As EA found out the hard way, there’s a strong and very vocal demographic of gamers who are resisting the increasingly popular idea in developers of requiring an internet connection to play their games. Frontier Development seems to have lost the memo on that with their upcoming Elite: Dangerous, as the developer recently announced that they have dropped the previously promised offline mode.
During its initial crowdfunding phase on Kickstarter, Frontier assured wary fans that, despite the game’s heavy reliance on a persistent and evolving always-online world, players will be able to opt for an offline, albeit limited experience:
Itt will be possible to have a single player game without connecting to the galaxy server. You won’t get the features of the evolving galaxy (although we will investigate minimising those differences) and you probably won’t be able to sync between server and non-server (again we’ll investigate).
However, a month before the game’s release, Frontier announced in their newsletter and subsequent forum posts that offline mode had been dropped, having decided that that a lack of connectivity to the game world would require far too much compromise:
The problem is that the galaxy mechanics all sit on the online servers. The data set and processes are huge and not something that would translate offline without considerable compromise to the vision. Trust me we didn’t sit down and think what would annoy people the most! It’s a choice we’ve had to make and so we’ve taken it.
Frontier have emphasized that players seeking a single player experience will still be able to do so, but a constant internet connection would be required in order to update the game galaxy. The response has, predictably, been negative. Many users have taken to the official forums to voice their complaints, while others who backed the game as far back as 2012 are now demanding refunds. The consensus is that players seeking an offline mode were fully aware of the disadvantages and were willing to accept them. One disgruntled user wrote:
You’d be only making an offline a little worse, that’s all. You’d still deliver online with all the features. And believe me. Most people here would be 100% satisfied with that. You said in KS FAQ that offline might not get updates. We agreed on that. Now you’re taking that away.
Still, with anticipation high for Elite: Dangerous, this development isn’t likely to significantly impact the game when it is released on December 16.