In a newsletter sent out Frontier Developments founder David Braben announced that the anticipated sci-fi game Elite: Dangerous will be online only as opposed to the online and offline capable modes in addition to some other beta announcements.
The change in direction for the game is a bit of a shock to some players, as the project was kickstarted by backers with one of the promises being that “it will be possible to have a single player game without connecting to the galaxy server.” The game has from the beginning stages shown a focus on a shared galaxy server idea where procedurally generated content and actions from other players could affect the worlds and systems for all players taking part in the shared server gameplay. Games still under development often make large changes in mechanics, shedding bad ideas that are not working and bringing in new mechanics that are more promising, but being that this game was crowd funded over 1.5 million dollars based on stated commitments, making such a drastic change in the games promised capabilities shortly before release next month is notable.
A significant number of players took to voicing their concerns about the change on a 4,000+ comment forum thread on the official site and others game sites, with many stating a desire to get their funding back as they are no longer getting the game they were promised when they originally funded development. Those players without reliable internet connections or wanting to play the game without having to jump on to either insecure or too severely secured networks to get access will find themselves not being able to play the game they pre-ordered. Refund requests are being worked on a case-by-case basis per a statement on the forum by executive producer Michael Brookes. As well, he reinforced that the decision was not made lightly and that the mechanics involved in how the game handles the developing galaxy would have to have been drastically altered and less effective in an offline state.
With the game in the closing stages of development with a current launch date of the 16th of December, its unlikely that this news or a sudden increase in refund requests from upset backers will prevent the launch, however a scandal like this could be damaging to the brand via word of mouth if the players are still upset during the crucial days surrounding the commercial launch.