Earlier this week Hitman - Game of the Year Edition launched on GOG. But soon after, players began complaining and review bombing once they discovered that large parts of the stealth game were locked behind online DRM checks. This rubbed many the wrong way because GOG makes a big deal about being DRM-free.
GOG.com is an online storefront that first started out as a place for devs and publishers to sell older PC games, but now sells newer and modern games too. It also boasts that it doesn’t support or use any forms of DRM (digital rights management). However, Hitman - Game of the Year Edition seems to blur the line between what is and isn’t DRM and that’s led to a large amount of online criticism and review bombing.
Currently, the game’s overall rating sits at a super low 1.4 out of 5.
The main problem comes down to what is locked away from players who decide to play Hitman offline or who can’t access the servers for whatever reason. Without an internet connection, players can’t access escalation missions, elusive targets, or user-created missions. This is advertised on the GOG store page for Hitman GOTY Edition.
However, there’s more that is locked away from offline players including the ability to unlock weapons, items, outfits, and earn new starting locations. While this doesn’t make the game unplayable, it does mean a large portion of Hitman 2016 is only available to folks who connect to the internet. According to this support page found on Feral Interactive’s website, playing offline also means players won’t be able to complete in-game challenges or earn experience to level up your Mastery Rank for each map. (Feral Interactive is the studio that helped bring Hitman 2016 to Mac.)
Clarification: The version on GOG is not the version that the studio developed, but they share similar online requirements.
Now, to be clear: You can still play Hitman GOTY Edition offline after buying it on GOG. All the main missions and bonus missions are fully playable. But almost everything else is locked away of offline users, which to me (and apparently other players) seems like a form of online DRM. This seems out of place for a GOG release and users have spent the past few days leaving negative reviews in response.
Yesterday, GOG responded to the continued backlash over Hitman’s use of online DRM. In a forum post responding to the situation, a member of the GOG team explained that it was “looking into it and will be updating you in the coming weeks.”
Kotaku has reached out to GOG about this situation and what the storefront has planned to address player complaints.
“In case you have purchased HITMAN and are not satisfied with the released version, you can use your right to refund the game,” said GOG. “At the same time, while we’re open for meritful discussion and feedback, we will not tolerate review bombing and will be removing posts that do not follow our review guidelines.”
The community over at GOG wasn’t happy about this response, pointing out that many of the negative reviews just contain information and warnings not found on the game’s store page. The team at GOG further explained that those reviews won’t be removed, but didn’t share any other details about what will be removed.
Likewise, it’s unclear what can be done to make things right, considering how intertwined the online features of Hitman (2016) are with the game’s overall structure.