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Gran Turismo 6: a commitment to PS3's installed base

During the Gran Turismo 15th anniversary event at Silverstone Circuit today, VG247's Sam Clay posed a few questions to SCEE president Jim Ryan, such as why the Polyphony racer is heading to PS3 when PS4 is just around the bend.

According to Ryan, the franchise's history is peppered with two releases per platform, each one excelling over the other in substantial ways.

"If you look at the differences between each game, Gran Turismo, GT2, GT3 and so on, the change is not incremental, it's absolutely massive," he said. "And I think it demonstrates a clear ability on the part of the developer to just get a lot more out of the platform towards the end of its lifecycle than at the beginning.

"I think Polyphony does it better than most, so while what we demonstrated today is still relatively early code, when the game ships before Christmas 2013 we're very confident you'll see the same sort of changes as previous entries between GT5 and GT6 as with each previous platform iteration."

“It’s sort of a sense of unfinished business with PS3, and with a 70 million installed base to market to, it’s still very compelling."

While PS4 wan't announced as a platform, creator Kazunori Yamauchi teases IGN that the team has "a PlayStation 4 version in mind." However, Ryan said for this holiday season, it's all about PS3 and its current installed base.

"It's sort of a sense of unfinished business with PS3, and with a 70 million installed base to market to, it's still very compelling," Ryan explained. "I think the other thing I would say is that PlayStation has demonstrated a track record in prolonging the life of its platforms.

"If you look at the amount of business we did on PS1 after PS2 was introduced, it was a lot. If you look at the amount of business we did on PS2 after PS3 was launched, it too was a lot and we definitely intend this to be the case with PS3 when PS4 comes out. It's not just a GT6 story, because as a publisher in the year of launching PS4, we've got Beyond: Two Souls launching in October and now GT6 before Christmas, so there's a clear minded strategy to prolong the life of PS3."

An intelligent person would will look at a platform with an installed base of 70 million, in this case PS3, and an installed base with zero - PS4 - and "work out where the economic potential lies," he said.

The acceleration of development with GT6 has a lot to do with Polyphony being more familiar with PS3's architecture this time out, and where as there was a larger gap between the release of Gran Turismo 4 on PS2 and Gran Turismo 5 on PS3, that won't be the case with GT6, says Ryan.

"That was obviously a generational jump where as GT5 and GT6 are created on the same platform," he said. "It's fairly known that PS3 wasn't the easiest platform at the start of its life for a developer to get their teeth into, so the hiatus between GT4 and GT5 was perhaps longer than we would normally wish. There won't be a similar gap with PS4 though.

Despite creator Kazunori Yamauchi teasing IGN that the team has “a PlayStation 4 version in mind,” this holiday season, GT6 is all about PS3 and its current installed base.

"We kind of looked back over the PS3 cycle, and it still has a lot of life in it, but equally there are a number of lessons we have learned from the way that platform was taken to market and principally, one of the things we have done differently is in the area of development architecture."

Ryan reiterated that PS4 was "developer friendly," and said everything Sony has heard so far is that it is so much easier to work with than its predecessor.

"We intended it to be that way and we are very pleased with it," he said.

Ryan said the firm has nothing to announce regarding the series on Vita at this time, but the firm is constantly looking at various strategies for its IP. But as far as the app for the game coming to mobile, tablets and PC is concerned, it just allows the user to be in touch constantly with the GT6 experience, but it still won't be available to play on those platforms.

Something else alluded to by Yamauchi on this topic, again to IGN in th elink above, was the possibility of progress being transferred from PS3 to future PS4 versions of the game, if it were to come out for the system.

Ryan also said the firm had nothing more to announce in way of content or extra content coming, as Yamauchi needs something else to discuss regarding the game during E3 and gamescom.

"We definitely have ambitions for DLC, and we really cut our teeth so to speak with extra content for GT5 with reasonable success," he said. "I think we have the desire to take that to a whole new level. Sure, monetization is important, but it's equally important to provide sustained, ongoing engagement from the consumer for months and months and months, so they feel wrapped up in this while GT thing."

Ryan would not be drawn on specifics such as season passes, but did say the firm is looking at "a whole bunch of stuff, not just DLC."

"The series is Kazunort's baby, and we think we forged a very clear and unique identity with Gran Turismo," Ryan stated. "It is the ultimate driving simulator and that's where its heart is.

“The series is Kazunori’s baby, and we think we forged a very clear and unique identity with Gran Turismo. It is the ultimate driving simulator and that’s where its heart is."

"We think there are areas where we can definitely make some improvements online with building communities, downloading streams, but are we going to siphon it off to different studios to create [spin offs]? - we never say never about anything, but that's not on the rugmat.

"Gran Turismo is a premium game experience, and we need to make sure consumers get as much value with it as someone who pays €5 to play a racing game on the tablet. With this sustained engagement, it relies heavily on the online component and we think we can do that however the game is priced - and that decision hasn't been made yet.

"We want to be able to look the consumer in the eye and say: 'yes you are paying more for this than your tablet game, but we think the value is great, so you make your own mind up.'"

Gran Turismo 6 is out this holiday season on PS3 and a demo is slated for July.

You can look over our full report on the game along with the debit trailer and screens and re-watch the full reveal at your leisure through the links.

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