Bulletstorm wants to be online all the time

I like Epic. They’ve put out some great stuff over the years, though most of their efforts have been focused on Gears of War. It’s a fun series, I’ll give it that much. So when Bulletstorm was announced and pics started trickling out, I couldn’t help but notice it.

Now, Epic isn’t actually “making” the game as they’re backing the developers that are: People Can Fly. And EA is the publisher. According to EA’s product page on the game and posted by Destructoid, Bulletstorm will require a persistent internet connection to work on PCs. Now before people start casting stones at Epic and People Can Fly, they probably didn’t make this decision. As everyone knows, it’s usually the publishers that impose this kind of requirement. You can blame Cliff Bleszinski for blowing off the importance of a PC demo, but I don’t think the DRM was his idea.

Of course, consoles apparently get a free pass leaving PCs users to get the shaft. Persistent internet connections don’t necessarily work for everyone. I remember stories posted by soldiers overseas who want a little downtime with a good game, complaining that they couldn’t play certain titles because of this requirement.

Not to mention that it has been done before – by Ubisoft. We all know how that  turned out. They eventually backed down from the requirement only after several embarrassing episodes last year demonstrating the vulnerability of this approach to unforeseen problems. Basically, if their server goes down, you can’t play the game you bought.

EA also followed suit with this on C&C4, but the actual game was disowned so badly on release by longtime fans of the franchise that no one really cared that much to complain about the same DRM. The DRM for Red Alert 3 wasn’t as intrusive, requiring a one time connection to EA to confirm the installation license allowing you to play offline all the time after that.

At the same time, Steam is largely accepted for the same thing, but at least they offer an offline mode. Still, if you haven’t connected at least once to Steam or have kept up with certain updates, that can also come off as a bit broken. But at least the connection doesn’t have to be a persistent one when it works. It’s an out. Sacred 2, a Diablo-styled action RPG, used an online licensing scheme but didn’t require you to stay online after it was initialized. When you uninstalled it, it also pulled the license, allowing you to move it to another box or give it to a friend.

Bulletstorm looks decent and I enjoyed it at E3 when I had the chance to try it out. The whole “kill with skill” mantra and the scoring system add an interesting twist to simply gunning your way through its ridiculously crazy carnage. It looks like it could be a winner. At least, for some players, on something other than a PC.


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