Gran Turismo 6 is being made and it’s going to be released on the PlayStation 3. At least, that’s what every rumour relating to Polyphony Digital’s flagship racing sim is screaming at us. It’s coming, probably at the end of this year and only for the PlayStation 3.
There’s been no mention of the PlayStation 4 in relation to Gran Turismo, at least as far as I’ve heard – not just yet, anyway. This might mean that the leaks and rumours and slips of the tongue just haven’t expanded in that direction yet but it’s eminently more plausible to think that it’s simply because the game won’t be coming to Sony’s new home console at all.
Releasing Gran Turismo 6 during the PlayStation 4’s launch window would be unwise, if Sony intends to give Drive Club its full support. Please don’t misunderstand that as a slight against Evolution Studios, they’re obviously an extremely talented group and what I’ve seen and heard of Drive Club is very promising indeed. But two utterly gorgeous, beautifully modelled racers within months of each other is going to be bad for sales of both. Gran Turismo has the legacy to allow it to act as most PlayStation race fan’s default if they’re faced with a choice on the store shelves. Drive Club hasn’t built that legacy just yet. Drive Club on PlayStation 4 deserves better than to be set against Gran Turismo 6 on PlayStation 4.
So it’s the PlayStation 3, then. And that makes so much sense for Sony and for Polyphony Digital. The PlayStation 3 might be reaching its autumn years but there’s life in the old dog yet and we’ve already seen that some other first party developers, having had more than half a decade with the old black beast, are able to squeeze some quite remarkable tricks from it.
Polyphony Digital have, since PlayStation’s first incarnation, been the studio who have pulled the best out of Sony’s console in its later years. Their next Gran Turismo game can be an amazing tentpole release at the end of this year for a console that has a massive install base. Even with a new boxful of hardware on the horizon from Sony, they would sell millions. It would fund the next several years of developing even higher fidelity reflections and even more precise sound recording.
Would that studio, with their practically unrestricted budget and the incredibly forgiving attitude to deadlines that Sony has taken with them, be most productively used making a game that can only possibly be sold to a few million people? If it’s a PlayStation 4 game, that will probably be the case, for the first year at least. After that, it’ll be old news, competing for shelf space with EA’s latest Need for Speed or Codemaster’s most recent racer. It would struggle to reach the heights of previous Gran Turismo titles. It wouldn’t pay for years of more careful measuring and modelling from one of the world’s best racing developers. It might not even pay for Gran Turismo 7 Prologue to be made for the PS4’s second wave of first party releases.
So what are the chances of Gran Turismo 6 being a crossover game, released on both the PlayStation 3 and the PlayStation 4? The case in favour goes something like this: make the game for both consoles and benefit from the huge sales figures on the PS3 while also giving PS4 owners something stunning to stick in their new powerhouse. But I think it’s unlikely.
It takes Polyphony Digital years to get a game out. That’s not a criticism, their tardiness with the release schedule is purely down to the unavoidable fact that they’re notoriously particular about their product. They’re perfectionists. Nobody at Polyphony Digital is going to be comfortable with taking the car models, assets and tracks they’ve made for a PS3 release and up-porting it all to a more powerful console. Sure, they’ll be able to plug in higher resolution artwork and they might even have some extra fun with lighting and particle effects but it’ll still be a lesser game than it could have been. That, for a group like PD, will be a compromise too far.
Perhaps they’ve been planning for this since Gran Turismo 5 was released and they’ve been working towards a PlayStation 4 release all along? In that case, they’d be taking the more complex models and systems they’ve made for GT6 and pouring them into a lower-capacity container. Every drop that spills will be a wound to the people who spend days on their bellies under sports cars with microphones.
Gran Turismo has always been the very best it can possibly be. There’ll be no cutting corners for this game.
So it seems quite likely that, if the rumours of an imminent reveal and a release later this year are indeed true, Gran Turismo 6 will be a PlayStation 3 exclusive. So what does that mean for the likelihood of a PlayStation 4 release in Europe in 2014? Well, it’s possible but with such a strong PS3 line up planned for the rest of this year – The Last of Us, Beyond: Two Souls, Puppeteer, Rain, Until Dawn and several HD collections, not to mention what might still be to come at E3 in June – would it really be all that much of a disaster if we had to wait until spring of 2014?