Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Whiskey Talks: The Elite Dangerous Steam Release (Updated)

As many of you are already aware, Elite Dangerous was recently released on Steam to absolutely no fanfair and out of the blue. This came as a surprise to everyone and has sparked quite a bit of ire amongst backers and pre-Steam owners of the game. Hit the link to find out why.
Second Update: Another source which has asked to go unnamed has generously provided me with a screengrab of Steam's "Steam Key FAQ" page for developers. Feast your eyes on the monolithic black slab below.
Many thanks anonymous source!

Update: It seems frontier have finally gotten their heads out of their arses and issued a statement on the topic at last.
The update can be found posted on their own forums (here) but the pertinent bit to our topic is this:

"For those of you who already own Elite: Dangerous from our store and asked about getting the game in your Steam collection: we hear you and we’re looking into it. We can’t speak for other cases where the same question has come up, but turning customers into Steam customers unfortunately isn't 100 percent our decision and isn’t free for us in the context of the game’s ongoing growth and development. It could take a few weeks to work through, but we hear your feedback and addressing it is a priority for all of us."

On the surface it sounds like a right load of old bollocks and well... it is. Lets break it down;

  • "isn't 100 percent our decision" - this is an interesting statement, because this decision should be a no-brainer so who's blocking it? Shareholders. Frontier is a Public Limited Company or Plc which means they have shares, and it's likely that the shareholders, whoever they may be (also, they have shareholders guys, why did we back this shit on Kickstarter again?) are against the decision or talks are ongoing in the board room to hash this out.
  • "isn't free for us in the context of the game's ongoing growth and development" - this is the statement that bothers me, it can be read one of two ways; 1) they mean that keys aren't free to generate and give out (which is just plain untrue, unless my sources have lied to me, anonymous sources HO!) or that the work needed to do such would be too expensive to shell out for or 2) the sales are still rolling in and they don't want to give out keys in the hopes that we're going to buy the game again.
At this point I really can't urge people enough to stay away from Frontier and their products. Don't buy Elite, don't recommend Elite, don't buy Screamride or whatever other shovelware they're pushing out these days and just as importantly we all need to stop standing for this kind of thing.
At the least it's bad treatment of your customers and at worst it's outright lying to them and doing shady business. Frontier aren't the first company to do it, and they won't be the last but I sincerely hope that these shenanigans have upset people enough that we will not be mollified in a few weeks or a few months.
I hope this whole situation has enlightened everyone, myself included, that backing a game before release whether through Kickstarter or a pre-order can backfire. Companies might honestly fail to fill their promises, or they might outright talk shite and we might get a kick in the teeth down the line when shareholders want to line a new suit with £100 notes.

Congratulations Frontier, you win a coveted Wankie, awarded only in cases of the finest displays of cuntishness in the gaming industry.

Original Post: Apologies for the late update this week (this was meant to go out 4 days ago now!) but in the interests of fair journalism I wanted to give Frontier a chance to respond to the situation that developed over the weekend - they've had 24 hours after the national holiday (Easter) is over and still haven't issued a statement yet so as far as I'm concerned that's enough.Lets start with a rundown of the situation just so that everyone is on the same page. Where possible sources will be linked.

As many know Elite Dangerous was Kickstarted (link) way back when and had its first hiccup when the offline mode was pulled (link) which rightfully angered pretty much everyone. Things went smoothly from then until the initial release when the game was pushed out of the door in pretty much a beta state back in December 2014.That's not to say the game was full of bugs but there's just no 'content'. That means there's no story, no meaningful progression and no sense of accomplishment. The game is just shuffling meaningless numbers (link to bullshit promises) in a barely concealed grind.I could go on and on about the shortfalls of the gameplay but I'll just leave you with a link to the PC Masterrace subreddit on the topic (link), where between the origi
nal post and suchdownvotes comment, my thoughts are summed up rather well.

Skip ahead several uneventful months and we get a patch that tweaks some stuff, adds group functionality after it was said that players would just have to suck it up and do the functions offered by the "Wings" update manually (sadly I can't find the forum thread on the official site where this was said).Grouping up is still a nightmare due to the way the game handles connections - the actual game servers are only used for syncing trade and bounty data between clients with all player to player interactions being handled with peer-to-peer connections, which due to NAT and other various technical hiccups may or may not work at any given time (usually the latter).

Enough digressing though; on Thursday last week (2nd April) we saw the game appear on Steam's new releases completely out of the blue. It hadn't been in the upcoming releases and no announcement had been made prior to it arriving for purchase.The first bone of contention in what I'm referring to as the Elite Shitsucking Saga is what David Braben (who's a cockbag anyway) said to Eurogamer (link to eurogamer), this specifically:

"Will you launch the game on Steam?David Braben: No. We've got to support the game with our own back end anyway, so I don't see the benefit of it."

This quote led many of us to believe the game would never be coming to Steam and, myself included, influenced our decision to purchase from Frontier's own site.

So now the game's out on Steam and us backers and pre-Steam purchasers are left without a key, for a product that we bought elsewhere because we believed it was never coming to Steam. In fairness our assumption may have been somewhat off, it's never explicitly stated that the game will 'never' come to Steam so what's all the latest hubbub about?

Steam keys for pre-Steam backers and purchasers.

While Frontier is under no legal obligation to provide us with keys in this instance it's rather obvious that the good publicity it would have generated could have swung the situation in their favour if addressed quickly. However Frontier pushed the game to Steam at the beginning of a UK national holiday (a 4-day weekend) that left fans without any hope of a statement by the company.
As it stands we've had several days with no comment from the developers (admittedly some of those days were a national holiday, no one's holding that against them) and an increasingly angry fan base that feel cheated by what appears to be a money grabbing, deceitful company.
It's plain bad PR, and one instance of which I hope the community, and gaming culture in general will stop tolerating this kind of crappy treatment of customers.

It's obvious this whole mess shouldn't have even happened to start with, and I'll leave you to draw your own conclusions from the whole thing.

On a personal note however I will not be supporting Frontier's product or services any longer. Sometimes in the games industry things just don't go well, and sometimes the lies are blatant enough (i.e. Molyneux promises) that we laugh them off with an "oh you", fully knowing the final product won't resemble what was promised early on.
Sometimes though, we take a respected veteran of the industry at their word, we back them with millions of pounds and we even forgive the unfinished state of the game when it's finally released because there's the promise of so much more on the horizon (mainly Star Citizen).
Frontier; you and I are through. I won't be playing your game any more and I will be actively dissuading anyone I can from purchasing your products.

I'll leave you with this little gem from the Steam forum (link to Steam Community):
Originally posted by DieScream:
"Hey Steam users, check our sweet game, already onto 1.3 soon! All tested for you! Welcome aboard gang! Woo!"
..."Oh..uh..hey old backers and supporters. Listen, it's been great, but we got Steam in our lives now. You guys can still...*sigh* ..come in, I guess. 
J-Just come in quietly through the alley around back ok? No one needs to see you or anything.
Yeah, we'll talk about those Steam keys later after the weekend or something, whatever, later!"
"Hey Steam users! You guys comfortable? Can I get you an Achievement?"

Steam keys for pre-Steam purchasers, that's what it's about. Many of us would simply like the option to have the game in our Steam libraries as a proper Steam item, not added via the "add non-steam game" function as Elite's community managers have kept pointing out is "exactly the same".


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