2011 has been yet another rollercoaster year for Gran Turismo and its fans, and our first full year of GT5. The year has been dominated by game updates, GT Academy successes and significant events affecting the infrastructure of both the PlayStation Network and the people of Japan. Just as with the last two years, GTPlanet is taking a look back over the last 12 months before we head on into 2012…
Photomode image by Rev91.
- Sony Germany kicked off the New Year with the release of an official “reality check” video comparing GT5’s Nürburgring to the real thing.
- GTPlanet’s Weekly Race Series GT5 qualifier gets underway for the first time, to bring this long-running series to yet another iteration of the series.
- Kazunori Yamauchi is named by Esquire magazine as one of its ten “Men at the Top 2010”, alongside Tour de France and BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2011 Mark Cavendish and The Dark Knight and Inception director Christopher Nolan.
- The first US iteration of GT Academy gets underway, with 50,000 players registering and 512 progressing through the first round.
- GTPlanet celebrates a huge milestone on January 25th – a decade online! A “Feedback” section is added to the site to provide a more constructive resource for our readers at Sony
- Round 2 of GT Academy USA is blighted by corner-cutting, leading to two track resets before the round is eventually cancelled. All players progressed to Round 3 which ended with 32 qualifying for the National Finals.
- Sony announces that GT5 Prologue’s servers are to be closed down in June, bringing an end to online racing for that game.
- The 3rd European GT Academy is announced, to start at the beginning of March.
- GTPlanet’s members launch a free magazine called “GT Life”, featuring in-depth discussions and reviews of all aspects of GT5.
- A controversial update for GT5 is announced which brings to an end the trading of high value cars between players.
- GT Academy’s first winner, Lucas Ordoñez, is announced as a driver for Signatech Nissan in the 2011 International Le Mans Cup including the 24 Heures du Mans.
- Mid-race saves, as requested by the users of the GTPlanet Feedback Forum, are announced for a future GT5 update.
- A massive earthquake and tsunami, followed by a significant nuclear hazard, strikes the east coast of Japan near Sendai. Polyphony Digital’s employees are themselves unharmed, though many have friends and family in the most affected regions.
- The USA GT Academy National Finals get underway, with 16 competitors progressing to the final at Silverstone.
- GTPlanet’s scope is extended somewhat with an official invite to a media event for upcoming Need for Speed game “Shift 2”.
- Kazunori Yamauchi states that he would have liked another 2 years to develop GT5 before release.
- 25 track logos are discovered in the Remote Racing section of Polyphony Digital’s GT5 website, pertaining to tracks from GT4 and GTPSP but not yet seen in GT5…
- Sony’s PlayStation Network is crippled by an external intrusion resulting in a prolonged period of downtime for all online services, including GT5’s online modes.
- GTPlanet passes another milestone – 5 million messages posted!
- Sony begin to restore PlayStation Network, though the services are reintroduced gradually and regionally.
- Brian Heitkotter wins the first US GT Academy.
- Lucas Ordoñez enjoys class pole position and a class second place finish at the 2011 24 Heures du Mans.
- Jann Mardenborough wins the third European GT Academy.
- Kazunori Yamauchi is announced as a driver at the 2011 Nürburgring 24 Hours. The Schulze Motorsports team of Yamauchi, Tobias Schulze, Michael Schulze, and Opera Performance founder Yasuyoshi Yamamoto eventually score a class victory in their Nissan GT-R.
- GT5 Prologue receives a stay of execution – until September…
- Polyphony Digital moves nearly a third of its staff to new offices in Fukuoka, including Kazunori Yamauchi himself, after the events of March.
- Veteran GT Academy participant Marco Calvo is announced as the winner of the GT5 Signature Edition Challenge following a series of challenges at the Red Bull Ring in Austria, winning his own Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG.
- A Platinum Edition of GT5 is announced for Fall 2011.
- Kazunori Yamauchi hints at downloadable content (DLC) for GT5 in an upcoming update.
- The second GT Academy winner, Jordan Tresson, takes a class victory at the Spa 24 Hours.
- Mercedes-Benz announces a live race in September between GT5 players and former Formula One driver David Coulthard.
- In a first for Gran Turismo, a live Seasonal Event pits players against both a panel of players at Mercedes-Benz World at Brooklands and David Coulthard around the famous Top Gear Test Track at Dunsfold. In the time permitted, Coulthard beat the best gamer at Brooklands – Jason Birt – by just over half a second! The Seasonal Event leaderboards are later reset following another outbreak of corner-cutting.
- Polyphony Digital announce that all players will be awarded a Red Bull X2010 S.Vettel when they log in, as a prize to celebrate Sebastian Vettel winning the Formula One Drivers’ Championship. Vettel duly took the title in October.
- GT Academy winner Lucas Ordoñez becomes a world champion too as his team clinch the LMP2 class championship in the 2011 International Le Mans Cup.
- GT5’s latest and largest update – Spec 2.0 – is announced along with details of forthcoming downloadable content. The DLC itself arrived later in the month and included the legendary Formula One track Spa-Francorchamps – the fans’ most asked-for track.
- Jordan Tresson becomes the second GT Academy winner this month to become a world champion as his RJN Motorsports team Nissan 370Z becomes the GT4 champion in the Blancpain Endurance Series.
- Mary Pozzi’s 1971 Chevrolet Camaro wins the Gran Turismo Award at the 2011 SEMA show and will see inclusion in the series like other SEMA winners before it.
- Also at SEMA, GTPlanet founder and owner Jordan interviews Kazunori Yamauchi in our second face-to-face meeting with the Polyphony Digital head in two years.
- GT5’s downloadable content hits over a million purchases in two weeks, while Sony plan to release new DLC roughly every two months.
- After a successful summer of racing, GT Academy graduates Jann Mardenborough and Brian Heitkotter prepare for the Dubai 24 Hour race in January 2012.
- GT5 celebrates a year since launch, while an update to fix concerns about DLC is announced for late December.
- GT5 Spec II is announced as a standalone title for Japan in February 2012, with no plans for a European release.
- Lucas Ordoñez wins SPEED.com’s “Rookie of the Year” award.
- The second round of GT5 DLC is announced and sees release near Christmas.
- The four GT Academy champions are announced as a single team of drivers for January’s Dubai 24 Hour race.
- Polyphony Digital announce that GT5 sold another 1 million copies between January and September, to bring the total to 7.3 million. GT4 (190,000), GT5 Prologue (130,000) and GTPSP (370,000) all sold more copies during the year with the series now totalling 64.7 million copies.
- GTPlanet hosts our annual philanthropic fundraiser for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, proudly raising $1,000 to help fight this terrible disease. Thank you, everyone, for your help in reaching this milestone!
- Gran Turismo 5 XL edition, including Spec 2.0 update and some paid DLC, is announced for North America in January 2012.
It’s been another bumper year of Gran Turismo news and we can be sure that 2012 will bring updates, tweaks and possibly some more downloadable content. While Gran Turismo 6 may well be in the works, it’s clear that Polyphony are looking to improve GT5 yet further.
Thank you for your support throughout this past year – GTPlanet looks forward to supplying you with the best Gran Turismo news in 2012! Happy New Year!