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GOG.com, the store that prides itself on offering "DRM FREE" builds of games has recently released Hitman - Game of The Year Edition from IO Interactive and GOG fans are not happy.

To set the scene a little, this is a single-player stealth game about running around assassinating various targets across a bunch of different missions. It's actually a pretty good game and it has a Linux build available on Steam ported by Feral Interactive, which is not up on GOG.

Here's the problem: many features in HITMAN require you to have an internet connection. This is different to a game that has online modes which would of course need the internet. This is a game you play by yourself. Story missions and bonus mission can be played offline but you have to be online for most of the progression for item unlocks, new start location unlocks, special contracts, featured contracts, escalation missions and more.

It might not fall under the technical meaning of DRM but forcing players to be online in a single-player game to access content never really goes down well, and so it's not surprising on a store like GOG for users to be unhappy. It didn't help that GOG did not mention any of this at release, simply slapping the usual "DRM FREE. No activation or online connection required to play. " tickbox on the store page. While it's still somewhat true it doesn't quite sit right. This has led to the Hitman release gathering one of the lowest ever user-ratings on GOG (1.4 / 5 right now).

GOG users wasted no time telling the store how they felt with over 1,000 comments on the release forum topic, with IO Interactive being aware of it stating in a recent livestream that they're following it and they say they're in discussions on it. Two days after release GOG posted this small statement in that same topic that reads " Thank you for bringing this topic to our attention. We’re looking into it and will be updating you in the coming weeks. In case you have purchased HITMAN and are not satisfied with the released version, you can use your right to refund the game. At the same time, 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.". Another post later clarified that " We will not remove reviews like that, only those that are against our review guidelines.".

Stating that unhappy users writing about actual technical features of the game is "review bombing" of course is really not going to go down well. The base price of the game on GOG (when the sale ends) is noticeably more expensive than on Steam too.

Later GOG added a notice to the top of the store page that reads "Please note: Internet connection is required to access Escalation missions, Elusive Targets or user-created Contracts. Story and bonus missions can be played offline.".

How do you feel about this?

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
Tags: GOG, Meta
24 Likes
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38 comments
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jens 26 Sep
  • Supporter
QuoteIt didn't help that GOG did not mention any of this at release, simply slapping the usual "DRM FREE.

This is where it went wrong in my opinion. So now there are unhappy customers due to not getting what they expected (drm-free in the sense of what the average GOG user makes of it) and an unhappy game studio/publisher which went for the extra mile to offer their game on GOG but got immediately faced with a backslash. I’m sure IO will remember this once the GOG discussion comes up for other titles :(
I’m not GOG user (had a very good time with Ferals port of this game) but I think they deserve their place, sad to see this avoidable sloppiness.


Last edited by jens on 26 September 2021 at 11:26 am UTC
Shmerl 26 Sep
On-line connection for single player game? What for? I don't even get the reason for it, let alone any benefit. Unless developers want to spy on users in some way? It's surely an anti-feature.

Personally, I haven't bought the game so didn't really follow the whole drama. But I agree that for a GOG release it's a pretty major blunder.
HJ 26 Sep
always knew GOG/CDPR was full of shit and now people becoming aware of it too, about time
Developer12 26 Sep
QuoteStating that unhappy users writing about actual technical features of the game as "review bombing" of course is really not going to go down well.

On the one hand, leaving a bad review for technical reasons is perfectly fine. Leaving a bad review simple because you're outraged after reading the negative press though? That's review bombing. There is a fine line between them but I think it's probably the latter that they're more concerned about.

I'll agree that a lack of transparency here about which features would be available is probably the root cause. I do wonder how this got past quality assurance.

I think it's ok to have online-only stuff in the game on GoG, but they need to be VERY transparent about it and it can't dominate the user experience. I won't take the puritan position GNU has with nonfree software and say there has to be no online anything relying on a server at all in a GoG game.
Mar2ck 26 Sep
I think that even if they had been transparent from the start they would still be deserving of criticism since they are a "DRM FREE" store not a "Technically DRM free because you can play the game without a ton of core features that shouldn't require internet" store
Anza 26 Sep
Quoting: ShmerlOn-line connection for single player game? What for? I don't even get the reason for it, let alone any benefit. Unless developers want to spy on users in some way? It's surely an anti-feature.

Personally, I haven't bought the game so didn't really follow the whole drama. But I agree that for a GOG release it's a pretty major blunder.

To me based on where the checks are, it's designed more like an anti-cheat measure. Based on the discussions though, anti-cheat is no longer effective.

Pure DRM can just cripple the game instead of preventing playing the game.

Anyway I would assume the whole online functionality is deep enough in the game that removing it for GOG build might not be something IO interactive would want to do. If they want to do that, Dungeon Defenders for example had system where there was separate offline and online character that didn't share progression at all. So that would be one way to do it. Assuming of course the anti-cheat is actually effective. Otherwise it doesn't really matter.

I wouldn't say that online component is always useless in single player games. It's just have to be taken into account in the design what happens when the game is offline. If it's just that the leaderboards don't work, then people will most like understand what's going on. If it's woven more into the game, it could be honest to mention it in the store page.
barotto 26 Sep
Quoting: ShmerlOn-line connection for single player game? What for? I don't even get the reason for it, let alone any benefit. Unless developers want to spy on users in some way? It's surely an anti-feature.

Microtransactions.
Lootboxes, cosmetics, more content.
If they are not in the game now, they'll be in the future.

It's always about the money.
WorMzy 26 Sep
I find the whole 'review bombing is not allowed' thing rediculous. If you've bought the game and are displeased with it, then leaving a negative review is entirely acceptable. If hundreds/thousands of people all do the same, then so be it. Game devs/publishers shouldn't be able to bury their heads in the sand and cry foul just because gamers aren't happy with them.
CatKiller 26 Sep
Quoting: WorMzyI find the whole 'review bombing is not allowed' thing rediculous. If you've bought the game and are displeased with it, then leaving a negative review is entirely acceptable. If hundreds/thousands of people all do the same, then so be it. Game devs/publishers shouldn't be able to bury their heads in the sand and cry foul just because gamers aren't happy with them.
This isn't review bombing in my book. This is just lots of people leaving negative reviews because an advertised feature of the game (being DRM-free) isn't there.

Review bombing, as far as I'm concerned, would be a brigade leaving negative reviews because of something other than the game (the CEO wore pink socks! 👎), which does suck.
I think the review bombing is well deserved. A single player game requiring such online features shouldn't be sold on a place like GOG, it should be removed until a solution is presented.

I didn't participate in the forum discussion but simply voted with my wallet, didn't buy the game. I could forgive GOG for not offering the Linux version, Feral doesn't seem to like GOG.

What's worse is that both Hitman 2 and 3 have these similar features. They'd have to do additional work if they want to release it on GOG too. Goes to show how bad DRM is.

GOG has been straying off from the beaten path for some time already. Cyberpunk's Galaxy requirement to install some skins is also a crappy move and I will never buy it unless they change it.


Last edited by Avehicle7887 on 26 September 2021 at 11:00 am UTC
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