Last month Sony Computer Entertainment America launched Gran Turismo 5 Prologue, the latest entry in Polyphony Digital's venerable racing series. Though it received decent reviews, the critical praise was disproportionate to the massive hype touting it as the next generation of racing for the PlayStation 3. One major factor for the less than stellar reception is that, like 2004's Gran Turismo 4 Prologue, the title isn't a full-fledged game, but rather a sampling of cars and tracks from the forthcoming Gran Turismo 5, due out later this year.
Press skepticism aside, Gran Turismo 5 Prologue will go down in history as having helped the Gran Turismo series reach a major milestone. Today, SCEA proclaimed to the world that the racing franchise has shipped 50 million units worldwide, thanks in large part to this latest entry, which is available both at retail and digitally via the PlayStation Store.
Series creator and Polyphony head Kazunori Yamauchi took time to reflect on the series' success. "Initially, Gran Turismo was an 'alternative' racing game, kind of an outsider in the genre, and we made it thinking that it would be OK as long as it reached out to the select few who would agree with us," he said in a statement. "It's simply mind-boggling that this has been repeated 50 million times all around the world in the last 10 years."
The first Gran Turismo was released for the original PlayStation in 1997 in Japan and 1998 in North America. Since then, there have been six more installments in the series: Gran Turismo 2 (PSone, 1999); Gran Turismo 3 A-spec (PlayStation 2, 2001), Gran Turismo 4 Prologue (PS2, 2004), Gran Turismo 4 (PS2, 2005), and Gran Turismo 5 Prologue (PS3, 2008). During its decade on the market, the series has been praised for its stunning visuals, massive car selection, and fetishistic attention to vehicle detail. However, in recent years, it has been criticized for not having the same sort of realistic vehicle damage as the Burnout and Forza series.
In addition to announcing the 50 million-unit figure, Sony also reminded gamers today that it would support the Gran Turismo series through the next game and beyond. "SCEI...will continue hereon to vigorously promote development of the Gran Turismo series, which can be expected to evolve even further through the PS3 platform and broadband network environment," the company said. The series is also set to debut on the PlayStation Portable sometime in 2008.