What just happened? With Cyberpunk 2077's release date finally in sight, developer CD Projekt Red and their friends over at Microsoft have begun to ramp up their marketing efforts; slowly, but surely. Yesterday, the official Xbox social media accounts got something of a makeover -- the banner image on the Twitter account was changed to a much darker, static-filled background, and the profile description contained a cryptic message.
As these changes began taking place, the account tweeted out a mysterious message and an unusual video (see both below). Oddly, the official Cyberpunk 2077 Twitter account retweeted the message -- for those who are familiar with CD Projekt Red's marketing practices, it was immediately clear what was going on: a new Alternate Reality Game (ARG) -- a type of meta event that typically blurs the lines between the real world and the digital world -- was afoot.
As usual, this ARG tasked fans with following a digital trail of breadcrumbs to reach an eventual goal, solving logic puzzles and hacking-themed challenges along the way. CD Projekt Red usually gives out merchandise to the first few fans to solve these puzzles, or it reveals a trailer for one of its games.
Since it's been quite some time since any of us received any new information about Cyberpunk 2077, many fans were hoping this ARG "reward" would indeed come in the form of a new gameplay trailer or infodump.
For better or worse, that is not what fans ended up with. After a couple days of code-cracking efforts, primarily from the brilliant folks over in the Game Detectives Discord server, it was revealed that the ARG was effectively a promo for a Cyberpunk 2077-themed Xbox One X console. The console features a distinctly Cyberpunk aesthetic with gritty glow-in-the-dark decals, flashy LEDs, and a scuffed-up-looking controller.
I took part in the investigation myself, and based on my observations, many fans seemed quite disappointed with the above trailer. After putting in hours upon hours of effort, users hoped for more than a simple product trailer as a reward. As far as I can tell, there weren't even any special gifts for the first few people to solve the puzzle.
Nonetheless, it was incredibly fascinating to watch dozens of strangers collaborate and work together toward a common goal. There was Morse code and Binary to decrypt, a cipher or two to solve, and even Braille to read. Regardless, now that the event is over and the cat is out of the bag, we expect an official special edition console announcement from Microsoft to hit the web in the near future (likely April 20, as that was the deadline for solving the ARG).
The console will contain a 1TB storage drive, and will be available for purchase in June, but with an unknown price tag. Naturally, an Xbox One copy of Cyberpunk 2077 will be included in the package, though it will likely come in the form of a pre-order code, since the game itself doesn't arrive until September 17.