Gran Turismo 7 now has Sony’s lowest user score ever on Metacritic and after the most recent updates to the game, it’s deserved.
Whether it’s server maintenance that inexplicably renders the whole game (including single-player modes) unplayable or profiteering decisions that leave a bad taste in the mouth of GT fans, the 7th iteration and the 25th anniversary of Gran Turismo is being soured by questionable moves.
Not sure what I’m talking about? Let’s go into some detail with an option on how to fix it.
About my review…
So, let’s address that awkward-looking elephant in the room: I gave this game 5 stars in my review and I stand by this score at the time.
Why? Well all I can do is review what I have in front of me and what was there (what is technically still there) is one of the best racing sims you can buy. The grounded physics, gorgeous visuals, and the depth and variety of content here is a brilliant achievement.
As for the microtransactions, with the option to buy more emblazoned everywhere, Polyphony did not keep these a secret. However, the balance of race rewards made the grind to afford more cars feel fair without needing to take this shortcut.
There is no game-based celebration of car culture quite like a Gran Turismo game and to return to that has been an incredible feeling. Maybe that’s why these updates have hurt my love for GT7 this much, because that feeling has been spoiled over the past few days by unexpected issues and deliberately bad, anti-consumer decisions.
What’s been happening?
Let’s start from the beginning with update 1.07, which effectively broke the game for over 24 hours. There was an issue that was not seen during QA testing that seemed to corrupt save data.
Once the issue was identified, the game entered a “server maintenance” period, but as I mentioned in my review, the online-only construction of the game meant players could only access quick races and time trials — none of the single-player GT mode.
With only two tweets being posted about the bug (one about identifying the bug and a small update to say Polyphony was extending the server maintenance without any reason why), gamers were left in the dark.The frustration started to build as players were left with a tiny portion of the game and the ongoing question of why other single-player modes weren’t available.
Extended Server Maintenance Notice #GT7https://t.co/Vhmib99kFXMarch 17, 2022
And then we get to the 1.08 correctional update, when we were allowed back into the game and noticed that some changes had been made to race rewards.
While two races had their credit rewards for winning increased, a vast selection of races have seen a decreased reward, which extends the grind and naturally shows a side of Polyphony that is hungry for that microtransaction profit.
|Event||Original award||1.08 update award|
|World Touring Car 800: 24 Heures du Mans Racing Circuit||5,000 Cr||70,000 Cr|
|World Touring Car 800: Monza Circuit||5,000 Cr||70,000 Cr|
|World Rally Challenge: Alsace Village||50,000 Cr||30,000 Cr|
|Dirt Champions: Fisherman’s Ranch||65,000 Cr||30,000 Cr|
|Dirt Champions: Sardegna Windmills||65,000 Cr||40,000 Cr|
|Dirt Champions: Colorado Springs Lake||65,000 Cr||40,000 Cr|
|GT Cup Gr. 4: High-Speed Ring||65,000 Cr||35,000 Cr|
|GT Cup Gr. 4: Brands Hatch GP Circuit||65,000 Cr||45,000 Cr|
|GT Cup Gr. 3: Spa Francorchamps||75,000 Cr||50,000 Cr|
|GT Cup Gr. 3: Suzuka Circuit||75,000 Cr||50,000 Cr|
|GT Cup Gr. 3: Autodrome Lago Maggiore||75,000 Cr||50,000 Cr|
|Clubman Cup Plus: High Speed Ring||35,000 Cr||25,000 Cr|
|Clubman Cup Plus: Tsukuba Circuit||35,000 Cr||25,000 Cr|
|Clubman Cup Plus: Goodwood||35,000 Cr||12,000 Cr|
|American Clubman Cup 700: Special Stage Route X:||30,000 Cr||15,000 Cr|
|American FR Challenge 550: Blue Moon Bay Speedway||15,000 Cr||10,000 Cr|
|American FR Challenge 550: Weathertech Raceway Laguna Seca||15,000 Cr||10,000 Cr|
|American FR Challenge 550: Willow Springs Raceway||15,000 Cr||10,000 Cr|
This is something that gamers have cottoned onto when realizing you’d have to spend up to $200 of your own money on enough credits to buy the most expensive cars, but to reduce the winnings from races makes it abundantly clear. When logging onto the game, users found an open letter from Kazunori Yamauchi, who sort of addressed this.
“In Gran Turismo 7 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 Gran Turismo 7 a game in which you can enjoy a variety of cars [in] 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.”
He continued: “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 Gran Turismo 7 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.”
So, I’ve got two points in response to this. Firstly, linking in-game cars to real-world prices, value and rarity does not explain why you reduced the race rewards. I appreciate that the level of motoring authenticity goes down to the specific value of said cars, but using that reason is like me trying to explain why I didn’t wash the dishes to my girlfriend by saying washing dishes is linked to how much I really just play video games instead. It’s true, but certainly not appreciated.
And secondly, come on. Are you really going down the “you’re looking at this the wrong way” route by telling people to watch the growth of GT7 over the long term? I’m excited that this game is getting support for a while to come, but to tell angry players to look at being told to spend more money they may not have as part of a “longer term point of view” for the game is just insulting.
Not only that, but the longer you make this grind, the less players you will have returning to continue grinding, leading to an increasingly bad reputation for the game and a reduced online player base. This can only end in disaster.
How do you fix Gran Turismo 7?
Studios listen to the players, and I can only hope Polyphony is taking this moment on the chin and heading back to the drawing board on some of these bad decisions. If so, here is what I know will fix Gran Turismo 7:
- Give me back my GT Mode offline: It’s simply baffling that I have to be online to access all the single-player modes, and in the moments where server maintenance is required, this huge racing sim is reduced to a husk of its grander self. That is not fair to the players and it needs to be addressed.
- Be generous with your race rewards: The effort/reward balance of the credits received from races before the update were fair. Now, that grind is not worth it and when people realise they need to be spending upwards of £100 for particular cars, this is NFT levels of lunacy. Plus, further improving prize money will not just be a good faith update that will improve player mood, but it will also make GT7 feel more accessible to people who may not be well versed in the world of racing sims. The price of credits purchases in the PlayStation store should be reduced and the race rewards need to be increased. Profits are good, but you don’t need that much profit.
- Better communication: This is more of a structural change to the way Polyphony talks to its audience. An apology after the fact doesn’t make up for the air of tense silence around GT7 during unexpected maintenance. Regular updates on progress is far better than saying nothing.
Outlook — Something has to be done, now.
Game launches can be rocky. It’s something that I’m not a fan of, preferring a polished product to be launched rather than a bug-filled version that gets a day zero patch, but I’ve accepted it as part of how the industry works.
These can be forgiven when a studio is open and transparent about its work with clear deadlines and no intentions to mislead the players. But in remaining pretty tight-lipped about the issues surrounding update 1.07 and lowering race rewards after its launch (and reviews), Polyphony has broken both of these commitments to its audience.
I look forward to the content roadmap coming forward, with new content, race events and features in the pipeline. But right now, that needs to be put on the shelf and work needs to start on immediately remedying these problems.
The damage has been significant, as you can see from user ratings, but it is not catastrophic yet. There is still time to win back the players.