Gran Turismo Turns 24 Years Old Today

The very first game in the Gran Turismo series launched 24 years ago today, on December 23 1997, sparking a series that has gone on to sell over 85 million copies.

While players outside Japan had to wait a little longer for their first taste of Gran Turismo — until May 1998 — the game launched to its domestic market first. It came from a slightly unexpected place too, with Polys Entertainment, as it was then called, only previously responsible for cartoony racer Motor Toon Grand Prix and its sequel.

However, the titles were based on a realistic handling model, and the SCE Japan in-house crew set to work on bringing the real-world underpinnings to a real-world racer, with the first Gran Turismo being the result.

It’s actually hard to believe how relatively compact the original GT is when you look at its sprawling and complex descendents. Launching with what they’d likely call today seven “locations” and 21 “variations” — all fictional — and just over 160 cars, the first GT was easily the smallest. Even then though, there were signs of the threads that have run through Gran Turismo to this day.

Concept cars and fictional racing cars were part of the car list — in fact you could race-modify the road cars into racing machines often inspired by real-world competition cars — much as they are with today’s FIA Online Championship and Vision Gran Turismo stable. Polyphony Digital was also pushing the tech envelope by including a special 60fps mode on three of the circuits, though it had to downgrade track detail and you could only run in single-player time trial.

Of course, as the series now passes into its 25th year, we’ve got something brand-new to look forward to in the shape of 2022’s Gran Turismo 7. The game will launch on March 4, and promises to be a best-of-GT “past, present, and future“.

While we don’t know quite what that will look like right now, the details so far certainly suggest the game is going to fill that brief pretty well.

The “present” part of the equation is filled by what looks like a complete preservation of Gran Turismo Sport. That covers all the new-to-series features like the livery editor and of course the flagship “Sport Mode” which, as the only racing esport officially certified by the FIA, has seen four sets of world champions collect their trophies alongside the best in real-world motorsport.

As for the past, GT7 is bringing back not only a fully fledged “GT Mode”, but other features from older titles like the used car dealership, and extensive vehicle tuning and modification. It’s even resurrecting fan-favorite original circuits from the PlayStation era, updated for the 4K generation, like Trial Mountain, High Speed Ring, and Deep Forest.

We’ve not yet heard what the “future” part of the game will be, but with just over two months until launch there’s still plenty more time for information to come out! You can keep up with the latest at our Ultimate Guide to Gran Turismo 7.

GT’s silver jubilee year then looks to be an excellent one for fans of the series. Happy 24th birthday, Gran Turismo!