Last week, Gran Turismo fans might have been concerned by a change in an online retailer's product listing for the series' PlayStation 3 debut. Instead of the winter 2006 date Sony had originally pegged for the title, GameStop was listing Gran Turismo HD as releasing December 1, 2007.
Sony today updated the game's Japanese Web site with some good news and some bad news for eager fans of the game. The good news is that a free demo version of Gran Turismo HD with 10 cars and two layouts of a single track will be available for download in Japan from the PlayStation store on December 24, 2006. The bad news is that the full version of the game has been canceled, as the Polyphony Digital team is switching its focus to the next PS3 installment of the series, Gran Turismo 5.
"The Gran Turismo series will change its core principles," Polyphony Digital head Kazunori Yamauchi said about the next installment in the series, which was not given any kind of release window. As for what direction Yamauchi is taking with the series, Sony has only said it "will be a fully realized Online Car Life Simulation."
Back in August, Yamauchi confirmed in an interview with Famitsu that development on the next PS3 version of Gran Turismo had begun. "We are working on a version of GT that supports the full PS3 specification," he told the magazine.
Gran Turismo HD may not be the last downloadable demo edition of the popular racing sim. The Japanese Gran Turismo site says that Sony might be able to offer more "concept" versions of the series before the full release of Gran Turismo 5 arrives. However, any such editions would be included in the final retail release of Gran Turismo 5.
While the free downloadable demo of Gran Turismo HD was confirmed for Japan, it's currently unclear if it will make its way to the US. When asked for a status update on the game's domestic fate, a Sony rep said only, "As of today, there are no official announcements for a North American release of GT HD."