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
 

FAST6191

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Who wants to make a new game launcher/distribution service? :^)
From where I sit you have two possibilities here (other than outright failure of course)
1) https://xkcd.com/927/
standards.png

This has already happened many times.
2) Epic already tried it, have been the only ones to present a credible threat to Steam's effective monopoly (don't know why Ubisoft and EA are such failures as I would have thought it obvious, indeed Epic did it) and unlike every other time Steam consumer action was tried (see also left4dead 2 boycott) the fanboys seem to have become and remained irrationally salty to this day.
 
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ChibiMofo

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"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."​
LOL! Sorry, you're just going to have to tolerate such reviews and learn to live with them, sweetie. Nice usage of the incredibly obscure English word "meritful" by the way.
But you know what's really meritful? Downloading the Fitgirl version of the game that is DRM-free, GOG-free, and does not need online access to anything to unlock anything.
FG>GOG
 

gudenau

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From where I sit you have two possibilities here (other than outright failure of course)
1) https://xkcd.com/927/
standards.png

This has already happened many times.
2) Epic already tried it, have been the only ones to present a credible threat to Steam's effective monopoly (don't know why Ubisoft and EA are such failures as I would have thought it obvious, indeed Epic did it) and unlike every other time Steam consumer action was tried (see also left4dead 2 boycott) the fanboys seem to have become and remained irrationally salty to this day.

It was a joke. I don't have any of the resources you would need to do this.
 

CathyRina

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Half of Hitman's DRM really has no right to be there.
Timed missions that expire after a certain time period basically punish people for not buying the game at launch.
Locking the "progression" behind online check-ins basically removes the sand-boxy element completely. At this point playing legitimately offline is no better than playing a pirated copy, at which point why bother playing a legit offline copy.

Yes this game been criticized for that since 2016. You can watch Superbunnyhop's Reviews on the game from all those years ago. It's a shame this excellent game is still being dragged down by disgusting business decisions from half a decade ago.
 
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SeongGino

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At this point, I'm not going to blame GoG for this as much as I blame IOI for making such an intrusive progressive model that effectively makes this game impossible to be truly 'DRM-free' without a complete rewrite and overhaul of how timed events and bonus progression works.

It's not even like this is the first time this has happened. Unreal Tournament 2004 might be DRM-free to a point (ignoring when the game itself just sporadically refuses to run for whatever reason based on registration) except that the Multiplayer still requires CD-keys to work. Considering UT games are 75% multiplayer-oriented, and the second-most popular game in this series on GoG is still hampered by activation, I'm surprised people are only just now reacting to this.

Don't misconstrue what I'm saying: this was never acceptable to begin with when the game originally came out. But, that's kind of the problem: that's how it was made in the first place.

GoG was never going to be a silver bullet that solves all DRM problems, particularly when said game has functions connected to publisher's servers at the core of its design. What this shows is an inherent weakness in the model because it simply cannot apply to all games when they're designed around DRM - in this case, online activation and interaction. For all of CDPR's problems, beyond just not letting the game be on the store and never having a standalone version of the game exist, which is debatable whether or not that's a good thing... what else were they going to do? I want to believe they don't have the reputation to mandate that games absolutely have to be offline-complete when they're designed as pseudo-live-services to begin with, because I couldn't see many Triple-AAAaaa games publishers being willing to buy into a model where they're less likely to make all the money out of recurrent user interaction and spending.
Has there been a precedent for this kind of release yet? Because if there isn't, well... maybe it shouldn't have taken this long to have this discussion, is what I'm saying.
 

the_randomizer

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At this point, I'm not going to blame GoG for this as much as I blame IOI for making such an intrusive progressive model that effectively makes this game impossible to be truly 'DRM-free' without a complete rewrite and overhaul of how timed events and bonus progression works.

It's not even like this is the first time this has happened. Unreal Tournament 2004 might be DRM-free to a point (ignoring when the game itself just sporadically refuses to run for whatever reason based on registration) except that the Multiplayer still requires CD-keys to work. Considering UT games are 75% multiplayer-oriented, and the second-most popular game in this series on GoG is still hampered by activation, I'm surprised people are only just now reacting to this.

Don't misconstrue what I'm saying: this was never acceptable to begin with when the game originally came out. But, that's kind of the problem: that's how it was made in the first place.

GoG was never going to be a silver bullet that solves all DRM problems, particularly when said game has functions connected to publisher's servers at the core of its design. What this shows is an inherent weakness in the model because it simply cannot apply to all games when they're designed around DRM - in this case, online activation and interaction. For all of CDPR's problems, beyond just not letting the game be on the store and never having a standalone version of the game exist, which is debatable whether or not that's a good thing... what else were they going to do? I want to believe they don't have the reputation to mandate that games absolutely have to be offline-complete when they're designed as pseudo-live-services to begin with, because I couldn't see many Triple-AAAaaa games publishers being willing to buy into a model where they're less likely to make all the money out of recurrent user interaction and spending.
Has there been a precedent for this kind of release yet? Because if there isn't, well... maybe it shouldn't have taken this long to have this discussion, is what I'm saying.


What irks me is their double standards on "we're willing to take criticism, but we don't tolerate review bombing" meaning they're not going to resolve this, but don't like people calling out companies on DRM.
 
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ChiefReginod

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"No review bombing" is just another way of saying they'll accept X amount of bad reviews but they're gonna cut it off past a certain point to minimize the damage. Plus it kind of sounds like a threat to their users. "Don't give this game bad reviews or else."

Really bad PR here.
 
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the_randomizer

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"No review bombing" is just another way of saying they'll accept X amount of bad reviews but they're gonna cut it off past a certain point to minimize the damage. Plus it kind of sounds like a threat to their users. "Don't give this game bad reviews or else."

Really bad PR here.
GOG reaaaaally likes digging themselves deeper into the grave they've dug with Cyberpunk 2077 :lol:
 

CathyRina

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i get why they'd take a stand against reviewbombing, after all people can reviewbomb for the pettiest shit that doesn't affect the average customer. But this aint it chief. People are reviewbombing because of the main appeal of your store not being provided.
 

the_randomizer

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i get why they'd take a stand against reviewbombing, after all people can reviewbomb for the pettiest shit that doesn't affect the average customer. But this aint it chief. People are reviewbombing because of the main appeal of your store not being provided.

GOG has been really starting to suck ass lately
 
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