Driveclub: One Month On

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last year, you’ll be quite aware that Driveclub’s release hasn’t exactly gone to plan. Initially set to be a launch title, just a month ahead of the PlayStation 4’s launch it was revealed that the game would be pushed back to 2014. That delay turned out to be a lot longer than initially expected, but as Evolution Studios gradually started to talk about the game once more ahead of E3, it seemed that they were starting to win people over. The year-long delay might just have been worth the wait.

As reviews landed a few days ahead of Driveclub’s launch at the start of October, opinions were generally favourable. The very focussed approach of pitting you against other players’ record and challenges is a smart and compelling one, which combines well with a handling model that balances sim and arcade sensibilities. It wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea, certainly, and launched in the wake of the very well received and vastly more expansive Forza Horizon 2, but with the PS+ Edition also on the cards, it had the potential to win a number of people over that were still on the fence. At least, that was the plan.

Come launch day in North America on October 7th, Driveclub suffered from a fate that has become all too familiar in this age of constantly connected games. Just as with SimCity and Diablo 3, the Driveclub servers went offline under the weight of the general public, practically immediately. Taking to their Facebook page, Evolution rattled off quick fire updates on the situation. Outwardly, it seemed as though this could be down to the added pressure of those playing the PS+ Edition of the game and so this was quickly pulled from the store and blocked from connecting, restricting access to paying customers. However, as the week rolled on to include the EU and UK releases – today being the one month anniversary of the UK launch – it became clear that the issues were more fundamental than that.

The problems also seemed to have Evolution stumped. On October 8th, they announced a kind of ‘one in, one out‘ policy, October 9th came with an announcement of essential diagnostics and October 10th then saw server updates that allowed more players to log in, albeit with the core system of challenges and social updates disabled.

However, it clearly wasn’t simply a case of throwing more servers at the game – though bringing more servers online was something they were certainly doing – and as patches 1.03 and 1.04 rolled out rather soon after launch, the patch notes pointed to client side fixes required to reduce the load of each individual user, which had been compounding the issues. Whether server or client side, the game is still not running as originally intended.

It even came to the point where there was simply too much information about the game’s state floating around, to the extent that Paul Rustchynsky stopped replying to tweets on Twitter – though potentially related to a somewhat inadvisable reply noting that they were considering compensation of some sort – and Facebook updates were reduced in regularity.

“We know we have been quiet over the last few days,” they eventually wrote on October 28th, “which was because we wanted to offer you news when it has a meaningful impact on your experience of DRIVECLUB.” They continued on to state that “Our diagnostics show the majority of you are now able to get online and racing.”

Yet the game is far from out of the woods. Challenges are still disabled, of course, but while the “majority” can connect there were often a handful of comments to say that they still have issues. Let’s not forget that the PlayStation Plus Edition is also still missing in action. Eventually Shuhei Yoshida took to Driveclub’s Facebook page at the end of October to apologise and announce the indefinite postponement of the PS+ Edition. Since then, with Shu stating that time frames for fixes remain unclear, there has largely been silence.

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But where does that actually leave Driveclub? During October, it was the most purchased game on the EU PlayStation Store – though it was 5th in the US and didn’t really set the retail charts alight in the UK – and though this was certainly helped by the cheaper price for those on with a PS+ subscription, a number of regular commenters on TSA have caved in and bought the game despite the troubles, many of whom have subsequently had positive things to say about it and happily played their way through the single player Grand Tour while waiting for more fixes.

The server troubles continue to be plain to see when you log into the game. The challenges system is still blanked out on the main menu, removing one of the key points that would have me returning to the game on a regular basis, and everything that requires a link to the internet is sluggish and prone to not working. Loading up my club and its status took me several minutes, for one thing, while trying to join a multiplayer race was particularly painful, with numerous disconnections and time outs before I could actually connect to a lobby.

With such problems, it’s difficult to see how they can conscionably push ahead with their original plans for DLC, with the Season Pass originally set to add cars, liveries, tracks and events from November onwards, none of which have appeared so far. The weather patch will almost certainly have been put on hold, as resources are shifted around. This all puts Evolution as a whole in a tricky position, with Driveclub already having been delayed for a year and at great cost to Sony, and sales almost certainly lower than they might have been with a smoother launch, the lack of a quick resolution to the game’s problems and sell through with DLC could have Evo’s existence hanging in the balance.

As with so many things, we’ll just have to wait and see what happens next.

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38 Comments

  1. I requested a refund for the digital edition I bought.

    The development and release of the game has been a complete shambles. It’s a shame, since the core driving mechanics are very good.

    • Same. Requested a refund 3 weeks ago and they are still stringing me along with copy-paste answers. I’m not going away though so I’ll get my £35 back eventually.
      I understand that they don’t offer refunds if you simply don’t like a product, but this game is broken and, for me at least, it still doesn’t work.
      Sony showing their true colours with this whole ordeal.

      • I phoned them up on Friday to request the refund as I was just getting generic support replies off them when I tried email.

        The person I spoke to said my request would be escalated for a refund and it would take a short while to process.

        I’ll phone again later in the week if I get no response before then.

      • I’m going to do that too

      • It’s always best to phone Sony in order to get something done quickly. Emails will bounce to new people each time and take days to get a response.

        On the plus side, it’s now a local number, rather than a premium one, so you won’t be running up a phone bill if you’re sat waiting in a queue.

  2. I caved and bought Driveclub when the Project Cars delay was announced.

    It’s a complete shambles & as usual from Sony the lack of info & only vague statements to paying customers a disgrace.

  3. I fail to recall such an epic fail of a release. I remember being quite excited for it running to ps4 launch. Now I’m barely bothered and it seems whoever is developing this game is doing so at a snails pace. Really poor form.

  4. My biggest annoyance is that if your connection drops near the end of an event, your points do not contribute to your club. Surely it should save points earned offline and then add them next time the connection is established!
    I’ve done some of the championship events that are worth big points only to find the connection drops right at the end of the last race and all the club points are lost!

    It’s a shame because the core gameplay is really fun and the racing is brutal and fast.

  5. I think the PS+ version of this will be cancelled unfortunately.

  6. I don’t think its right that the game has remained on sale when they couldn’t cope with the amount of users from the start. Selling it in stores for £49.99 with all its problems it doesn’t seem acceptable.

  7. My best mate bought a PS4 sat and he really wanted drive club and it took me ages to explain how broken the game is, £50 for a broken game is bad, even if it came on PS+ this Wednesday I would think twice about getting it

    My main fear is for Evolution as a studio, they delayed this game for a year to then release it and its still broken, I think this could be the end of the studio which is a real shame

    A simple Beta would have sold this problem

    • Even more of a shame when you think of the changes Sony made to Studio Liverpool etc to better focus on Evolution & Driveclub

      • Yep, and I bet a PS4 version of Wipeout would look stunning.

  8. The problem with Driveclub isn’t just the online issues.
    To my mind the game just isn’t finished. A couple of examples spring to mind.

    I’ve been grinding out some accolades, so i find a nice long point to point race in canada so i can improve the manufacturer, location, single race and performance accolade. After completing the race i restart and do it again. Simple enough, but i notice that the same AI car crashes at exactly the same spot every time. If i dont use the restart then this doesn’t happen. Also, there is no difference in credits awarded for a win in any of the difficulty settings. What’s the point in having a tough single player race when i can progress far easier on rookie level?

    I’m glad to read people have been asking for refunds cos i’m really disappointed with this game and am gonna go for a refund too.

  9. I absolutely love Driveclub it has been one of my favourite games released this year on any platform it looks great and the sense of speed is fantastic there is a lot there to commend Evolution for. However I do agree the server issue are a nightmare (although I have been connecting to my club and online multiplayer straight away for a couple weeks) and have been disappointing. I am confident they will be resolved, but I fear for Evolution in the long term as fanboy wars are muddying the waters. I think I would be annoyed if I had paid £49 for the game rather than £34, but I am going to stick with it hoping that further updates will improve/expand upon the game.

    • This is how I feel. I am willing to persevere because the stuff that does work is great. That said, I certainly feel we are entitled to some kind of compensation, be it some free DLC or a partial refund. The game just isn’t what I paid for at the moment and it’s been going on for too long.

  10. If they do ever release the PS+ edition it’ll be when all the Driveclub hype and interest has died down or when most have given up on it so the core features, clubs and challenges, will be sparse and barely worth playing… This is rapidly becoming a no-win situation for Evolution.

    Unfortunately I think this game is doomed and is quickly reaching the point of no return. I feel sorry for the team (to an extent, I mean hey, it’s no ones fault but theirs ultimately) as it’s going to seriously tarnish their reputation… “Hey there’s a new game coming out by Evolution!” “Who?” “You know, the guys who made Driveclub…” Hmmm.

    Continuing to sell and advertise it while it’s still clearly broken is plain wrong in my opinion. I feel sorry for those who don’t follow gaming sites who buy it at full retail expecting it to be a full working product. As for those asking for a refund, sorry, but if you bought the game knowing the problems it was having then why should you get a refund? Obviously if you preordered the game or bought it before it’s problems became apparent then go for it.

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