GTPlanet’s Kazunori Yamauchi Interview at SEMA 2011: Standard Cars, DLC, and the Future of Polyphony Digital

Gran Turismo 5Gran Turismo 6Interviews 218 November 7, 2011 by

At the 2011 SEMA Show last week, I had the very special opportunity to – for the first time – personally interview the master himself: Kazunori Yamauchi. We had a great chat, and I am happy to report that Kazunori seemed happy, relaxed, and in good spirits.

I could talk with Kazunori for many hours, but my time for the interview was, of course, very limited. Regardless, we covered a wide range of topics and I think you’ll find some of his responses very interesting.

Polyphony Digital has had quite a year of ups and downs, some of which I was also able to discuss with Translator-san. Japan’s earthquake and tsunami last spring was a particularly difficult time for the company’s employees, many of whom suffered tragic personal losses in their family. My thoughts, prayers, and sympathies remain with all who were affected by this disaster.

After the interview, I had the opportunity to present Kazunori with a special, embroidered GTPlanet shirt, which you can see in the image above. Once again, I would like to thank him for taking time to speak me. Now, on to the interview!

GTP: First, congratulations on your class victory at the Nurburgring 24 Hours. What did you learn from the experience?

KY: You might be surprised by my answer, but I actually didn’t have that much time to prepare or train this year for the  race. I actually brought a copy of GT5 to the hotel, and throughout the event, I would come back to the hotel and practice again with the game. Even while the actual race was going on, between my driving sessions, I was practicing in GT5!

GTP: Could you explain why you decided to open Polyphony Digital’s new offices in Fukuoka and Tokyo? How is the company structured now?

KY: The answer is quite simple – it is because of the nuclear accident at Fukushima. After it happened, I calculated how much the radiation would spread, and it turned out there would be a significant amount of radiation in a 500 kilometer radius around Fukushima, which would lead to people having to leave Tokyo.

I had everyone with small kids or families move to Fukuoka. Considering all the different cities in the area, Fukuoka was a prime location.

GTP: There has been much discussion and debate in GTPlanet’s community regarding GT5’s Standard and Premium cars. Could you explain how you came to the decision of which cars would be Premium and which would remain Standard, such as the Bugatti Veyron?

KY: It wasn’t a matter of making a decision, we just didn’t have time to do it! There is still a possibility that some Standard cars may become Premium in the future.

GTP: In an interview last year, you mentioned that some Standard cars may be upgraded to Premium status in the future. Do you still have plans for this, or will GT5’s future DLC focus on adding new car models to the game?

KY: I think that we should focus on adding new cars to the game.

GTP: Could you offer any hints about what else may be coming in the future, or how frequently new content may be released?

KY: We’re continuously working to make more and more content for the game, and I think what’s really important is the reactions of our users. We’ve had our DLC and our 2.0 update, and the reaction has been really good so far, but we want to look at the overall feedback to see what we should do from here on, and adjust accordingly.

GTP: If you could go back in time and start over with GT5, is there anything you would do differently?

KY: No, because I think everything that I thought about in that way, we have done in the updates. If I can think of one, I think we should have made more A-Spec races. When you buy a car, it’s fun to be able to participate in a lot of races with that car, and I don’t think there were enough.

GTP: How will you decide when to stop supporting Gran Turismo 5 and begin the transition to Gran Turismo 6?

KY: [Laughs] I’ll think about that next year!

GTP: In the future do you see Polyphony Digital dedicating resources to major Gran Turismo titles or to creating more spin-off games, such as Tourist Trophy and Prologue?

KY: The only thing I can definitely say is the next one will be GT6, but we might have something else pop-up in between now and then [laughs]!

GTP: In closing, is there anything you would like to say to the GTPlanet community?

KY: The feedback we receive from our users – the positive and the constructive feedback – really provides energy for our company and really motivates us to do more. I think if we can keep up that relationship with the community, that would be great! Lastly, thank you all for your support!

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