Gran Turismo 7 Is Falling Apart, and It Was All Totally Avoidable

Gran Turismo 7 Is Falling Apart, and It Was All Totally Avoidable

Gran Turismo 7 has had quite a rough 24 hours, to put it mildly. Almost immediately after developer Polyphony Digital pushed out an update in the early hours of Thursday morning, the game was taken offline for emergency maintenance. It remained that way for more than a day. While it’s up and running again now, all that downtime coupled with fans’ concerns about GT7’s game’s slow progression have damaged the launch of an otherwise excellent driving sim.

The first sign of trouble emerged yesterday, when a tweet from the official, Japanese-language Gran Turismo online services Twitter account cryptically mentioned a “serious bug.” GT7 remained offline right up until 11 a.m. ET on Friday morning — more than a day, which wouldn’t be a huge deal if not for the fact that, like GT Sport, this is a game that requires an internet connection for any gameplay beyond arcade races. You can’t even save without an internet connection.

The resumption of GT7’s servers earlier today was accompanied with an apology from Polyphony Digital chief and the game’s producer, Kazunori Yamauchi.

I wanted to explain what happened in this update.

Immediately before the release of the 1.07 update, we discovered an issue where the game would not start properly in some cases on product versions for the PS4 and PS5.

This was a rare issue that was not seen during tests on the development hardware or the QA sessions prior to the release, but in order to prioritise the safety of the save data of the users, we decided to interrupt the release of the 1.07 update, and to make a 1.08 correctional update.

This is the reason for the delay.

My sincere apologies for the late report to everyone.

What happened to GT7 yesterday was among the worst-case scenarios that could possibly befall an always-online title, save for everyone’s data vanishing all at once. I’ll admit that I was never especially concerned anything like this would happen, because GT Sport had a pretty stable track record.

Polyphony’s official line has been that it needs the online requirement to “prevent cheating” — particularly because GT’s adopted a competitive esports focus in recent years, in tandem with a partnership with global motorsport’s foremost governing body, the FIA. But surely a prudent developer could keep tampering out of the multiplayer side of things, while maintaining that the single player experience is still accessible no matter what condition the servers are in. Lots of other developers do, so why can’t Polyphony?

But that wasn’t the end of Yamauchi’s message to fans:

Also in this update, some event rewards have been adjusted. I wanted to also explain the reasons for it and our plans going forward.

In GT7 I would like to have users enjoy lots of cars and races even without microtransactions.

At the same time the pricing of cars is an important element that conveys their value and rarity, so I do think it’s important for it to be linked with the real world prices.

I want to make GT7 a game in which you can enjoy a variety of cars lots of different ways, and if possible would like to try to avoid a situation where a player must mechanically keep replaying certain events over and over again.

We will in time let you know the update plans for additional content, additional race events and additional features that will constructively resolve this. It pains me that I can’t explain the details regarding this at this moment, but we plan on continuing to revise GT7 so that as many players as possible can enjoy the game.

We would really appreciate it if everyone could watch over the growth of Gran Turismo 7 from a somewhat longer term point of view.

If you haven’t been aware of the brouhaha over GT7’s economy, the gist is this: The game doesn’t offer many events past completing all the Menu Books in the Café, which might take the average player between 10 to 15 hours. Payouts for most events are quite low — a problem exacerbated by the fact that GT7’s car pricing is, as Yamauchi says, highly reflective of the real world. That means vehicles like the R34 GT-R and Integra Type-R that were reasonably priced in their day now cost upwards of three times more. It’s even worse for legendary cars in the Hagerty Car Collection, which incorporates Hagerty’s pricing index to replicate increases and decreases in real-life demand for highly sought-after models.

Additionally, players can no longer sell cars to make some extra cash, as was possible in installments before GT Sport. And Roulette Tickets — another mechanism for earning money, rare parts (like engines) and prize cars — also become very rare post-Café completion. The culmination of all this is that players end up in a position where there’s very little to do in GT7 at a certain point, aside from grinding those few races with high payouts to pad their bank accounts.

Which brings us to microtransactions. Like GT6, GT7 allows players to buy in-game credits with real money. Many fans have interpreted Polyphony’s decisions around the game’s economy as a systematic strategy to coax players toward spending actual money, especially because individual cars can’t be purchased on the PlayStation Store like they could in GT Sport. There are lots of vehicles in GT7 that cost upwards of 3 million credits, all the way up to the Shelby Daytona Coupe priced at 20 million. As it stands now, that car would cost someone $US200 ($278) if they wanted to fund it entirely with real money.

Yamauchi says that he believes it’s important for cars to be linked with their real-world values, because pricing conveys rarity and Gran Turismo is a game about car culture. Trouble is, anyone who’s witnessed an enthusiast car auction in the past two years would immediately recoil at that statement. Sure — an Mk IV Supra should cost a fair amount more than a GR 86, but replicating the absurd, supercharged state of the secondhand enthusiast market today is something I’m positive no car-loving-gamer desires from their chosen escape. We play games to exist in a world where we can drive these cars, after all.

So it’s no surprise at all that players have taken to “mechanically keep replaying certain events over and over again,” as Yamauchi puts it, like the infamous Fisherman’s Ranch rally race that took three minutes to complete and netted 90,000 credits if you ran it clean each time. Polyphony decided to nerf that event’s payout in the latest update, by the way, so it now pays just half of what it used to.

If the objective is to encourage players to participate in a wide range of events rather than grinding the same ones over and over again, the solution is pretty obvious: Give the players more events, or make more of them pay out comparably well to the ones people are grinding. Instead, Polyphony has gone in the opposite direction by curtailing the Fisherman’s Ranch payout while begging the community to be patient for “additional race events and additional features that will constructively resolve this.”

It’s bold of Yamauchi to assume fans will have the patience to wait this out, especially when, in the meantime, updates are actively eliminating players’ best opportunities to earn credits. And it’s an especially stinging slap to the face when the game was rendered unplayable for an entire day, also due to questionable decisions by the developer. I really do hope these issues are sorted quickly because there’s a delightful racing game underneath them; it’d be a shame for it to be avoided as a result.