GRAN DESIGNS: A close look at the Gran Turismo franchise

Given how long gamers were waiting for Gran Turismo 5, many will have no doubt been suprised to learn that a sixth entry is due on shelves by the end of the year.

Sony made the surprise announcement during a special event at the UK’s famous Silverstone Circuit earlier this month that also celebrated the 15th anniversary of the series.

Since 1998, more than 70 million copies of Gran Turismo games have been sold around the world, with 10 million of those taken by Gran Turismo 5 alone. No pressure for Gran Turismo 6, then.

Few racers manage such impressive sales numbers – hell, releasing new racers at all has become a risky business over the years, with only Codemasters’ games and EA’s annual Need For Speed outings taking the plunge.

So what makes Gran Turismo so special?

The devil is in the details. Gran Turismo has amassed its loyal following by striving to be nothing less than the most authentic, detailed, realistic racing game available.

The series even tries to distance itself from being classed as a game with the long-running suffix ‘The Real Driving Simulator’, and many veteran GT players would testify that developer Polyphony Digital accomplishes this. Gran Turismo 6 aims to take this further with refined physics, a new physics engine, more officially licensed cars – the development team even worked hand-in-hand with tyre manufacturer Yokohama Rubber and suspension specialists KW Automotive to ensure those parts of every vehicle behave realistically.

It is this attention to detail that has secured the GT series the attention, the acclaim and the sales it has garnered.

Gran Turismo remains very popular,” says product manager Josh Waker. Global sales of 10 million achieved by GT5 are testament to the franchise and the enduring popularity of this type of game.

The Gran Turismo franchise does have stalwart fans who have bought each new version of the game since 1998. But each new version of Gran Turismo attracts new audiences as well and new features, such as the increasing online functionality and social elements of the game, means there is always something new and interesting for new generations of Gran Turismo fans.”

Gran Turismo 6 builds on the success of its 2010 predecessor, not only including all of the cars and circuits found in GT5 but adding a host of new vehicles that brings the complete roster up to 1,200.

More cars will be made available via download, and Sony has promised expanded online features, including connectivity with smartphones and tablets to bring the community together. And Walker insists there is no reason” to think that GT6 will miss its proposed release window of Christmas 2013.

The unveiling of Gran Turismo 6 wasn’t the only surprise as many were suprised that the latest racer is in the works for PS3 rather than the forthcoming PlayStation 4.

With the next generation console potentially arriving before the end of the year – and before GT6 – it might seem like an odd decision on Sony’s part, but Walker insists there is a logical explanation.

We feel that it is important to continue to support our loyal PS3 users, and those from many parts of the world who are new to PS3, with a new title,” he explains.

Series producer Kazunori Yamauchi was keen to develop the Gran Turismo platform further on PS3. Gran Turismo has a huge following among current PS3 gamers who will be very happy to have a further development of the game.

The release also follows a pattern for Gran Turismo – GT and GT2 for PS, GT3 and GT4 for PS2, GT5 and GT6 for PS3.”

Besides, the PS4 already has a high-end racer in the works in the form of DriveClub. Sony is confident that the two racing titles each have a strong enough appeal to avoid cannibalising each other’s sales.

Despite both titles belonging to the racing genre, they offer very different experiences,” says Walker. DriveClub utilises PS4’s socially integrated features to maximum effect, resulting in an experience which is permanently connected, social and always on.

Gran Turismo 6 is the definitive driving experience dedicated to an expansive vision of bringing every aspect of driving culture to life. Not only through authentic driving physics, painstaking graphical detail and an extensive vehicle roster, but through the many ways in which the GT community can create, share and indulge in their driving interest.”

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