The long and winding road for Driveclub PlayStation Plus Edition is hopefully coming to an end. It was supposed to arrive last October, but months later, Sony says it will be available tomorrow. What happened? What took so long? At E3, we asked Sony for an explanation.
Technically, Driveclub PlayStation Plus Edition showed up on PlayStation Network yesterday -- for a little while. Some people were able to pull up the game's store page, but it quickly disappeared from the service. What the heck? Then, Sony tweeted this out:
Store update today with the DRIVECLUB PS+ Edition was premature. The servers aren't ready yet, so it's been removed while we get them ready.
— DRIVECLUB (@DRIVECLUB) June 23, 2015
Sigh. It never ends!
Driveclub launched on PlayStation 4 last fall, albeit with significant server problems. By most accounts, Sony has smoothed out the game into a pretty decent racing game, but it wasn't a pretty sight for a long time. It was so bad, in fact, Sony had to delay Driveclub PlayStation Plus Edition because it wasn't sure the game could handle an influx of more people playing the game.
Driveclub PlayStation Plus Edition has become the butt of endless jokes, a parody of itself. Designed to give PlayStation Plus subscribers a taste of Driveclub that went deeper than merely a demo (and a way to cheaply upgrade to the full version), it was quietly delayed over and over. Rather than promise a date to anyone, it was simply "postponed until further notice." Not good.
Kotaku's Stephen Totilo spoke with Sony president of worldwide studios Shuhei Yoshida last week about a range of topics. Eventually, Driveclub came up.
"We are very embarrassed," said Yoshida, "and we are sorry for that."
Driveclub's multiplayer servers were a mess for a while, even for people who'd paid full price for the game. Those people became the priority, as Sony tried to figure out what had gone so wrong.
The servers worked during the game's closed beta tests, and there were no problems when reviewers were given copies. Everything changed when the masses became involved, though.
"It's just the number of people the server couldn't handle," he said. "The stress-testing was not designed correctly. So it was the oversight. So the team had to go back to the drawing board in terms of server code. And they have been re-factoring and re-engineering server-side to be able to have more people play the game at the same time."
This wasn't a bug, which might have been an easy fix. The game's server architecture was crafted improperly, and it required Sony completely reevaluating how it handles multiplayer.
"The proof is in the pudding," he said, pointing to the successful launch of Bloodborne.
Those games are pretty different, so I'm not sure how much that ultimately says.
In response to the Driveclub debacle, Sony established a new "central tech team" to review multiplayer code and closely examine how it will handle thousands and thousands of players.
"We are more stringent in terms of doing proper online beta testing to get more people to play," he said. " [...] We went through a new kind of process."
But even when it arrives tomorrow, there will be some limitations. Everyone can play offline, but online won't be available to everyone. Instead, Sony will slowly start bringing "more and more players online while continuously ensuring that all game systems are running smoothly."
Will it work? We'll have to wait and see.