Hitman – Game of The Year Edition launched on GOG.com this week – and immediately sparked a row over DRM.
GOG is a storefront branded around selling “DRM-free” games, meaning that they can be played offline.
Hitman’s GOG page, like that of so many games on the platform, points out that it is DRM-free. “No activation or online connection required to play,” the prominent post read.
While Hitman’s story and bonus missions can be played offline, his escalation missions, elusive targets, and user-created contracts require an online connection. This is a warning also prominently displayed on Hitman’s GOG store page, although customers say the game launched without it.
What has since emerged is that you also need to be online to unlock new gear, starting locations, getting mission scores, and improving your location mastery.
All of this combined has caused some GOG users to leave negative reviews of the game, complaining about the online nature of parts of the experience.
At the time of this article’s publication, Hitman had an overall rating of 1.4 / 5 – a terrible user score for a game that received critical acclaim upon release.
Most reviewers mention “DRM online”. “You can play the game with the basic options, but many features, such as unlocking weapons, items, outfits, starting locations and more, are locked behind an online requirement,” wrote user Cube1701 in his 1/5 star review. “The GOG page does not specify this and is extremely misleading.”
“The only AAA stealth game that has been valid for years (as long as you turn off the clues and x-ray vision) but over five years later IO still refuses to implement a proper offline mode, so the bare minimum, you don’t have to be online to unlock new gear, starting locations, outfits, etc., ”HeavilyAugmented wrote in another 1/5 star review.
“In other words, playing the game offline means you’ll never unlock new content and always have to start with a default loadout of a regular suit and a silent gun.”
“There is no place for this game here,” talen.zero said.
GOG responded via a message board that told disgruntled customers that they were free to reimburse Hitman if they were not satisfied, and to issue a “review bombing” warning.
“Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention,” read a statement issued by a representative called “chandra.”
“We are reviewing it and will update you in the coming weeks. If you have purchased Hitman and are not happy with the released version, you can use your right to refund the game. At the same time, while we ‘reopened to deserving discussion and comment, we will not tolerate the bombardment of reviews and will remove posts that do not meet our review guidelines. “
As you might expect, this statement didn’t go well, and the thread is filled with negative responses that challenge the fact that GOG uses the term “review bombing” to describe what’s going on here.
Chandra went on to say that GOG would not remove reviews that provide information about Hitman that the storefront does not currently do, but rather reviews that “go against our review guidelines.”
But that didn’t do much to calm the negative reaction. At the heart of it is what some believe is a violation of GOG’s main selling point: DRM-free ownership. Those familiar with Hitman from 2016 will know that much of the game depends on an online connection. The question is whether GOG should sell such a game as it currently works.
Meanwhile, customers are debating what type of update GOG will deliver “in the coming weeks.” Will a special version of Hitman be designed just for GOG, a version that is fully playable offline? We’ll see.