So because I use an alternate email account for both WordPress and my PlayStation 4 identity, which allows upwards of 20,000 emails to be diverted away from clogging up my personal account, I may have missed the Gran Turismo Sport closed beta code that arrived in my inbox on… wait for it… March 29th. Supposedly there were issues with Canadian citizens redeeming the code on the PlayStation store, as evidenced by this post on Reddit, but this appears to have been ironed out, and at the moment, Gran Turismo Sport is downloading.
A drastic departure from the series’ forte of mixing Japanese RPG grinding with a hefty yet lopsided roster of cars in some sort of open-ended single player campaign, Gran Turismo Sport looks to take direct aim at the eSports market and compete alongside iRacing when it comes to peer-to-peer competitive online racing, offering users an elaborate ranking system that places sim racers of a similar skill against each other. Though the game will still include a select array of traditional street cars to satisfy longtime fans of the series, the emphasis will be placed on the game’s own semi-fictional interpretation of GT3 & Prototype racing.
However, with a core audience not entirely sold on the eSports element, wishing for Gran Turismo to stay, well, Gran Turismo, Polyphony have already begun to realize this eSports experiment might not work out. The closed beta of Gran Turismo Sport contains two primary modes of play – Sport and Arcade – the former containing the game’s online world, while the latter allows sim racers to turn practice laps against either bots or an empty track. Polyphony have discovered that an overwhelming majority of users participating in the closed beta are not making use of the Sport mode as intended, but instead screwing around in offline practice, defeating the entire purpose of a game that has been built primarily for online eSports competition.
It was made very clear from the title’s initial announcement and subsequent promotional material that Gran Turismo Sport was built for online play, yet so few are willing to play the title online, Polyphony have been forced to entirely shutdown all single-player components of the beta in an effort to herd them like cattle into the game’s online servers.
While it’s very nice to see Polyphony taking their approach to eSports seriously, this may hint at a massive drop in popularity for the franchise when the title inevitably launches, which some are saying may come as early as April 20th. Polyphony Digital have built an entire game around online competition, and yet those who willingly signed up for the beta knowing the kind of focus Gran Turismo Sport would have compared to past games in the series, aren’t racing online. That’s not a good sign.
An overwhelming amount of footage depicting Gran Turismo Sport in action has been uploaded to YouTube thanks to the PlayStation 4’s sharing capabilities, and the results are less than ideal. The driving skill needed for something like Gran Turismo Sport to work well just isn’t there, as massive pile-ups and drivers frequently running into the grass make sifting through these videos a total chore to learn anything useful about the game, as questions hardcore sim racers such as myself may have are simply never answered.
Provided I can actually get into some sort of in-game action once my download completes, you’ll have a preview of Gran Turismo Sport in the next few days. If there’s anything specific you want to know about the title from a sim racer’s perspective, do not hesitate to leave a comment, and I’ll do my best to cover it in the next article on Gran Turismo Sport.