As an act of hubris, it was a pretty bold one. The Crew's lead designer, Serkan Hasan, told The Metropolist that he was "confident in the stability of the game and its performance," and that his team "have what it takes to make [this] a successful launch." These are words I don't expect we'll hear uttered again from anyone for a good long while. What a silly thing. The online racer launched with many - including me - unable to see any other players, let alone actually form crews.
Ubisoft aren't having a smooth time of it of late. Assassin's Creed: Unity's launch a couple of weeks back was a clusterfuck of issues, so notable that it somehow made it onto BBC News, and resulted in Ubisoft issuing apologies and offering free games to affected customers. This was rather unfortunately coupled with their having ridiculously attempted to impose review embargoes on gaming sites fixed hours after the release of the game. (We didn't even manage to get working code in time to break such a daft limitation.) Far Cry 4 had its own bundle of troubles, not least many players being treated to nothing but a black screen on launch day. So they were perhaps hoping for something slightly more successful with The Crew.
In the day one patch notes come the immortal words:
"Fixed an issue where players couldn’t join a session or a crew."
It's hard to know how many this affected. It definitely meant I was unable to team up with other players in my first day of playing, and so was Jim when he attempted to play. Looking on Ubisoft and Steam forums, we certainly weren't alone. And troublingly, the game still won't let me see other players, despite the patch supposedly having been added now. It's hard to know, at this point, if it's a continued fault with the game, or a specific issue for me.
The list of fixes is quite a long one, suggesting that things really weren't quite ready in time for release. Obviously all games can expect to face all manner of problems when they hit the infinite variety of people's gaming set-ups, and that's always to be expected. And further obviously, no one with their head firmly attached expects an online-only game to have a smooth first day, because no game ever has. It's just, when your lead developer declares it will, that rather resets the expectation bar.