Gamers who have backed space exploration game Elite: Dangerous were shocked last week to learn that the game is scrapping offline play and focussing all its attentions on “always online” multiplayer. Now, some of those unhappy gamers – but not all – are eligible for a refund.
It’s important to note that the decision does not rule out single-player gaming:
Some people have thought that dropping 100% offline play means there wouldn’t be a single-player mode – to be clear, the single-player game is already there, but it requires a low bandwidth online connection for the reasons we explained.
I’ve even played on a laptop using a tethered connection on the train.
Simply put, Braben says that offline mode was never one of the team’s original aims, but it looked like they should have been able to support it when the project started. Now though, things have changed, and Elite: Dangerous now relies heavily on cloud-based processing. Frontier consider an online connection to be a “reasonable pre-requisite” for a game that is purchased online.
But anyway: Refunds.
Braben explains that requests for refunds will be responded to, as long as there is a clear outcome. That means, if you “have pre-ordered an Elite: Dangerous release version from our online store and have therefore not yet played the game” – you are eligible for a refund.
However – If you “have already been playing the game online in the Alpha and/or Beta phases, regardless of whether they backed the project via Kickstarter or purchased access to Alpha and/or Beta through our online store”, you are not eligible.
We want to make sure we treat each person’s situation with the thoroughness it deserves, and have contacted each of them to ask that they bear with us over the next few working days if their circumstances do not fit either criteria above as we look into individual requests.
With Frontier initially promising a game with no DRM and no online requirement, and now seemingly backflipping on both, some gamers are still (rightly) disgruntled by the decision, no matter how much Braben apologises. That said, it’s the company’s decision to do whatever it wants with its product… We doubt this dangerous drama has been completely settled just yet.