Earlier this week, DriveClub's new director Paul Rustchynsky responded to comments about the PS Plus Edition of the game to give readers some much wanted details about the upcoming racing game. When asked how the full-priced retail edition and the PS Plus version would differ he said: "The difference is that you only have 10 cars and you can only race in one country (which gives you access to 5 tracks with 11 distinct variants)."
It wasn't long before disgruntled gamers started to question the rather thin nature of the release, especially seeing as earlier interviews with Sony and Evolution implied that the PS Plus Edition would appear, by most standards, to have content akin to that of a full-sized game and the full-priced version was going to be more of an extras-packed version, something more like the special editions we see ahead of other releases.
Rustchynsky replied with: "The PlayStation Plus Edition hasn’t changed. It’s hardly a demo because you get access to all of the game’s features online and offline."
To be fair, the last racing demo I played only had three tracks and three cars. So maybe those he's right, but his silence was notable when asked how many tracks and cars would be in the final game -you'd imagine ballpark figures would be at least be available.
Has the original vision for the PS Plus version changed over the course of the game's troubled development? Considering the game will be nearly a year late IF it makes its October release date, you have to wonder if this bulimic purging of content is a way of pushing gamers towards the full-fat version in order to recover the costs for that extended dev time. Other signs point towards the developers' goals taking a beating, such as the Crew Club limit for you and your friends halving from twelve to six, the frame-rate being locked to 30FPS and the main reason for the delay being them wanting to nail those all-important "dynamic menus."
PlayStation gamers have been treated well with their PS Plus membership, with regular full-sized big name titles available for the price of membership. There's also no denying that PS3 and Vita gamers have benefited the most, while PS4 gamers have been left with some notably niche titles that certainly don't have as much of a general appeal. Xbox 360 gamers that moved onto a PS4 are probably wondering what the hell all the fuss was about.
To be fair, the PS4 is still relatively new and I'd be surprised if we get anything as large as Killzone: Shadow Fall before the console's first anniversary. But DriveClub has always been the one we were looking forward to, with so many interviews implying that we'd be able to play the full game without forking out for the retail edition. But now we know that the PS Plus Edition won't even let gamers finish the Tour Mode.
Rushy even went as far as to say on a NeoGaf post, "- You can earn the platinum trophy in the PS+ Edition, remember it's the full game minus a few cars/tracks."
This plundered edition is hardly in-line with PS Plus's history. If Sony had said subscribers would be getting access to a 'significant demo' or a 'large beta' this wouldn't be an issue. But they've made a mistake by chucking it in with the rest of their Instant Game Collection. So perhaps we're right to accuse them of watering down PS Plus' upcoming racer of being nothing more than a paid demo.
I got my hands on a brief demo of DriveClub at last year's Eurogamer Expo, and you can read my thoughts on it here. My best advice for anyone craving a racing game at the moment though is to pick up Gran Turismo 6 on the PS3, as I've found it well worth the time after originally dismissing it for the (then) 'coming soon' DriveClub.
Sony Coy On Western DriveClub Release. But Why?: by Brendan Griffiths.
Driveclub Hands-On Preview | It's A Driving Game: by Matt Gardner.