Elite Dangerous console support is ending. Frontier Developments has announced that they will no longer be doing updates to the console version of their space sim. The current version of Elite will remain online for now, but is eventually due for the scrap heap on PS4 and Xbox One.
Frontier CEO and founder David Braben announced in a blog post that console versions will now only receive “critical updates” following a “less than ideal” launch of the major Odyssey update on PC last May. This means that the company will cease all non-critical development on those aforementioned versions. Yikes! So the sales of Oddysey really were that bad, huh? For those not paying attention, the launch of the latest expansion didn’t go well on PC.
The Oddysey expansion added an FPS-like ground exploration module to the game, something that had been lacking from the game for years. Many likened the update to a desperate attempt to compete with similar experiences found in Star Citizen, and X4: Foundations to a lesser extent. The reception from the fanbase was pretty poor. The launch was plagued with performance issues and other problems, and Elite soon gained a “mostly negative” rating on Steam. The playerbase is still somewhat sour over how the update was handled, judging from the fact that many community members and creators have left the game after its launch.
Elite Dangerous console support being ended and citing this as the cause is a pretty dire admission for Frontier. Elite Dangerous: Odyssey allows players to explore various worlds on foot for the first time, and the playerbase being so angry about it is just a bad sign for the health of the game.
“Since Odyssey’s release in May 2021, we have worked tirelessly to improve the Odyssey experience on PC, and whilst we have made great progress there is still more to be done. We have been supporting the pre-Odyssey and post-Odyssey codebases since.” This kind of split development approach is never easy. Maintaining multiple SKUs of a game is hard enough of a singleplayer title—online infrastructure further complicates things. And though consoles with standardized hardware are arguably easier to program and optimize for, there’s an economic consideration to be made.
The team did try and spin this in a positive light though, teasing more complex updates to come. “Over the last several months, we have been wrestling with the best way to move forward, and it is with a heavy heart we have decided to cancel all console development. We need to be able to move forward with the story of the game, and in order for us to do this we need to focus on a single codebase.”
It’s also important to note that the aging PS4 and Xbox One just can’t handle modern games anymore. If the company wanted to continue to support these versions, they would have to reduce the scope of their ambition to compensate. So while these players won’t be getting the on-foot adventures anymore, there’s a glimmer of hope for the PC fanbase.
Elite Dangerous is still available on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One and will seemingly continue to be playable for the foreseeable future. Frontier has not made any announcements about a full End-of-Life date yet.