Racing games and driving simulators are long-beloved titles in console libraries. Fans stick with series for years, buying every possible offshoot. People buy elaborate racing wheel controllers and other accoutrements to enhance their experience. These are games that are huge investments. People put tons of money in to ensure they have the best and most realistic experience year after year. So why does it seem like companies have recently begun to take advantage of that goodwill?
Both Microsoft and Sony released major installments in their Forza and Gran Turismo series this year. Both Forza Motorsport 7 and Gran Turismo Sport, have their merits, but each has also exhibited a number of bad habits. Rather than feel like the fully fledged and robust titles of previous years, they each resort to gimmicks that feel designed to rip off and exploit the average player. In both cases, the $60 games end up feeling like ones we would get for free, then spend more and more additional cash on them to enjoying bigger and better experiences. Why did companies have to ruin a good thing?
Let’s start with one of the worst offenses, which is always online requirements. Forza Motorspot 7 doesn’t force internet connectivity on you. You need to to play online, of course, as well as access leaderboards and make certain purchases. But the bulk of it can be enjoyed without a connection. Gran Turismo Sport, however, locks away all but basic Arcade features when you aren’t connected to the internet. And even though you do have access to the various Arcade races, you don’t have any access to your saved cars or anything you have earned. It is an inconceivable sin, and one that could and should be easily rectified. Put out a patch that allows offline saving! Sever the link that didn’t need to be there!
Incentivizing paid purchases is Forza Motorsport 7’s fatal flaw. The game reduced credit rewards, making driving with or without assists meaningless. And the assists themselves have been tainted. Rather than an ever-present toggle you always have access to, you need to use some of the credits that should be reserved for more cars to purchase these consumable mods in blind loot boxes. We went from a toggle built into the game, always there at no extra cost, to a system that nickel and dimes us for every little thing. Even the VIP 100% credit bonus is a limited use item. Again, this seems like something easily rectified with a patch. Everyone involved with Forza Motorsport 7 knows how the old system worked. Stop trying to emulate free-to-play games and give us the element that has been present and appreciated for years!
Another disgraceful, free-to-play element is the idea of launching with a small amount of content, then expecting people to wait and keep playing and paying for more. While Forza Motorsport 7 isn’t as egregious on this front, Gran Turismo Sport is. Of all the primary releases that appeared on consoles since 1997, it has the second smallest collection of cars and the third smallest selection of tracks. Keep in mind, this is a PlayStation 4 game released in 2017. It only has 163 cars and 28 tracks. That is less cars and tracks than the PlayStation 2’s Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec, which had 181 cars and 34 tracks. A game released in 2001 is better and more robust than this one. In case you were curious, Gran Turismo 6, released in 2013, had 1,226 cars and 100 tracks. Patches aren’t enough to fix this. There needs to be a free, major expansion like yesterday that doubles the number of cars and tracks to start, followed by a promise of additional free expansions that puts this 2017 release on par with the two PlayStation 3 installments.
For years, Microsoft and Sony have been releasing amazing installments of Forza and Gran Turismo that offered hundreds of hours of value. There was so much to do and enjoy. We could simply dive in and have it all. Now, all of a sudden in 2017, both companies decided to get skimpy. It is like they opened iTunes or Google Play’s Racing sections and decided to take queues from two-bit developers and their free-to-play games. The worst part is, most of these horrible elements could easily be repaired. With a few tweaks, everything could be made right again! Unfortunately, we probably won’t see the creators develop a conscience and make things right.