On January 31 at 1 a.m. Eastern, Gran Turismo Sport's servers will be shut down for good. While it's always disappointing when a game's online component is eventually killed off, there's actually a silver lining to GT Sport's end of life: developer Polyphony Digital has announced that it's removing the title's internet connection requirement for saving, so that its single-player component is still playable going forward.
The good news came via an update on GT Sport's official website Monday. The bulletin explains that while "it will no longer be possible to utilize online services such as the Community, Open Lobby, and the Sport mode, nor online features/items such as custom liveries" after the end of service date, "the offline portions of the game can still be played, including all previously purchased Downloadable Content. Additionally, all gameplay progression will continue to be saved through Saved Data on the PlayStation 4 system."
See, up until now, you've pretty much needed an internet connection to enjoy GT Sport at all, even if you weren't racing other players. Sure, technically you could do single-player missions and the GT League campaign mode even while disconnected, but the game wouldn't allow you to save your progress until the next time you came online. Polyphony always justified it as an anti-tampering measure; whether it annoyed players or not, it made sense, because GT Sport began the franchise's partnership with the FIA as its official esports partner.
In all honesty, Gran Turismo 7's release across PS4 and PS5 kind of made Sport obsolete, as the two games run on a similar engine and include similar content, though the newer game is obviously much broader in scope. Personally, I don't see myself returning to Sport anytime soon. But the reason this news is so welcome is because nobody really knew what was going to happen to the game once its servers were taken offline. Whatever Polyphony decided to do—or not—would set a precedent for GT7's playability in the future, as it has a similar always-online requirement.
We live in an age now where spending $70 on a boxed product doesn't mean a game's truly yours forever. Take a look at Ubisoft's The Crew, which has not only been delisted from virtual storefronts but will be rendered completely unplayable when its servers go dark in March. Unlike Sony, Ubisoft is taking no steps to ensure that racing game is preserved for someone who might want to revisit it five or 10 years from now. The massive effort on the part of developers to build it is all going up in smoke unless the fan community can figure out a way to hack in unofficial offline functionality.
Of course, it should never be their responsibility to. Servers can't stay live forever, and it's reasonable to expect that the supported, multiplayer lifespan of any game will eventually die. But it shouldn't take the single-player experience along with it, and effectively erase art from existence. It's a question that remains for the new Forza Motorsport as well, as that's another title that requires an internet connection to save.
Granted, GT Sport's transition here won't be totally flawless. Polyphony says any downloaded liveries or decals created by other players will be removed from your garage and library, which seems like something that could've been avoided. I'd still take a game without sharable liveries over no game at all, though, and hopefully the studio's peers in the industry take a similar approach when their respective games drive off into the sunset.
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