The Day GT7 Went Dark
On Thursday, March 17th, Gran Turismo 7 went down for patch maintenance which was scheduled for a few hours in preparation for 1.0.7. Nothing's out of the ordinary yet, in fact, most of its players were ready to get back to driving as soon as possible. Things started to take a turn for the concern when maintenance extended far beyond its time. At some point, almost a full day went by and GT7 was still in "offline mode."
As usual with these things, memes became the method of coping with other third-party developers getting in on the jokes. Codemasters, for example, wasted no time addressing the "online-only" situation by stating that GRID Legends is available to play "right now" without the need for online. A bit in bad faith, but it's social media, and everyone clowns around on Twitter all the time. It was all in good fun, but the following announcement from Gran Turismo 7 wouldn't be all smiles. To me at least, it'd be confusion.
"To All Our Users..."
When GT7's servers finally went live, I was greeted with a prompt to update the locally saved data with the one on the cloud. I've never received this screen before and I hadn't played the game in a few days so I knew something was up. As the game loaded, there was a letter titled "To All Our Users," which would explain the extensive delays as well as reducing race earnings for players as well. The letter begins with an apology for the delay and "Patch 1.0.7," as there was a potential game-breaking glitch that was corrupting saves. Maybe this had something to do with losing all of my golds in the License Center?
The heart of the letter, however, is Gran Turismo's producer Kazunori Yamauchi explaining his decision to ultimately lower racing payouts. One of the biggest critiques on GT7 was the paltry amount of earnings players received after each event. Sure a player would get 1.5 times the amount should they drive cleanly. They still had to repeat events that offered decent payouts to purchase their dream cars. It was a grind but it wasn't impossible as the other alternative was microtransactions. Here's what Yamauchi-san had to say.
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.- Gran Turismo Website
Kazunori Yamauchi's Vision
Let's dissect this as there is a lot of information to break apart. I am well aware that I have to eat my own boot by previously mentioning that microtransactions aren't ruining Gran Turismo 7. However, I'd rather do that than metaphorically shoot myself in the foot, which is what Yamauchi-san did. I understand where he was getting at, being a car fanatic all of his life. To see his love for cars personified in a way that others can experience for over 25 years is beautiful.
When I met Yamauchi-san in person in 2019, despite the language barrier, I could feel that passion. So when he says that the pricing of cars conveys their value and rarity, linking it to real-world prices, I understand as a fellow car fan. When he wants to make GT7 into a game where players can enjoy a variety of cars and not repeat events over and over again, I get it. Now, as a gamer these arguments turn into fallacies for one very simple reason.
Video Games Aren't The 'Real World'
I'm not sure if Kaz Yamauchi wanted to turn the world of Gran Turismo into a 'metaverse,' but it's giving off that very same intention. The online-only mode and the inclusion of purchasing credits with real money to buy lucrative cars is one thing. Connecting the value of "virtual cars" to "real-life counterparts" is another. To describe your quasi-realism vision and determine that those who don't understand it should be punished is honestly messed up. Fans who have played the series since the first game and watch it blossom into a way of life will understand but the average player will simply call foul play.
How bad are the changes to the race earnings, non-GT players may ask? Well, to put things in perspective there's a Clubman event on Goodwood that used to pay out 35,000 credits. It was a short track, the players used easy to handle Mini Coopers, and it was fast to complete. On average, providing the player drove "cleanly," they'd earn around 52,500 credits which aren't bad for three minutes. With the current 1.0.8 patch? The Goodwood event got slashed to 12,000 credits. Even WITH the Clean Driving bonus, the payout is far less than what it was originally!
There Are Future Plans, But NDA Strikes Again
With all of the known 'farming events' slashed and those who were 'abusing' these events being punished by Yamauchi-san, what happens now? If his word regarding the future of GT7 is anything to go by in the letter, there are plans to help grant the players opportunities to earn more credits. Unfortunately, he cannot reveal any information at the current time. Again, I get it. Non-Disclosure Agreements are a thing and all good things are best kept under wraps. If other tweets from GT fans are to go by, then maintaining these "prized cars" is way more trouble credit-wise than it's worth.
The general consensus is the following question: Why neuter race earnings early if the alternatives aren't ready yet? For some, this screams "PD just wants us to spend real money as we initially thought." Reactions to the letter are as one would expect, ranging from understandable outrage to feeling unruffled about the news. Honestly, I share the sentiments of the latter as GT7 isn't something meant to grind out for a week. It's an experience and it's Polyphony Digital's world. We just have to wait and see what comes from this.
Perhaps the best thing to come from this patch was "Broadcast Mode," finally giving us content creators a playlist that doesn't contain copyright-infringed music.
Gran Turismo 7 is available on the PS4 and PS5.