Though longtime Gran Turismo overseer Kazunori Yamauchi joined us on stage at E3 for an intimate discussion about the latest installment of his storied racing sim series--the competitive-minded Gran Turismo Sport--we also had a chance to learn more about his long-term plans for the game, the franchise, and the future of motorsports during a separate behind-closed-doors presentation later that same week. Here are six facts straight from the man himself, covering everything from online etiquette to earning a real live racing license just by playing GT Sport.
GT Sport Lets You Earn An FIA License
"We also have the FIA Gran Turismo Digital License. This is a program that provides a real motorsports license* after achieving a certain level of performance within the game. Myself, I have a motorsports license, but acquiring that motorsports license is actually pretty difficult. It takes a lot of time, it takes a lot of money--and throughout the world right now, there are fewer and fewer people becoming newly involved in motorsports. So this is a program that really aims to increase the popularity of motorsports in the real world.
"To become eligible for the license, you have to complete the racing etiquette mode, achieve silver or better results in all the campaign mode events, and then maintain or exceed a certain level of driver class and sportsmanship points."
* Editor's note: Though the license you can earn through GT Sport qualifies as a "real" license, a motorsports license is not the same thing as a driver's license. A motorsports or racing license allows you to legally participate in on-track events. For more information, check here.
GT Sport Will Track Your Bad Behavior Online
"Because we're running an esport together with the FIA, we have a section where you can learn racing etiquette and behavior. In the racing etiquette mode, you're able to learn things like signals, flags, how to behave when there's a safety car, driver's conduct--all the knowledge that's required of you in a real-world motorsport, you can learn here.
"In order to enable clean, fair, safe races online, players are going to have two indexes that are going to kind of evaluate their performance and abilities. So one is the Drivers Class, which shows the speed and the strength of the driver in a race, and then the other is the Sportsmanship Points, which really indicate how their manners are, how their behavior is on the track with other cars.
"Players who drive really rough online, their Sportsmanship Points are going to continue to go down. It will come to a point where they're only matched with other drivers who drive really rough online. And then players who drive really clean races will then be only matched with other players who are able to run clean races."
Gran Turismo Sport Will Offer Worldwide Esport Tournaments
"Together with the [Federation Internationale de l'Automobile], we're going to be running two flagship championships. One is sort of the World Cup of motorsports--the Nation's Cup--and the Manufacture Fan Cup, where manufactures are pitted against other manufacturers. One characteristic of these series is, anyone can participate. We aim to produce lots of winners. The purpose of Sport isn't really to find the fastest driver in the world like the GT Academy was.
"The winners of the World Finals are actually going to be awarded at the FIA Prize-Giving Gala ceremony, which is hosted every year to recognize and award real-world motorsports championships. So these people are actually going to be awarded alongside people like Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel."
Gran Turismo Sport Could Be Considered a Full Franchise Installment
Yamauchi: "In terms of the naming, I think we actually could have called it Gran Turismo 7 because it contains so many different features. There would be no problem calling it GT7. But at the time of the announcement for this game, the main focus of the title was really the 'sport' part, so that's why I named it [Gran Turismo] Sport. Now that I look back and think about it, I think I actually could have called it 7. [Laughs]
"But as a result, this Gran Turismo… If you would think of GT1 through 6 as the first age or first era of Gran Turismo, from this title on, you could actually call it a brand new era because of the level of innovation and the level of technology that's going into the title now. So naming it Gran Turismo Sport with a new title like that might not be so off the mark."
PS3 Was A "Nightmare" For Developers
"The age of the PS3 for us was sort of a nightmare. We really had to deal with this situation for a while where, 'This is what we want to achieve, but all we can do is this.' So there was a lot of frustration that was built up. The PS3 hardware is something that, at first glance, looks like it's able to do this certain level of things, but in actuality, it can't.
"In terms of development, it was really really difficult and the games, after all the development efforts were put into it, were very very low. I think it was just that the balance as a piece of hardware wasn't very good. But the PS4 is so good. This time we're really able to do and achieve what we want to do, so it's really fun."
Gran Turismo Was Always Intended For Driving Newcomers
"This Gran Turismo is really geared towards people who are playing racing games for the first time. The aim was not to create a hardcore racing simulator, per se. In this game, we've really gone to great extents to produce a beginners' school circuit experience. Most of the offline mode events are really geared towards people are playing racing games for the first time or people who've never driven cars before.
"And that's actually the focus that I had when we originally made the game back in 1997, but over the years, the players have become more hardcore and wanted more realism and harder games. And that's sort of the way that the game deviated. But our intent in making this title is to really rebuild Gran Turismo from the ground up so first-time players of racing games can feel the fun of driving. Driving is something that pretty much anyone can do, and if it seems difficult, that means that there's something wrong in the videogame. And that was a mistake that we wanted to correct."