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Gran Turismo, Italian for "Grand Tourer" or "Grand Touring", is a popular racing game series developed by Polyphony Digital, led by Founder Kazunori Yamauchi, exclusively for PlayStation systems. Debuting in 1997, the games are intended to emulate the appearance and performance of real-life vehicles. Thanks to its critical acclaim, the series has popularized racing simulators, revolutionized the racing game genre, and become the highest selling video game franchise under the PlayStation brand.
Motor Toon Grand Prix
Development for Gran Turismo began in 1992 and would take five years to finish. However, between that time, Polyphony Digital (known as Polys Entertainment then) developed two Mario Kart style racing games, Motor Toon Grand Prix in 1994 and its sequel, Motor Toon Grand Prix 2 (Motor Toon Grand Prix in North America) in 1996. Both games were test beds for the physics engine that would eventually make to the first Gran Turismo.
Gran Turismo and Gran Turismo 2
The first Gran Turismo was released in Japan on December 23, 1997.and released worldwide on May of 1998, a month after Polyphony Digital was officially established. The game was well-received by gamers and critics alike, winning several awards and becoming the best-selling game for Playstation, selling over 10.85 million copies.
Following the unexpected success of the first game, Kazunori Yamauchi vowed to make Gran Turismo 2 "an even better product" much to the enthusiasm of Sony's Marketing department. Gran Turismo 2 was release in Japan and North America on December of 1999, just in time for the Holiday season. The game was released in Europe a month later. Like, the first game, Gran Turismo 2 received high praise from gamers and critics. However, soon after release, many players discovered several errors and glitches in the game. The most infamous examples includes a glitch where the maximum completion percentage was 98.2%, thanks to drag racing being removed from the game to meet the Christmas deadline, and a glitch that makes cars disappear from a player's garage even when the player saves the game. In response, Sony offered replacement copies of the game for anyone encountering problems. Despite everything, Gran Turismo 2 would go on to become the third best-selling Playstation game behind Final Fantasy VII and the first Gran Turismo, selling over 9.37 million copies.
Gran Turismo Comes to the Playstation 2
Gran Turismo 2000 was a demo on display at E3 promoting the Gran Turismo franchise as well as the capabilities of the PlayStation 2. It was also the working title for the third Gran Turismo until a delay in the release date forced a name change in the final version. Copies of the demo were given out for the visitors of PlayStation Festival 2000, allowing the players to drive the 1998 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution V GSR in Seattle Circuit for two minutes. Less than 50 copies were released worldwide.
After much delay, likely to avoid repeating the mistake of releasing the game with any major bugs, Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec, simply called Gran Turismo 3 by most, was released in Japan on April 28, 2001 and released in North America and Europe on July that same year. Thanks to the capabilities of the Playstation 2, the graphics have greatly improved. However, the number of cars has been drastically reduced compared to to the previous game due to the work done on the graphics, cars structure, and detailed statistics on each car. Despite that, the game was met with critical acclaim yet again, winning several awards, and is considered the best game in the series by many gamers. Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec would sell over 14.89 million copies, making it the second best-selling game for the Playstation 2 behind Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.
With the success of Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec, Polyphony Digital developed three short versions (2001 Tokyo, 2002 Tokyo-Seoul, and 2002 Tokyo-Geneva) of GT3 known as Gran Turismo Concept. It featured cars that would end up in the following game in the series.
Gran Turismo 4, Online Service, and Tourist Trophy
Gran Turismo 4 was intended to be released in time for the 2003 holiday season, but was delayed. In consolation, Polyphony Digital released Gran Turismo 4 Prologue as a sneak preview to the full game. The demo was released on December 4, 2003 in Japan and May 26, 2004 in Europe. There was no North American release. In Japan a limited Signature Edition featuring the signature of Kazunori Yamauchi on the front cover preceded the release of the regular edition. The regular edition was also bundled with a Ceramic White PlayStation 2 console in a Christmas limited package called the PlayStation Racing Pack. The PAL version also bears the signature of Kazunori Yamauchi beneath a written introduction (shown above).
After over a year and a half of delay, Gran Turismo 4 was released in Japan on December 28, 2004, February 22, 2005 in North America, and March 9, 2005 in Europe. GT4 is one among only four Playstation 2 games capable of 1080i output. Generally, the game received positive reviews from critics. However, many reviewers criticized the continued lack of rendered damage on the cars, the continued ability to take unrealistic short cuts, and the AI system. Despite the criticism, Gran Turismo 4 would sell over 11.73 million copies, making it the second best selling game in the franchise, ahead of Gran Turismo and behind Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec.
On June 1, 2006, Polyphony Digital released a free, limited edition of Gran Turismo 4 called Gran Turismo 4 Online test version or simply Gran Turismo 4 Online. GT4OL featured extra online services that were removed from the standard game due to issues and a lack of time as the game had been delayed several times. This public beta was freely shipped to 4,700 selected GranTurismo.com members from Japan and 300 from South Korea to collaborate as "test players". Online services from June 1st to September 1st, 2006 and included 6-player Competition, Time Trial, chat (mail message and microphone communication), and an Internet ranking chart was available in the game's website. The beta was used as a way to develop and test online features and structures for Gran Turismo 5 on the PlayStation 3.
Tourist Trophy: The Real Riding Simulator, or simply Tourist Trophy, is a motorcycle racing game made by Polyphony Digital using a modified version of the Gran Turismo 4 engine. The game was released worldwide in 2006 and is, along with Gran Turismo 4, one of the only four Playstation 2 games capable of 1080i output. Tourist Trophy received generally good reviews and won IGN's Best PS2 Simulation of 2006.
Gran Turismo's Introduction to the Playstation 3
Gran Turismo HD Concept was the first Gran Turismo title to be released for the PS3 being released on December 24, 2006 for both Japan and North America with the PAL regions getting the game on March 23, 2007. The game only contained ten cars, one track and two game modes. The game was going to be updated as development went on but in November 2006 Polyphony Digital director Kazunori Yamauchi announced that they would be dropping Gran Turismo HD to focus on Gran Turismo 5.
Gran Turismo 5 Prologue was announced at E3 2007 as a sample of Gran Turismo 5 and a replacement to Gran Turismo HD. Gran Turismo 5 Prologue was released in Japan on December 13, 2007, Australia on March 17, 2008, Europe on March 28, 2008 and North America on April 15, 2008. Since the game's release the game has been updated to version 3.0 leaving the fan to dub the game as Gran Turismo 5 Prologue Spec III. The game was released ten days before the the ten year anniversary of the release of the first Gran Turismo as a celebration of the series. The game contains over 70 cars, 6 tracks, 12 layouts, 16-player online races and 2-player split-screen. According to SCEE's ThreeSpeech blog, the game has reached the one million mark in pre-orders from PAL regions making it the first PlayStation 3 game to reach Platinum status before its release. The game sold around 5.35 million copies making it the 7th most sold game of the PS3.
Gran Turismo for the Playstation Portable and Gran Turismo 5
Gran Turismo for the Playstation Portable, commonly called Gran Turismo PSP and originally titled Gran Turismo 4 Mobile, was first announced at the E3 Sony press conference on May 11, 2004, the same conference where Sony announced the original Playstation Portable. After five years of development and delays, the game was released on October 1, 2009 as one of the launch titles for the new PSP Go. Gran Turismo PSP received average reviews from critics. It was praised for still featuring the same realistically handling cars for the console games as well as having a large number of cars but it was criticized for not having a traditional career mode nor the ability to upgrade cars. Although, it wasn't a big critical success, the game was a commercial success, selling over 4.66 million copies, making it the second highest-selling game for the Playstation Portable behind Monster Hunter Portable 3rd.
Gran Turismo 5 was released on November 24-25, 2010. The game is the first in the series to feature a damage model. It's also the first in the series to feature karts and the first to have the World Rally Championship, NASCAR, and Super GT licenses. GT5 received a positive reception from critics. Reviewers praised the number of cars, car-specific information, sound, and the driving physics which had been improved from Gran Turismo 5 Prologue. However, the graphics received mixed reviews with reviewers praising the lighting effects as well as interior and exterior details of "premium" cars, stating that Photo Mode showed off their detailed graphical design very well, but criticized the detail of "standard" cars which lacked cockpit views and looked like up-scaled models taken from Gran Turismo 4 and did not keep up to the level of detail found in the premium models. Further criticism came from frame-rate drops and screen tearing, most noticeable when many cars are on screen with rain or smoke visible. Lastly, the A.I. drivers, which have improved, still brake unexpectedly and are not aware of the player's car on the track. Despite these sharp critiques, Gran Turismo 5 would win multiple awards, and sold over 11.94 million copies, making it the second highest-selling game on the Playstation 3, behind Grand Theft Auto V, and the highest-selling game exclusive to the Playstation 3.
Gran Turismo 6
Gran Turismo 6 was released in Asia on December 5, 2013 and released worldwide the following day. This is the first game since Polyphony Digital established partnerships with the Goodwood Festival of Speed, the Ayrton Senna Institute, the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Continuing the tradition of the main series, the game received positive reviews, winning several awards. It was mainly praised for its more open focus on realism and even bigger collection of cars, but was criticized for lacking more improvement, bugs and glitches at launch, and a bigger focus on online play and micro transactions. Currently, GT6 has sold over 4.71 million copies.
Gran Turismo Sport was announced at the 2015 Paris Games Week and was set for a released on November 15, 2016 but has been delayed to 2017. Gran Turismo Sport is to be the first game in the series to be released for the Playstation 4. The game will not be a full-featured release and is not considered part of the main series, nor is it going to be a "Prologue". The main feature of the game will be the FIA Gran Turismo Online Championship and will be fully compatible with Sony's upcoming virtual reality headset, PlayStation VR. Other new features include the 'Livery Editor' what appears to be similar to decal editors in others games and the improved 'Photo mode' called 'Scapes' what is said to have a theme of travel.
Gran Turismo 7 is set to be released in 2017 and the first game in the main series to be released for the Playstation 4.
The Gran Turismo series has become one of the most popular racing game franchises of all-time and has been one of the most popular video game franchises in its lifetime, winning countless awards, including several records in the Guinness World Records. As of September of 2015, over 76.49 million copies have been sold worldwide, securing its place as the highest-selling Playstation franchise.
Gran Turismo has revolutionized the racing game genre and helped mainstream driving simulation games, inspiring many games and rivals in the genre, and even inspired players to pursue a career in motorsports, including Kazunori Yamauchi himself. Through the series, Polyphony Digital has established relationships with many motorsport series, organizations, companies, and racing figures.
Forza Motorsport is a sim racing game series developed by Turn 10 Studios and published by Microsoft Studios. The series is Microsoft's answer to Gran Turismo and has become its biggest rival. Since its debut in May of 2005, the series has won many awards and sold over 16 million copies.
SEMA Gran Turismo Awards
The SEMA Gran Turismo Awards is a set of awards given by the creators of Gran Turismo to the best cars on display at the annual SEMA Show. Each recipient of the award since 2003 have been rewarded with having their vehicle added to later releases in the series.
Gran Turismo Trophy
Since 2008, Kazunori Yamauchi has been invited to the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance to present the Gran Turismo Trophy, which is award to the "most significant car present that balances both artistic beauty and performance at the highest level". The winning car gets added to later releases in the series.
The GT Academy is an international virtual-to-reality contest that allows players of Gran Turismo (currently Gran Turismo 6) the opportunity to become real-world race car drivers through Nissan’s Driver Development Program. The program was started in 2008 through a partnership between Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, Polyphony Digital, and Nissan Europe.
Red Bull X2010
The Red Bull X2010, originally named Red Bull X1, is a fictional prototype vehicle that debuted in Gran Turismo 5 and was designed by Red Bull Racing's Chief Technical Officer, Adrian Newey, in conjunction with Kazunori Yamauchi in response to Yamauchi's own question, "If you built the fastest racing car on land, one that throws aside all rules and regulations, what would that car look like, how would it perform, and how would it feel to drive?". Later versions and variants would appear in the Gran Turismo 5 Spec 2.0 update and in Gran Turismo 6.
Vision Gran Turismo
Vision Gran Turismo is a project featured in Gran Turismo 6 to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the series. Vision Gran Turismo features concept cars for the game designed by some of the biggest auto manufacturers in the world, sportswear brands such as Nike, and auto designing companies like Zagato in collaboration with Polyphony Digital.
FIA Gran Turismo Online Championship
With its new partnership with Polyphony Digital and the Gran Turismo franchise, the FIA hopes to ratify and manage the FIA Gran Turismo Online Championship. It'll be two separate championships, the Nations Cup and the Manufacturers Cup, that will be held simultaneously throughout the year in the upcoming title, Gran Turismo Sport. The winner of each championship will be honored at the FIA's annual prize-giving ceremony in Paris, France.
A live-action film simply titled Gran Turismo is expected to be made with Michael De Luca, Dana Brunetti, Josh Bratman, DeVon Franklin and Elizabeth Cantillon as producers, Joseph Kosinski as director, and brothers Jon and Erich Hoeber as co-writers.
Gran Turismo's audience is mainly made up of motorsport fans, sim racing players, car enthusiasts, Playstation fans, and aspiring race car drivers. However, the series' appeal also reaches causal gamers as well.
 Three speech Blog – Gran Turismo 5 Prologue Set to be PS3’S First Pree-Release Platinum Title
 US Playstation.Blog – Gran Turismo 5 Release Date Confirmed for November 24th, 2010
 Hollywood Reporter – 'Red' Writers Tackling Sony's 'Gran Turismo' Movie