The Biggest Gran Turismo and Sim-Racing Stories of 2022

With the days running out on the wall planner, another exciting year to be a racing game fan is coming to a close.

The 2020s have, thus far, been a strange old time in the real world, and it’s had a knock-on effect in the virtual one too. We’ve seen even the slightest pauses due to the extraordinary events have major effects to the end user, with titles delayed and hardware becoming unavailable.

However, 2022 has proven that there is light at the end of the tunnel… and it’s probably not a train. Three major game franchises launched their latest titles this year, the annual titles have continued unabated, and two brand new ways to play them are now in player homes. Human contact has even returned, and we never thought we’d miss that.

It has been a great year in the hobby, with GTPlanet itself setting new traffic records too. Here’s our look back at the last 12 months.

Gran Turismo 7 Launch

Arguably the biggest event of all in our particular corner of the internet, Gran Turismo 7 landed in March 2022 (or February if you ordered from Amazon USA). Gran Turismo games don’t exactly arrive often and it’s been nine years (well, eight and a half) since the last GT game with a number on the end of it.

After the online-focused GT Sport, GT7 returned many features from earlier games that had gone missing — improving them in some cases. Car tuning with individual upgrade parts, for example, was back and expanded to include engines swapped from other vehicles for the first time in the series.

That also included the single-player mode, although the “GT Cafe” feature which replaces the traditional motorsports journey of previous numbered titles has had a very mixed reception. So have the cash-for-credits microtransactions, which went live with the public launch of the game and after all the reviews came out.

Notably, GT7 was the first Gran Turismo title to launch on two different platforms at once, with both PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 versions of the game.

A Rare, Unscheduled Statement from Kazunori Yamauchi

Although the launch itself went well enough, with GT7 hitting the top of sales charts and — by the latest figures — potentially already passing GT6’s lifetime sales, there was a… bit of a hiccup.

It became clear that there was no real way to reliably earn reasonable money in the game and, after players inevitably found a “best” method to grind for cash, an update slashed the prizes for those events to prevent it.

If that wasn’t quite enough, the same update also forced the game offline for over 30 hours, leaving players with only a handful of Music Rally events (which they couldn’t save) just two weeks after launch.

That prompted a rare message from the game’s creator, Kazunori Yamauchi, apologizing to fans for the issue with the update and laying out a brief roadmap which included how the game would expand and improve over the “longer-term”. This has mostly come to pass, but fans are still waiting for the earning part of the game economy to truly match the spending part of it.

The Dawn of Direct Drive Wheels

Previously the preserve of expensive peripheral manufacturers only, 2022 saw Direct Drive hit the mainstream — and at least partly by surprise.

Fanatec, which had pioneered the technology that drives the wheel shaft directly rather than through a system of gears or belts (or both), was first to the table with the new compact CSL DD in mid-2021. The PlayStation-compatible sibling unit, GT DD Pro, arrived at the beginning of the year as the official wheel of Gran Turismo 7.

It was Logitech that followed up first, with the traditionally entry-level brand releasing the direct drive G Pro wheel in September. Thrustmaster has since joined in, with the long-teased T818 — though this is only for PCs at the moment.

In-Person Events Return

After two full years away from large, in-person events — halted by regulations around public gatherings and international travel — sim-racing began to shift from online events to return to the pre-2020 norm.

Gran Turismo’s last World Tour had been in Sydney in February 2020, but the top GT players in the world would gather together once again for the World Series Showdown in Austria in July. Even better, the World Final would return to its regular Monaco home nearly three years after Mikail Hizal won the 2019 event.

Other series also returned to their live events, as we saw Esports WRC return to normal (having tested the waters with a double-final in 2021), Fanatec hosting GT World Challenge Esports events at Spa and Indianapolis — which also staged a GT7 Porsche Esports Challenge — and the ROKiT Racing Star Esports final.

F1 22 Launched

Of course there were plenty of other racing games coming out in 2022, with F1 22 leading the way in the summer.

The title suffered a bit from the new, heavier F1 cars being considerable less satisfying to drive than previous generations, and while it did ditch the rather lumpen Braking Point story, the “Pirelli Hot Laps” feature — involving high performance road cars — showed off the age of the environmental assets quite starkly.

It wasn’t the only F1 title launching in 2022, with the new F1 Manager 22 game also appearing. A rather bold, management-style game like Football Manager, it’s for the stats-hungry enthusiasts who aren’t that bothered about the driving experience.

Need for Speed Returns

Although we’d been expecting a new Need for Speed in 2022, EA had said so little about it that it came as a surprise when it was suddenly announced and then launched after barely any time to promote it.

Reviews were on the mixed side; for us Unbound was just a little too close to Heat in terms of general feel (and that almost identical car list), although the next-level car mods and focus on ninth-gen consoles only to keep the game at 60fps were plus points. The soundtrack and visual effects were divisive to say the least!

EA’s other big racing IP, Grid, also had a 2022 launch by way of GRID: Legends earlier in the year. Although the story was a little trope-packed, the novel filming method incorporating live action rather than CGI was pretty neat and it’s a fun little diversion.

The Final WRC Title From KT Racing

We didn’t get a chance to review WRC Generations, but it marked the end of an era. The WRC licence will move from KT Racing/Big Ben to Codemasters/EA as of midnight on New Year’s Eve.

It has met with appreciation from fans, not least because it wasn’t full price from the start — reflecting the fact post-launch content support will be thin.

Project CARS and Slightly Mad Reach the End of the Road

The writing had pretty much been on the wall since EA bought out Codemasters, recently new owner of Slightly Mad Studios, for $1.2bn in 2021, but it was confirmed in November that both the studio and its Project CARS series were no more.

However the story didn’t quite end there as…

Ian Bell Begins Again

… the former studio lead Ian Bell, who had left in late 2021, decided to take up racing game development again with a new studio — now called Straight4 Games — and as many of the old SimBin and SMS crew as he could lay his hands on.

Although originally plotted as a rebirth of the old GTR2 title, Bell has been busy Tweeting over the Christmas period with suggestions of a more PC2-like game — complete with a new iteration of the WMD crowdfunding program…

Gran Turismo at 25

Having started the year off with the lead into a new Gran Turismo game, 2022 ended with a celebration of the oldest one of all. 23rd December marked the 25th anniversary of the launch of Gran Turismo in its native Japan, launching a franchise that would ship 90 million copies — so far.

Thank You!

As mentioned in the opening paragraph, it was another record-setting year for GTPlanet, which served over 6.1 million people from around the world in 2022. From all of us on the editorial team, we thank you for your continued support and look forward to bringing you even more in 2023.

Here’s to a happy and healthy new year to you all! 馃帀

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