As we reported back at the weekend there, Sony’s Michael Denny said in an interview that Gran Turismo 6 would be heading to the PlayStation 3 rather than – as most expected – the PlayStation 4. The curious thing is that – with a few days of reflection to have a proper think – this really isn’t such a crazy idea as we might have first thought it was.
The concept of a “Gran Turismo 6″ is hardly out there, though.
Nearly a year ago we got our first confirmation that another Gran Turismo game was in production, with the team jetting about photographing new tracks like Bathurst. We’ve heard more since – GT Academy drivers mentioning the next game, for example. It’s coming, not least because it’s one of Sony’s biggest IPs, at least in Europe where it tends to sell like hotcakes.
But why PS3? It’s true that Gran Turismo 5 felt hamstrung by the hardware, cruelly delayed at the last moment and still seemingly rushed, but that was because it was trying to be a catch-all poster-child for everything the PS3 promised at launch. 1080p, 3D, 60FPS – none of which it seemed to manage when combined with any other – the frame rate staggered frequently and the game launched with considerable tearing, for example.
And then there was the issue of the severe difference between the Premium and the Standard cars. The former still look incredible and the latter lot look like PS2 leftovers given a slight buffing – in tandem, on a course, it was jarring, but in the garage you’d be mistaken for thinking you were looking at a PSP rather than a PS3. Ugly shadows, poor smoke effects and barren courses also felt like slightly uncomfortable last-gen hangovers.
But that was then. 2010, remember? In the two year period are we really to assume that Polyphony have been doing nothing but figuring out how best to approach a PS4 version of the series? It’s far more likely that they’ve been refining the tech, balancing out the visuals (seriously, 720p will do just fine) and expanding the number of vehicles that actually look like they belong on the PS3. After all, they’d port just fine to a PS4 game down the line, the fidelity of the modeling so high.
But the biggest issue is the current install base of the PS3. It’s massive. Everybody that might be interested in another Gran Turismo already owns the console that it’s apparently coming out on, and there’s no need to buy anything else. Whilst next-gen titles are all rather exciting, the take up for the PlayStation 4 won’t be nearly large enough to sustain two top tier racing games for some time – launching GT6 on current-gen makes economical sense.
That way, Evolution’s promising looking Driveclub isn’t competition, it’s a long-tail social title that doesn’t necessarily need big numbers at launch. It’s likely to come with some kind of subscription model that’ll mean players will be dipping in and out of it for a year or so – Gran Turismo 6 is a totally different style of experience and one that most PS3 gamers will be already familiar with.
It’s not like Polyphony need worry too much about the handling (it’s still sublime) or the breadth of content (the number of cars and tracks is probably enough if they manage to get a few more courses in there) – Gran Turismo 6 might end up being an incremental update that fixes the last game’s major issues and sends the PS3 out on a rather unexpected swansong. That’s reason enough to think that staying with current-gen is actually the smartest decision.
So whilst we’d all like a PlayStation 4 Gran Turismo down the line, perhaps now isn’t the best timeslot for it. Get another PS3 game out there, let Driveclub bring in the punters and then allow Polyphony to work their automotive magic buoyed by a huge pile content (that’s likely being built with future platforms in mind) that’s easily transferred over. Yeah?