Wheelman development hindered by GTA IV's success as studio forced to change key elements

Midway says “GTA IV moved the bar”

The developer behind Midway’s The Wheelman has revealed it had to rework crucial aspects of the gameplay after GTA IV changed gamers’ expectation for open-world action titles.

Speaking to VideoGamer.com, the game’s creative director Simon Woodroffe said: “Our game was already quite different, but GTA IV moved the bar in terms of what people expected from an open world driving game.

“Before GTA IV, open world driving games generally had more accessible, more arcade-like, handling,” he continued. “Even the previous GTAs were like that. But GTA IV moved the bar towards realism – even super-realism, you know?”

Woodroffe explained how changing The Wheelman’s control system’s arcade style to be more realistic had a significant affect on feedback from testers, despite the change in gamer attitudes initially being “fairly frustrating”.

“We started to get feedback from our focus testers within weeks of GTA IV coming out that the basic driving was dropping in popularity,” he said. “It had gone from being the most highly rated element, to one of the lowest on the list. And I’m looking at this and thinking, ‘there’s only one reason for this. GTA IV has changed gamers’ expectations’.”

Describing the ethos of the development team as being “up-to-date with current expectations and to manage them well”, Woodroffe went on to explain how the team to a few weeks to “change the way Wheelman felt to be a little more realistic and a little more grounded…based upon the impact of GTA IV.”

The creative director is now confident the game is “right on the money in terms of what people expect from an open world racer”.

The Wheelman has suffered a string of delays and altered release dates. Given the amount invested in the title, largely for the Hollywood talent brought to the project in the form of actor Vin Diesel, the troubled game can only have contributed to Midway’s problems, culminating in the company’s sale yesterday.

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