Elite: Dangerous Drops Its Promised Offline Mode

Frontier Developments explains why it dropped the game's offline mode.

No Caption Provided

A month before space sim Elite: Dangerous' final release, developer Frontier Developments announced that the game will not have the offline mode initially promised during its Kickstarter campaign.

"Being online lets us constantly both curate and evolve the galaxy, with stories unfolding according to the actions of commanders," Frontier Developments CEO David Braben said in a recent newsletter to fans. "Exploration is also a key factor, too, and it is important that what a single player explores matches what other players explore whether single or multiplayer – a complex, coherent world – something we have achieved."

As the game's FAQ section on Kickstarter still shows, the game was always focused on a persistent, shared world, but would also allow players to choose a single player game without connecting to the galaxy server.

As executive producer Michael Brooke explains on the game's forums (where some upset backers are asking for refunds), "the problem is that the galaxy mechanics all sit on the online servers. The data set and processes are huge and not something that would translate offline without considerable compromise to the vision. Trust me we didn't sit down and think what would annoy people the most! It's a choice we've had to make and so we've taken it."

In short, you can still play a single player mode, but the game requires an internet connection to sync up with the galaxy's shared economy.

Elite: Dangerous will release on December 16. For more on the game, check out this "making of" video and the rest of GameSpot's previous coverage.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

Join the conversation
There are 459 comments about this story
459 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
GameSpot has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to toxic conduct in comments. Any abusive, racist, sexist, threatening, bullying, vulgar, and otherwise objectionable behavior will result in moderation and/or account termination. Please keep your discussion civil.

Avatar image for Hermes33

If only Braben followed the Rise of Flight model, rather than forcing an always-on Internet connection, it would've been better. Yes, authenticate and update online by all means but please let us actually play the game offline. Maybe we could've got a flight-recorder and replay movie mode too. Thing is, we've already waited for too many years to not play this now, whatever state it's in, online or not. I don't like it but I'm buying anyway; it's Elite IV. Hopefully in a few months we'll finally get a proper offline mode. Makes you wonder though... I mean, the Elite fans I know all want the offline classic mode, yet on the Elite forum they say the "vast majority" want online? Who are these people? Are they actually real? Fake polls, anyone?

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat


Looks like the game which you like soooo much under-delivered. XD

Avatar image for Hermes33

<< LINK REMOVED >> So, what did *you* deliver? I mean, other than trolling Gamespot every day for the last decade?

Avatar image for target_drone

hmm... after doing a bit of reading up, i stumbled upon this... << LINK REMOVED >>

especially #6 sounds quite familiar.....

6. Move to online-only. This is where the retailers seem to want us to go after all, so perhaps it’s time to make the jump.

makes you wonder if the reasons given now for ditching offline are really genuine....

Avatar image for majere613

Seems to be a fair bit of ignorance here. Frontier are, in fact, refunding anyone who backed the Kickstarter but hasn't played in the pre-release version. The pre-release requires an internet connection, so if you could play that, you can play the full release.

The online in single-player requires about a 10kbps connection at minimum, which is used to update the world's stock market and allow the various in-game factions to offer missions that reflect the ongoing world state. They've also addressed the possibility of a server shut-down, and will try to release custom server code if that happens.

Avatar image for Mazoch

@majere613 Actually so far it looks like they are failing to refund anyone involved with the kickstarter at all, regardless of whether they've downloaded the game or not.

The required bandwidth is only part of the problem. For some its the fact that with the change, you no longer own or control the game. Your ability to play are at the say so of the developers.

As for them releasing the server code if they shut down, that's kinda hard to believe. They've just spent a lot of time telling everyone how unfeasible doing so would be and how they wont take the time since it doesn't live up to their vision.

If they really cared at all at the very lest they could release the server code now. Of course that wont happen since they are depending on their online component to serve as their revenue stream.

Avatar image for powerenrage

Frontier are now refusing all refunds to kickstarter and beta backers.

Avatar image for grimzodz

<< LINK REMOVED >> if they don't i bet they go belly up before they release in December

Avatar image for grimzodz

so when does the name change to E:D Online?

Avatar image for perramas

I was thinking about this last night and a though of why ED might be online only with a shared economy. Think about, the players will be competing against each other for the limited supply of ship equipment. The richer and dynamic online experience means as players buy up items it will create shortages of those items causing the price to rise and rise.

This is where the cash shop comes into play where they will be selling credits. Those players who have impulse control problems and limited play time will bust out your credit card and buy some credits from the cash shop. This would not work if ED was an offline game where you could play by yourself or with your friends.

So those of you who do buy this game I hope I am wrong and you do not have to compete against the armies of bots, exploiters, hacks, RMTers and those player who buy credits from the cash shop.

Here is where I got the thought from for the selling of credits to a captured audience.


We do not plan to make it subscription-based. Once you have purchased the game up front, you will be able to play thereafter for no further cost. Everything in the game will be purchasable with in-game Credits, earned from trading, bounty-hunting, etc. We will probably allow the supplemental purchase of Credits with real money, for those who want to accelerate their progress through the game. We do plan to charge for additional updates, to be available sometime after the original release. These will offer additional content, features and gameplay.

Avatar image for GamezMk

<< LINK REMOVED >> Singleplayer and Multiplayer are still separate modes, so they could have just separated the cash shop from Singleplayer. Besides, they'll have complete control of the shop, so they don't have the excuse of an Auction House like Blizzard did, and even then everyone hated them for it.

On top of it all, the fact they promised something and people backed them on Kickstarter for it and then changed their minds is an absolutely legitimate reason for people to complain about, and no matter how they try to spin it, they fucked up.

They don't have the size and marketing of other publishers/developers out there, and the space-sim genre is on the rise again. It will be a close fight. What they're doing here is shooting themselves in the foot, driving people towards Star Citizen instead (not worth mentioning No Man's Sky as that is so far only confirmed on consoles).

Ubisoft tried it once, and it failed. Blizzard tried it once, and it worked for a while as they took people by surprise, and only accepted it because they were a community molded after years of playing Blizzard online games. Electronic Arts tried it, and it blew up in their face.

Avatar image for titusballs

<< LINK REMOVED >> Oh hello you, you left the thread to come over here?

It's already been confirmed buying cash in the shop is off the table. Instead things like skins/bobbleheads/etc will be on sale. Expect more rare £10 skins in the shop in lieu of any subscription model.

Pay to Display, not Pay to Win.

Avatar image for perramas

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> The cash shop is the reason why there is no offline mode, cant sell skins or anything else to people who can mode an offline game.

I am to take them at the word now after they said there would be an offline mode? You want more reason to avoid this game at launch here you go.

This is not an MMO where you log onto severs hosted by the producers of the game. There is a central log in server and match making server then the game is hosted by P2P networking. I have my doubts how this is going to work out with a player base spread all over the world with different quality internet services.

Also as far as I know this is the first time this company has tried to make a purely online game. I am wondering if they know what they are getting into with the players who like to break online games and find clever ways of duping, exploiting and making hacks. We all have seen how quickly ArchAge has dropped off from the exploits and hacks and this is from a company that has experience with MMOs.

Avatar image for straightcur

Game looked good. Too bad.

Avatar image for uncle5555

And there's the reason I backed Star Citizen and not Elite. Haven't regretted that decision once.

Avatar image for AtolSammeek

<< LINK REMOVED >> I don't like the combat in Star Citizen. To Generic.

Avatar image for GamezMk

<< LINK REMOVED >> You mean you knew about this and didn't tell anyone about it? Dude... Bros before companies*cough*hoes*cough*!

Avatar image for AtolSammeek

I believe they have a Solo online mode. Which still requires online but you don't have to play with other players.

Avatar image for grimzodz

<< LINK REMOVED >> which means as soon as their servers go dark the game is finished

Avatar image for AtolSammeek

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> Let see Frontier been out for 20 years. I am not worried. I have a feeling Blizzard will fail before Frontier will.

Avatar image for Mazoch

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> That's kinda the point, frontier has been out for 20 years because it didn't require any upkeep. If the old frontier or Elite only worked if someone was hosting a server, how long do you think it would have survived? Given the relatively low survival rate among new game studios there is a pretty good chance that Elite: Dangerous wont be playable at all any more within a year or so. If Frontier can't make a profit off the game after launch sales die down, they will have to shut down the servers and players will end up with a copy of a game they'll no longer be able to play.

Avatar image for grimzodz

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> It also raises questions as to the long-term viability of the game. People still play the original Elite released 30 years ago, but it seems very unlikely Elite: Dangerous will be playable 30 years from now because the servers will inevitably be turned off when the player count falls below a certain threshold.

Avatar image for Zloth2

<< LINK REMOVED >> "In short, you can still play a single player mode, but the game requires an internet connection to sync up with the galaxy's shared economy."

Right there are the end of the article. I guess it isn't QUITE solo because the economy is global but it sure is close. You don't have to worry about a bunch of gankers blowing you up every time you try to take off but you might have to worry if somebody manages to crash the whole economy.

Avatar image for commander

Don't care, didn't even know they were making this game lol

bye bye gamepad

bye bye console

helooooo pc and joystick

Avatar image for vicsrealms

Bummer, another game I get to pass up. Oh well, I am still burning time through the Fallout and Elder Scrolls series. I may pick it up later when it is on sale at Steam...if they put it on Steam.

Avatar image for titusballs

<< LINK REMOVED >> They've already confirmed it's not coming to steam - you can only purchase it through their own store.

Avatar image for Hurvl

Whaaaat?!?!? If there's no offline mode, then no way in hell am I gonna play this game (but I wasn't planning on doing so anyway :P).

"Trust me we didn't sit down and think what would annoy people the most" Oh, unlike many other companies, I guess?

Avatar image for suppaphly42

<< LINK REMOVED >> i was planing to play the game, but this smells very simcityish to me, i am now very apprehensive as i truly loathe always online in any form, so they have lost me till they patch this

Avatar image for razrabbit

Going back on such a large thing that was initially promised to your backers is a pretty big deal, and I don't think its right. This is exactly the sort of thing thats making kickstarter look bad.

I wonder how long before they'll pull a Maxis and say "Oh, well it doesn't REALLY need to be online all the time... "

If not, i'm sure 'certain groups' will make it work offline like they have with everything else.

Avatar image for rapanbub

So many whining about an offline mode. We arr know'ye pirates.

Avatar image for Zloth2

<< LINK REMOVED >> They don't HAVE to be pirates. They could have cruddy internet that keeps going in and out of service or they could have nasty bandwidth limits. Or maybe they just read the headline and assume this means they have to play it fully multiplayer.

Avatar image for GamezMk

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> They could also worry about the lifespan of the game, server issues, offline being unable because online is unavailable, which is ironic. There's also that part where the offline mode was something promised as part of the Kickstarter that allowed them to make this game in the first place, and now people aren't getting what they paid for in the first place.

Avatar image for Kayweg

A game feature wasn't removed, a game REQUIREMENT was added..

Big difference.

Avatar image for grimzodz

<< LINK REMOVED >> offline solo was REMOVED, thats a dealbreaker

Avatar image for mohoc2000

@Kayweg No, there were 4 game modes originally promised.

#1) Online MMO
#2) Online MMO (Friends Only)
#3) Online Solo
#4) Offline DRM Free Solo <--- This was removed

At least they are offering refunds.

Avatar image for Lu_Shen

This guy can say what he wants about their "vision", but in the end the reason why they made this decision is to deter piracy. Just admit it, sir.

Avatar image for Hermes33

<< LINK REMOVED >> I agree, but it's also a weak argument as it doesn't need to be always-online to deter piracy. As in, we can play Rise of Flight offline. Yes, it needs to connect and update, but you can still pull the plug on your Internet thereafter and continue playing offline. And as far as I know, there has never been a pirate version of Rise of Flight? This is how Braben should've done it; followed the Rise of Flight model and everybody would've been happy. A replay movie flight-recorder would've been nice to see in Elite too...

Avatar image for LesserAngel

"the problem is that the galaxy mechanics all sit on the online servers. The data set and processes are huge and not something that would translate offline without considerable compromise to the vision. Trust me we didn't sit down and think what would annoy people the most! It's a choice we've had to make and so we've taken it."

Isn't this pretty much the same excuse EA gave for SimCity, which later proved to be total BS?

Avatar image for blackothh

Im ok with online for this scope of gaming as long as I dont have to play with, or encounter people.

Avatar image for mohoc2000

<< LINK REMOVED >> You still have that option. Think of Diablo3 on BattleNet, and you have the options you will have.

Avatar image for madeofparts

To add to the reasons why for many people off-line is essential.

Many people, myself included, play Elite a bit like a << LINK REMOVED >> game. There is a reason these games are all single player. Dwarf-Fortress, ADOM, Nethack, etc. It is because we like to be in our world in a considered way. We like to pause and think about it. We like to know we will be coming back to it in whatever amount of time and continue.
I believe this is part of the reason Iron-Man mode was fought for so successfully in the forum and DDF - because there is a strong element of the same kind of enjoyment as << LINK REMOVED >> for Elite players, and this will be why many bought it or backed it.
I know it was a large part of it for me, and was why off-line was an essential feature. Where the main game was, for me.