It’s safe to say that Gran Turismo 7 hasn’t had the easiest times since it launched back in March 2022. After receiving rave reviews, the player base has largely been disappointed with the game.
The issues with the game are numerous – and have been very well documented – but what’s becoming more pressing is how the developers, Polyphony Digital, respond with their monthly content updates. At the end of every month, Polyphony pushes out an update for Gran Turismo 7 but these are hollow and meaningless due to the core issues that still plague GT7.
A big elephant in the room that we have to address is that everything that’s been added to GT7 thus far has been through free content updates. Nothing is paid. And with the exception of January 2023, these have been regular monthly occurrences.
Under most circumstances, the headline additions will always be the new cars included. New tracks as well, but the most recent one of those was Grand Valley Highway added back in February.
Let’s use the latest May (version 1.34) update as an example. Three cars were brought into the game which, each in their own way, serve to highlight the issues. A classic coupe (Alfa Romeo Giulia), a 1000HP tuned muscle car (GAC Maverick), and a slight variation of an existing model (Nissan GT-R NISMO).
Of course people will always have their own requests for cars to bring to the game but the main issue is not inherent to the cars themselves but rather how they can be used in the game. Or as is usually the case, can't be used in the game.
New content doesn’t add value
For me, the main crux has always been the races and other things to do that are added each month. GT7 is still painfully lacking in events to actually use your cars and the same thing applies for these new additions.
A handful of races are added with each update and are often tied to specific cars that are included. For instance, there is a Sunday Cup Classic race at Monza which is clearly intended for the Giulia, and an American Clubman Cup race for the Maverick. The problem is that there are still so few of these and many cars (*cough* Gr.2 *cough*) still have no events.
What’s worse is that so many of the multi-million-credit cars that can be found in Legends dealership are subject to this problem even more than a year removed from release. At this point we have to assume that this is intentional and the creators simply don’t want you to use the car you might’ve spent up to 20 million credits on.
This lack of events really came to a head in the March (version 1.31) update in which more cars were included than races to actually use them in. A shambolic situation for a racing game. Ultimately this wouldn’t be a massive issue if the races added had replay value, but they don’t.
The formula for these races is painfully familiar: Start at the back of a long queue of cars all spread out over a long distance (up to 30 seconds behind the leader in the worst cases), breeze past the AI drivers who are deliberately held back, and then finish the race.
It’s a problem which has plagued the series since the PS3 era. Gone are the hard-fought races of the past, replaced with essentially a glorified time trial. The most frustrating part of all of this is that GT7 does have a handful of traditional grid start and much closer rolling start races (notably the Clubman Cup Plus races) which really show what’s possible if they actually try.
One of the better events added is for the Japanese Super Formula cars. The field is still spread out, but not the worst, and the AI are decently fast, but the question still remains of why aren’t these races using standing starts? You know, like the real-life Super Formula championship?
Further reducing the incentive to replay these new events is the pathetically low payouts. The same few races which were added back in April 2022 are still the best-paying events. How does it make any sense for a race against some sports cars at Tokyo Expressway to give a far better payout than the races featuring high-downforce Super Formula machines?
Supposed ‘solutions’ don’t fix anything
Despite this, it would be unfair to say that they haven’t tried to remedy some issues with these updates. Although, in most cases, they don’t actually solve anything but rather just slap some tape over to it and pretend it’s no longer there...
A great example is with the Sport Mode time trials. One massive problem with GT7 is how unbalanced the economy is. As previously stated there are many cars costing several millions of credits and, unlike previous games, you can’t earn these cars through winning events or championships. You have to buy them, thus leading to many players grinding the handful of best-paying events.
Now, every couple of weeks there are online time trials in which you can bag up to 2 million credits if you’re good enough. Of course not everyone will be, which isn’t a great incentive, but it’s certainly better than nothing. Polyphony have even doubled down on this with the time trials now being on a weekly basis.
But naturally this doesn’t actually solve the unbalance, rather it just gives players a small boost. It also doesn’t add long-term value since most players will be inclined to just hop on the game for a few hours (or minutes depending on their skill level) every week to clear these time trials and, once done, move on to something else. There’s no reason for them to stick around.
In the case of the May update the big inclusion has been allowing people to purchase the engine swaps which were previously locked behind the infuriating ‘roulette’ system. This is undoubtedly a positive change, since the odds of getting an engine from these ‘roulettes’ were astronomically low, and getting the engine you wanted was even lower.
But the fact that we’re praising GT7 to give us the ability to buy something kind of says it all. It seems like a positive right now but had this feature been included from the start there would already be questions asked. Such as; why does the Honda K20 engine cost 127,500 credits despite the car it comes from (Civic Type R FK8 ’20) only costing 55,000 credits? Talk about cost of labour!
But the big point here is that these issues could easily be used to solve each other. Think about this; there is content in the game which people want to have (expensive cars, engine swaps, etc), and at the same time there is a massive shortage of things to do.
So, why not add a bunch more races and events which cater to a wider array of cars, including more event types like championships, endurance races and mission events (which we were even promised), and then attach these cars and engine swaps to them as prizes?
This seems like a no-brainer to me and is the sort of thing that, had the franchise still been at its peak, they would’ve done already. The problems can effectively be used to cancel each other out.
What comes next?
Regardless these changes are still a net positive in terms of the player experience and shows that Polyphony is listening to the feedback to some degree. Or... does it? You see, in regards to the engine swaps, they have always had values attached to them long before they could be bought.
To me this implies that the idea of buying them was already considered and it’s possible this may have been the original idea before the roulette method was decided instead. But for now that’s just speculation.
Ultimately, regardless of if they have good intentions with these changes I don’t believe the game can be entirely fixed with a few additions. The whole philosophy of the game needs to change. For example, if we look at the Extra Menus (another addition in every update) we can see how different this is from past GT games.
The idea is to collect a set of three cars for a reward which is almost always a roulette ticket. This speaks a lot to the overall mindset of the game, since rather than the cars being the rewards (as has been in every past GT game before GT7) they are now being used as the means of obtaining the reward.
This trivialises car collecting and leads to buying cars for the sake of just buying them. For instance, I recount one time when I spent one million credits purchasing the Alpine Vision GT car (which I didn’t really want) just so I could complete the extra menu and redeem my prize. But what did I get from the roulette? 500,000 credits…
GT7 is filled with this sort of backwards design logic and, despite what may come in any future updates, I don’t believe this sort of thing will ever be fully fixed. It can be easy to say that since these updates are free then none of these complaints are justified. It’s free content after all.
But what you have to remember is that when GT7 launched, in terms of value and meaningful single-player content, it was most likely the worst in the series. 15 months on and not a lot has been done to change my view. They may be free but, as players, we should still expect more from this once-great franchise.
For more articles like this, take a look at our Gran Turismo page.