Last week Frontier Developers announced that Elite: Dangerous, its anticipated virtual reality (VR) compatible space-simulation title set to launch next month, will no longer be supporting an offline mode. The developer reasoned that it would have to create two entirely separate experiences in order to accommodate a truly single-player option within the title. The decision has been met with controversy from the title’s community, which cited an FAQ on Elite: Dangerous’ Kickstarter campaign that states the title will feature an offline mode. Now Frontier Developments founder David Braben has made his own statement on the decision.
Speaking in a Q&A thread on the official Elite: Dangerous forums, Braben reasoned that the team wouldn’t be able to deliver the experience it truly envisioned with the inclusion of an offline mode. “Back during the Kickstarter, we were clear about the vision, to make a phenomenal new sequel to Elite in an online world, which we believe we are about to deliver,” Braben replied to one user. “At the time we believed we could also offer a good single player experience, and base an acceptable offline-only experience off that. As development has progressed, it has become clear that this last assumption is not the case. That experience would be empty at best, and even that would take a lot of extra work.”
The user in question brought up the suggestions that Froniter Developments had removed this mode to ‘enforce DRM and in game advertising’. Braben stressed that this wasn’t the case: “It is not to enforce DRM or advertising as you suggest. We will be judged on quality, and the quality of that game experience would be poor, and we don’t want to deliver a poor game. To make a richer offline single player experience has always been possible (and still is) but would be a separate game with its own story content. A huge slice of separate work. We have developed a multi-player game with an unfolding story involving the players, and groups collaborating with specific objectives and taking account of all players behaviour. This is what the game is about. Without this it would not be the rich gaming experience that we will deliver, and would be a great disappointment to all players.
“I don’t pretend it was an easy decision, but it was done to benefit the game as a whole. One thing we have looked at carefully is our requirements of the network connection. For the single player game they are pretty light. I myself have played the game fine on the train using a laptop on a tethered connection over my phone. Given that this is a game which is only available online, this was the decision we took. I am sorry that people are so upset about it, but it was the right decision.”
Elite: Dangerous is set to launch on PC on 16th December 2014 with full support for the Oculus Rift head-mounted display (HMD). VRFocus will continue to follow the title’s progress, reporting back with any further updates.