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Elite: Dangerous refunds now being judged case-by-case

by Mark Tyson on 24 November 2014, 11:35

Tags: Kickstarter, PC

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Frontier Developments announced last week that the Elite: Dangerous fully-offline single player mode, which had been promised when the game was originally crowdfunded, had been removed. The announcement caused much criticism and complaint from those who had backed the development with cash pledges and others who were eagerly anticipating buying the game to enjoy its 'solo' mode.

Refund reassessments

In response to the reaction of many gamers Frontier has decided to issue refunds to certain buyers/backers. It announced that those who have been playing Elite: Dangerous online, either in the alpha or beta versions, will not be eligible to receive a refund - even if they backed the project through Kickstarter. The company initially said it would only give refunds to those who pre-ordered the release version of the game from Frontier's online store. No specific reasonable basis for that decision has been given at the time of writing.

However, Frontier seems to have reassessed the refund policy in the recent few days, most likely due to the customer backlash, and founder David Braben has said that the company will now be issuing refunds on a case by case basis.

"We initially declined some people's request for refund as our records showed they have already played Elite: Dangerous online," Braben wrote in a forum post. "After listening to many of the comments I received after my AMA here, we have since re-opened these requests and informed those people that we will be contacting them so that we can fully understand their individual situation before making a more informed decision. We will be contacting them each in the next few working days."

The developers said that although an offline mode was technically possible it would compromise the compelling quality of the game. "It is not out of the question we will create a cut-down game that is offline only, but this is not currently in our plan. It would still be a big undertaking to do well," Braben explained. "Any offline experience would be fundamentally empty. We could write a separate mission system to allow a limited series of fixed missions, but that would still not be a compelling game."

Meanwhile the game's final beta patch before its retail release on 16 December has arrived, which includes a lot of bug fixes and optimisations but won't bring along many new features. This Kickstarter-funded game generated over $1.5 million with 25,000 backers contributing their cash to the project during 2013.

HEXUS Forums :: 59 Comments

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Previously all those that had experienced play online were refused refunds.
Not a popular idea, but it makes some sense in this respect - You paid to have a copy of the game, in whatever dev state is was at the time. You got what you paid for, it is now technically used and not liable for a refund. Reasonably well in-keeping with consumer law…

Probably not a good play in terms of company image and having to issue a few thousand refunds would only further harm opinions of the game post-release. By denying refunds at this stage, I daresay a lot of people would shrug and give it a go anyways, possibly finding that it was still playable and worth keeping… this'd lessen the Refund Quota, perhaps to a few hundred and look better on the books… but then, forcing people to either wait for refunds, or forcing them to see what the game is like first before considering their case is also a bit draconian.

Interestingly, this kinda mirrors the law in-game:
“Ooh look, salvage… What? Stolen cargo and a fine? No, I found it, honest! OK then, I'll get rid of it… What? Littering fine? OK, I'll destroy it… What? Fined for firing in the No Fire zone??!! Stuff you, I'm never coming here again… WHAT??!! Unpaid fines now put a bounty on my head??!!”
Overall I am really glad I gave this one a miss.
The fact that they promised a single-player game, and then proceeded to make a multiplayer game only, shows just how much they screwed the backers :(

Definately a company i'll try to avoid in the future, if this is to be their level of customer service.
Still better than spunking the money on cars, coke and hookers like many kickstarters do.
See where Braben thinking is :

This game is designed to be a massive multi player experience. Not sure why people really would want a single player option for a game like this.

The best online games have limited or pointless single player games - the ratio of my time spent playing battlefield 4 online compared to the single player campaign is like 10000:1.

Rather he spent the time and resources making a rich online game……