Why haven’t we seen a new mainline numbered sequel from Sony’s racing sim franchise yet?
Gran Turismo has been one of Sony’s flagship franchises for as long as they’ve been around in the video games industry. The original PlayStation launched all the way back in 1995, and just two years later, Sony launched the first Gran Turismo title on it. In the years since then, every single one of Sony’s home consoles has seen the launch of at least one Gran Turismo title- hell, even the PSP got a Gran Turismo release.
The series’ presence on the PS4, however, has been somewhat more curious. The racing sim franchise is still very much present on Sony’s eighth gen console with Gran Turismo Sport, which is, of course, considered a mainline series- but it’s not a numbered entry, and as anyone who’s played it and been with the series long enough would tell you, it’s not your typical, traditional Gran Turismo game either.
We’ve all been waiting to hear something about Gran Turismo 7 for a while now, but with the end of the generation approaching rapidly, we’ve all been left wondering whether the PS4 will become the first Sony consoles ever to not get a numbered Gran Turismo sequel. With nearly six years having passed since the launch of Gran Turismo 6, how much longer are we going to have to wait for its direct successor? Where the hell is Gran Turismo 7?
There are quite a few interesting questions that arise when one thinks of Gran Turismo 7, with the first and most obvious one being, of course- when will it release. Gran Turismo Sport has been out for nearly two years now, but as per the timeline the series has followed in the past, especially with its last few instalments, the next mainline series would be in line for a late 2021 release. There was a roughly three year gap between Gran Turismo 5 and 6, and then a four year gap between 6 and Sport, which means 2020 or 2021 would seem like likely launch years for Gran Turismo 7 – or Sport 2, or whatever Sony and Polyphony Digital end up calling the next instalment in their franchise.
But that, in turn, would give rise to another question- if those are indeed the possible launch years for the next game, what system does it launch on? Logic dictates that the PS5 will be out in late 2020, especially since Microsoft have confirmed that their own Xbox Scarlett will be out during next year’s Holiday window. So do Sony release the next Gran Turismo as a late, late swansong for the PS4, or do they release it as an early big exclusive for the PS5?
If 2020 is when they’re planning on releasing the game, the former option might seem pretty likely. We’ve seen multiple times with multiple consoles in the past that Sony isn’t averse to releasing late swansongs for their titles even after their new systems have launched. For instance, God of War 2 launched on the PS2 in 2007, roughly half a year after the launch of the PS3. Meanwhile, Sony also put out the likes of The Last of Us, Beyond: Two Souls, and, yes, Gran Turismo 6, all on the PS3 shortly after the PS4’s release. Seeing Gran Turismo 7 coming out on the PS4 a few months before (or even after) the PS5 launches, then, doesn’t seem like it’s completely outside the realm of possibility. If Sony pushes back the game’s release to late 2021, though, it’s likely that they’ll want the game to launch – at the very least – as a cross-gen title, if not a full-fledged next-gen exclusive.
But there’s a second, much more intriguing question to think of about the next Gran Turismo title- its launch is inevitable, after all, and what system it launches on is, more than anything else, just a matter of timing. The more interesting question is- whenever it does launch, what sort of game are we in for. For the vast, vast majority of its life, this is a series that has offered traditional release cycles, but with Gran Turismo Sport, Sony and Polyphony Digital decided to take the live service approach.
The core mechanics of Sport are top notch, as you’d expect from this series, but at launch there were many who criticized the game for not being feature complete. Its roster of vehicles was smaller than many would have wanted, the overall depth of content wasn’t the best, while the game was also clearly designed with a focus on the e-sports scene and online functionality in mind- all of these are things that hadn’t usually been associated with Gran Turismo in the past.
But since launch, the developers have constantly pushed out new content to turn GT Sport into a very content-rich title. New vehicles, new tracks, and even new modes have been added in over the past year and a half, while even more new content is bound to be coming up in the near future. Just recently, in fact, it’s also looking like the game will be getting the heavily requested rain weather effects soon.
So the question, then, is- when Gran Turismo 7 rolls around, what sort of launch cycle will Sony go for? Will they push out a fully featured game in vein of more traditional Gran Turismo titles in the past, or will they adopt a live service approach once again?
The live service model has clearly worked very well for Gran Turismo Sport. As of March 2019, with roughly a year and a half on the market, the game had accrued a total of 7 million players already, a number that’s only bound to go up in the coming months. Though there has been criticism for the game’s focus on online play, Sony’s continued support for the title and a strong mechanical base have resulted in players flocking to it in good numbers.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean GT7 will follow exactly in the footsteps of Sport. Not too long ago, the developers suggested that Gran Turismo 7 could focus more on offline play as opposed to Sport, the way GT games traditionally have done in the past, and it’s something that they’ve hinted at more than once. Is that concrete evidence for the direction the series will be taking with its next instalment? No, not exactly. But a least we know that it’s something the developers are seriously considering. That said, Kazunori Yamauchi also said last year (via GT Planet) that that an online racing component will be a vital component in the next GT title- which also means that it’s likely it ends up being a numbered release rather than a Sport sequel.
The question of quality is also something that comes to mind when considering the future of this series. Gran Turismo has, since its inception, dominated the racing simulation scene. It currently shares the spotlight with the likes of Microsoft’s Forza Motorsport and Codemasters’ F1 games, but Gran Turismo hasn’t faded away in all the years that it’s been around, which is a commendable feat.
But there’s been at least a slight dip in quality- what was, until the mid 2000s with the release of the excellent Gran Turismo 4, the undisputed king of the racing simulation genre, has in recent years been forced to fight for that spot with newer competitors. Gran Turismo 5, 6, and Sport – all excellent and accomplished games in their own right – haven’t enjoyed the same critical and commercial dominance that their predecessors did. With GT7, Sony, Polyphony Digital, and fans of the series will all be hoping that the series can reclaim the perch it once occupied.
And ultimately, we circle back to one inescapable fact- Gran Turismo 7 is inevitable. What form it will take when it launches, when it will launch, what system (or systems) it will launch on, or whether it even will be a numbered sequel rather than an extension of Sport- these are all questions that are up in the air right now, to varying degrees. Our only hope, for now, is that it comes out soon, and that it’s as stunning as we know this series can so easily be when it’s at it’s very best.