GOG release of 2016 Hitman reignites controversy surrounding online connections for single-player games

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GOG, CD Projekt's online store for digital games distribution, has always branded itself around DRM-free games. "We are GOG.com, the DRM-free home for a curated selection of games," reads a notice on the front page, and each game page has a section that says "no activation or online connection required to play." Because of this, many have come to see GOG as a haven for games preservation, freeing games from different launchers and storefronts, and allowing players to actually own them in totality, to play however and wherever they choose. However, the latest major release on the platform, IO Interactive's 2016 Hitman reboot, has angered some fans by locking features behind an online check-in. While this doesn't technically stop you from playing offline - Hitman's story and bonus missions can be played offline - the majority of features require a connection to IO Interactive's server, such as Escalation missions, Elusive Targets and user-created Contracts. There is a prominent warning on the game's store page that says this, though some users are claiming it launched without this warning. However, what isn't mentioned in this warning is that major parts of the game's progression system are also locked behind online connectivity. Unlocking new weapons, new starting locations, location mastery and getting your mission scores require a persistent internet connection. "In other words," says GOG user HeavilyAugmented in his review, "playing the game offline means you never unlock new content and you'll have to start with a default loadout of a regular suit and silenced pistol always."

The game's page is being flooded with negative reviews, and currently sits at an average rating of 1.4/5 (for comparison, the game's Metacritic page currently sits at a 7.5 average user rating). A GOG team member named chandra made a post on the GOG forums thanking users for bringing the issue to their attention, and says they will give an update "in the coming weeks," but also mentions that users are free to use their right to refund the game if they are not satisfied. "At the same time," the post continues, "while we’re open for meritful discussion and feedback, we will not tolerate review bombing and will be removing posts that do not follow our review guidelines."

This response only drew more ire, with many users feeling the term "review bombing," often applied to when fans swarm a product's user reviews with frivolous complaints, was not appropriate here. "It's not 'review bombing' when the reviews give better information on what is actually locked behind online DRM than the game's store page," said GOG forum user Breja. Though chandra clarified that they would only be removing reviews that breach their review guidelines, it has done little to calm the angered fans, and left them with an interesting question: should a storefront like GOG be selling a game when the majority of its content is gated behind an online connection?

:arrow: Hitman - Game of the Year Edition GOG Store Page
 

Henx

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They should remove the game right away for violating their own policies. I'm a big fan of GOG, so I hope they sort this sh*t out.
DRM free games are essential for archival and the survival of games in time and space. Steam won't be here forever, and going back to buy CDs and DVDs of favourite games is not the better alternative.
 

AbyssalMonkey

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You know, I feel that half of this is overblown. Yeah, it sucks that you aren't going to be getting persistent upgrades due to the profile being tethered to their servers, but that's how the game was originally coded. I don't like DRM as much as the next person, and I'll gladly go sailing on the high seas to get a cracked copy. But here's the double-edged question:

If you go and pirate the game, which more than likely disables all online connections anyway, how is that literally any different than the game GOG just released?

The base game doesn't have Denuvo, or any online check-in. You can almost certainly boot it up completely offline, and beat the entire game, without connecting once. As far as I'm concerned, that's "good enough". People are going to need to reexamine how these things work going forward. More and more games are tying their content online, and seeing what GOG gets is basically the game without the DRM wrapper, it's not exactly like they can fix it. It's not like they should create custom DOSbox wrappers for these games to spoof their connections. That would require them to reverse engineer the network code behind the games in the first place.

Now, could GOG apply pressure to have the game developer move more essential content offline, like profiles? Probably, and they probably should. But I'm not going to lampoon them over getting rid of malware out of a game and not running on my computer anymore. Thank fuck.
 

the_randomizer

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Foxi4

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You can play the entire game offline. Elusive targets and contracts are, by their very nature, online content that’s time sensitive/user generated and not a part of the actual game you paid for, they’re extra content from the developers/other players, and this is by design, not a form of “DRM”. Storm in a teacup, as usual.
 

Edgarska

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If you go and pirate the game, which more than likely disables all online connections anyway, how is that literally any different than the game GOG just released
The difference is you literally paid money for one of them
As far as I'm concerned, that's "good enough".
For a pirated game, yes.
 

Scarlet

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You can play the entire game offline. Elusive targets and contracts are, by their very nature, online content that’s time sensitive/user generated and not a part of the actual game you paid for, they’re extra content from the developers/other players, and this is by design, not a form of “DRM”. Storm in a teacup, as usual.
I think the bigger part is missing out on the location mastery and challenges, locking you out of any kind of progression or replayability. Heck I didn't even know you couldn't do those things offline until I checked. It's a large chunk of the game, and it's something I'm pretty sure people have been complaining about since the game launched in 2016, as well as both its sequels.
 

Foxi4

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I think the bigger part is missing out on the location mastery and challenges, locking you out of any kind of progression or replayability. Heck I didn't even know you couldn't do those things offline until I checked. It's a large chunk of the game, and it's something I'm pretty sure people have been complaining about since the game launched in 2016, as well as both its sequels.
I mean, I’m a huge Hitman fan, have been since the first game came out, so I may be biased. I play them for the story content, and although I do have access to contracts and elusive targets, I’ve only ever used those features once or twice at best because I thought including Sean Bean as a guest target was quite funny. I didn’t feel “ripped off” and as far as I’m concerned, the content that matters is all there - the story missions, with all of their complexity and multitudes of possible solutions. The online section is simply icing on the cake that I never really had any interest in.
 

Scarlet

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I mean, I’m a huge Hitman fan, have been since the first game came out, so I may be biased. I play them for the story content, and although I do have access to contracts and elusive targets, I’ve only ever used those features once or twice at best because I thought including Sean Bean as a guest target was quite funny. I didn’t feel “ripped off” and as far as I’m concerned, the content that matters is all there - the story missions, with all of their complexity and multitudes of possible solutions. The online section is simply icing on the cake that I never really had any interest in.
No but you miss out on so many layers of that complexity by removing all location mastery. You can't unlock new weapons or starting points in any of the locations while offline.

You can't honestly tell me the game is just as good like that. You're stuck replaying the missions from the same starting point with the same arsenal of weapons. You lose so much of what makes the game great.
 

bobmcjr

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Yeah I've thoroughly given up on GOG/CDPR. What a bunch of sellouts.

Is there something about being a Polish game company that requires you to make only the worst PR decisions and end up ruining everything? SuperHot VR comes to mind. Or is this just from being/seeking to be publicly traded?
 

mattyxarope

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Probably why people nowadays resort to folks like C*D*X, F**Girl, and Anad**s. I still don't understand why most single player games require constant connection.

This one is severely gimped with those cracked versions as well. A ton of the progress is locked online. It's wild and mostly unnecessary.
 

Cyph3r_

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This one is severely gimped with those cracked versions as well. A ton of the progress is locked online. It's wild and mostly unnecessary.
I never really bothered with the recent Hitman games. Sure, they look great and play flawlessly, but they're just not what I wanted. This episodic stuff turned me off so fast they I just stopped caring about the game.
 

Arras

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I never really bothered with the recent Hitman games. Sure, they look great and play flawlessly, but they're just not what I wanted. This episodic stuff turned me off so fast they I just stopped caring about the game.
I'm pretty sure they only did the episodes once, and not for the second and third game.
 
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