Frontier Developments’ 2021 financial report admits to a ‘disappointing’ reception to Elite Dangerous Odyssey

    
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The stumble-filled launch and subsequent slow rebuild of Elite: Dangerous’ Odyssey expansion has been noted by Frontier Developments as part of the company’s 2021 annual report and accounts presentation, with the studio remarking on Odyssey’s effect on the game’s community as well as its revenue.

“In May 2021 we released our most ambitious expansion to date for Elite Dangerous, Elite Dangerous: Odyssey, which generated launch revenues on PC in that month. The overall reception to this major content update has been disappointing, but we are confident that as we improve and enhance the Odyssey experience we will see more and more Commanders engaging with the expansion.”

The report also states that engagement with players is “gradually improving” and the studio expects that “more and more players will upgrade to Odyssey over time as [the studio continues] to improve and refine the experience.”

Overall the report expects revenues between £100 million and £130 million for the next 12 months, which is a lowered forecast from the £130 million to £150 million projected in the annual report from September. The studio also notes the slower than expected reception to park management game Jurassic World Evolution 2, which faced a “more crowded release window than expected” thanks to releases like Forza Horizon 5, Football Manager 2022, and another edition of Skyrim.

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WorvernScar

Last time I logged in was to literary meme the *quack* out of Elite Dangerous. Prior to Odyssey, the game got hit with 2 big mining nerfs, aka, the only reasonable way to make money ingame especially since fleet carriers (and their upkeep) are now a thing. Trying to get FC level of money now would take about 2-3 times as many hours as before. Everything ingame pays chicken scratch aside from a select few methods;ironically, mining still being one of them despite the nerfs.

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MasterOfPuppets

Disappointing? Steam stats indicate Odyssey lost not just all the players from the expansion launch but numbers dropped far below the pre-Expansion too.

And the reason is that quite apart from the bugs, performance issues, lack of content etc, the content that was there indicated that all the horrendous design choices that Frontier had been making before the expansion, the mindless grind of repetitive content, the lack of inspiration were double and triple downed upon in Odyssey; Sorry, make that quintupled, adding 5 more Elite ranks, thus breaking the game lore that goes back to 1984 whilst literally giving nothing new to do with the ranks themselves.

The FPS? The only purpose to it was to get better weapons to do it with, but you can solo an instance with the G3 items bought from shops. Why bother engineering then? And Exobiology? They actually had to scale that back, taking out the pattern matching mini game that gave a single scan, which you had to repeat 3 times without ever touching another plant in order to get a single discovery. There was no scanner to find plants when on the surface. You just drove, across barren rocky planets for hours on end, hope you saw one, and looked at it…

Thus anyone playing Odyssey will have had their hopes for invention or interest crushed, and I honestly don’t think those players are coming back again. It’s too clear now that who ever is making the gameplay design decisions at Frontier has no idea how to make a fun, interesting game. Possibly the game engine isn’t even capable of it. I had a lot of time with the space flight, but that was half a decade ago now. The allure has worn off.

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PhoenixDfire

I got taken in by the ‘reassurance’ at the alpha that the main branch of code was far in advance of what we were testing. FDev are now paying for the price for putting out what was basically an early access product / Beta as a main product. Due to miscommunication, people expected it to work as well as it did on Machines that could run Horizons and none of the glaring problems in the alpha had been addressed! You can understand why people think there was a bait and switch.

Technically, the release of v1.00 of Elite: Dangerous was the same (with the core game loops but incomplete content) but the difference was people knew with v1.00 there was more content coming and the performance was there. Odyssey didn’t have the performance and after the release, the communication was messed up and there certainly wasn’t a clear roadmap for a couple of months after the release.

I was lucky, it seemed my CPU and GFX card combination worked ok, which meant I could play at an acceptable frame rate for most things with the exception of on-foot conflict zones and some complicated settlements, so I’ve been enjoying what’s there.

So here we are six months later and, with update 8, the game is now in the state it should have been at launch. The communication between the Community and fdev has improved and we’re finally getting new content people have been wanting for ages (i.e. a New SRV, new multi-crew options, walking around fleet carriers, etc).

But is it enough to bring people back? Not really sure. There is still a lot of resentment about the release. Mind you, if NMS can do it…

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Jack Mason

Clearly, they are setting their expectations WAY too high. Elite has lost huge swaths of it’s player base long before now because of all sorts of balancing issues, failure to address social problems within the game, failure to address how painfully grindy and repetitive the game becomes, etc. Don’t get me wrong, I think Elite is a good game and I have invested a good amount of time playing it, grinding for those materials, unlocking engineers, etc. I love the sheer enormity of the world you can explore. I think Elite could be an even better game than it currently is with even just minimal effort if it is honest effort.
But despite how impressively, massively broad this game is, it’s shallowness prevents people from sticking with the game long term. It doesn’t take long to figure out that even though there are millions upon millions of star systems you could visit, there really isn’t much to see or do that you couldn’t see or do at another star system you visited during your first week in the game. Introducing Odyssey doesn’t really change any of that very much, at least not the way they have done it. Odyssey really could have breathed some new life into Elite and it seems that’s what the developers were hoping for but what they delivered didn’t change the long standing dynamics of the game enough to offer players something exciting that was different from anything they have been able to do in Elite before.
All of the players that already left Elite aren’t coming back for what Odyssey is offering. Players that were hoping for Odyssey to add new layers to both PvP and PvE combat, players that were hoping for deeper levels of exploration on foot, all were disappointed by what they got. It doesn’t help at all that not only was the expansion underwhelming but it broke the game on top of that. When the relationship between the developer and the audience is as contentious as it has always been for Elite, you really can’t afford to make big promises and then underdeliver on those promises. It only further cements peoples’ reasons for having left the game before or wears on the commitment to stay of players that were waiting and hoping to be given a reason to stick around.
I really would like to come back to Elite, but Odyssey definitely isn’t enough to bring me back. It’s disappointing for us, the people who HAVE played or DO play because we all can see what Elite COULD BE but Elite just never seems to get there.

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Billy Batson

Odyssey is not in VR why on earth would a VR player want to keep switching to flat screen game play.
Flying in space is what Elite did well, there are plenty of foot based shooters out there and they all do it better than Frontier.
Frontier should have concentrated on what they do well, this leap in the dark is very disappointing.

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Ben Griggs

Very humble opinion time. I’ve always found combat in this game to be very wonky and difficult. So why lean into combat in an FPS setting, even reusing some of the same aspects used in ship combat? The real differentiator, the thing that this game does better than anybody else, is exploration. More resources should have been dedicated to fully flesh-out planetary exploration with this expansion. As it is, we have first footfall, and, if you’re lucky a biological or geological item to catalog IF you can actually find it on the planet’s surface. That’s about it. Forget FPS. Lean hard into expl0ration.

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Nim

Somewhat humble opinion time. Exploration in ED has always felt half-baked to me. I haven’t bothered with it since Horizons. Here’s my experience of it: jump into system, point ship at thing to scan it, repeat until all things scanned, jump to next system. I guess you could hang around for a bit and take screenshots, which is in my opinion what ED actually does better than anyone else; being a screenshot engine for pretty planets and space.

Basically every single survival game on the market does exploration better than ED. Go play Astronomer, that has cool planets to explore, and an actual reason to explore than other than just to take pretty screenshots.

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Anstalt

I will admit, I skipped Odyssey and don’t have any plans to buy it.

Not due to any poor quality or anything like that, but Elite: Dangerous is a game about flying your spaceship. Switching to an FPS just isn’t what I’m looking for, I just wanna fly my ship and get the most out of my HOTAS.

I wouldn’t mind an expansion that allows us to build / buy / run our own space stations, hire workers, set up automated trade routes etc. I’d enjoy that a lot.

As for Jurassic World Evolution 2…….well, im still playing it, but it remains a disappointment, just like the first one. Considering this is the studio that built Planet Coaster and Planet Zoo, I still fail to comprehend how they built a game that is so shallow in comparison! JWE and JWE2 have maybe 5% of the functionality / depth / creativity of Frontier’s other games.

JWE2 also doesn’t seem to offer much improvement over JWE. The maps are still too small, you still can’t build much, you can’t express your creativity. There are a few new buildings, the lagoon and aviery are nice additions. But, Frontier decided to add a bunch of new complexity that doesn’t lead to any new gameplay, it just adds some pointless micromanagement that ultimately ends up restricting your choices in game

……but its got dinosaurs, so that makes it all OK!

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Sean Barfoot

Shout out for Planet Coaster which is such a great game. I wish the building tools were a little less clunky, but I can lose whole days to that game.

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styopa

“The overall reception to this major content update has been disappointing”

Honestly, that level euphemizing makes me a little angry.

The ‘reception’ was ‘disappointing’?

I’d say it was an astonishingly POSITIVE reception…considering what you delivered. Your customers largely remain your customers. They’re still patiently (mostly) waiting for you to deliver on your promises. They haven’t abandoned you entirely.
You should thank your digital gods that your customers are patient and deeply committed to the success of the franchise…despite you basically throwing them under the bus simply to fluff your numbers.

You dropped a nearly non-functional turd of an expansion that broke major functions of the game so badly that even now – MONTHS later – it still isn’t entirely repaired and you (essentially) have the gall to blame your CUSTOMERS for being UNENTHUSED?

It would be nice if they were directly called out on that shit.
God I hate marketingspeak.

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BalsBigBrother

I stopped following Elite Dangerous news so closely a while back so I was wondering if there have been any further update on the console version of Odyssey at all.

As far as I know it’s been radio silence on that topic for several months now.

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CMDR_Cotic

Yeah they said PC was the focus and it seems that hasn’t changed.

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BalsBigBrother

Disappointing from my point of view but not really surprising. Thanks for the confirmation.

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CMDR_Cotic

They deserve it, they really let people down with the expansion. The updates have certainly helped but they have a way to go yet imo.

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Ken from Chicago

Trust. It can be lost in a moment and take a lifetime to regain.

If they had simply did what they usually do is not talk much about what’s to expect then players would be negative towards them. But dev claiming it was so much better what she could see vs what we could raised expectations–too high.

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Ken from Chicago

Woops, I meant players wouldn’t be as negative.