The Marketing Mistakes of the Most Anticipated Video Game of 2020

A variety of people have weighed in on the absolute fiasco of the CD Projekt Red’s rollout of Cyberpunk 2077. It’s going to go down in history as one of the worst product rollouts in history, landing only behind just behind Frito-Lay’s legendary Cheetos Lip balm. But why did it flop so hard? While IGN, and every other gamer-focused magazine and YouTube channel have weighed in on that, we’re still missing something from the people in the marketing industry. We’ve pin-pointed what went wrong with the campaign and how a business might avoid making these same mistakes on upcoming campaigns, regardless of the industry you’re in.

In Short:

  • Be Intentional About Your Communications

  • Set Reasonable Consumer Expectations

  • Under Promise and Over Deliver

  • Be Mindful of Your Marketplace

  • Monitor Your Target Audience

  • Control The Situation

  • When in Doubt, Defer to the Professionals

CD Projekt Red Set Unreasonable Projections

Apple is celebrated as one of the most impressive brands in the modern marketplace. Everything about their products and the experience they create for their customers is lock-step with their brand, and for that reason there’s always high expectations for the company. However, they’re also very capable of meeting those standards. They manage this by never depicting their product in a way that is not indicative of its real merit.

CD Projekt Red’s Cyberpunk 2077 did not set reasonable expectations with its customers before or during the product release. What started out as an ambiguous teaser clip shown at a gaming convention 10 years ago became an obsessed-over new product in a very short amount of time.

Good Communication Sets Good Expectations

The first mistake the game developers made in setting reasonable expectations is letting the potential buyer know about the upcoming product too early. While many organizations would worry this strategy would make consumers forget about their product before it was allowed some time in the spotlight, it worked in the opposite direction for Cyberpunk 2077: Without much in the way of concrete information, consumers allowed their imaginations to fill in the details about the product ensuring that whatever product eventually hit, the market would never be able to live up to the consumers’ fantasies.

However, that’s not where CD Projekt Red stopped setting unreasonable expectations. In fact, it took a considerable amount of time out of the product development timeline and made their workforce draw up a demo that was much more advanced than the actual product would ever be. In other words, it equipped a product demo with more value-ads than the actual product could ever offer to the consumer.

This misleading of consumer expectations created a market that would be hostile upon the release of the actual product.

In short, CD Projekt Red over promised and under delivered.

They Didn’t Think of Their Target Audience, At All

In the 1890s, when the advertising industry was in its infancy, it was OK to use the “shotgun method” of marketing. This term describes when marketers try a variety of advertising strategies without setting a target market, or goals. It’s not very effective, and that’s why the words “targeted marketing” have become increasingly popular. Once you define your target audience, you can ensure that your marketing efforts will be effective in the marketplace you occupy.

The development company that made Cyberpunk 2077 knows exactly who its target market is. It simply failed to cater to it. The gaming community is a famously critical group of consumers and CD Projekt Red knew that, which is why it placed an absurd set of restrictions on the reviewers who were set to release a review of the game and drive sales. This made a large section of their consumer base suspicious. Why couldn’t the reviewers show everything about the game?

When the game finally hit the market, the dice were already cast. Cyberpunk 2077, in many ways, was already primed to fail for all of the reasons above. A bad marketing campaign can become more than just missed sales; it can become a PR nightmare. However, organizations can avoid issues like this by first investing in marketing agency expertise.

Invest In Guidance from a Local Marketing Agency

Jet Marketing boasts years of marketing experience and a special talent for sidestepping issues that sank CD Projekt Red. With an in-depth analysis of your target market, consumer expectations, and powerful communications published on multiple platforms you’ll be able to enjoy a stress-free marketing experience for any product, event or service roll-out in your organization’s future.

Leave the marketing missteps to someone else. Choose Jet Marketing as your go-to marketing agency for branding, communications and so much more. Contact us today.

Erin Rogers, Creative Director at Jet Marketing

Erin brings her trademark creativity to every facet of her life – from work and parenting, to family playtime. She finds breakfast time with the kids (and a big cup of coffee) to be the best time to connect and get the creative juices flowing.


2021-05-17T10:39:39+00:00May 14th, 2021|