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Talking Point: Is Sony Racing into Trouble with DriveClub on the PS4?

Posted by Sammy Barker

Head-on collision

A console launch wouldn’t be complete without a racer to highlight the hardware’s technical strides. DriveClub, a new team-based vehicular experiment from MotorStorm developer Evolution Studios, represents the PlayStation 4’s first foray into the high-octane arena of next generation motorsport. But while the social endeavour sounds intriguing, is Sony steering into trouble with the release?

When game director Matt Southern introduced the title during February’s whirlwind PlayStation Meeting, it felt like Gran Turismo creator Kazunori Yamauchi should have been on stage. Evolution Studios has mostly enjoyed a happy coexistence with Polyphony Digital during the PlayStation 3-era, ditching the simulation aspects of its licensed WRC endeavours in favour of the arcade action of the off-road MotorStorm series. But with DriveClub, the studio’s stepping back into the Japanese developer’s domain.

Southern’s enthusiasm on stage mimicked that of Yamauchi-san’s, as he explained that the Runcorn-based developer is putting an obsessive, borderline bonkers amount of work into the title’s high-performance car models. “[The vehicles] are as close as you’ll get to the real thing in terms of detail and accuracy,” he said, “with totally correct material parameters, painstakingly measured from the real thing using our custom-built photometric apparatus.” Where have you heard this before?

In isolation, the studio’s comments would be exciting – but they send a confusing message about the future of PlayStation’s most popular franchise. Where does Gran Turismo fit into the next generation platform’s plans, and why has Evolution Studios been encouraged to park in the famous series’ playground? We understand that Polyphony Digital’s first next generation title may be some way away, but with speculation suggesting that it may squeeze out a second PS3 title first, the whole strategy strikes us as baffling.

If the next Gran Turismo game is in development for Sony’s current console, then won’t the luxurious visuals of DriveClub steal one of the franchise’s hottest selling points? The brand has always prided itself on being at the very forefront of the technical curve, but its ties to aging hardware will almost certainly shut that ambition down. Meanwhile, Evolution Studios will be free to lap the Japanese developer on the back of a nitrous injection otherwise known as 8GB GDDR5 RAM.

And yet DriveClub finds itself in an equally awkward position, too. Unlike the majority of Sony’s first-party PS4 titles, the racer has no brand cachet; it’s a new intellectual property based upon a set of ideals that sound an awful lot like another product in PlayStation’s portfolio. That simple oversight could leave the game – and the next generation console itself – sputtering on the starting line, while petrol heads turn their attention to the next fully-fledged Forza game rumoured to be launching alongside the Xbox 360’s successor.

Granted, there has been some conjecture that SCEE actually approached SCEJ requesting permission to use the Gran Turismo name on a non-Japanese game, but the Eastern arm reportedly declined. Wouldn’t it be typical of the scandalously splintered Sony to actively squander the potential of one of its own titles out of little other than tradition and spite?

Of course, we still don’t really know enough about DriveClub to know for certain whether it’s stepping on Polyphony Digital’s toes. Evolution Studios has been cagey about the title’s handling model, with Southern opting to ambiguously describe it as neither simulation nor arcade but “something new” in an interview with CVG. Perhaps the community-driven experience genuinely does deserve the clean break afforded by an all-new name.

We just hope that the experiment doesn’t come back to shunt Sony in the bumper. If the next Gran Turismo game somehow finds itself burning rubber on the PS3, then it’s going to be interesting to see how it stacks up against the imminent DriveClub. And we’re even more eager to see if the latter’s got enough fuel in the tank to outpace the full-blown Forza sequel rumoured to be parked in Microsoft’s garage.


Do you think that DriveClub could struggle against a next generation Forza game? What do you think that the future of the Gran Turismo franchise holds? Let us know in the comments section below.

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User Comments (26)

brendon987

#1

brendon987 said:

If the next Gran Turismo game is PS3, then a Gran Turismo PS4 game won't occur to at least 2016. So there nothing wrong with a new IP DriveClub filling in the gap.

get2sammybAdmin

#2

get2sammyb said:

@brendon987 Will that be enough to counter Forza, though? And will anyone care about Gran Turismo on PS3, when there's the much prettier DriveClub on PS4? It strikes me that GT6 and DriveClub could cannibalise each other, while Forza swoops in and gobbles them both up.

shingi_70

#3

shingi_70 said:

@get2sammyb

I don't think it would be a problem as long as the two games show they're pretty different from each other. No one complained that much about The Main Forza series compared to PPR or the Horizon series.

3Above

#4

3Above said:

Its hard to say given the lack of info, but I would say there might be some forza fatigue given thst Horizon is still pretty recent.

get2sammybAdmin

#5

get2sammyb said:

@Sony_70 Yeah, I guess that's a good comparison. If DriveClub has a significantly different 'feel' to GT then it will set it apart. The way they're talking about the cars, though, makes me think they're targeting the GT market.

And just another thing: does anyone think Evolution and Polyphony are sharing assets? My guess is that they're not, which is utterly bonkers.

ShogunRokAdmin

#6

ShogunRok said:

Forza isn't too much of a concern I don't think - what concerns me is the relationship between Drive Club and the next Gran Turismo. It doesn't matter how good this game is, it'll never reach the popularity of Polyphony Digital's series.

The only thing that'll settle this is to see what the next GT actually is, although it faces a bit of a dodgy position regardless if it releases on PS3 or PS4. On PS3 it'll get pushed aside, especially if the PS4 is a success. On PS4, it'll surely cannibalize Drive Club's sales.

That said, if it did indeed release on PS4 - but a few years from now - I don't think there would be a problem.

shingi_70

#7

shingi_70 said:

Well you face the eventual problem of drive club II interfering with GT6. Really not sure why Sony decided to sign off two racing games that happen to be so similar in presentation and scope. (being a Video Game version of a Car catalog)

It would help if Drive Club was so far removed from what GT is. Its ne of the reasons why I picked up horizon despite getting forza 3 a few months before.

Scrible

#8

Scrible said:

There is no trouble, a little friendly competition is just what is needed on the ps4,now both developers will have to step up there game, a win win for gamers, no?

shingi_70

#9

shingi_70 said:

@Scrible

Not really when it means a waste of resoucres, and having two competing franchises that could cannablize each other.

Didn't sony face the same problem when hey had a few shooting games all come out in the same time span.

naruball

#10

naruball said:

I was thinking the exact same thing. Don't get their decision, but I do hope for the best for both franchises.

rockman29

#11

rockman29 said:

"And just another thing: does anyone think Evolution and Polyphony are sharing assets? My guess is that they're not, which is utterly bonkers."

I think in previews there was indication they have not been sharing. I agree, odd.

About dangers about cannibalizing sales, I don't think it will happen. GT is a well-known franchise which sells well over double of what any Forza game sells without so much as a finger lifted from the marketing department.

Drive Club should fill in a gap of arcade racing that Motorstorm is leaving out. Hopefully it differentiates itself from other road arcade racers like NFS to do some damage for Sony early on.

Ps4all

#14

Ps4all said:

I love racing games, this looks promising. Looking forward to more info.

JavierYHL

#15

JavierYHL said:

i think driveclub might filled the gap for those racing games fans when they wait for the next GT...

Epic

#16

Epic said:

People these days just like to buy big racers IP like Burnout, Grand Turismo , Need For Speed etc...normaly the others IP gets ignored. Only diehard racer fans might get this. In my opinion I may be wrong.

NathanUC

#17

NathanUC said:

Forza always feels more arcade than simulation to me. I really really loved Forza 2, but since then the series has gone downhill. It's very possible Driveclub will be every bit as poorly designed as Forza so it's hard to say. The only racing sim you can truly count on these days is Gran Turismo because it puts itself as a sim first, everything else later.

KALofKRYPTON

#18

KALofKRYPTON said:

Nah. I think they'll be a pretty big gap between this and GT, if we get another GT at all. Gt wasn't particularly good competition for Forza this generation, but Drive Club could be.

rjejr

#19

rjejr said:

To me this is a really weird thing to be worried about, the kind of thing that happens to people who drink too much tea before bed at night laying there thinking up really weird things unable to fall asleep.

Drive CLUB. They are going for team racing like you find in Mario Kart, only in real time with real people all over the world with live simulcasts of the worlds top racing teams, treating the game like its Warcraft in Korea. It's all about the CLUB. It's like a squad based FPS only with cars instead of guns. Really finely detailed cars but the game is about the CLUB, not the cars.

GT, while it has some multiplayer, is mainly about solo.

End of discussion.

PS - Nobody is buying Forza due to always-on DRM. dealwithit

DarthDiggler

#20

DarthDiggler said:

Cleverly you hid this comment near the end of the article...

"Of course, we still don’t really know enough about DriveClub to know for certain whether it’s stepping on Polyphony Digital’s toes."

You don't know, we don't know so this whole article is purely speculation and really smacks of "hey I am new to the video game industry". The fact is console platform creators and especially Sony always introduce new consoles with new IPs. No one wants to see their big guns come up against lack luster sales due to a minimal install base which every system has at launch.

Remember God of War 2? Why did Sony release that for PS2 when the game came out well after PS3 was released? The same reason, you generally don't break out all of your big guns for a launch. If Sony were to launch with all their biggest titles — how will they follow that up? Sequels?

There is more than enough room in the marketplace for 2 PS4 exclusive Racing games. Considering Gran Turismo comes out once every 3-6 years and MotorStorm had 3 releases in the span, I don't think there is much fear of over-crowding.

DarthDiggler

#21

DarthDiggler said:

@KALofKRYPTON

How can anyone who owns GT5 who would say that GT5 wasn't much competition for Forza is beyond me. The level of content you got with GT5 would choke your Xbox 360.

NathanUC

#23

NathanUC said:

@DarthDiggler I believe he meant that they are somewhat different genres of games so they can't really be compared. GT5's was focused PRIMARILY on the physics of how a real car would handle on a real race track it's a simulation without any fluff. Forza was a bit more casual with physics much less comparable to GT. It focused more on social driving, visual car customization, and interacting with the stationary vehicles. From what we know, Driveclub will attempt to appeal to a similar market as Forza.

DarthDiggler

#24

DarthDiggler said:

@ShogunRok

Talking about WHAT exactly? The fact that this author doesn't seem to understand how this industry works?

New IPs are commonplace with new consoles for the reasons I explained above. If the author really thinks this is a "talking point" it is due to a lack of knowledge about console launches. Perhaps this person was too young to remember what happened between PS2 and PS3.

If they were around for the last change of the console guard, why is this guy asking me things that they should already know?

The author is suggesting that Sony doesn't have a plan for the PlayStation brand. That claim is ridiculous, anyone who was around when the PS2 and the PS3 was launched knows there are never lots of launch titles that are PlayStation staples.

get2sammybAdmin

#25

get2sammyb said:

@DarthDiggler I didn't say that Sony doesn't have a plan for the PlayStation brand, I was merely pondering whether that could be a flaw in that plan. You're right, it absolutely does depend on the type of game that DriveClub is — but surely the hyper-realistic cars sends a very clear message that they're going after the GT market? That's fine, but won't it undermine the series' supposed PS3 successor if that rumour rings true, too?

You're right, though, this is all speculation. If you don't think that's worth discussing, then that's fine.

ShogunRokAdmin

#26

ShogunRok said:

@DarthDiggler Now now, no need to get stroppy. The whole point of Talking Point articles is to engage the community in discussion. If you haven't noticed, the piece has more than fulfilled its purpose - even you're taking part in the conversation.

Also, saying Sammy knows nothing of the industry is comedic at best. I suggest you take a look at past Talking Points before calling people out on such things.

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