Update: Ubisoft has delayed Driver San Francisco's server shutdown from 1 September to 1 October.
Driver San Francisco is one of the most underrated driving games. Over ten years later, it still offers one of the most enjoyable and innovative online multiplayer experiences in a driving game.
Sadly, the fun is about to end because Driver San Francisco’s online servers are shutting down permanently.
Ubisoft closing online services for 15 older games
In an online update, Ubisoft announced online services for 15 older games across multiple platforms are closing from 1 September. These include several Assassins Creed titles, Far Cry 3, ZombiU, and, of most interest to driving game fans, Driver San Francisco.
After Ubisoft pulls the plug on 1 September, Driver San Francisco’s fantastic online multiplayer will no longer be playable on PC, PS3, and Xbox 360. From 1 September, you also won’t be able to link Ubisoft accounts in-game or use online features, while “installation and access to DLC will be unavailable.”
Why are Driver San Francisco’s online servers shutting down?
As for why the online servers are being shut down, Ubisoft says “closing the online services for some older games allows us to focus our resources on delivering great experiences for players who are playing newer or more popular titles.”
Shutting online services in older games that are no longer popular is understandable. Since Driver San Francisco is no longer listed on Steam, online player numbers are unavailable.
Driver San Francisco is 11 years old, but the online multiplayer is truly unique thanks to the game’s innovative Shift mechanic allowing players to seamlessly “shift” between different vehicles.
This was perhaps best demonstrated in Tag mode, a unique take on the classic capture-the-flag setup. The goal was to hit the tagged car and keep the tag as long as possible to score points while other players try to take you out. Here, Shift can be used tactically to switch into cars up ahead and take the tagged car out, but timing is everything. It’s brilliant, frantic fun.
In total, there are a generous 19 multiplayer modes, including 11 online and eight split screen. These range from traditional races to Trailblazer requiring players to drive inside the light trails of a target car to earn points. Another fan-favourite is Takedown, in which players work together chase down a target getaway car in a squadof cop cars.
Shutting down Driver San Francisco’s servers would be more forgivable if an updated version in the vein of Burnout Paradise Remastered was released on current platforms. T
hat way, new players could still experience the game’s unique online multiplayer. So, if you still own a copy of Driver San Francisco, do yourself a favour and fire up the online multiplayer while you still can.
Sadly, Ubisoft is showing no signs of reviving the Driver franchise – at least not in video game form.
A live-action TV adaptation of the Driver series was announced last year for the Binge streaming service. The live-action Driver series will focus on undercover cop John Tanner, the series’ lead protagonist, but there have been no updates since the announcement last September. With Binge launching this year, a trailer for the Driver TV series will hopefully be released soon.