Driveclub was an interesting concept that never panned out into an interesting video game. That’s how we saw it; that’s what its ever-controversial Metascore says. Driveclub could have been, but wasn’t. Now there are some calling for a game like Driveclub, that suffered from significant flaws at launch, to be re-reviewed. Hardcore Gamer will be doing no such thing, and gamers should be wary of offering any game that kind of second chance.
The narrative behind this call for a re-review is that the game was unfinished at launch. Let’s put that to bed. Driveclub was finished at launch; it was delayed in 2013, then again in 2014; it was promoted, wrapped in plastic and sold on shelves and digital stores. In March before its release, Sony’s Scott Rohde said in an interview with IGN: “[W]e really don’t want to release a game before it’s ready. And sometimes, this happens in the normal course of business, where we think we’re on track to deliver what we think is going to be a great game, and when we get closer, we realize that we’d be doing everyone a disservice if we shipped it before it was ready.”
Flash forward six months, and Driveclub is released, in a fashion comparable to a Steam Early Access title. The servers couldn’t handle the game, insulting damage textures and hardly anything in the way of car customization — it’s issues ran far deeper than a few technical bugs. It was a finished game that was also a bad game. We’ve seen this before, too.
Everyone knows of EA’s infamous stab at SimCity and that the word “stab” can be aptly replaced with “vivisection.” While the issues that plagued the launch of the aforementioned city builder are largely gone, that doesn’t matter, and it shouldn’t matter. You don’t get a second-chance at opening night, and, if a play opens up with a tragically bad first week, there’s not going to be a week two.
Sites that re-review games set a dangerous precedent. It sends a message to developers that it’s okay to release a game that falls far short of what was promised because they can always make up for it later. It’s a real simple formula to take advantage of consumer: put out a game that is essentially a “soft-launch,” charge full price and maybe one day turn it into a better game, if you get around to it.
The message to developers should be simple: you can’t treat gamers this way. When you decide to slap a $60 price tag on a game and back that up with a heavy advertising campaign, it’s finished, and that finished product better be worth every penny of that price tag. If it’s not, better luck next time. This is a buyer’s market. Whoever offers the best game at the most competitive price will get the sales. Don’t give the power to game developers who have shown a disinterest or inability to deliver on their promises. Driveclub will forever be a 2.5 at Hardcore Gamer.