During this year’s E3 sister site Eurogamer had the opportunity to interview Kazanuri Yamauchi regarding the much anticipated Gran Turismo Sport. The Interview was short but broad and covered a good few aspects about the new game and Kazunori’s intentions and what he hopes to achieve with GT Sport. What particularly stood out was the description of Gran Turismo Sport that Kazunori Yamauchi gave where he said…
“This Gran Turismo is really geared towards people who are playing racing games for the first time. The aim wasn’t to create a hardcore racing simulation. And because we’re running it as an eSport together with the FIA, we have a section where you can learn racing etiquette and behaviour.”
Now I am sure it is only me that sees a problem with this statement? Indeed, we must consider that the above and others quotes were taken through an interpreter so things can be lost in translation but the above quote does point pretty clearly to KY’s intentions for Gran Turimo Sport.
So why do I see a problem with the explanation of who the game is designed to appeal to? Let’s break it down…read and hold that thought…. “This Gran Turismo is really geared towards people who are playing racing games for the first time. The aim wasn’t to create a hardcore racing simulation”. Then the very next statement was contradictory to a degree where he then says….. “And because we’re running it as an eSport together with the FIA, we have a section where you can learn racing etiquette and behavior.” Still holding that thought?
So as far as I understand Esports, at least if we define it means something like this: “eSports (also known as electronic sports, esports, e-sports, competitive (video) gaming, professional (video) gaming, or pro gaming) is a form of competition that is facilitated by electronic systems, particularly video games.”
So the keywords here are “competitive”, “Professional” and “pro”! Now I do not really want to play word games but have to to a degree to illustrate my point though I am certainly willing to accept that you can “not” be a pro and still compete competitively against professionals or amateurs but here we have a game that is clearly designed to be a platform for professional and competitive online racing known as ESports. I mean it is in the name “GT Sport”.
As we all know Gran Turismo Sport and its events have been FIA sanctioned so it does not get much more official and hardcode as that. Let’s look at those quotes again. The start of his statement aligns to a degree with the last part of his statement
“This Gran Turismo is really geared towards people who are playing racing games for the first time” which is contradicted initially but aligns in closing to this: And because we’re running it as an eSport together with the FIA, we have a section where you can learn racing etiquette and behaviour.”
How I understand the above is that PD want to take everyone who might have just delved into the world of racing games for the first time and then bring them up a notch or two through mechanisms in place to teach new drivers/players how to race and conduct themselves on track and according to a framework that effectively formulizes and dare I say “professionalizes” in the way of a GT Sport FIA Racing license but according to Kazunori “The aim wasn’t to create a hardcore racing simulation”! do not need to reiterate the contradiction right there?
But wait there is more, to further clarify Kaz is quoted as saying “In order to enable clean, fair, and safe races online, players are going to have two matchmaking indexes. One is the driver’s class, which shows the speed and the strength of the driver in a race. The other one is sportsmanship, which indicates their manners and behavior on the track. Players who drive really rough online will see their sportsmanship points going down, until they’re only matched with other drivers who drive really rough online. Players who drive really clean races will be matched with other players who drive really clean races.”
And to further ad weight he is quoted as saying “To become eligible for a Gran Turismo FIA license, you have to complete things like the racing etiquette aspect of the game, achieve silver or better in campaign mode, and then achieve and maintain a certain level of sportsmanship points. In the racing etiquette mode, you’re able to learn about things like signals, flags, how to behave with other cars on the track, cautions, driver’s conduct – all the sorts of things you need to know in the real world of motorsports, you can learn here.”
There are not many mainstream racing game as far as I am aware of that have ever had a vigorous license system in place, and robust mechanisms to match drivers of a particular quality through a teared system. No racing game can seriously claim that it is not a “hardcore simulation” to at least a degree or have hardcore intentions if it has such systems in place. I mean isn’t having an in game FIA license while teaching racing Etiquette a mirror/simulation of real motorsport.
“The people at the FIA made motorsports for the last 100 years. Now, we want to work together with the FIA to help design the next 100 years.” I can go further and quote the descriptions of the competitions, like how ‘The purpose of Sport is not to find the fastest drivers in the world like the GT Academy’ But we will have structured competition with finals and an announced winners and prizes then contradict here “At the same time I want to make it something that children all the way up to the elderly can enjoy.” and “Driving is pretty much something that anyone can do, and if it seems difficult, then that means something is wrong with the video game. That’s a mistake that we want to correct. Driving cars is something anyone should be able to have fun doing. My wish is that with Gran Turismo, I really want to convey how fun it is to drive cars, and that’s really one of the major objectives.”
I mean I have raced competitively with some fast pensioners and have had my back side handed to me but I think Kaz is referring to Grandpa on Christmas day putting down his game of backgammon for 5 minutes or the 8-year-old grandson picking up the pad or wrapping their hands around a Thrustmaster T500RS. I am sure that these people will have “fun” with red, blue and yellow flags, fostering racing etiquette either online or offline while trying to obtain an FIA certified license or win that “prim and proper” online race while observing the real motorsport racing rules. I am sure it will be “easy” for them!
I am being harsh I hear you say, as both of those people will likely play offline bouncing their way around a track which they can do in any racing game but KY insists on professing to sell an Esports game with a rhetoric to cater for this group who will no doubt live in arcade mode only, once crashing into people online grows old and tiresome.
I honestly believe KY is playing a words game, its what Politicians do and because in the end it’s all a numbers game and sales are what really matters. No studio in their right mind can be seen to be alienating the average casual gamer. If only the hardcore bought GT Sport, then the game would sell an order of magnitude less. PD know who the hardcore are, they are the people still playing GT6 now online as we speak and unsurprisingly the number is not that big. The average and larger number of paying customers long ago moved on to other games but PD needs them to buy GT Sport.
Studios/developers need to start being a little more honest with us the paying end user. Focusing on a game for just the hardcore would be financial suicide so why not create a game of two halves and sell it as exactly that? GT Sport could quite easily genuinely appeal to the larger majority while still having the features/physics to get the hardcore gamer frothing at the mouth with excitement. With what we know so far about GT Sport is that it is a game that is leveraged towards the hardcore in every essence but is being sold as something that anybody can pick up and participate across the breadth of what GT Sport offers. All of us that have been playing GT online since GT5 all know that the moment GT Sport ships, despite FIA licenses and Etiquette systems with unknown checks and balances the lobby’s will be filled with un desirable drivers causing havoc. It is welcome news that PD will be implementing such points system to match players of equal ability and etiquette but if we are to assume outcomes based on previous attempts by PD I do not have much faith that it will be robust enough to work as intended and reliably. And even if it is robust I am sure there will be tricks/schemes to circumnavigate it. And I firmly believe that the casual gamer won’t necessarily and automatically go from bad to good driver with such systems. Having raced long enough, you can rarely teach etiquette as it comes from a desire to acquire it, the rest comes naturally and in time. Inexperienced players to GT Sport will be clean or dirty regardless of what lessons are provided.
Anyway it is no issue at all, GT Sport leans towards the hardcore, but sold as a little something for everyone. It will sell in large numbers, where (don’t quote me) 80-90% will put the game down and forget about it 6 months after purchase but job done as far as PD sales are concerned because that 80-90% will be the casual gamer.
Stop kidding us and yourselves PD. Build your game around your audience sell it as you build it and happy days for everyone. If you genuinely want to appeal to everybody make a game for everybody. What we will end up with GT Sport, is a game that average joe will very definitely buy but will be almost deceived into buying and be let down as no doubt in my mind the game will have a stitch on career mode that ships with almost a tenth of the cars as previous of GT’s. Lets be clear, GT Sport is not GT7 and a natural successor to GT6 with parity in content and features.
GT Sport with some good intentions will be a game that sells the idea of making everyone who does an “FIA Gran Turismo license” into a competent online “pro” but not hardcore (?) racer ready to take on all in the ESport world. No doubt there will be plenty of people new to racing games that will purchase GT Sport go through the bureaucracy of acquiring a GT FIA License and go onto do great things in the GT Sport ESport Arena. FIA license or not, that would happen anyway.
Criticisms aside, PD’s venture into ESports is a wonderful and hugely welcome. PD backed by Sony have the clout to be a big driving force behind making ESports mainstream and a professional respected sport. Look at GT Academy and its success into making bedroom racers into real racers. Like I said in a previous article we are going to have ESports stars. That Alien you race with now; in a not too distant future you might be watching him/her on live TV or attending a sold out sports Arena. That could even be you, and you might have a 6 figure salary to boot. Exciting times ahead for sure.
GT Sport is for the hardcore let’s be honest, and the sooner PD stop deceiving themselves (and us) then we can get to task ensuring that the offering is best placed to be a seed for cementing Gran Turismo as the standard for ESports motor racing now and in the future.
Why not get join a club ready for GT Sport, check out GTArena club GBRC.