Gran Turismo 7 has been perhaps the biggest racing release of 2022. It certainly generated the most interest when it finally released in March after more than a year of delays.
The series is a special one for PlayStation gamers. Like many racing franchises, the Sony exclusive had it's peak in the PS2 era but has continued to deliver solid racing for PlayStation players in the last few releases.
While the series is living off the nostalgia of GT 1-4 to a certain degree, there is still an audience for GT7 despite some of its issues.
While some PlayStation exclusives are starting to be ported across to PC, Gran Turismo 7 shouldn't be one of them.
Cause for celebration
It's been a big month for Gran Turismo. The 25th anniversary of the very first title is approaching, GT7 got a huge update recently, and the Gran Turismo World Series World Finals just took place in Monaco.
With all the publicity and interviews that take place at such an event, series creator Kazunori Yamauchi was naturally in the spotlight and when asked about a PC port of GT7 said: "we are looking into it and considering it".
It would certainly be a momentous move were Polyphony to break 25 years of exclusivity to the PlayStation. But it's not one the series should be making.
There are plenty of racing fans on PC andhe market for PC racers is far more saturated than it is on PlayStation. That's not the only problem either, all those PC racing titles tend toward one direction - ultra-realistic sims.
From Assetto Corsa to rFactor 2 and iRacing, PC players have an amazing array of titles to choose from. This includes console favourites like the F1 series, and Xbox titles like two Forza franchises.
Gran Turismo has long called itself the "real driving simulator", and for a long time it was the best sim title that PlayStation players could get. Assetto Corsa's console release, and the subsequent console release of Assetto Corsa Competizione, has already knocked Gran Turismo down a peg.
Direct comparison to iRacing, rFactor 2, or Automobilista 2 would be crushing to any sense that Gran Turismo is a driving simulator.
While not an arcade title, GT7 is a big step behind the sim titles that PC players are used to playing on.
A big part of sim racing for PC players is league racing and online play. While GT7's Sport Mode works well, custom lobbies are still frustratingly unreliable and overly complicated to setup, modify, and use.
Compare this to ACC, where private lobbies with driver-swapping endurance races, are simple. Or iRacing where its ranking system provides excellent lobby grid creation.
Single-player saving grace
The best thing Gran Turismo 7 can offer PC players is its single-player experience.
There is no PC game that offers things like Licence Tests and Missions, and that is a big selling point for GT7. It is certainly the thing that players enjoyed most when GT7 first arrived in March.
But even here Gran Turismo 7 is lacking. The GT Cafe has been a poor replacement for a classic campaign mode. There is absolutely no competition from the AI or seasons to really compete in.
This again is in stark contrast to other games where AI can battle you and test you with their pace and there are championships to be won.
Older Gran Turismo fans, those most likely to be racing seriously on PC, were greatly disappointed by the single-player offering in Gran Turismo 7. While players will get some joy from Missions and Licence Tests, they are one-off challenges that have no replay factor.
Stay in your lane
Gran Turismo's biggest selling point is that it's a solid simcade title that PlayStation players are happy to hype up.
In the cold light of day, when placed in direct comparison with the rest of the genre, Gran Turismo's glamour will fade quickly. While it's gameplay is fun, it isn't as engaging as other games when it comes to single-player or as complete an online offering.
Polyphony will get a bump in sales if GT7 gets a PC release, there is no doubt about that. But after the disappointment that has surrounded GT7 already it would only deepen the concern for Gran Turismo's future in the racing community.
The future of Gran Turismo as a premium racing franchise is best served by focusing on adding content to GT7 and remaining a PlayStation exclusive so that when Gran Turismo 8 rolls around there is still a excited player base for it.
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