On Tuesday, October 17, the long-awaited Gran Turismo Sport arrives for the Playstation 4. This seventh installment in one of the world’s best-selling game franchises introduces a number of updates designed for high-end TVs, virtual reality and e-sports enthusiasts. While we’ve had a copy for a few days now, you’ll have to wait a few more days to read a good review.
In large part, that’s because Sony’s Gran Turismo Sport servers were down for the past few days. Since being connected to those servers is such an integral part of the game, there’s little left to do when you’re offline.
But let’s not pretend we weren’t warned. In a blog post last month, Sony revealed that “[i]n to ensure fair races for all, GT sport requires an internet connection for most functionality. This connectivity requirement is to ensure that progress, car availability and driver ratings are properly tracked at all times.”
Now we know what “majority of functionality” means: everything but the “Arcade” mode. This means you can participate in one-off races against the AI, time trials, ‘drift trials’, two-player split-screen battles and the limited VR mode. And you can only access cars and race tracks that you unlocked while online.
If the servers are down or your PS4 is not connected to the internet, no other parts of the game will be available and no progress can be saved. (This means you will lose any in-game credits or level progression earned in Arcade mode.) Obviously, online matches are server dependent. But so is the rest of the game, things that were always available offline in the past. Campaign mode (the career mode with the infamous) Gran Turismo driving school) is off limits offline. Also not available offline: buy new cars, view your garage, edit car colors and even “take pictures of beautiful cars in exotic landscapes” mode.
The reasoning behind the move has to do with the link between Gran Turismo and the FIA, the international organization that directs world motorsport. FIA-approved esports are an integral part of the game, so keeping everyone’s saves in the cloud is meant to keep everyone fair and honest. But the move raised eyebrows in Ars’s office, as offline single-player content in console games is rarely restricted in this way.
When asked why Polyphony Digital chose to simply limit so much Gran Turismo content online only, a Sony representative referred us to the September blog post announcing the change. “The local storage only contains hardware settings such as monitor resolution/HDR calibration, etc.”, the representative added.