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The Case Files

Sony Abused The Review System With Gran Turismo 7

This is no victory lap.

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Within the realm of games media, the relationship between a publisher and the media itself is one that is often seen as a one-way street. While the media would not be able to exist without the publisher producing content to cover, the publisher would struggle to a significantly greater degree if it weren’t for the constant discussions of their product. The two have a codependent relationship and that codependency must be respected. However, as the role of the media is to metaphorically hold the publisher’s feet to the fire, the publisher has been looking for a way to circumvent the media for years and Sony may have finally done it. Changes made to Gran Turismo 7 after release violate the symbiotic relationship between the publisher and the media, but more importantly, it violates the audience’s trust in the developer, the publisher, and the media making for a game that was destined for greatness becoming yet another cautionary tale of predatory behavior in the world’s largest entertainment industry.

For the uninitiated, Gran Turismo 7 was the long-awaited return to the traditional single-player Gran Turismo experience that had completely skipped the PlayStation 4. As is normal practice, the game was sent to reviewers at dozens of different media outlets before its March 4th release date. Gran Turismo 7 reviewed extremely favorably prior to release and Sony’s two-tiered embargo system allowed the game to capitalize on double the news cycles; the game got a second wave of praise as some reviewers were forced to hold their reviews until closer to launch or launch day. After the game–and more importantly, the reviews were out things started to change. First, Sony implemented microtransactions into the game allowing players to buy in-game credits with real-world money.

Gran Turismo 7’s Current Metacritic Score

This was to be expected for a game with live service elements and is something that while not available before release could evidently be implemented at a later point. But then Sony began to change the in-game economy. By raising the prices of cars while lowering the payouts from races, Gran Turismo 7 became a significantly more grindy experience than what reviewers played. Sony tried to mask this by lowering the prices of some cars and raising the payouts of a few races to make these changes appear as nothing more than just balancing tweaks. The net total of changes though told a different story. In addition to all that, the prices of the exact same cars had inflated upwards of 800% from the game’s predecessor, Gran Turismo Sport

I personally reviewed Gran Turismo 7 for Goomba Stomp and gave the game a rather glowing verdict. While we do explicitly score games on our site for a variety of reasons, if I were to put a written score on the experience I had before release, the game would have been absolutely labeled as “Essential”. Frankly, as a former fan of Gran Turismo, the game Gran Turismo 7 was before release is the experience that I wish everyone in the PlayStation community was able to buy and play–it really was exactly what my review said it was: a return to form for the series.

But now with all the controversy that has surrounded the game and the ensuing changes, my review is out of date and looks as though I spent 2,000 words raving about a grindy, slow-moving, predatory game; put simply, my review makes me and plenty of other reviewers look foolish. Sony used reviewers to advocate for a product that the company must have full well known would be radically overhauled shortly after release to push aggressive monetization on their customers. As the game is right now, my review is wildly inaccurate but will remain up on the site as evidence of what Sony did. Everything I said in my review pertaining to gameplay still stands true; the gameplay of Gran Turismo 7 is great but as of now, the game would absolutely not get my recommendation.

Unfortunately, this debacle will likely be the final nail in the coffin of my personal Gran Turismo fandom when it could have been a total reawakening of said fandom. So that’s how these changes to the game affect me and other reviewers but what’s even more important is how they affect the players. Sony manipulated the media and used them to drum up attention for a tentpole first-party release. In doing so Sony was able to plaster the internet with stellar review scores and create a massive wave of positive sentiment for the game via word of mouth before it was released. Thousands–and likely hundreds of thousands of players went out and bought Gran Turismo 7 on release day based on that exact positive sentiment through word of mouth and excellent review scores.

What those players who bought the game early would soon discover is that Sony had sold them a trojan horse; what they expected to be the excellent Gran Turismo experience they had been reading about was actually a vehicle for a grind incentivized microtransaction store. What Sony has done with Gran Turismo 7 sets a dangerous precedent for the erosion of trust between the media and the consumer. Having been a gamer my entire life prior to getting into the media side of the industry, I can understand the assumption that nefarious deals are regularly made between publishers and review sites.

While I can’t definitively say that that sort of deal never happens, I can say that it has never and will not happen either with myself personally or at Goomba Stomp. The media exists to be an advocate for the players and while many people from both of those groups seem to have forgotten that in recent years it remains true. In the case of Gran Turismo 7, Sony used reviewers to deceive the players and we are more upset about that than anyone. 

While this is certainly the most egregious example of anti-consumer practices, it’s not one that is out of character. Over the past few years, Sony has repeatedly obfuscated the truth and misled the consumer in an effort to make the PlayStation 5, an already extremely desirable hardware platform, appear more favorable. The weaponization of post-launch patches absolutely cannot be tolerated because if it is it will undoubtedly become the norm. At this moment with Gran Turismo 7, we all have an opportunity to stand united against this practice. Gamers, the media, developers, everyone should be against this sort of manipulation from a publisher. 

News writer and Xbox reviewer. Patrick lives in Minneapolis Minnesota with his wife and their dog Ghost. Patrick studied economics at the University of Northern Colorado and is particularly interested in the market dynamics of the video game industry. When he's not working Patrick can be found walking Ghost through downtown MPLS, binging The West Wing on repeat, or playing hockey. You see everything Patrick does right here on GoombaStomp.com.

29 Comments

29 Comments

  1. muchomacho

    March 22, 2022 at 4:01 pm

    Good write-up, and good to be exposing this garbage. It’s incredible that human greed destroys everything good, in every facet.

  2. andrewsqual

    March 22, 2022 at 9:40 pm

    Fine but then you have to admit Halo Infinite did too, a game that is STILL woeful since launch day, maybe even more horrendous by the fact they have not done ANYTHING to fix the boredom and lack of content over 3 months later.

    But why reviewers thought a game was good, that looks IDENTICAL to its disastrous and embrassing July 2020 footage, is beyond me.

    GT7 has not and never had the insane problems Halo Infinite has.

    • 3211

      March 23, 2022 at 5:45 am

      Amazing how the only thing on your mind is to console warrior and defend sony. There has never existed a more brainwashed fandom than what sony cultivated. Ever. In history. For any domain. Sony fanatics rival religious fanaticism from the middle ages.

      You deserve everything sony does and will do in the future

      • Jeremiah DiBlasio

        March 23, 2022 at 12:10 pm

        I said I had no problem buying a $70 game to support the developers.
        Until now, $70 PS5 games have come complete when nothing eggregious to mention.
        Leave it to a damn sports game…

    • Matt

      March 23, 2022 at 1:18 pm

      Wow Andrew, whataboutism much?

      Can’t stay on the topic at hand?

      Bias much?

    • Anonymous

      March 24, 2022 at 7:48 am

      sony bot for sure. them boys are always lurking ready to defend Sony for all the greedy stuff they do

    • Roy

      March 28, 2022 at 11:05 am

      So? This is not about halo, it is about Sony treating their (stupidly) loyal customer base like cash machines, they’ve got form for it, remember when they overpriced the consoles and when people called them out they said “our technology is so good you should have two jobs just to be able to buy it…..they do it to the mobile crowd all the time with their refusing to update phones so you’re forced to buy a new one….Sony are a rubbish company when it comes to having any respect for its customers…

  3. Splean

    March 23, 2022 at 12:33 am

    The PS fanbase keep stating how much they prefer to pay top $ for PS games so Sony are just giving them what they ask for

  4. S. Vimes

    March 23, 2022 at 7:25 am

    Reviewers should blacklist Sony. Plenty of non-PS games out there to make content about.

  5. Annoyomous

    March 23, 2022 at 8:57 am

    Sony has always been foul. I have a error code that requires higher level authorization with licensing. I bought the game and sony does nothing cause it’s a rare error code. The guy simply does nothing no escalation basically a fuck you in good luck. I also have 827 games purchased including every single game since ps3 for Playstation plus. Which totals out to 127 games for ps4. No invitation to the ssd party for ps5. Sony pretends to be friendly. But it’s just a predatory corporation like any other. Anyone who loves Playstation and trust them. Don’t Sony is so full of shit.

    • FeiFongWong26

      May 20, 2022 at 4:13 am

      Sony locked me out of my 520+ PS4 game digital collection over me cancelling a stolen credit card 3 days AFTER I purchased a $7.99 Neo Geo Shmup that had already shown posted to my account. This was during the pandemic and no one was able to even answer a call or question for 3 MONTHS regarding my PSN account and I had no access to every single one of my games on my console purchases through that account.
      They are crooks and I will be going Steam Deck or sticking it out with my current consoles for the foreseeable future because of it.
      I honestly haven’t purchased an XBox yet mainly because of their leadership as well and how they can’t seem to stay in their lane in regards to respecting the average citizen.
      These people are all criminals. Period.

  6. Bluesun

    March 23, 2022 at 9:06 am

    Yet you journos said nothing and actually supported it when it was done for the last of us 2. GTFO

  7. hackJammer

    March 23, 2022 at 3:45 pm

    This is a disgusting practice that is slowly becoming normalized, we must make sure this is always exposed and called out. Thank you for bringing this to light, despite the negativity from other comments

    • Fullofshee

      March 26, 2022 at 4:11 pm

      Its very easy dont buy credits dont buy anymore games… iam stop with playstation and i will welcome xbox

  8. Andy

    March 23, 2022 at 4:22 pm

    Great article and let more gamers be aware of how Sony manipulated game review process.

    On the other hand, I checked out your GT7 review https://goombastomp.com/gran-turismo-7-review/ and I don’t see you go back and change and update your article. It’s disappointing that reviewers letting this slide without updating their reviews.

    • Fraz Daddy

      March 23, 2022 at 5:54 pm

      They clearly said they would be leaving up the original review as a testament to the situation.

      • Delerium76

        March 25, 2022 at 10:53 am

        They can leave the review up but ADD an update to the review that mentions these predatory practices in addition to making a whole new ARTICLE about it. Otherwise people who only see his review won’t know the context of why he’s still praising the game post release.

    • Chronos

      March 24, 2022 at 11:06 am

      Exactly. Saying that Sony screw him up but not changing the note is worthless… No consistent message. Like vegan eating meat.

  9. Anonymous

    March 23, 2022 at 5:08 pm

    I miss SEGA

  10. Anonymous

    March 23, 2022 at 6:01 pm

    You know how there are many people who would constantly say shit like “Halo Infinite wouldn’t have predatory microtransactions (it doesn’t) if it came out for $60? It would also have Forge, Co-op, and 40 other maps! I’d rather pay $60 for that if it meant I could have every issue fixed ever.”

    GT7 proves that no matter the price tag, these games nowadays are designed from the first day of its existence with the cycling microtransaction stores, premium currencies, battle passes, drip feeding, and so on, and the price tag doesn’t change the developer’s perspective of their practices.

  11. Mark

    March 23, 2022 at 11:00 pm

    Not Elden Ring…! Ubisoft, now Sony and developers, take note

  12. The real Dale Gribble

    March 24, 2022 at 5:22 am

    The game is fun leave it be… what a world we r living in were someone wasted time writing an article on buying cars in a video game. I had a blast with the game, don’t be mad if you have to put some work in to buy a super cool car 🤷‍♂️ Jus saying

    • Jono

      March 28, 2022 at 9:53 pm

      Cool story, sonybot.

    • Nunya

      March 28, 2022 at 9:58 pm

      Playing a game that I paid $100 shouldn’t feel like work, you jackass. Fact is the selection of events in game right now is so slim, with payouts so small, that grinding the same races over and over or spending real world money is the only way to accumulate the money required to buy the higher priced vehicles in game. Vehicles that HAVE also had their in game value massively inflated since GT SPORT.

  13. Chronos

    March 24, 2022 at 11:02 am

    I appreciated what you are doing, speak up about this situation. However, if you really want to do things right, you should change the score you gave to GT7. When one make a mistake, should correct it, no matter the consequences. With this post and a score changed to a more accurate one, you will
    send a more consistent message that Sony really did mislead you and it won’t seem like you just want to cover you back…

  14. AZETTO

    March 24, 2022 at 11:13 am

    This guy tries to save his ass by blaming everything on Sony. We all know that the press is bought and those who do these reviews are fanboys (the guy confesses it) his review is biased and partial, but this sad attempt to wash his hands when you have been evidenced, is pathetic.

  15. Norsecode

    March 24, 2022 at 5:49 pm

    I doubt GT7 developers had much of a choice when putting in these macrotransactions. I feel for them because the actual game itself is not bad. I hope people direct their frustrations with Sony and not the developer.

    • Roy

      March 28, 2022 at 11:09 am

      Sony is the developer mate….

      • Anona

        March 28, 2022 at 2:56 pm

        No Sony is not the developer

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