Say Goodbye to Classic Gran Turismo

Though I’m not much of a PlayStation fanboy by any means, I certainly respect what the Gran Turismo series has done for our favorite hobby. Whereas hardcore PC simulators were always sort of obscure pieces of software, destined for consumption primarily by elitist nerds always pursuing a more difficult and demanding experience at the command of a toy steering wheel, we simply wouldn’t be where we are today without Gran Turismo. Introducing the gaming masses to the idea that driving games could be much more than just firing red shells at guests on the other end of the sofa, Polyphony Digital managed to blend semi-authentic vehicle dynamics with a ridiculously bland yet strangely compelling single player campaign mode in such a way that captivated the normies and generated millions upon millions of sales with each passing rendition of the series, eventually turning more and more console gamers onto the hobby of PC sim racing once they were ready for the next frontier. And sure, while Gran Turismo 5 & 6 were certainly nothing to write home about – genuine improvements and physics refinements offset by bizarre, useless shit like the ability to drive the lunar rover or legacy car models that stuck out like sore thumbs –  Gran Turismo 1 through 4 are the reasons many of us are here today; still patiently awaiting one final hurrah from Polyphony Digital which captures the magic of older titles.

Unfortunately, I’m here to reveal that those days are officially over. The awkward eSports endeavor known as Gran Turismo Sport has been officially confirmed by studio head Kaz himself as the future of the franchise, with a more traditional Gran Turismo 7 experience not even on the drawing board according to a recent article posted over at the series’ unofficial home, GTPlanet. Sport will not be a prologue-like release to preview what’s next for the franchise while acting as it’s own separeate game, nor will it be a spin-off to capitalize on the eSports fad while the fire is burning at maximum intensity within the gaming community – Sport is the new direction of Gran Turismo.

In short, the Gran Turismo a large majority of you grew up with is now a relic of the past. Gone are the days of smooth jazz accompanying your travels through the game’s extensive car roster, objectively slick user interface, and lengthy campaign mode. I’m not going to sit here and claim the series was perfect by any means, but they were extremely quirky, unique driving simulators with enough widespread appeal to suck people in for weeks upon weeks of playtime, and it is certainly sad knowing that Polyphony won’t be sitting down to build another one with modern technology anytime soon. Yes, Microsoft’s Forza Motorsport franchise has more or less picked up where Gran Turismo left off, but even with the enormous budget behind them, Turn 10 will never quite be able to capture the atmosphere seen in the OG Gran Turismo titles – especially with perks and penis liveries dominating the experience. Sure, there were tire model issues and driving elements that could be abused – even in the heyday of the almighty Gran Turismo 4 – but for a period of time, there was absolutely no shame in admitting the best-selling PS2 simulator was your preferred stomping grounds.

And while maybe it’s a good thing that the classic Gran Turismo gameplay will now be a thing of the past – excessive grinding, rudimentary AI, a lopsided selection of vehicles, and uninspiring event types having no place in a modern racing game – Kaz placing all of his eggs in the eSports basket isn’t exactly a reasonable alternative, either. To ensure long-term survival, the evolution of Gran Turismo needed to be a carefully crafted balance between what worked with the old games in order to retain the loyal group of followers the series has generated over the years, and what players are responding to in a positive manner today within today’s gaming climate in an effort to reel in a flock of new individuals who will play the game to death, and subsequently buy all of the DLC.

The eSports approach doesn’t fit that description at all.

I’ve written about the Gran Turismo Sport closed beta several times over the past few months here at PRC, so to save time and get right to the point, I’ll just confront the issue head on: I was left unimpressed, and Gran Turismo Sport is one of the primary reasons I purchased a PlayStation 4 to begin with. I found each build update to be bundled with exponentially more questionable driving physics and force feedback effects than the last, with the cars in each class woefully unbalanced. The racing sessions were lopsided, the force feedback featured too many canned effects that made driving the car on the edge of adhesion significantly more difficult than it should have been – as the wheel was producing false behavior that made the car feel unstable when it really wasn’t – and the cars exhibited universal understeer characteristics unless you physically deviated from the preferred line and intentionally attempted to wreck your car. I did not enjoy hotlapping Gran Turismo Sport, nor did I enjoy partaking in online race sessions.

And this was because, aside from the atrocious physics and unbalanced cars, the majority of players I ran into across a variety of rooms – from bottom split (low skill level) to top split (high skill level) – just weren’t very good. I am certainly an elitist prick when it comes to what I consider a compelling online race, but many sessions I found myself all alone at the front of the pack, or just out of reach of the leaders as they shot away in AWD Nissan GT-R’s while I was stuck with a lowly RWD Hyundai Genesis. In a sixteen car field, on average I’d say only four drivers knew what they were doing – even in the highest skill level split – with the other twelve either completely clueless, or just not fast enough to be competitive. The problem that arises from this scenario, is that unlike traditional Gran Turismo games, where the game world is treated as an automotive sandbox, Sport will see drivers progress only if they finish well and drive a clean race.

If seventy percent of Gran Turismo Sport owners can barely keep the car on the track long enough to generate rewards and progress through the game, a lot of people are going to drop that shit and find something else to play. Gran Turismo as a series worked because even if you weren’t the best virtual race car driver, there were still ways to enjoy yourself within the sandbox. However, in this situation, Sport only works if you’re a good driver. And there are exponentially more bad drivers than good drivers out there, which obviously complicates things. Sport has been built for people like myself, who can jump in and instantly turn competitive laps at the Nordschleife. Those who can’t, are going to be frustrated mighty quickly, which will lead to a mass exodus of Gran Turismo fans left bitter at what the series has become.

And with this mass exodus, leads to another problem: the eSports push. If Gran Turismo fans rush to pick up GT Sport on launch day, only to be unanimously turned off by the title – save for a few sim racers and outliers who were just diving into the competitive scene at the right time – this means there aren’t enough people to support a large eSports community like Polyphony have planned.

Here’s why this is a problem: with a robust eSports scene, comes lucrative advertisement deals and guaranteed DLC sales figures. A non-robust eSports scene, at least what’s looking like a realistic outcome in the case of Gran Turismo Sport, will result in a situation where the game is little more than a footnote on the eSports world stage. That means next to no useful advertisement revenue, smaller than expected sales figures, and considering Polyphony have shifted the whole direction of this franchise compared to previous entries in the series, a whole bunch of pissed off fans who either won’t buy the game, or ignore any post-release consumables you push out for one of several reasons – they either returned the game outright, or just aren’t engaged enough to justify the purchase.

Remember, while Gran Turismo is a monolithic entity in it’s own right, a name multiple generations of gamers have experience with, they are effective starting from scratch here. The perennial power-house in this realm is not themselves, but instead iRacing, and if this piece of software – harboring the greatest sim racers in the world and eight years’ worth of prior simulated championships to build off of – can only reel in a fraction of the crowd that actual, legitimate eSports can, Polyphony will be faced with a tremendous mountain to climb. If the sim racing eSports leader, a game which people purchase knowing full well what they’re getting into, can only reel in four thousand viewers for a world championship event compared to almost one hundred thousand sets of eyes for Rocket League, and hundreds of thousands for either FIFA or League of Legends, what chance does an awkward change in direction for Gran Turismo stand? You’ve already lost a part of your potential audience because you’ve alienated core fans who have stuck around from iteration to iteration, and you’re getting into a sub-genre that amounts basically nothing on the eSports totem pole when you start looking at the publicly accessible data.

I’d love to be proven wrong and see sim racing as an eSport take off with the release of Gran Turismo Sport, as these customers will inevitably become curious and explore the PC side of sim racing – inevitably leading to more cars across all multiplayer grids – but a realistic prediction is that this is actually going to kill the franchise, with Kaz already taking the steps to build the coffin by ruling out a traditional Gran Turismo release; placing the series’ existence on the success of a title that’s built around something that numerical data shows is simply not working.

If you loved Gran Turismo at any point in your life, now is the time to say goodbye, because it’s probably not coming back in a manner you enjoyed.

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52 thoughts on “Say Goodbye to Classic Gran Turismo

  1. Screw Gran Tourismo. Write something about your racing weekend, that’s what I’d like to read about :). Rally, no irony here.

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    1. Most console gamers are casual. Forza could maybe get away with it since they now have the cross platform stuff with windows and Xbox. People tend to watch what they play. If it isn’t enjoyable for a casual player it will not get big crowds.

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  2. I’ve said goodbye long long time ago, GT died for me in his ps2 days along with the 90s arcade racers (Scud Race, Daytona Usa, Sega Rally etc it was a product of that decade afterall) and the whole aesthetics of that era.

    😦 miss those days.

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  3. If they were already planning GT7 PRC article would be “The ugly business: GT7 already being planned”
    You are in a anti-every-other-sim-racing-game-that-is-not-PCARS crusade

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  4. Getting rid of everything that made GT successful to chase eSports is just a waste of time and money. Long time GT fans will be left out and eSports for racing games isn’t going to be popular.

    I never thought I’d say it but if PC2 isn’t a buggy mess on launch it could be superior to GT Sport in every way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mark my words, PCARS2 would be the defacto simulator for us sim racers

      How do i know that? oh let’s just say that a kindred soul gave me access to an internal near finish build of the game and i can assure (48 hours of testing) you that its a stunning looking bug-free masterpiece

      September 22 Can’t come soon enough

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    2. I still dunno about PCARS 2, but the whole “let’s bank our entire legendary franchise on a super-tiny fad market” seems absolutely like a recipe for failure. The advertising suggesting that the fans are dumb for liking the old stuff just makes me kind of want them to fail, as much as I stand to benefit from more good racing games existing in any form.

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  5. While it’s not looking good for GTS, I’ld be quietly optimistic for the next iteration. Maybe if it tanks we might see changes at Polyphony in an effort to save the franchise. Just as interesting though are the driver rating systems being adopted in the search for a successful esports title. Personally this will be a good thing as I only use public lobbys and it should make things, well, less exciting but as the majority of players don’t seem interested in race etiquette could the esports thing isolate the majority of them? Lol, maybe that’s the point your making

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  6. And the big winner in all this will be project cars 2s Slightly mad studios , they have a one month jump on gt sport with September 22 release date .

    Seems to me from what I have seen ” you tube vids only” they also have a more complete package , more exciting events and environmental variants . Spectator mode and so on .

    I’ m actually more interested in what slightly mad are not telling us about there game then what gran turismo sport is telling us about there’s .

    Gt sport looks like gt5 with super graphics and lighting and nothing more , with less cars and tracks and no weather . It of course will have a fan base but is that base enough for sales , as for dlc they would also want to highly improve the game and not just be cars .

    I think the long development cycles have caught up with them , when you start a game 5 years ago , what seemed like a grand idea then may not be that well received 5 years on .

    I super enjoyed gran turismo 5 with my g27 , hated it with my t500 . I would like the game to be a super success and it may well be as per usual but I just feel it’s all ready been outdone by some games before it even goes gold .

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    1. Marketing bullshit – as usual from iRacing

      It has been debunked as faked day/night …. its like F1 2016 has or Assetto Corsa
      Not a true dynamic day/night cycle

      And all that for 600+ if you wanna drive in with A license, incl. a lot of races were you get crashed out and forums where you can’t state critic without getting banned

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      1. How can you “debunk” something that’s still in alpha – WORK IN PROGRESS – stage?

        lol silly man child

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  7. Nice article from Ian Bell.

    Trying to make possible gtsport customers already think bad about the game. But this is not any news, all your previous articles on gtsport talk that way of the game.

    But you underestimate the community, thinking you can write (manipulate) articles that all the current and upcoming racing games are bad, but pcars2 is the only good one. I think the story is reversed.

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  8. The butthurt GT Sport shills in the comments section are still wearing their rose tinted nostalgia goggles. The GT series used to have content to brag about, but they can’t even use that as a selling point anymore. GT Sport will only have 150 cars, less than Forza and PC2. GT Sport will have less tracks than previous games, most of which are fictional bullshit. GT Sport will have a watered down campaign, with only license tests and special driving missions, no actual races. Nobody cares about scapes, a museum, a Tag Heuer sponsorship, and fictional concept cars that will never see the light of production.

    The only saving grace of this game is the online system, but it will be hampered by shit physics, shit engine sounds, and a nonsensical vehicle classification system.

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  9. It’s a shame, I love GT because of the car collecting, that was the thing that made GT what it is, without that there really isn’t much to be excited about this game. I don’t really want to race in GT and I don’t care about the online mode in the slightest, I prefer to just drive all kinds of cars on the Nordschleife all day long, but only 150 cars (most of which I don’t care about) is not enough for a GT game, even the first GT on the PS1 had more cars than GT Sport.

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    1. Exactly why ESports driving could be doomed. ^^^^^
      Drivers with this attitude.
      Practice? In the same car, on the same track?
      You talking about practice?
      Never mind, just give me something new and shiny every two hours while I pretend I can race cars.
      Tough to appeal to 9 out of 10 people that losing can be fun or that practice can be rewarding.
      If they nail the driver ratings and progression though, you never know.
      I still think Iracing proves there’s a market and scene for ESport racing, it’s just a matter of if GTSport has the right formula.
      I guess we will have to see. Since James can’t be bothered to explain it.
      He’s too busy blanket hating because it’s not his Daddies Sim.
      The PCars talk is nonsense. I think I saw exactly zero rooms to oarticipate in when I booted it up a few weeks ago.
      All online racing is dying. something like what GT is attempting can
      Help to bring a fractured community together. If it works well.

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  10. Gran Turismo 4/Tourist Trophy was the last time they could get away with their tired boring grindfest formula, and even though GT5 still sold well, that shit is so out of date it’s not even funny. They needed a new direction, and GT Sport is surely a step in a new direction, but as long as Polyphony is Polyphony, GT will never be a big deal again. Hey, at least it’s not Forza.

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  11. The problem with James and his blog is That some new people Will believe what he said. They might dont know That he works for SMS and pc2 selling target.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. > but for a period of time, there was absolutely no shame in admitting the best-selling PS2 simulator was your preferred stomping grounds.

    It is no secret that the best (racing, that is) simulator on the PS2 was and still remains this little gem called “Enthusia Professional Racing , Even Shaun Cole & Darin Gangi admited how far ahead of its time were the physics and the FFB on this game. Check the small review they did for this game back in 2010

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  13. Ahah 😃.

    “your money is now on your account Austin, continue as agreed and You ll have more”

    From Singapore with love,
    Ien balls

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  14. I work in construction management and let me tell you how intolerably dull it has become since they started feminizing the industry.

    It’s almost totally lost its humor now it’s full of women engineers, architects, project managers and “quality assurance engineers” (lol) who want to be in charge. The only funny thing is when things go wrong and these fat cat lady bitches start crying and suddenly need a man to sort it out for them.

    I used to love the construction industry. I fuckin hate it now.

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  15. “the force feedback featured too many canned effects that made driving the car on the edge of adhesion significantly more difficult than it should have been – as the wheel was producing false behavior that made the car feel unstable when it really wasn’t – and the cars exhibited universal understeer characteristics unless you physically deviated from the preferred line and intentionally attempted to wreck your car.” Similar to AC, then.

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    1. nope, but good attempt at trolling.

      If you say AC has canned effects on the ffb (apart from the road/kerb/slip vibration, which can be turned off), then you lose all credibility, since you couldn’t be more wrong.

      But such comments are expected from pcars2 and rf2 experts.

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  16. I think what is being missed by the developers is something that is very important in eSports. The ability to play the game yourself. Anyone can hop onto League of Legends and put in a game the most would consider enjoyable and completive. Same goes for Counter Strike and Rocket League. On top of that at almost all points or at least in in the early and middle of the game you feel like maybe your team can pull out a win even if losing.

    Sim racing is a different beast. If there is no ability to just hop on and have a fun lap for casual players. Then why would any of them care about some championship race?

    Its sad to see Gran Turismo go down this path was my first track racing game for my PS2. It seems Forza Motorsport 7 is the closest thing we will get to a proper Gran Turismo 7. I am sure Microsoft and Turn 10 is more then happy to eat Polyphony’s lunch.

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  17. goodbye GT. Youbwillnnotybe missed. Love it how that pre teen hangout GTPLANET has lamely branched out and begun reporting about other sim titles.

    They should burn and die along with the GT series.

    Like

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