Elite: Dangerous Rethinks Refund Refusals

Don't go in there.

As ill-conceived plans often will, Frontier’s refund criteria for Elite: Dangerous have changed. When Frontier announcement last week that their open-world space sim wouldn’t have the offline single-player mode billed since its Kickstarter, only multiplayer and an online singleplayer mode that requires a net connection and is affected by other players, some folks wanted a refund. Frontier’s response was a little hazy, but clear on one point: if they’d paid for alpha or beta access and played it online, they couldn’t get a refund. They’re rethinking that now.

Elite creator David Braben explained in a forum post yesterday:

We initially declined some people’s request for refund as our records showed they have already played Elite: Dangerous online. After listening to many of the comments I received after my AMA here, we have since re-opened these requests and informed those people that we will be contacting them so that we can fully understand their individual situation before making a more informed decision.

We will be contacting them each in the next few working days.

Which sounds like a sensible change. I still think they really need a clear and publicly-stated refund policy which covers everyone – pre-orderers and Kickstarter backers of all sorts – but rethinking this is a good start.

To recap, Elite: Dangerous has ended up built so much around a connected universe where players influence everything from prices to available missions that an offline version without that would be both a load of work and a design contrary to the game Frontier want to make. Whether you think it’s a big deal or not, it’s a feature they listed on the Kickstarter and have spoken about since. Braben said this week, “In retrospect we should have shared the fact that we were struggling with this aspect with the community, but we were still trying to find a solution.”

To me, one response that’d be both reasonable and crowd-pleasing is: if someone considers the cutting of a feature they were promised a dealbreaker, Frontier should offer them a refund. Some folks might use this to get a refund on a game they’ve decided they don’t want for other reasons, but them’s the breaks.

186 Comments

  1. Amatyr says:

    I think a reasonable balance would be to refund the cost of the game itself (so what’s that, about £50?) but not the extra that was paid for Alpha/Beta access because that’s been delivered and was never promised to be offline.

    • shadow9d9 says:

      See, this doesn’t make much sense to me either. Who WANTS to be a part of an alpha or beta for a game that they will never buy? The only reason they were interested to begin with, to test the game, was BECAUSE of what the final game would have. Take out the lie about offline singleplayer and NONE of these people would have wanted anything to do with an alpha or beta test! This is the price of dishonesty.

      • Amatyr says:

        They’ve had what they paid the extra for. You don’t get to buy the extra to play the game early, potentially have played now for months and months and then get a full refund. If they decide they don’t want to play the full game they really shouldn’t get any refund, but sure – give them a partial refund if offline was that important.

        • shadow9d9 says:

          No, they paid to beta test the game they were promised. They did not pay or would even have LOOKED AT this game if there was honesty to begin with. Let’s not be disingenuous here… You can’t market a product falsely and then still expect to keep ANYTHING paid to you.

        • Zenicetus says:

          Nobody has “played the game early.” The game advertises, right now on the home page, a “space epic that allows you to experience the 400 billion star systems of the Milky Way galaxy.

          Nobody has seen or played that yet. Alpha and Beta testers were given progressively larger “vertical slices” of the final game, but they’ve always been locked inside a fixed number of star systems without access to the larger Galaxy, or humanity’s home system (Sol) which won’t be unlocked until final game launch.

          There are other features that haven’t been unlocked yet, but that’s the big one that puts the lie to any claims that Backers have “played the game” and therefore shouldn’t be given refunds.

          • syndrome says:

            Yes but that’s not the point. That content was missing as advertised. Please keep in mind, these features and content do not comprise the game itself, otherwise there would be nothing to play at all (in the early access).

            So if those players willingly agreed on those terms, and paid for this early access, and played it, which they did, they have effectively used up their rights on the refund.

            It’s clear as day, as Amatyr already explained. They HAVE CLEARLY PAID FOR THE ALPHA/BETA >>ACCESS<< in addition to the game that will feature Sol (and other features as well). So obviously, they are eligible for the refund of what they haven't consumed yet.

          • shadow9d9 says:

            “hey HAVE CLEARLY PAID FOR THE ALPHA/BETA >>ACCESS<< "

            They paid for alpha/beta access for a game that wasn't made as promised. I don't see what is so difficult to understand. But for their promise of offline single player, NONE of these people would have paid for beta access, just like they would not have given a second glance to this game. You cannot sell based on a lie and then still keep the money, claiming people used it. It was all under false pretenses. Do you not get that? These people would NEVER HAVE TOUCHED THE GAME IN ANY WAY had they known the truth, that the promised single player offline game would not be delivered. You absolutely cannot advertise falsely and then keep part of peoples' money. PERIOD.

          • Asurmen says:

            It’s not difficult to understand. However, it seems arguable to me that the alpha/beta can be described as a different product or substantial part of the product, especially as it has a different pricing tier. This part product was never described as having that feature (offline mode), and all parties know what an alpha/beta entails, namely changing features. I don’t see how the end product changing has any bearing on the alpha/beta having been used given the above opinion.

            It all depends on how alpha/beta is seen as part of the product, and just how binding Kickstarter promises and I believe there has been several mentions of the offline portion since.

            I think this is why they’re doing it on a case by case basis. It all depends on why the person purchased the game and just how much time they’ve spent playing in testing.

        • Keeper075 says:

          I don’t understand the mentality that anyone that played any of the beta should get ZERO refunds as there was never an option during the beta to play an offline version of the game. It was a feature promised to be added at some future date, so all one could play was the online version. My position on this could have been different had there been an offline beta available, but the people requesting refunds never used it; instead only playing online. At that point it becomes somewhat disingenuous. However this is clearly not the case.

          Let’s say you signed on because you were ultimately interested in the offline version of the game, something you could play anywhere as long as you have a laptop capable of doing so because you travel a lot and were thrilled to have a modern edition of this beloved game. You could then play on the road, even in places where there is no online access (or cellular signal) at all. Having access to the online beta was nice because it gave you SOME way to experience the game. You would have preferred an offline beta, but hey, you’ll take what you can get in the meantime (though it meant you could only really play it at home) and as soon as the offline version became available you’d immediately switch to that and never go online with Elite again.

          Unfortunately that was never an option, nor will it now likely ever be. To basically punish people by refusing refunds to those who had no other choice but to play the online version if they wanted to check out the game, in my opinion, is very poor customer treatment. It’s not like they announced, or even hinted, six months ago that there will be no offline version and people continued to play until one month prior to release before asking for a refund. They announced that the offline version was nixed THIS WEEK and people immediately acted accordingly.

          So with the above said I wholeheartedly believe that people have a right to have their money refunded, regardless of whether or not they played the only version of the beta that was available. If pushed I could agree on the compromise that the refund could only extend to the purchase price of the game, plus any extra paid in addition for features that would have carried in to the final release (skins and whatnot), and Frontier can keep the extra dollars paid to be part of the beta; as that (hopefully) went directly in to the development of the game.

      • Hex says:

        None of these people, eh?

        That seems unlikely.

      • Hex says:

        Also, there’s a difference between dishonesty and excessive optimism. There’s no reason to believe they didn’t fully intend to implement this feature in the final build.

        Many, many games are well into their development before it’s determined that the game isn’t worth pursuing, so it’s scrapped. It’s the sound business principle of not throwing good money after bad. This isn’t an issue of the developers lying about their hopes that they could make a good, fun, salable game — it’s an issue of not knowing exactly what the future will have in store, or of knowing how well mechanics and components will end up coming together until you try.

        This is the very reason I believe Kickstarter provides a valuable service — it allows wishful thinkers to attempt to do something which would otherwise not be tried. The effort is the point. Not the final product.

        I’m sure the “Kickstarter is a pre-order platform” folks out there will disagree, and that’s fine. I will continue to view Kickstarter as something between a charity and a gamble. I only pledge money I’m willing to see disappear in hopes of forwarding game genres which I feel are worth investigating, but unlikely to be investigated to their potential due to a lack of mainstream interest.

        I have niche interests, and Kickstarter allows me to connect with the few people out there who are in a position to, and are motivated to building something I will enjoy.

        Calm down.

        • shadow9d9 says:

          “There’s no reason to believe they didn’t fully intend to implement this feature in the final build.”

          They knew months ago. Development takes TIME. They did not wake up one day, one month before release, and just then realize that they wouldn’t be able to implement a major part of the game.

          Regardless, if they can’t do it, then all should be refunded, no questions asked. You can’t take people’s money for something specifically that you promise them, and then expect to keep any part of that money when you fail to deliver. As it is, they got an interest free loan that they now have to pay back.

          • Amatyr says:

            “a major part of the game” – It’s not a major part of the game. It’s nothing like that. Not having combat would be missing a major part of the game. Not having trading would be missing a major part of the game. Not being able to change ships would be missing a major part of the game. Offline mode? Not a part of the game at all, arguably.

          • shadow9d9 says:

            ““a major part of the game” – It’s not a major part of the game. ”

            Sure it is. It was something that was so highly requested, that the developers went out of their way to make clear that it was a priority, and even amended their kickstarter page to specifically address it. It was also so major that enough people are requesting a refund that they are being forced into going into panic mode. If it was so minor that only an insignificant number of people were asking for refunds, then this would be over and done with.

            It is a whole different way of playing the game, and so major that they simply cannot(or will not) do it.

            If that isn’t major, then I don’t know what is.

          • SquidgyB says:

            Umm, for those who bought the game with the original promise in mind, it’s arguably *more* than a major part of the game – it is *the game* for those people, which is precisely why they purchased it, and are they are who will be asking for a refund.

          • Hex says:

            “We’re making a single-player space MMO. One of the features of this game will be an offline mode.”

            “Regrettably, we’re unfortunately not able to offer one of the features originally promised.”

            It’s hard to interpret the above as a failure to deliver “the game.”

            (These are not direct quotes from anyone, simply summations.)

            Most importantly, I don’t understand how this isn’t simply a case of “buyer beware.” It’s not like this type of thing hasn’t happened countless times before. If you purchase an unfinished product, you can’t be upset when the product is not finished to your satisfaction.

            It’s your responsibility as a consumer to manage where your dollars go. If you give dollars to someone else because you like the scent of the smoke they’re blowing up your ass, so be it. You can’t expect them to then turn around and give those dollars right back to you.

            People always have the (dickish) option to dispute billings through their bank. If your financial institution doesn’t offer that service, well then.

            Lots of lessons learned.

          • katinkabot says:

            @Amartyr – connectivity is absolutely a major part of any game. If I am playing Diablo 3 and my internet goes out – which it does on occasion for several hours at a time – it renders the game totally unplayable. When I purchased the game though, I made an informed decision(based on Blizzard’s honesty – such as it is) that my internet was stable enough to purchase. So your examples of major gameplay are rendered moot when someone can’t even log into the game because they live somewhere where internet connectivity is spotty at best(which is still a common problem in the U.S.).

            Even if you don’t take into account the U.S.’s shitty internet infrastructure – a lot people just like having the option to play off-line and purchase games because of that. As Alice said, if this always online thing is a dealbreaker now for any of the kickstarter backers then Frontier should absolutely honor full refunds. I find it kinda’ gross that they are still insisting on some sort of “investigation” into the buyers’ current situation(as if that is any of their business). This isn’t an insurance claim, it’s a few hundred dollar refund at most. They’ll get more good will by being flexible at this stage with this. Now it’s just going to be loads of bad press.

          • FataMorganaPseudonym says:

            @Hex

            People like you are exactly why people like David Braben are able to get away with scumbag tactics like this.

          • Hex says:

            Thank you! :D

          • FataMorganaPseudonym says:

            @Hex

            That was not a compliment. Obviously.

          • sicemma says:

            @katinkabot

            You’re right, it’s pretty creepy and calls to mind something like Braben hiring a nurse to come around and check my computer’s virginity (yeah, way too late for that I’m afraid, on all counts). It’s not actually up to him to decide which consumer laws he’s going to follow. This is the whole idea behind something being “fit for purpose” as is found in our consumer law here –

            link to accc.gov.au

            Businesses that sell goods guarantee that those goods:

            are of acceptable quality – the goods must be safe, lasting, have no faults, look acceptable and do all the things someone would normally expect them to do
            are fit for any purpose that the consumer made known to the business before buying (either expressly or by implication), or the purpose for which the business said it would be fit for
            have been accurately described
            match any sample or demonstration model
            satisfy any express warranty
            have a clear title, unless you otherwise advise the consumer before the sale
            come with undisturbed possession, so no one has the right to take the goods away from or to prevent the consumer from using them
            are free from any hidden securities or charges
            have spare parts and repair facilities reasonably available for a reasonable period of time, unless the consumer is advised otherwise.”

            and I’m sure it’s broadly similar in the UK. You sell me something that does a thing, I don’t need to have used it only for that purpose, or somehow demonstrate that I am using it for that exact purpose at the precise time I am trying to return it. What the seller claimed it did in advertising or in response to customer questions is all that is important. And on that score Frontier would be cooked here.

      • Rizlar says:

        You ain’t making any sense dude. Why would anyone want to pay a premium to access the beta? I dunno, I’m not one of those people. But once the beta is over, what are they asking a refund for? Because the game didn’t turn out how they would have liked? There is definitely a case for refunding pre-ordered games, less so alpha/beta access. Plus they are already offering refunds to anyone that didn’t actually play the alpha/beta. You can see why someone might suggest the compromise in the OP.

        Personally I think they should patch in a shitty bolt-on offline mode after launch thereby honouring their promise. You can understand why they would not want to have an inferior offline version as the first thing players and reviewers see before launch, after those first few weeks though it won’t be so make or break.

        • shadow9d9 says:

          “But once the beta is over, what are they asking a refund for? ”

          They paid to beta test the game they were promised. Such a game was never and will not be made. Beta testing an online only game was the exact opposite of what they were sold.

          It really is quite simple. If someone markets and specifically says that they are making X, and you participate, and then at the last minute, a completely different entity is being made, then a full refund is required. They did NOT pay to beta test a completely different game than was promised.

          “You can see why someone might suggest the compromise in the OP.”

          That is not a compromise in any way. It is a false compromise. They were sold a different product completely. , INCLUDING for the beta test.

      • sebmojo says:

        Yes, the people complaining on the internet about a game they downloaded from the internet and played on the internet about how you’ll need to be on the internet to play it.

        But yeah, just refund them. The effect cost is zero, so a few people end up getting some beta testing they didn’t pay you for, so what?

      • SuicideKing says:

        Yes, but you’re talking like the offline game would have been some other game by itself. It would still have common mechanics that needed testing, which is what Alpha/Beta was for.

    • prian says:

      There is something to be said about this solution but it only works for individuals who purposefully bought beta access as a purchase unto itself.

      For the people who backed the game initially based on the core feature of offline mode they should, in my opinion, get a full refund if they so choose because they made their purchase decision based on false information. As late as October 2014, Frontier was maintaining that offline mode was a go so there was no reason prior to the newsletter to suspect that anything had changed. Frontier maintained in very clear language that offline mode was, 100%, going to part of the released game.

      Even if someone put 1000 hours into the beta test they should be able to get a full refund if they backed the game originally primarily because of the offline mode. In an alternate reality people are paid to do beta testing even if they do not submit bug reports – having people test software and use it normally is a huge benefit to a development process.

      But, you are right, if someone paid a fixed price solely for beta access (and not as part of the original backing) and used it then I don’t think they should get that part of their product refunded. I definitely think that’s logical and valid.

      However, anyone who put money into the game based primarily on the offline mode being available as per on-going statements by Frontier then the right thing to do would be to issue a full refund to those who want it.

      After all, Frontier introduced the offline mode idea to solicit more sales from prospective backers and buyers. Originally the plan did not include it but after people expressed enough interest in offline mode they made it part of the final release.

    • sicemma says:

      “Case by case basis” was literally the very first thing they said when the first demands for a refund were made as I recall. And they rejected just about everyone, even under loopy conditions like “we don’t refund kickstarter donations” to people who’d never even looked at the kickstarter, and had ordered through their own store.

    • Hebrind says:

      I would do it this way:

      If someone has pre-ordered the game with no play time, no beta access – full refund.

      If someone has pre-ordered and played less than 30 hours of the beta, but upwards of 10 hours – refund of base game (£30-35 depending on total playtime)

      If someone has pre-ordered the beta pack and played upwards of 40 hours of the beta – refund of £15 (refunding the beta but they’ve paid for base game)

      If someone has pre-ordered and played less than 10 hours of beta, then refund of £20-25

      But this is most likely why I shouldn’t be in charge of refunds, heh. I personally have a rule that an hour of my time on a PC game is worth about 50p to £1, depending on quality and replayability of the title. If I spend £35 on a game I play for 15 hours, I generally feel like it’s been a bit of a waste… But I’m a thrifty Yorkshireman so it’s difficult to not have buyer’s remorse for *everything* because it’s bred into me, haha.

    • Green Bob says:

      The reasonable thing for them to do was to inform everyone before Beta-Testing started that the Off-Line mode was removed and then issue full refunds to anyone that asks before people playing the game. EPIC FAIL.

      “Remember Remember”
      Remember remember the eleventh of December
      Offline-mode, deceit and plot.
      I see no reason why offline-mode, treason
      Should ever be forgot…
      David Braben and Frontier Developments
      Did the scheme contrive,
      To screw backers of Kick Starter
      From their hard earn proceeds

  2. shadow9d9 says:

    “but we were still trying to find a solution.”

    With one month left before release, there was no way they were “still trying to find a solution.” This is an outright lie. They waited until this close to release and thought that if people were excited enough for release that this would be largely brushed to the side and ignored. It doesn’t get much more dishonest or scummy than that.

    Disclaimer: I did not back this project. I don’t have particular interest in the genre anymore.

    • JohnnyPanzer says:

      Are you sure? Considering you have about twice the ammount of posts as anyone else on the subject, you do seem to be at least a tiny, little bit interested.

      While I’m a big supporter of offline mode, in all games, I still find your extreme, almost zealous treatment of the issue a bit odd. I’ve come down on other companies for lying to thier customers, but here I have no problems seeing why they’d think some form of compromise might be in order. I know for a fact that there are players out there who claim to share your attitude of “if that single feature is missing, the game is utterly useless and I would never play a second of such a stinking pile of gaming crap” who still have close to 1000 hours of playtime logged in the very much always online beta.

      Yeah, sure, maybe they just care deeply enough about the game to sit through thousands of hours of a beta they consider utterly unplayable on every level due to it being online only, but I could see how some people (developers) could consider that a bit fishy.

      At the same time, I just don’t see the blatant lie here. I have no problems believing that they honestly thought it could be done when they started the kickstarter campaign. The late reveal is a bit odd, but on the other hand we have no idea how close they were when they made the descision. People are just assuming that they decided to wait untill now to tell everyone, even though they don’t have a single code written towards offline play. But isn’t it much more likely that they have something coded that’s been playtested internaly for quite some time, but that in the end they had to accept that the offline mode was simply crap?

      • FataMorganaPseudonym says:

        “Are you sure? Considering you have about twice the ammount of posts as anyone else on the subject, you do seem to be at least a tiny, little bit interested.”

        I, too, did not back this game, but I am interested in this whole thing mostly insofar as to how it will affect future Kickstarter projects and game development projects in general, more so than I am Elite: Dangerous itself in particular (though, to be fair, I must admit that I almost assuredly would have bought Elite: Dangerous itself had it had an offline mode, but now won’t be buying it at all). If Braben and co. are able to get away with this BS reneging on explicitly promised features, who is to say that the lesson learned by future game devs (whether they go through KS or not) won’t be “Hey, the Elite guys got away with it, so we can too”?

        At the moment, the lesson that I have taken away from this is very simple: do not, under any circumstances, give any future crowd-funded video games like this a single penny, until and unless they reach full release, and even then wait until the consensus is that they don’t completely suck (and by my own personal definition, a game that is online-only is a game that “sucks” and thus not worthy of my money, regardless of any other considerations).

      • shadow9d9 says:

        “Are you sure? Considering you have about twice the ammount of posts as anyone else on the subject, you do seem to be at least a tiny, little bit interested.”

        Am I sure of what? I never played the original, and while I used to enjoy Wing Commander and Tie Fighter, I lost interest in the genre before even Freespace 1 hit the scene. I am interested in Kickstarter campaigns, and their aftermaths. Kickstarter brought back many genres and games that I’d been looking for for years. Xenonauts, Wasteland2, D:OS, and Tex Murphy to name a few. Things like this don’t help future kickstarter efforts. These people wanted more money, so they said, “sure, we can do that.” Then, one month before release they try to slip it in that they couldn’t/wouldn’t do it, and then wouldn’t give the money back. They specifically went out of their way to promise something so they could get more funding, and then didn’t do it.

        I think it is a good thing that people are anti DRM and fight against it. I’ve only backed kickstarter campaigns that were drm free.

        It is not a single feature. It is the ENTIRETY of the game from these peoples’ perspectives. Get it? The WHOLE GAME!

        “While I’m a big supporter of offline mode, in all games, I still find your extreme, almost zealous treatment of the issue a bit odd.”

        You find it odd that people want to be able to play a game on their own time, without an internet connection, and for the future? When servers close down, you lose the game. This is not the case with an offline single player.

        “I’ve come down on other companies for lying to thier customers, but here I have no problems seeing why they’d think some form of compromise might be in order.”

        There is nothing to compromise on. They sold a game with offline single player. That game was never produced. You can’t compromise because there is no in between.

        “I know for a fact that there are players out there who claim to share your attitude of “if that single feature is missing, the game is utterly useless and I would never play a second of such a stinking pile of gaming crap” who still have close to 1000 hours of playtime logged in the very much always online beta.”

        Anecdotal proof would do what exactly?

        “At the same time, I just don’t see the blatant lie here. I have no problems believing that they honestly thought it could be done when they started the kickstarter campaign.”

        This isn’t the start. This is one month prior to major release. At the real point of decision to go without offline single player, there should have been a refund period for those that pledged for this purpose.

        “The late reveal is a bit odd, ”

        No it isn’t. This is what scams do. They wait til the last moment and try to slip it on by people.

        “but on the other hand we have no idea how close they were when they made the descision.”

        If it required such a massive undertaking that it couldn’t be done, then we’d be talking months, if not years prior to release… NOT one month before.

        “People are just assuming that they decided to wait untill now to tell everyone”

        No. They are using logic and their brain.

        “, even though they don’t have a single code written towards offline play. But isn’t it much more likely that they have something coded that’s been playtested internaly for quite some time, but that in the end they had to accept that the offline mode was simply crap?”

        Yes, a year or more before release. Not ONE MONTH BEFORE MAJOR RELEASE for something so difficult that it couldn’t be done by them!

        • Hex says:

          Wow.

          It is, after all, just a game.

          • Stellar Duck says:

            Ah yes. The good old ‘Aren’t you a bit hysteric?’ way of derailing the argument.

            Either reply or don’t. Don’t start derailing by saying stuff like that.

          • Hex says:

            Sometimes there’s some value to encouraging your conversational opposite to reel it in a bit. He is being pretty hyperbolic.

          • shadow9d9 says:

            You literally don’t have an argument or a leg to stand on and this post just admitted it. Not a single thing said was hyperbolic in any way.

          • Hex says:

            I find the insistence that an offline mode isn’t being included means the “WHOLE GAME” cannot be enjoyed is hyperbolaic. Particularly since it’s likely that many of the people upset about the issue have not yet tried to see if the connectivity requirements will really strain their internet connections.

          • Hex says:

            Also — pro tip: if you don’t want to seem to be hyperbolaic, lay off the capslock.

          • Zenicetus says:

            @Hex: It’s not about whether the game might be “straining the Internet connections” in Solo Online mode. The game actually has a very light data footprint in that mode. But the connection has to be *constantly* pinging the server and vice-versa. Pull the Ethernet connection and you’ll be booted back to the main menu in something like 5 to 10 seconds while in Solo Online mode.

            Maybe that’s intentional, to keep the Solo Online players using the same game mechanics as the All Online players, where there are penalties for logging off as an evasion tactic in combat. Or maybe it’s just a DRM “feature”… who knows. Either way, what it means is that anyone with an intermittently flaky Internet connection can’t play it. That’s in addition to anyone who wanted the Offline mode for other reasons, like only having Internet for part of the year while on military deployment, traveling, or whatever.

          • SuicideKing says:

            @Zenicetus: That’s fine and perfectly valid, but shadow9d9 is a bit too excited about this whole thing for someone who claims to not have a stake in the process at all.

          • Joshua Northey says:

            Duck-

            Shadow is clearly a crazy person, there is nothing wrong with pointing that out. 95% of the anger surrounding this is just people on the internet looking for things to be angry about and has nothing to do with any interest in the actual game.

          • Stellar Duck says:

            Are you shitting me? Crazy person?

            Says the one handing out a diagnosis based on someone writing a post he doesn’t like. You’re a bloody disgrace as well as an ableist.

            Adress his arguments instead of just smearing him. Who the hell are we to decide how someone uses his or her time?

        • JohnnyPanzer says:

          No, what I find odd is the life and death attitude in all caps, not the deisre to have offline games.

          I still don’t buy it. If there are truly people out there, like you say, that consider “it’s offline” the ONLY feature they are interested in, then how have they not discovered that by turning off their computers and killing thier modem, they can play the exact version of Elite: Dangerous they always envisioned in their head? Nope. It’s one feature. It may be a feature that some people find extremely important, but it’s still just one feature out of many.

          Now, I agree that the best move`, from a PR point of view, would have been to just hand out some refunds. I do. But I’m still able to see how the developers could see it differently. Either way they are now stuck with a PR nightmare. But at this point I’m tempted to agree with some other people here: they should just include whatever haphazard pile of offline crap they managed to produce, before they had to accept that it was unplayable due to how the rest of the game mechanics have developed. Then stick it under a warning label to minimize bad reviews. Something like “WARNING! This mode is unplayable, but included due to popular demand” maybe?

          • shadow9d9 says:

            What in the world? It isn’t a feature. It is the entire way a game can be played. Servers gone? Can’t play anymore without having offline capability. It is the entire game. They were sold a different product than they were told.

          • Asurmen says:

            I “what in the world?” you back. It is not, in any shape, way or form the entire game. It is most definitely merely a feature. An important feature to some? Of course. Obviously so! But as has been said, describing it as the whole game is hyperbole. In no objective sense is offline mode the entire game.

      • aepervius says:

        I do work in software development. You do not wait for the last month to spec out or at least have a plan for a major feature. Oh, it could be that some of your original plan’s feature become impracticable, due to the architecture you are forced to use for other major feature, but you usually quickly know that’s the case, because any good software development will reevaluate outstanding unimplemented feature with the new architecture you impose.

        So that means a true dichotomy :
        A) either they knew the feature would not be doable with the current architecture
        B) or they have a so half assed development that they never reevaluate change impact on features
        I tend to give them benefit of the doubt , that they at least know how to do a software project, and go for A.

        In such a case, in my long developing experience, the software *management* will wait for the LAST seconds to tell their client. Why ? because on the sales side there is absolutely no advantage of announcing earlier. You will maybe get some praise from people for announcing early, but in *practice* that means some people will never try or have your software on the radar due to the feature loss, and praise for your company politic does nearly never turn into sales. On the other hand announcing late means you can have people which primary interested was that feature , might simply be too much invested emotionally to actually turn around. Simply they will downgrade emotionally their interest into the missing feature and still buy the software. This is a known emotional “feature” that marketing knows all too well. In fact you probably know it already, when you see people having a console defending it to death to the other console side. You justify your own choice as being superior. Same here basically once the feature drop , if your emotional invest is strong enough you still stick your gun to the software.

        Practically this means management HAD an interrest to state this as late as possible and to avoid as much refund/lost sale as possible, as paradoxical as it might looks.

        IMNSHO where they blew it, was by announcing a refund policy which would be negative or impact negatively people having participated in alpha beta. Had they announced a normal refund policy no question asked, this would have reinforced the emotional bias of people, and would most probably have led to less refund overall reassuring people there is always a refund possible actually in my experience again make people stick longer to the software and generate trust (professional anecdotal experience – unfortunately I know of no white paper about that).

        But yeah basically, one month before release not knowing a major feature would not be doable ? Bullshit. But a good time to announce something development & management already knew for long.

        As for those which says it was unethical, well it could have been way way worst : they could have never announced it, and at release tell people they had to develop the other feature first , and that it will be developed in a future patch, then simply after a few patch iteration of it not coming announce that the feature had to be dropped in favor of bug correction and other feature that more people want. By that time good luck getting a refund.

        • sicemma says:

          Part of me wonders how much the whole issue of adding always-online DRM, and the refund policy (which given that not many refunds seem to be happening is now just a policy of hitting themselves in public for a week non-stop, flagellant style) are entirely driven by Braben’s personality quirks and attitudes. This seems to be an important clue :

          “Action We Can Take On The Pre-owned Problem” by David Braben 21/11/11

          even supermarkets now – are getting their wide-bore snouts deep into this trough


          6. Move to online-only. This is where the retailers seem to want us to go after all, so perhaps it’s time to make the jump.

          Or maybe not. Still. I wonder how much of this comes down to a nervous tick thinking about boxed copies of Elite: Dangerous being played and resold throughout the land.

        • SuicideKing says:

          Thanks, if true, makes a lot of sense. And my biased opinion of marketing departments wants to believe this is indeed true.

        • Asurmen says:

          C) that they’re human, desperately tried to provide something as promised up until the last minute and couldn’t and had to own up to their failure and development mistake. For someone who works on software, having only two options as what has possibly happened doesn’t seem to match the grey of reality.

  3. nojan says:

    Mean while star citizen confirms that Squadron 42 ( the single player campaign can be played offline)

    Source:link to forums.robertsspaceindustries.com

    full disclosure i backed both elite and star citizen.

    • pepperfez says:

      It’s pretty crazy that we’re in a world where internet commenters talking about video games have a duty of disclosure.

      • nojan says:

        yep , but this site in particular.

      • almostDead says:

        I think it’s excellent. People are biased as shit.

        • pepperfez says:

          I think you mean “People are bias as shit.”

          But what does that mean here, exactly? Whence springs someone’s bias against a game, and what are the consequences? We’re talking about people disagreeing over which consumer product they like, not recognizing same-sex marriage or something. There are no actual consequences. As a particularly incisive critic wrote, “‘Game culture’ as we know it is kind of embarrassing — it’s not even culture. It’s buying things, spackling over memes and in-jokes repeatedly, and it’s getting mad on the internet.” What are we even getting mad about?

          • JohnnyPanzer says:

            Hear hear!

            Gaming culture is pretty weird, that’s for sure. I love gaming, I live for it, but I often find myself face-palming at my fellow gamers. It truly does come off as the single most butt-hurt, annoying, whining and privelaged group of hobbyists on the planet. At least sometimes.

            When I read that EA had been voted “most evil coorparation”, that’s when I realised just how silly it had gotten. Yeah, sure, in a world where puppy mills, oil drilling and Lehman Brothers exists, those guys with their damn DLC are the REAL criminals!

          • nojan says:

            Have you ever thought if most people were like gamers? if we called bullshit on all the wrong things our politician do?

          • drewski says:

            There’s nothing better than a grammar nazi who gets the grammar wrong.

            He means biased. One cannot be “bias” any more or less than one can be “heat” or “bore” or “anger”.

          • JohnnyPanzer says:

            @Nojan: Yeha, that would be great. Imagine going to buy some snacks at the grocery store before a movie starts and it takes you two hours. First you’re held up on the way in by this guy who’s refusing to move from the door opening, loudly proclaiming “Where are the things I want to buy?! WHY are they not in front of me? I HAVE RIGHTS!”. Once you’re past him you need to pass the see of wailing souls, where consumers have dropped to floor and are just flailing wildly as they scream “THE CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS RIIIIIGHT!”, flinging feces in the general direction of the store clercs. You also have to wrestle a gentleman to the ground as he tries to rape a cashier as punishment for giving him the wrong change back, while a crowd of other customers are standing in a ring around them, chanting “USE…YOUR…RIGHT! USE…YOUR…RIGHT!”. Once you’ve done all that and cleared the store you pass this guy on the way out that’s eating a grilled chicken while holding a gun. “I’m just sampling it” he says, chewing wildly, “I want it to taste like ice-cream. It BETTER taste like ice-cream, or everyone in here will get a bullet in the head. I have RIGHTS!”

            But don’t worry, you didn’t miss the movie. A few audience members didn’t like the editing halfway through the movie, so the viewing was cut short and now the cinemaplex is flying in Christopher Nolan to reshoot the whole thing.

            It does sound lovely, now that you mention it.

          • Joshua Northey says:

            Exactly Johnny.

          • bonuswavepilot says:

            @drewski – yeah pretty sure pepperfez is aware of that – (s)he is mocking the use of ‘bias’ in place of ‘biased’ which is often cited as a strong indicator you are dealing with a GGer.

      • Big Murray says:

        Full disclosure: I have an erection right now.

      • Ditocoaf says:

        I don’t think it’s so much a duty of disclosure, as much as people offering relevant background information about themselves, for any reader of their comment who might care.

        It casts light on a comment, and provides meaningful context, to know what sorts of games the commenter likes, what their history with the subject matter is. So it’s often worthwhile to include a quick summary of such in your comment, if you’re so inclined.

    • Holysheep says:

      Meanwhile, Star Citizen has an always online DRM on stuff that is stored locally, unlike ED.

      • nojan says:

        mean while star citizen is in PRE-ALPHA (2016) and elite is releasing in 2 months;)

      • aepervius says:

        That’s actually misleading since with ED you HAVE to be online for everything, this is the same type of DRM. I see no clear advantage to either software. On the other hand online DRM is far more acceptable than no offline mode. To each people its taste and opinion.

    • Arglebargle says:

      If you believe everything that comes out of Chris Roberts’ mouth (or mouthpieces), you are going to be in for a rude surprise.

      How is their proclamation of offlinitiness, years in advance of delivery, any different from Elite’s?

      • nojan says:

        If you’re asking ME this question , i have to tell you that playing offline is not one of my priorities for buying this game, and even if they achieve a fraction of what they’re saying it’ll be alot better than the crap AAA publishers put out there, so I dont care , I just play games:D

  4. MacTheGeek says:

    It’s a step in the right direction; but until they get to “want a refund, get a refund, end of story”, the journey isn’t complete.

    • Horg says:

      If they are causing anyone problems with a refund, cut out the middle man, go straight to your card provider and apply for a chargeback. I posted some advice on this in the thread from yesterday, but as it went to about 400+ posts it probably got buried. Short version; they changed the product after taking payment, you are entitled to a chargeback if your card supports it and can provide some evidence (the kickstarter page detailing offline single player and the statement of retraction should be enough). Don’t let Frontier hold you at their mercy, take matters into your own hands and get your money back.

      • shadow9d9 says:

        Most credit cards have a relatively short time limit to do chargebacks, so anyone who did the kickstarter is likely out of luck.

        • Horg says:

          The timer should start from the day you were aware of a problem with your product. In this case, the official announcement of the removal of offline single player. Also it’s not just credit cards that support chargeback, some debit cards will also let you do this.

          Edit: if you used PayPal, you are screwed.

          • shadow9d9 says:

            I once made preorders with a board game company on my american express. The company went out of business and I was able to have them reverse the charge around 6-8 months later, so it is worth a shot. Paypal will never budge though.

          • Horg says:

            It’s not that PayPal wont help with chargebacks, it’s that the card provider will consider you loading funds onto PayPal as the card transaction, and that’s where their liability ends. One good reason to never use it and stick to the protections offered by card payment.

          • Arglebargle says:

            Paypal’s a great scam: They act like a bank, while skirting the legal requirements for being a bank.

    • Asurmen says:

      I fon’t think that is going to happen, nor do I think it should.

  5. Stevostin says:

    “Which sounds like a sensible change. I still think they really need a clear and publicly-stated refund policy which covers everyone – pre-orderers and Kickstarter backers of all sorts – but rethinking this is a good start.”

    The argument is that as they did make a promise they’re not fulfilling after all they have to make another promise they actually may not be able to fulfil either. Because if it ends up following the initial recommendation it’s “everyone can have a refund” and if everyone (or a signficant ratio) they will not be able to.

    Of course the mistake is theirs in the first place but there’s a need for practical thinking too. You can bet there’s a rule because the manager needs to give guideline to the sale support person(s). Not making it public allows to be actually very generous without enticing ppl simply not wanting the game any more for other reasons to abuse the clausis. If they make the rule public it will have to be stiffer and harsher.

    • pepperfez says:

      I imagine you’re right about their thinking, but I wonder how accurate that thinking is. Kickstarting and pre-ordering typically picks out the very hardest of hardcore fans, so presumably they’d have to be very disappointed to want out at this point. My guess is that they could very easily offer refunds to everyone without ruinous results. They would likely end up paying out more, but, well, that’s on them.

    • darkath says:

      Actually a lot of scammy schemes have full 30 day money back guarantees that are more or less legit, but studies and experience show that people almost never ask their money back.

      You usually see/hear a very loud minority that wants their money back, but it’s usually actually a rather small part of the total amount of people, and there’s a gap between what they say and what they do (plus all the people that will react negatively for the principle but have no intention to get a refund at all, or are not even customers like many in this case)

      So basically Frontier doesn’t really take a huge risk by opening their refund policy. Not the kind of risk that would put the project in jeopardy anyway.

      • shadow9d9 says:

        This assumes that it is only a loud minority. If this were the case, it would make sense to just give refunds and have it done with. I think you’d be surprised at how many are upset.

        • spacedyemeerkat says:

          And I think you’d be surprised how many simply aren’t bothered ;)

      • aepervius says:

        That’s true in my anecdotial experience, but only if you do not make a scandal out of refund policy. Once you start making refund policy hard and it comes to the “news” , then the refund request increase, people lose trust, people do refund out of spite, people get scared they could get scammed, etc…. A liberal refund policy actually ensure you stay with more sales, than making it a “scandal” on blogs/news outfit. As you said, that’s why many if not most of the scam for stuff which does nothing, have a very liberal refund policy because they know people will gain trust and never ask for a refund.

    • Stickman says:

      Considering that a) they are about to launch, and b) the number of requested refunds is likely to be small, I doubt that would be an issue. And even if it was, they should still offer refunds, perhaps delayed enough to use first sales to balance them.

  6. Cinnamon says:

    I didn’t back this in the start because of a lack of trust in Braben. So that is something they should think about when making decisions like this. Unless they feel they are making enough money that they just don’t care.

    • nojan says:

      in the coming months ,prepare for hearing that they are working on the console versions , and you know who do they get their money boost from…..

      • pepperfez says:

        The console versions will include full-featured offline play, of course, due to fundamental structural differences that cannot be recreated for PC.

  7. Ashrand says:

    temporary refund adjustment!

  8. Stellar Duck says:

    It’s a start but really, as Alice says: they should just straight up refeund with no hassle and eat the possible risk that entails. They put themselves in this situation, not their customers. I’m sick and tired of the damned video games industry playing fast and loose with this shit.

  9. ryanrybot says:

    If Kickstarter is supposed to take the place of a publisher, getting money straight from the people who would buy the product anyway, why should they get their money back? They make it clear that it is NOT a pre-order, you are paying to fund the project, regardless of how it turns out.
    As awful as it makes me feel to say it, and how untrustworthy it makes Frontier look, I’ve never heard of Peter Molyneux refunding a publisher because his game didn’t have features he promised would be in it.

    • Rizlar says:

      …or to any of his Kickstarter backers!

    • shadow9d9 says:

      From the kickstarter rules:

      “Projects must be honest and clearly presented.

      Our community is built on trust and communication. Projects can’t mislead people or misrepresent facts, and creators should be candid about what they plan to accomplish. ”

      ” Their fundamental obligation to backers is to finish all the work that was promised.”

      “If a creator is absolutely unable to complete the project and fulfill rewards, they must make every reasonable effort to find another way of bringing the project to a satisfying conclusion for their backers.”

      “Throughout the process, creators owe their backers a high standard of effort, honest communication”- Waiting one month before release to tell people that they will not be implementing the game as they specifically promised is NOT honest communication.

      “they offer to return any remaining funds to backers who have not received their reward”
      “he creator is solely responsible for fulfilling the promises made in their project. If they’re unable to satisfy the terms of this agreement, they may be subject to legal action by backers.”

      • Hedgeclipper says:

        All of this, I’m getting awfully sick of the argument that Kickstarter is some weird little world where people go to throw their money away, just because its online doesn’t mean people shouldn’t expect to have their contracts with projects fulfilled.

  10. Zenicetus says:

    The way they’re handling this continues to baffle me. Why are they bothering to say they’re considering “making a more informed decision” instead of either sticking to the no-refunds policy or changing it?

    This will just cause a more inflamed shit storm, if they come back next Monday and say “Well, we thought about it, but decided not to.” Because then, they’ll be accused of temporarily smoothing things over so they can pull off the launch party this weekend. Why not get it over with, before the event? Either give everyone who wants one a refund, or stick to your guns and deal with the fallout. Prevaricating and lack of communication is what got them into this mess in the first place.

  11. almostDead says:

    I liked the guy in the comments the other day who said he found it funny how games company CEOs do this ‘we will only grant refunds xyz…..’ when there are supposedly laws about this stuff.

    • shadow9d9 says:

      One of the popular online gaming stores tried to do this to me. I quoted them US contract law and they immediately changed their “policy” and refunded my purchase.

      • Hedgeclipper says:

        Half the time its cluelessness the other half its the company trying to rip off people who don’t know their rights. Difficulty is that if they really dig in their heals its a lot of time and effort to take them to court over a $50 game.

      • sicemma says:

        Don’t know if that was me. There’s a story about Steam and the ACCC here:

        link to gizmodo.com.au

        where it is made perfectly clear that under australian law you can NEVER tell people that they have any fewer rights than what the law guarantees – you may only ever add rights to it, and you can never, ever tell people “no refunds”. This is probably the single most common thing they are called to enforce.

        I believe a very similar situation exists in the EU and UK, if anything they are even stronger on this than we are here.

        edit – as far as I know the people to call and check on this are the Competition and Markets Authority in the UK, who would know, if anyone feels like doing journalism today :)

  12. nzgunner says:

    I’m not a backer, I’m the sort of guy who will wait until the release has settled down and might eventually get it on sale – and I would still be happy to buy the game without the offline mode (assuming I like the core game or course).

    The whole online-only thing has been managed incredibly poorly – I can only think that Frontier really believed that the vast majority of backers wouldn’t be too disappointed, and this is borne out by the way they have changed their stance, but also shows that they misread the situation.

    They seem to now be trying to do what they believe is the right thing, and it would be interesting to see how many backers really do ask for a refund, but that will probably never be disclosed.

    Another strategy might be to offer some other compensation, some extra backer-only goodies, but the risk is that aside from the genuine cases, some backers probably want to pull out using the change as a pretext to do so – they’ve just had second thoughts about the game in general – maybe they sated their Elite appetites during the Beta (90% of us burn out of any game after a year or two). Offering a blanket refund option could jeopardise the future of the studio and the longevity of the game.

    Like one of the other posters said, I think they’d be better off at looking at some basic implementation of the offline mode – surely it can’t be that hard?

    The stated reason for dropping offline was that it wasn’t going to offer the experience they really wanted it to – in other words they were worried about negative perceptions. Well they are already having to do some damage control in relation to another type of negative perception which is arguably more damaging for them in the long run.

    If everyone knew ED was primarily an online game, it wouldn’t be judged on the basis of its offline mode.

    • Hex says:

      Frankly — mostly because I’m an intolerant asshole who disagrees with all the beautiful people who feel deserving of a refund due to the offline mode being dropped — I think it would be excellent for them to tack on a totally shitty offline mode.

      Grumble grumble arglebarg.

      (I have not purchased this game, and most likely will not, simply because I don’t do space sims. I just tend to believe people should bite the bullet when they make a regrettable purchase. Whee!)

      • Stellar Duck says:

        In this case a lot of people made the bad purchase based on misdirections from the seller.

        But if you’re fine with people getting screwed over I’m not wasting time arguing with you over that. Have it your way.

        • Hex says:

          I dunno, there’s misdirection and there’s misdirection. It seems pretty reasonable to me to expect things not to turn out the way they’re intended, typically. In my experience, reality is always harder than optimistic expectations account for, so for a final product to be lacking some of the things that an early sales pitch mentions is par for the course.

          I don’t think the appropriate reaction is to vilify people who’ve clearly worked very hard to provide a very solid game which features the vast, vast majority of what was initially “promised” in the pitch.

          I tend to think the best reactions are reflective — why is this such an important issue for me? Should I make this my battleground for this issue, or should I behave differently when confronted with similar circumstances in the future? Should I continue to Kickstart or pre-order unfinished products? What should my expectations be for such projects moving forward?

          That kind of thing.

          • Stellar Duck says:

            I’ll tell you why it’s an somewhat important matter to me.

            I did my due diligence. I spent several hours making sure there was an offline option forthcoming and only after that did I preorder the game. Preorder, mind, not back. I bought it on the store. After making sure there would be an offline more and finding numerous statements to that intend.

            Now the mode is scrapped. That’s fair. Things don’t go as planned. No harm no foul. Only, they took my money willingly enough and refuse to give it back even though it’s not the same product any longer and is now a product I’d never have bought.

            The misdirection comes from them sitting on the fact for a while all the while taking peoples money of what can only be described as dodgy terms.

            Again, project change. Fair enough. But then it becomes you to repay people.

            But I realise game companies are notoriously immoral when it comes to this and consumer rights is something they’d like to see die a quiet death.

            It’s just sad to see other consumers being outright hostile to the idea of a refund. It’s positively orwellian.

          • Hex says:

            Yes, I can’t help but agree there’s a vital difference between backing and pre-ordering. By the pre-order stage, a game should really have its features locked down.

            Bastards.

      • pepperfez says:

        It’s weird to me how video games make consumers so incredibly consumer-hostile.

        • Hex says:

          Absolutely. It sparks a very particular impulse in people. I think it has something to do with the pre-experiential fantasy of how people hope their dream of the product will be fulfilled, vs the inevitably disappointing reality.

          • Llewyn says:

            You do realise it was you she was talking about, right?

          • Hex says:

            Ha ha no, I misread that. Long day. :P

            I stand by my initial interpretation — games make consumers incredibly developer-hostile.

            I guess what she said is true, too. :)

          • Hedgeclipper says:

            “Please Mister Developer, may I have another?”

      • vlonk says:

        I see you have a grudge against the emotion/state of mind widely known as “entitlement”. As much as I can get into the HTFU/ “deal with it” mentality, I still feel entitled to my legal rights that I have as a consumer. Those rights are the basis of our civilizations consensus of fair play between consumers and companies. I think this specific part of consumer law has even a unified core in EU legislation and represents a big chunk of humankind/the western world.

        • Hex says:

          You’ve hit the nail on the head, there. A sense of entitlement is something that rubs me the wrong way. We’re all (presumably) adults. We’re our own stewards — it’s up to us to guard our wallets and budget for things accordingly, and to understand the risks involved whenever we make a purchase.

          Fraud is one thing — laws and regulations and such can and should step in to redress wrongs when fraudulent activity occurs. This — to my mind — is far from a case of fraud. I don’t agree that it’s the kind of thing that consumers need to be “protected” against.

          • neofit says:

            WTF are you talking about? What entitlement? How is it not a fraud? You take money from people promising a regular single-player game then deliver an online one where one’s SP experience is influenced by other people and the devs. Which is in large part what people are trying to avoid by not playing online but in SP mode. Still don’t get it? It’s not like they took money but due to various constraints failed to make a game and everything got lost. This would have been understandable. But in this case they took people’s money by promising a game that said people would want to play, but instead made a another one, that they themselves apparently want to play.
            Still nothing? OK, imagine you pay for a sports car but are delivered a tractor. I’m sure you’ll go “oh, never mind, silly me, my bad, here, let me spread my cheeks wider, thanks”. Entitlement my foot.

          • Hex says:

            I certainly did not ” take money from people promising a regular single-player game then deliver an online one where one’s SP experience is influenced by other people and the devs.”

            Also, I’m not sure how it would be preferable for there to be no final product, instead of a mostly-functional final product missing one major feature.

            You should really work on your analogies. Purchasing a notional video game intended to require an internet connection with a feature offering offline play, which subsequently ends up cutting off that feature, isn’t really in the same ball park as buying an already-built car, and then having a different vehicle delivered.

            I will agree that the instant they realized the offline mode wasn’t going to be made available, they should have been forthright about it to prevent further pre-purchases. That bit is pretty shady,

          • ffordesoon says:

            There’s a difference between entitlement and exercising one’s basic rights as a consumer. If I write to Toyota demanding that my car fly because flying cars are neat, I’m acting entitled, because there was no reasonable expectation of Toyota delivering a flying car. If I bought a Toyota car and found that the brakes didn’t work, on the other hand, I would be right to take the car back to the dealership and request a refund, because it is reasonable to expect the brakes to work. It is, in fact, necessary for the safety of everyone else on the road.

            You could, i suppose, argue that the offline mode in Elite is so peripheral to the experience Frontier is aiming to deliver that it’s more like the radio in a car than the brakes – i.e. a luxury feature. That’s valid, but if a working radio is promised to me at the point of sale, I still bought something under false pretenses and am entitled to a refund if I want it.

          • Hex says:

            I’ve always kind of struggled with the idea of game-purchasers-as-consumers. This may be rooted in semantics, but I think there’s more to it than that.

            If I buy a sandwich and eat it, I’m literally a consumer. I make a purchase, I ingest/use up the product, and then when I’m hungry again, I make another purchase.

            Games — particularly digital media — don’t work like that. I make a purchase, and then I experience a variety of things. When I’m done ingesting a game, it’s still there. I can then leave it forever, or come back to it as the mood takes me (assuming servers are still on and I have an internet connection, in a case like this).

            A game “experiencer” (as opposed to a consumer of typical goods) can’t un-experience a game he’s played. It would almost be akin to ordering the aforementioned sandwich with pickles, devouring the entire sandwich, and then demanding a refund because there were no pickles.

            I’m gathering that the case with E:D is a bit different — it sounds like the funding of the project hinged on the promise of an offline option in a very real way, so the removal of that option is pretty damning.

            My knee-jerk reactions to experiencers wanting refunds for game purchases, as a rule, is to disagree that a game purchase is entitled to a refund. I feel even more strongly about it when it comes to backing projects, as Kickstarter is not a store.

            In this case…I’m definitely moving towards recognizing that Frontier is the bad-guy here. It would be best if they would just figure out what they need to do to establish an acceptable offline mode, but failing that, I suppose refunds would be in order.

          • pantognost says:

            You know, Hex, from your previous comments I thought that I was reading another soldier/troll for one side of the argument. The fact that you shown that you can shift your position, making constructive discussion relevant in internet fora, kind of restores my faith in dialogue in electronic media.
            Thank you! :)

          • DXN says:

            You’ve got some hang-ups, dude. There’s nothing unreasonable or “entitled” (doi) about expecting and taking advantage of consumer protection with regards to a consumer product, whether or not it’s a videogame.

    • Fiyenyaa says:

      I think you’re right about the risks, and you’re also right about the horrendous way the disclosure of “hey guys we won’t be able to do the offline after all” was mismanaged.
      But, I think they could have predicted the wave of outrage for one simple reason; it’s Elite. This is (with the greatest respect in the world) an old person video game. The first Elite was played on computers older than I am, sometimes on a format (Cassette tapes) that people not much younger than me would have never encountered. There were no online games back then, and I may be making too big of a leap here, but I think that an awful lot of the people who backed Elite Dangerous wanted something new and shiny that they were familiar with. They wanted the original Elite with bells and whistles – this means playing it on your own.
      There are plenty of people with legitimate internet situations that make always-online requirements impractical, but there are probably plenty of people who just hear “Elite” and don’t even consider the online aspect. I consider myself a fairly switched-on person about games, but I hadn’t realised the extent of the online features/requirements til this whole mess blew in.

  13. porcelain_gods says:

    It would be cheaper for them to just release an offline cut down version and say there you go

    • vlonk says:

      That would have been the smart decision from the beginning. Same financial damage/investment minus the public outrage.
      Sad thing is that nothing hurts your game launch more than tough headlines for a product with a MMO longtail. Day1 login-queue outrage incoming.

    • Zenicetus says:

      I don’t think they can do that. Apparently the early Alphas were fairly heavy on client-side processing, but they’ve been steadily moving more of the game server-side, and thinning out the client.

      I don’t know if it’s related to performance issues in multiplayer, or cheat protection, or just a desire to drive the Galaxy content as much as possible from their end. There is also a statement in the EULA mentioning possible in-game advertising, which some of the conspiracy theorists think might be part of it. But I doubt that. I think it’s just keeping options open.

      Anyway, I think it’s clear at this point that a completely Offline mode would mean a different fork of the game to develop and maintain, and they just didn’t have the staff for it, or enough interest in doing it.

    • Nihilist says:

      I wouldn’t want to see the threadnouts then, when they would release a half arsed offline Single Player game.

      I too bought into the Beta, SP offline was for me very important but then… I am a gamer for 20 years, I know that creative projects not always turn out as expected and I too think kickstarter selling points can’t taken literally since real life always happens. It’s said again and again. As a kickstarter backer you finance the broad vision and not features per se and the broad vision is still intact.

      I can understand that the cancelation of SP offline was very frustrating for many (me too btw), but saying” they knew it months beforehand” is very far reaching. Development is a fickle beast and what yesterday seemed practical can be out of reach the next day, because only something little turned out to be a problem.

      But then people don’t want to hear all of this.

      • Hedgeclipper says:

        “Oops, sorry guys we just accidentally built half the game into a server over the weekend and there’s absolutely no way to undo it…. “

        • Nasarius says:

          Yeah, pretty much. This isn’t something that just happens; it’s a core architectural decision.

      • sicemma says:

        I don’t know when they made the decision exactly either. But this says –

        link to onedrive.live.com

        “the decision wasn’t made this week”, and that screenshot is 6 days old. So there was at least some point where they were still taking money from people and still allowing a false impression of its readiness or existence to persist, knowing that it was never going to be delivered. I wouldn’t be surprised if it disappeared from the design around the same point it disappeared from the client, which according to people who jumped in earlier than me was something like beta 2.00, months ago.

      • drewski says:

        “Oops sorry guys we spent all your money on a penthouse in Venice Beach and a trip to the Bahamas but don’t worry, here’s a Minesweeper clone for Linux which we decided better fit our vision.”

        At some level, even if it’s just moral, developers have a responsibility to deliver what they promised – or not promise things they’re not 100% committed to developing. If they’d said they aspired to a single player offline mode but couldn’t guarantee it, none of this happens.

  14. Big Murray says:

    The very phrase “single-player mode which requires a net connection” is an abhorrent abomination.

    • Hex says:

      Typically I agree with you about this sentiment. However, as I understand it, E:D is offering a mix of a single-player and MMO experience, which has certain elements impacted by the entire player base to mimic a living, breathing, evolving reality. Which is a really interesting concept.

      • MellowKrogoth says:

        So far those are all buzzwords, there’s no evidence of any game mechanic currently implemented that would have any really interesting effect on someone who wants to play solo. (And the release is very close.) Dynamic economy? You can simulate that well artificially, without the stupid manipulations players sometimes do to troll. Same for the other stuff.

        Worse, the devs are probably hold back on including some story elements in the game so they can introduce them at a time of their choice. So no possibility for the solo player to experience the universe at his own rythm, or even taking a three-month break like you can with Skyrim and picking up where you left of. It’s gonna be keep up or miss out – which is one of the reasons I can’t stand MMOs like WoW, if you start now, you’ll never get to experience the previous stages of the game.

    • FataMorganaPseudonym says:

      Yeah, “singleplayer online” is an oxymoron with an emphasis on the “moron.”

    • malkav11 says:

      Yup. As a corellary, insisting that a game is a “multiplayer” game while in fact having a full singleplayer mode does not get you off this particular hook. (*coughD3cough*)

  15. sicemma says:

    Has anyone at Frontier yet had the thought that, essentially, “forcing” people to possess your online, multiplayer dependent game is probably a great way to make sure that you have a built in population of the nastiest, meanest, griefingest bunch of players you could ever possibly amass? It’s like they’re making the MMO version of that space jail movie.

    • Stellar Duck says:

      What space jail movie? And is it worth watching?

      • sicemma says:

        Are you into something that is basically around the same type of movie as Escape From LA (in all respects), with some very mid-tier Luc Besson movie (like say, District B13) touches on it, that thinks it is emulating one of the higher tier Luc Besson movies (like 5th element)? Because this may be for you

        Lockout (2012)

        I have never ever seen anyone call it anything other than Space Jail Movie though.

        • Stellar Duck says:

          Hmm. I think I’d have preferred it to be Escape from New York as that was way better than the LA one, but it certainly sounds like the kind of schlock I enjoy watching on Saturday afternoons.

          • sicemma says:

            Yep, that’s exactly what it’s for. Guy Pearce very obviously hates being in it though, so while he would usually be enough to elevate something terrible like this, he really doesn’t here.

            -edit – think “Time Machine Guy Pearce”, not “The Rover or Memento or LA Confidential Guy Pearce”.

          • Stellar Duck says:

            Aww. It wasn’t on Netflix.

            Thanks for the information though. I now know what I’ll be doing on some Saturday afternoon instead of re-watching Dredd or Pitch Black again.

          • sicemma says:

            The Rover was brilliant as well, if you are short of movie recommendations. Until the new Max Max comes out (and who knows what that will be like) this is really the best thing in the genre for ages and ages. “Mad Max” mad max though, not “beyond thunderdome” or “road warrior”.

            It’s also connects with 70s australian film in a way very few other movies that have tried it (either as remakes or new films aping it) have accomplished – it is very much influenced by that same kind of Wake in Fright, Picnic At Hanging Rock era of filmmaking. Which is maybe not for everyone, but I love that stuff.

          • Stellar Duck says:

            Thanks a lot!

            It’s much appreciated.

            I literally (sic) know next to nothing about Australian cinema so it’d be interesting to rectify that!

    • Laurentius says:

      A couple of months ago I was seriously pondering if multiplayer aspect won’t make SC and Elite:D into griefers’ heaven. Now after reading comments from most ardent defenders of FD ( I mean rabid fanbois ) I am 100 % sure it will. You know these people gets irritated at the thought that other people could get their money back. In a sense I can relate to certain irritation that a great game you are expecting is cought in a unjustfied shitstorm but for me borderline way to express it would be “Give them their money back so they can shut up and f*** off”, anything more is just incredible nastinesss and insensitiveness.

      • Stellar Duck says:

        If nothing else, the way the core fanbase of the game is acting in this situation reinforced why I don’t want to play online with them and as such I hope I can get my refund and get the hell out of dodge. Such a poisonous bunch.

        I prefer the EVE crowd by a country mile. They’re at least funny while being arseholes.

  16. Moraven says:

    I think at this point, they should just allow refunds.

    They are going to spend more money and time on finding a solution that in the end, they will lose out on more money not towards the game.

  17. ironman Tetsuo says:

    will people learn the real lesson at hand? I’ve backed around 25 kickstarter campaigns ranging from games to movies and even a restaurant. Most delivered, some were heavily delayed or modified and a few seem like they may never happen at all (Confederate Express?) but I am overall incredibly happy I discovered and invested in kickstarter as it feels so much more personal and involved than regular over the counter consumerism.

    The trick is to approach every pitch as an investment. YOU DO NOT BUY ANYTHING ON KICKSTARTER, never pay more cash than you’re wiling to lose, because Kickstarter deals with dreams and dreams don’t always align perfectly with reality.

    But regarding FD and Elite, their problem was communication, it’s been thriugh incompetence rather than malice or fraud. I believe they were all too busy riding on the high of successes (kickstarter, the IPO thing) and crunching such a tight deadline (the Dev team truly work long and hard on something they obviously love) meant no one actually stopped long enough to think about the bigger picture.

    The refunds are tricky though. They probably had to seek legal advice (which is never quick or simple) in order to find a middle ground between compensating those that have a real complaint and protecting themselves from players getting a £50 refund just so they can buy the game back for £35 in 4 weeks time.

    • shadow9d9 says:

      The problem wasn’t communication. They specifically went after the money of people who wanted single player offline by amending their kickstarter. They purposely waited until the last second to tell people they weren’t doing it, hoping it would blow over. They knew WELL in advance, yet chose to withhold this information. This can in no way be considered “miscommunication.” They knowingly withheld.

      • sicemma says:

        Someone really needs to put together a history of this launch, like for the last Elite game. The chronology of it is even shadier than that from what I’m lead to believe, and you can see the other side of the argument over in the last Elite thread at the top. The kickstarter wasn’t going great as far as its trendline of funding to finish date went, so people started promising to pledge it if it had offline, and others pulled funding they’d already comitted when it became clear offline play wasn’t locked down. So FD promised to implement it. Sometimes people added or pulled funds to the tune of 5,000 pounds as a single pledge doing this to ensure it was in.

        How, on earth, or even in space, they could claim to be surprised when people got extremely, fibre optic cable shatteringly pissed when it was suddenly pulled as a feature, I will never know. But the FD defence force are calling “not donating money to a kickstarter campaign unless it is clear it will do a thing you want” “blackmail” now. No, really. They deserve to get the feature pulled for being such horrible blackmailing buggers. Not at all joking, go and look.

        • Hex says:

          Wow, if this is true, that is some shit.

          D:

          Glad I didn’t back it!

          • sicemma says:

            This post is from the 5,000 pound backer, it used to be a lot more pissed and upset than it is now post edit (not that it isn’t still). But at the time it was more like, “you could see the second his heart ripped in half” in forum post form.

          • MellowKrogoth says:

            It’s sad he finally decided not to ask a refund. If anything could cause Frontier Developments to change their stance it’s the biggest backers like him requesting one. He’d serve the community much better by holding his stance than trying to be nice to the few people he invited to the launch party.

            Conclusion: FD are a bunch of dicks who betrayed their most loyal supporters.

          • sicemma says:

            @mellow

            I agree, though personally, I would wonder just how friendly a guy, who I’ve burned in a big way, who has 5,000 pounds to burn on a vidya game, is really going to be after I was no longer useful to him for hosting a party for his friends. AFAIK he’s also based out of Dubai.

      • Asurmen says:

        Got any proof on that?

    • Stellar Duck says:

      “[…] players getting a £50 refund just so they can buy the game back for £35 in 4 weeks time.”

      Even if that was to happen I’d argue that they made that situation themselves and would just have to take that risk.

      As Alice put it above, dems the breaks.

      It’s also important to note that this isn’t just backers. Plenty of people made a regular preoder on the store and that’s a lot less tricky in my mind. That was a regular purchase of a product that’s now a completely different product and as such a full, no questions asked refund is in order and if they lose money on that, that’s really just too bad. Again, they made this bed themselves.

    • Zenicetus says:

      It isn’t just a Kickstarter issue. After the Kickstarter and that tier of backer rewards closed, other people bought into the Premium and Standard Betas. Those people were also told, right up until a week before the announcement last Friday, that they were buying into a game with an Offline option.

      This part of the refund fiasco has nothing to do with Kickstarter.
      .

  18. Hex says:

    Hey you know what was a good game? The Bard’s Tale remake. That was really fun.

    • Samwise Gamgee says:

      I tried to get into that game twice but got bored both times. Does it become better later on in the game?

      • Hex says:

        Err, I don’t recall the actual gameplay ever getting very good, but it’s one of the few games I’ve actually finished, so it couldn’t be very difficulty. Mostly I just remember the end being pretty hilarious to me.

  19. MellowKrogoth says:

    I hope they have to make so many refunds they go bankrupt, or they refuse to refund and cause such a shitstorm that their reputation is never gonna recover and the game ends up being a commercial flop. Yeah, I’m that angry at them for ruining the remake of Frontier I wanted so much with with their stupid hybrid-mmo ideas that they have no clue how to realize.

  20. Samwise Gamgee says:

    I just want to play Elite, whatever form it takes. It will be a big shame if all these disgruntled people spoiled the game for everybody else out of spite.

    • drewski says:

      …how exactly will people wanting their money back for a game that isn’t as advertised affect anyone who plays the game?

      • Samwise Gamgee says:

        Generating large amounts of negativity around the title during launch usually has a negative effect on sales. Since this is a game that is very much planned to grow and improve as time goes on the amount of people playing is going to be critical.

        • Stellar Duck says:

          So blame Braben and Frontier for dicking people over, not the people who got dicked over.

          • sicemma says:

            I was going to suggest “stop hitting yourself” really should have been written into the kickstarter for frontier’s benefit, but then I remembered how much that’s worth :)

        • Corodix says:

          So it’s the fault of the customers that the devs decided to commit a bait and switch? Those customers went to their site in order to buy a space simulation game with an offline mode, and instead are receiving a game without an offline mode. Not giving their customers a refund in this case seems quite illegal, bait and switch and false advertising and all.

          Look at it this way, if the devs had given a refund option when they announced that the game would not come with an offline mode, then would there be as much negative news as there is now? They are doing this to themselves.

          • sicemma says:

            The moral vacuum that is “I hope these people get stuck with a dud purchase so that a game I like is marginally more profitable and the CEO doesn’t have to contemplate, I dunno, selling some shares to fund it” is unfortunately nowhere near the top of the grossest things I have read in gaming, but if there wasn’t a whole bunch of other horrible shit to do with people’s unresolved girl cootie issues, it would be near the top.

  21. Caelinus says:

    I may be totally off base here, but the whole idea of offering refunds on this is ridiculous to me. I understand that people with poor internet connections may be upset, but I also am confused as to *why* those people would buy into alpha or beta access, as it was impossible to play those offline as it is. Furthermore, Kickstarting things in inherently risky, and offers no guarantee that the game will actually even be made. At all. The loss of a feature, even an important one, is no where near as problematic as that.

    But when I read their first policy, my first reaction was that they probably are doing that to prevent people from refunding their hundred+ dollar purchase, and then re-buying the game at a lower price point after playing in the Alpha/Beta, effectively negating the entire pricing policy. Which is something Frontier would have no practical way to prevent. The offender would only have to claim that they managed to get a better internet connection only after they got the refund. Frontier would be unable to tell who is telling the truth or not, and even if they know the person is lying, 50$ is better than nothing.

    • Nihilist says:

      My point exactly. People look at this really one sided.

    • drewski says:

      I think your error is assuming that anyone who wants an offline must have that desire have something to do with the internet.

      Some people just want to be able to play games offline. Period. They may also wish to play that games – at some points in time – online. Not all the time. Maybe sometimes they like to be online and other times not online. Maybe they flat out refuse to buy any game which is always online, but also like to sometimes choose to take their games online.

      Frontier made a deliberate promise to include an offline game mode. They accepted money from people on the basis of delivering that promise. They now refuse to deliver the advertised product.

      Whether or not that product was realistic is irrelevant. Whether or not that product is reasonable is irrelevant. They promised to deliver a product they cannot deliver – anybody who committed to that product on the basis of their promise who now cannot be delivered the product they paid for deserves a refund, even if they also wanted to experience other aspects of that product (such as the game online).

      You’re right about Kickstarter, in that you’re backing a concept, not pre-purchasing a product, but at the same time, they deliberately promised things in the Kickstarter which they now have no intention of delivering. The exact nature of the relationship between producer and backer hasn’t been established yet, but it seems unreasonable to assume that a producer has absolutely no responsibility to deliver on anything they have promised – and that is what Frontier are doing. They are refusing to deliver on a specific promise they made, and the fact they are delivering on other promises in no way mitigates their failure to provide specific features they indicated would be present.

      Now, perhaps some people will take advantage of the ability to withdraw their higher pledge and instead buy a lower tier. You know how Frontier could avoid that? Deliver the game they promised to. Not going to do that? Then tough.

    • schlusenbach says:

      They changed their product from a game to a service. With a solo offline mode it is a game I can play whenever I want. When it needs a server, it is a service I can use for some time (2 years? 5 years? Who knows?). That’s a fundamental difference.
      (And yes: they promised to release the server source code when they shut down the game. But what is a promise of this company worth right now?)

      Another thing: if they decide next year to change to a subscription model or to show in-game ads, they can do as they like. They can’t do that to an offline solo game.

      This is not the loss of a feature, it’s a completely different product.

  22. TheSplund says:

    No real SP? that’s saved me £40+ and some serious time

    • Zenicetus says:

      There is real singleplayer in the game. The recent announcement just means that one of the two options for singeplayer — a completely offline mode — has been canned, and the remaining mode requires a constant, uninterrupted Internet connection. If you stay in Solo Online mode, you’ll never see another player in the game, just NPCs.

      • Stellar Duck says:

        However your game WILL be influenced by the other players.

        • Asurmen says:

          Which is still SP.

          • Premium User Badge

            syllopsium says:

            No, no it is not. If you can’t copy around save games or leave your game for months/years at a time and then resume and reasonably expect it’s in the same state as last time *it is not a single player game*

          • sicemma says:

            Yeah, a single player game in which it is conceivable I could be banned for cheating (since “your” save you can’t even copy or reload from is the same as your multiplayer one). And can’t even pause. That sounds great!

      • cederic says:

        If there’s real single player in the game, I’ll be able to use a mod to give myself unlimited cash and an invulnerable ship then?
        If there’s real single player in the game, I’ll be able to take a mission, save the game, then keep reloading until I’ve completed it successfully?
        If there’s real single player in the game, I’ll be able to explore every system in the galaxy as a new discovery?
        If there’s real single player in the game, I’ll be able to call my character “Fuck off Braben”?

        Excellent. Sounds like it may deliver the offline experience for which I was hoping.

  23. Green Bob says:

    Remember Remember
    Remember remember the eleventh of December
    Offline-mode, deceit and plot.
    I see no reason why offline-mode, treason
    Should ever be forgot…
    David Braben and Frontier Developments
    Did the scheme contrive,
    To screw backers of Kick Starter
    From their hard earn proceeds

  24. sicemma says:

    After 11898 posts in a week, not counting all the strays from the big thread, they have finally closed down discussion of “the offline issues” entirely on their forums.

    link to forums.frontier.co.uk

    • Stellar Duck says:

      How shitty.

      • sicemma says:

        Oh, I forgot they’ve deleted at least dozens (hundreds?) of posts from it as well – most no great loss and probably no different than what is already there with harsher language or calling Braben a bad name, but still.

        The kickstarter comments

        link to kickstarter.com

        still seem to be going, but that’s only open to confirmed backers, and nobody who preordered it under the impression it would do what Frontier said it would can post.

  25. Apocalypse says:

    To be completely honest: Those refunds should be $60 tops for all those guys who enjoyed their beta and alpha. The price of the game at release and even that is quite consumer friendly.

    You don´t back a work in progress kick-starter and than cry if the direction of the game change while in development.

  26. sophof says:

    There’s a reason stores usually are quite generous with refunds and I think that reason was lost on Mr. Braben. One kept sale usually isn’t worth antagonizing a possible future customer, especially if you want to prevent bad word of mouth (the one thing the internet is famous for I’d say). That’s generally true even if you are in the right, which Braben wasn’t…

  27. sylvainh2o says:

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  28. sylvainh2o says:

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