is currently in development for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One, but lacks an official launch date.