Gran Turismo 7 drives permanent damage | column

Unnecessary blunders smear the best Gran Turismo ever

Written by Arthur van Vliet on

Two weeks after release, Gran Turismo 7 lost all its goodwill in one fell swoop. The makers are now meeting players, but the damage already seems to be done.

Surely this couldn’t have been the intention. Last week, Gran Turismo 7’s servers were down for more than 24 hours. The game is ‘always online’ (an unfortunate term), which means that even to play single player you need an internet connection.

As a result, one of the biggest PlayStation exclusives of the year was practically unplayable for two weeks after release – okay, after five minutes of staring at a loading screen you could eventually play some single races, but the choice was limited, tuning was impossible and your progress was not saved.

Bale of course. Worse was the radio silence, which was broken by Kazunori Yamauchi only after more than twenty hours. Mister Gran Turismo wrote an apologetic blog post explaining the situation: the studio had discovered a game-breaking bug, which halted the rollout of an update in order to quickly put together another update.

Even worse, once the game started working again, races would be less profitable. Developer Polyphony Digital cut the amount of credits that events yield, ostensibly to make collecting expensive cars more realistic. Or so† There was no string to the reasoning. People therefore drew the logical conclusion: Gran Turismo 7 had to make it more tempting to pull out the real wallet, buy credits and score cars.

That’s the cynical way of looking at it, and there’s a lot to be said for it. Had the exact same thing happened in a game without microtransactions, little would have happened. A longer grind? Fine, that gravel is the best thing about Gran Turismo. But this is Gran Turismo 7, a game where you up to twenty real euros can pay down to get a nice car quickly.

grand tourer 7

grand tourer 7

Foam-guzzling gamers flocked to Metacritic to try the game reviewbomben† There is also something to be said for that. The game is honestly more than enough fun, but I can imagine that consumers feel cheated. Gran Turismo 7 isn’t the Gran Turismo 7 they bought, or the game they bought rated by reviewers† It is a game that suddenly changes the rules of the game. And as a player you are powerless against a company that is anything but excellent at communication.

Or yes, you are powerless to a whiz kid one put together script to automatically accumulate credits. And as Gamer-visitor ‘do365nic’ responded, it seems only a matter of time before a market emerges of people selling their accounts — behind the backs of Gran Turismo and Sony, causing them to lose revenue.

The stupid thing about the whole fuck-up is that other flaws suddenly start to stand out. Even after the update, online is still far from flawless. See for example this video† I notice in myself that I now also weigh more heavily on the fact that the game on PlayStation 5 is not much nicer than predecessor GT Sport, a PS4 game. And where the hell are the global leaderboards?

Very nice to see that I am faster than Joe van Burik, but if I am always online, I want to be able to measure my performance with the rest of the world and not just with friends.

grand tourer 7

In the end, it’s easy to get into an earlier-everything-better fit. Did games in the past have microtransactions? Nope. Did you have to be online all the time for Gran Turismo 2? You couldn’t, even if you wanted to.

Still, Gran Turismo 7 is an incredibly fun game, the most fun in the series, I dare say. And while the game does indeed build in subtle triggers to spend extra money, it’s not all of a sudden Great Durism — I haven’t had the urge to cut the gravel off the road and reach for my credit card after fifteen hours of playing.

Unfortunately, many people won’t see it that way after last week. Gran Turismo 7 is damaged; due to two questionable decisions (always online and microtransactions), but even more because of the stupid communication surrounding it.

Fortunately, Polyphony still credibly went through the dust on Friday: players get as saving grace one million credits deposited into their account – an amount that normally takes you hours to play, rewards for later races in the game are doubled and you can sell cars to earn money. The balance seems so restored, but the PR damage is already done. A good lesson for game companies: don’t put your business department behind the wheel.