If our gaming future is to exist largely online, then I’m becoming increasingly sceptical of whether Sony deserves my money. The company has built the PlayStation Store into an unparalleled empire, but it’s about to gut popular racing game DriveClub and wipe it from its servers. If you already happen to own the Evolution Studios developed racer then you’ll still be able to access it, but all of its flagship features will be absent – and certain pieces of content will be cut, too.
Look, I understand that the Japanese giant is a business and it has to make cost cutting measures at times. I imagine that a game like DriveClub, with its underlying emphasis on leaderboards and social connectivity, likely eats into the company’s precious coffers. And yes, when there’s presumably a small community of people playing, it probably sees that as an unnecessary expenditure. But if that’s the case: what the heck are we paying for PlayStation Plus for?
The manufacturer may argue that your annual subscription fee is invested back into the PlayStation Network’s overall infrastructure: voice chat, cloud saves, parties, et al. But the price has been going up while the value has been going down, so how can it justify gutting popular first-party games when we’re paying for the privilege to be able to play them online? LittleBigPlanet may still be running, but why would you ever want to invest time and effort into the upcoming Dreams when the company is acting this way?
The thing is, this isn’t an isolated incident: Gravity Rush 2 recently had its online component removed, after fans campaigned to keep it alive for a few months longer. In the case of Kat’s sophomore outing, it doesn’t actually detract from the game, but it’s a bad look all the same – the sequel was barely a year old before it wanted to pull the plug. Kill Strain, meanwhile, didn’t even get to a year – it was shut down and erased from history like it didn’t even exist in the first place. Drawn to Death is next in line.
I know that there’ll be critics of this article pointing out just how unpopular all of the abovementioned games were likely to be – but that doesn’t make it acceptable in the slightest. There’s no guarantee that a title’s servers will stay online forever, but I can still play Gears of War on the Xbox 360 if I want to – it’s almost 15 years old. Sony’s respect for its back catalogue stinks, and as we move into an era of digital software and forward compatibility, I think it needs to take a long hard look at itself.
Y’know, I defended the platform holder with the whole Gravity Rush 2 fiasco – I felt it was an inconsequential part of the game. But I’ve had to reconsider my stance with this DriveClub debacle – I mean, is Gran Turismo Sport next? The game’s supremely popular and growing every month at the moment, but how long before it’s considered a sunk cost? How long before it’s time to turn the servers off and effectively kill the game?
The most amusing thing is that Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida recently said that the publisher wants to develop more online multiplayer titles. At this rate, give us all a break and don’t even bother.
Do you care that Sony's turning off the servers for its online games so quickly? Have you been affected by one of its closures? Has its strategy caused you to reconsider whether to buy any of its multiplayer games? Flip the switch in the comments section below.