Gran Turismo 7 should be the best game in the series, it has the best visuals, the best gameplay and the best modes. There’s only one reason why it’s not, greed. Gran Turismo 7 gave fans of the series everything they wanted and yet somehow Sony Interactive Entertainment and Polyphony Digital managed to fumble what should’ve been a home run.

The Economy

Gran Turismo 7, like almost all other PlayStation first-party titles, is not a cheap game, especially if you’re playing on PS5 or don’t stay in the USA. The standard digital copy costs ZAR 1369 on PS5 which equates to just over $90, far more than any standard edition game should cost. Spending that kind of money on a game you’d expect to get a fair amount of value from it and on the surface you do. Everything you’ll want though is locked behind a paywall. Cars, performance upgrades and visual upgrades all cost quite a bit of credits. This would be fine if the game rewarded you with enough credits.

Gran Turismo games have always made you work for what you want and that, in turn, made upgrading your car or getting a new one a little bit more rewarding. In Gran Turismo 7 however, the game has cut the payouts so everything feels more expensive. Saving up for a single GR.3 car can take hours and if you want a legend car, say the Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta, you’ll have to save for quite some time to pay the 8,200,000 asking price. As I’m sure you’ve heard, the Gran Turismo 7 economy is broken. This however isn’t as clear to Polyphony Digital as the latest patch, version 1.07 (which also broke the game), has decreased the payouts for quite a few races. This was done to remove the ability to use races that were easy and had a relatively high payout to exploit the in-game economy.

Why would they do this? To make the microtransactions seem worth it and let’s be clear about this, they never are. The microtransactions in Gran Turismo 7 are ridiculously expensive and for some reason far more expensive than those in Gran Turismo Sport. The Aston Martin Vulcan can be bought for $5 in GT Sport, in GT7 it will cost you $40. It’s not just the payouts and microtransactions that break the economy in Gran Turismo 7, the roulette ticket system which was introduced in GT Sport as a reward for driving a specific distance each day, also feels broken. Whilst I cannot say this for sure every ticket I’ve acquired has rewarded has given me the worst possible reward and it’s the same situation with my friends.

When you factor in all these changes it becomes painfully clear that Sony Interactive Entertainment and Polyphony Digital are building the game to make you spend as much money as possible. GT7 is a masterpiece of a game and instead of treating it with the respect it deserves it feels like Sony would rather milk this until its reputation is completely destroyed.

Games As A Disservice

Update 1.07 broke Gran Turismo 7, not just from the economy side but it also brought attention to a bug that would make the game impossible to play. To remedy this Polyphony Digital decided to bring the servers offline until a solution could be found, the result was Gran Turismo 7 being virtually unplayable for over 30 hours. A great deal of content in GT7 is singleplayer and yet it still requires an internet connection to play so when the servers are down the overwhelming majority of it becomes unplayable.

The always-online aspect of GT7 is not something we should be overlooking so easily, in GT Sport it was somewhat acceptable because the core of the game was built around multiplayer, GT7 is not the same. When we think of always online we think of saves, online modes and server status. What we don’t consider is how the game can be changed at a whim, as we can see from update 1.07 Polyphony Digital can change the game to make the microtransactions appear to have better value-for-money. It also means that developers can change the game after the review period is over, I don’t believe that that’s the case here but it does raise issues.

There’s no legitimate reason as to why Gran Turismo 7 should be always online, especially when the bulk of what’s new is singleplayer content. It leads to more inconveniences and causes makes the game less accessible to players but this seems to be the new direction PlayStation want to go. The majority of live-service games are designed to keep you playing and reward you with little, they are built around the idea of making the end-user spend as much as possible, both in time and money. There’s a reason why most of them are described as being “engaging”, these games rarely respect your time, they’re almost like psychological traps that are designed to keep you in the game even if you’re not enjoying it.

The thing is, a live-service game be good but only when extracting as much money from the player isn’t the end goal. The trouble is that there aren’t that many examples of this; Monster Hunter: World, Final Fantasy XIV, Apex Legends, Genshin Impact, Overwatch, Destiny 2 and even Gran Turismo Sport. These are the only ones I can think off and all of them have issues too. Monster Hunter: World and Overwatch dropped support too early. Final Fantasy XIV, Apex Legends and Genshin Impact have issues with pricing and rewards. Destiny 2 and Gran Turismo Sport have issues with content.

These kinds of games will never be perfect because of the way they’re designed but they don’t have to be bad either. GT Sport proved this and yet somehow Polyphony Digital seem to have ignored what they learnt from GT Sport. GT Sport rewarded you fairly, when a new car came out or when I wanted to try a new GR.3 car I would just buy it because I knew I could earn the money back within a day or two at most. Even the GR.X and classic cars in GT Sport which cost over a million credits never felt completely out of reach because the game respected your time and rewarded you fairly.

The roulette system in GT Sport also guaranteed you a car for completing your daily workout, granted you got duplicates more often than not, but you’d still get the occasion GR.3 and GR.4 car from it. Gran Turismo Sport should have been the springboard for Gran Turismo 7, it set the foundation for what is an incredible game, one that is being ruined by greed and predatory microtransactions. GT7 doesn’t respect your time, the reward system makes this crystal clear.

Closing

Sony Interactive Entertainment’s track record with downloadable content in multiplayer games is rather poor, MLB The Show has some outrageous microtransactions and both The Last of Us and Uncharted 4 had pay-to-win add on content for their multiplayer modes. Gran Turismo Sport is the only multiplayer game from PlayStation Studios that checked all the boxes for what a multiplayer game should be, fun to play, fair reward system and it was supported for years without having content locked behind a paywall. This gave me a great deal of hope for Gran Turismo 7 and the fact that it could get it so wrong doesn’t bode well for Sony’s future endeavours.

Polyphony Digital has since acknowledged the issues with Gran Turismo 7 and they claim that they’re working on a solution that will allow players to enjoy the game without having to grind and without having to rely on microtransactions. Polyphony Digital has also asked fans to “watch over the growth of Gran Turismo 7 from a somewhat longer-term point of view” and that’s something we hear all too often with live-service games. Publishers and developers are essentially asking us to pay $70-$110 for a game now with the promise of things getting better in the future.

Accepting and remaining silent when shit like this happens is what leads to publishers getting greedy. For a Gran Turismo and PlayStation fan, this is rather worrying because GT7 was supported to be the series returning to its roots and so far that hasn’t happened. GT7 also seems to represent the new direction Sony Interactive Entertainment wants to go down, we already know that they plan to release 10 live-service games by 2026. Both GT7 and live-service games aren’t what PlayStation or Gran Turismo are known for and it should serve as a red flag for everyone involved. We’ve gone down this path already with Ubisoft, they developed a reputation for good singleplayer games and then threw it down the drain in their pursuit of the live-service trend. Sony looks to be following suit.

UPDATE: Polyphony Digital has adjusted the game economy somewhat and has increased rewards in online races, whilst these and the many other changes to the game have improved the situation it’s still not enough. Microtransactions have yet to be removed or adjusted in any way, shape or form. Content updates for the game have also been a bit lacklustre. As it stands Gran Turismo 7, as good as it is, still serves as a warning towards the attitude of PlayStation this generation.

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