Do DRIVECLUB’s Issues Reflect a Bigger Next-Gen Problem?

Do DRIVECLUB’s Issues Reflect a Bigger Next-Gen Problem?

If at first you don’t succeed…bribe ‘em with goodies. That always works right?

You know what? I think I’m officially naming 2014 the year of unrealistic expectations. I say this as one studio after another has seemingly been unable to hit a release date to save their lives. From Arkham Knight to The Crew (and a slew of others in-between), this just hasn’t been the year of developers delivering on their promises. However, in light of recent issues we’ve seen come from PlayStation exclusive DRIVECLUB , I’d gladly accept yet another delay over a cluster-fuck of this magnitude any day (don’t forget it’s already a year behind schedule).

First off, let’s get everyone caught up regarding exactly what we know as of now, as this story branches in several directions.

Immediately following the game’s launch, reported server problems would result in the delay of the PlayStation Plus edition. The rationale behind this was to lessen the online load, thus allowing Evolution to examine the instability a bit more closely (holding back an unnecessary wave of user-strain). Unfortunately, this did little to close the Pandora’s Box of issues about to spring forth in full force. In hopes of holding back the flood of those attempting to log-on (while scrambling to fix the servers in real-time), gamers would find it next to impossible to connect. This was due to only a limited number of slots being made available. The way it works is, players are stuck waiting for long periods of time as they’re essentially corralled into virtual “lines.” Only after someone else logs off are you then moved one space ahead (kind of like getting on a ride at a theme park). Eventually, you make it to the front, ride the roller-coaster, and then are dumped out the exit to start all over again.

Some progress was made several days later, but at the expense of content. Several features were temporally disabled, which allowed for somewhat better connectivity, but still rubbed gamers the wrong way (by restricting access to things they’d paid good money for). As of today, patch 1.03 is live, upping the number of players who can race online simultaneously (but many of the aforementioned modes remain unavailable). When pressed on Twitter about why the server issues persisted beyond the launch date (and weren’t caught during the beta period), director Paul Rustchynsky stated, “We did performance testing prior to launch & we had confidence in the servers then.”

Frankly, if that is true, I have to question what’s really going on behind the scenes during the quality assurance phase of development these days. Even on the last-gen Xbox 360 and PS3, broken games seem to be hitting the market more and more frequently (catching many studios by complete surprise). Have the sheer complexities of pushing the technological envelope outrun our ability to manage them? Instead of just programming a set number of sprite-based levels ala a Super Mario World for example, we now are faced with juggling advanced graphics-pipelines in addition to server management and online infrastructures. If DRIVECLUB was shipped with these types of problems inherent in its programming from the jump (even after a massive barrage of tests didn’t catch them), I have to wonder what the solution is moving forward. Hell, an obvious typo illustrates even the freakin’ cover wasn’t proofed closely enough. How can we possibly avoid potential Battlefield -esque debacles such as this year after year? Are we forever doomed to purchase things in a “pig-in-a-poke” fashion and just cross our fingers as we pop the discs in?

Do DRIVECLUB’s Issues Reflect a Bigger Next-Gen Problem?

I admit I’m just pondering out loud here, as I don’t claim to have the answers. There are some things about the industry I know, but game design is not one of them. I couldn’t tell you a damn thing about how to ultimately solve DRIVECLUB ’s online issues, any more than I could explain how the physics of the expansive racer actually work (yet I do understand the reason for them to work). What I do know is that, like many of you, I have certain expectations as a consumer. When I fire up my console after shelling out $59.99, I don’t think it’s too much to ask that things work as promised. Some out there even pre-ordered, so I can only imagine their level of frustration.

Rustchynsky also revealed that compensating early-adopters for the title’s shortcomings (much like Rockstar did with GTA ) is something they’re in fact considering. So I ask you readers, does that make things all better in your mind? Will a nice fat DLC-pack make the boo-boo all better?

Vent your anger in the comments section below! You have permission to go full-on troll just this once…

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