Cyberpunk creator says it’s harder to reach fans directly in videogames – “The stakes are ridiculous”

"There's a wall there, between you and the people who use your game."

During a keynote talk at this year’s PAX x EGX Online, Mike Pondsmith, the creator of the Cyberpunk table-top RPG that inspired Cyberpunk 2077, spoke on the contrast between developing for pen-and-paper and videogames. As he sees it, the latter’s a bit more Hollywood than the former, raising the risk factor significantly.

“Videogames are a little more like Hollywood, the stakes are ridiculous,” Pondsmith explained. “There’s a lot more of a problem with reaching and talking with the fans directly. There’s a wall there, between you and the people who use your game.” He discusses how individual credits are often harder to find on videogames, leading to people being surprised when they find out who worked on what: “I think there’s a distance there.”

Videogames tend to be much more expensive, too, and Pondsmith recalls his shock when he made the jump to digital game development. “I can go and build a pretty good game, and maybe spend $10,000 at the most to get it printed,” he says. “When I did my first really large videogame project, I went in and said ‘what are we budgeted for?’ and they said ‘$20,000,000’, and I went ‘I’m now responsible for figuring out what to do with $20,000,000? Oh, crud’, so the stakes are higher.”

The project Pondsmith is likely talking about there is The Matrix Online, the MMORPG game based on the movie trilogy he contributed to as a designer in 2005. His time in videogames was brief before agreeing to collaborate with CD Projekt Red on Cyberpunk 2077, an RPG game based on Pondsmith’s 1988 RPG, Cyberpunk.

You can see a Twitch clip below – you can watch the full speech here:

We’re getting close to the Cyberpunk 2077 release date. CD Projekt has said fans can expect more DLC than The Witcher 3, the multiplayer microtransactions won’t be aggressive, and it might even get a cookbook. If you just can’t wait, we have the best cyberpunk games, and the best online board games, to keep you occupied.