GOG has built a reputation on being the best DRM-free store on PC. Without this promise to the consumer, there’s nothing else that sets it apart from Steam and Epic Games Store. But late last September, an incident involving HITMAN GOTY occurred that put GOG (and by proxy CDPR) to task.
As many of you have already heard, Hitman GOTY launched on GOG. Long story, short. The game was marked as DRM-free on the store front. Only. It wasn’t. The game still required players to be online to unlock new equipment, starting locations, to get mission scores, and to level up location mastery.
Technically, one can say that Hitman isn’t under any sort of DRM because it’s not entirely about authentication. BUT if you’re the storefront that prides itself as being “DRM-free”, then it is expected to follow up on that promise, no matter the technicalities.
The most of passionate of the platform were quick to let GOG know about their feelings over the situation. Unfortunately, GOG’s response wasn’t exactly decisive. Although they were to equally quick to thank those who brought up the topic, the final line about review bombing and removing posts struck the nerve of many.
And for good reason.
Look, I can understand removing reviews that gave the game a score of 1 and not giving reasons as to why. But plenty of the scores DO express their disapproval of the online requirements. GOG did later clarify their statement, but the damage was already done. In hindsight, they could worded the final sentence a bit better. I know it wasn’t wise of them to promise a quick resolution for the matter. I actually would have given them the benefit of the doubt, if not for the last part of the statement.
Now, I initially thought that we won’t hearing much about the matter until the end of October. Truth be told, I didn’t expect there to be an update so soon, at least when it came to HITMAN GOTY. But over the weekend, the company gave out an update on the situation. They had removed HITMAN GOTY from GOG’s catalog, and are continuing talks with IO Interactive. The cherry on top – they admitted that they shouldn’t have released the game in its current form. (A class act, IMO.)
I don’t know what will become with these talks with IO Interactive. Maybe they’ll make a version that doesn’t require being online. Well, you CAN play HITMAN offline, but you cannot access escalation missions, elusive targets, or user-created contract. They will not be able to complete challenges or earn XP towards level mastery either. The thing is though, HITMAN is already an old game at this point. I don’t know if there’s enough of a benefit to justify making a new version exclusive to GOG.
My other guess is it’s more to do with future releases. And what will be expected from now on should IO Interactive release another game like HITMAN on GOG.
My biggest takeaway here is that the company is still willing to admit that they made a mistake. Their initial response was less than ideal, but I appreciated that they didn’t bury their heads under the sand like other companies. This latest embarrassment shouldn’t hurt them much in the long run. Though they can ill afford to have another strike against so soon after their last big mess up.
CDPR has still a long ways to go before they are once again this shining beacon in a sea of corporate greed. For now, let’s give them their due. They’ll have another chance to win back some favor with the next Witcher game. Let us hope it received as fondly as the Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. (But seriously, fix Cyberpunk 2077 plz.)