A post on the official PlayStation Blog by Sony Worldwide Studios boss Shuhei Yoshida confirmed the delay today, declaring it as a "difficult decision."
"DRIVECLUB will be a truly innovative, socially connected racing game, but the team requires more time in order to deliver on their vision — and I’m fully confident the game will surpass your expectations," it read. "We understand that the delay is disappointing news, but can assure you that the reason we have made this decision is to ensure that when DRIVECLUB launches, it will realize the next gen racing vision."
This has also scuppered Sony's original pledge to release a free version of DriveClub with less cars and tracks for PlayStation Plus members on launch day as part of their Instant Game Collection. While the free digital DriveClub Plus Edition will still be released alongside the full retail edition next year, Sony will now be offering the film noir-esque platformer Contrast by Compulsion Games for free to compensate for DriveClub's delay.
This is the second PS4 launch title to be delayed this week, following Ubisoft's announcement that Watch Dogs is now targeting a Spring 2014 release.
While the timing of the delay is surprising and unfortunate giving how close we now are to the launch of the PS4, the game will undoubtedly benefit from the extra development time, allowing Evolution to apply some needed spit and polish to the PS4's flagship racer. After all, DriveClub has had very little promotion in the way of screenshots and gameplay videos lately, which was already a warning sign – particularly when we haven't even seen any gameplay footage of more than one car on-screen.
Its showing at the Eurogamer Expo was looking a bit rough round the edges, too, which had me worried that DriveClub was going to be rushed for release on launch day in an unoptimised state. The frame rate was a particular cause for concern, as it struggled to maintain a steady 30fps – a cardinal sin for a next generation game, where 60fps is perceived as standard.
During an interview I had with Evolution at the expo, I asked if they were still targetting 60fps for the release date. When pushed, the response was that they were still aiming for 60fps, but this was probably not a realistic target for the November launch date – hopefully the extra tuning time will allow them to now achieve 60fps for the final game. You'll be able to read the interview in full very soon right here on the Team VVV site where we delve deep under the bonnet to learn about DriveClub's community aspirations and cutting edge tech.
For racing game fans, then, the Xbox One has suddenly become a more enticing prospect. While Need for Speed: Rivals will be released on both next-gen platforms, Sony no longer have an original IP racing title designed specifically to showcase the hardware's capabilities ready for launch. In contrast, the Xbox One will have the highly-anticipated Forza Motorsport 5 available on launch day. Still, there's always Gran Turismo 6 just around the corner for PS3 to soften the blow, which by all accounts is looking almost as pretty as its next generation rivals.
Killzone: Shadow Fall and Knack now stand as the only PS4 exclusive games available at launch compared to Ryse, Dead Rising 3 and Forza Motorsport 5 on the Xbox One. All things considered, this probably wasn't the best week for Sony to launch their Perfect Day advertising campaign…