In case you missed the big news last week, it seems that there is a very real possibility that the 2022s Gran Turismo 7 will drop on PlayStation 4 as well as PlayStation 5.
This goes against all expectations, especially since Sony had previously marketed the game as an exclusive PlayStation 5, unlike other titles with known generational capabilities.
Although not yet fully confirmed, at least one statement from the head of PlayStation Studios, Hermen Hulst, stated the game as an example of one where a cross-generation launch would make sense – along with a confirmed cross-title Horizon Forbidden West. Our subsequent contact with PlayStation PR will only repeat Hulst’s quote, without further clarification:
“You can not build a community with over 110 million PS4 owners and just walk away from it, right? I think that would be bad news for PS4 fans, and frankly not very good business.
“Where it makes sense to develop a title for both PS4 and PS5 – for Horizon Forbidden West, the next God of War, GT7 – we will continue to look at it. And if PS4 owners want to play that game, then they can. If they want to go ahead and play the PS5 version, the game will be there for them.
“That said, it’s also very important to have showpieces for PS5, hence the development of Returnal and Ratchet that are exclusive to PS5.”
While we’re waiting for the right confirmation somehow – GT7 still appears on the PlayStation page as an exclusive PS5 option for a generation Gran Turismo 7 raises several questions.
Why bring out the GT7 on both platforms?
This is simple: sales. Although the PlayStation 5 surpasses the PlayStation 4 in terms of consoles released at the same time during its lifetime, despite the lack of silicon, the simple fact is that there are 110 million PS4s out there right now.
Sony is planning “the longest tail” for a PlayStation console ever – and it’s worth noting GT7 was not included in this part of a recent financial presentation – and that means continuing to develop games for PS4.
A PS4 GT7 helps it, and probably reverse. When GT7 turns out that there will probably be 120 million PS4s, along with 40 meter PS5s, giving the opportunity to 160 million customers. If the game supports cross-gene storage, a player can play on the PS4 they now have and transfer to a PS5 when they get one, and Sony will likely charge $ 10 for the upgraded version of the game.
Why hasn’t Sony developed the game for both platforms from the beginning?
In an ideal world – and the events of 2020 have proven that we are not in an ideal world – Sony wants to get people from the old console into the new one. It may lose on PS5s right now, but it’s not going to last long, and it wants people to buy the cute, sweet $ 70 PS5 games that fill the box.
GT7 would be a flagship title for PS5 and sell consoles all by themselves. If the game appears on the latest-generation hardware, there is no need for people to step on a new console; great for PS4 tail, not so much for PS5. However, the demand for PS5 is robust enough to survive it.
It is also worth noting that last time Sony decided to launch a GT game on an old console with GT6, it returned the worst sales performance in series history. It was a slightly different situation – there was no PS4 version, and PS4 could not play it either – but GT6 sent just 5.2 million copies to 87 million PlayStation 3 owners.
What’s the bad news then?
Until now, each cross-genre title has been identical on both consoles, with the exception of graphic bells and whistles. We’ve seen titles load faster, more visual effects, higher resolutions and frame rates, larger multiplayer networks and PS5s that use DualSense haptics and adaptive triggers.
Other than that, each PS5 and XB series game is so far identical to the PS4 and XB One version, with no differences in game mechanics.
This means that if it is a PS4 Gran Turismo 7, it should also be identical to the PS5 version, except for other sound, graphics, DualSense effects. For the most part, this probably does not matter, as it does not DIRT 5 or Wreckfest, but it could severe hoarding GT7.
Dynamic time of day / weather
Gran Turismo Sport was a visual compromise. PD chose to pre-bake lighting conditions with beam tracking to save GPU power for 1080p60 on the base console and 4K60 (route board from 1800p) on PS4 Pro with HDR. The significant extra power of the PS5 means that compromise is not necessary and GT7 be able to run dynamic time of day and weather at a true 4K60, and probably see that endurance races come back.
However, the game can hardly have this feature on PS5 if it can not have it on PS4. It either means a new compromise or we lose the function completely. We can not see PD being willing to lower the resolution or even go back to 30 frames per second to make it work on PS4, especially when the company is aiming for 240 frames per second and beyond, so it gives little more than to cut it.
Tracks and environment
Part of the PS5’s package of advanced features comes in the form of “maps” (in this case circuits). With high throughput I / O, the PS5 is able to stream what you see directly from the SSD, instead of loading it into active memory. It opens up some great opportunities for the PS5, at least in terms of Gran Turismo Sport, seems impossible on PS4.
In recent years, we have heard a lot about PDs that have licenses for or scanned some fairly large tracks: the 12.4 mile long climb up Pikes Peak, or the 37.7 mile long Snaefell Mountain Course. For PS5, these will be a relative doddle, but it may be too much to get them into PS4’s active memory. Pikes Peak may be shorter than the Nurburgring, Special Stage Route X or the Circuit de la Sierra, but it is considerably more complex, and the required pulling distances from 14,000 feet up are quite large.
Again, if it can not be displayed in the PS4 version, it will hardly appear in the PS5 version either.
It almost goes without saying, but the basic physics model can not be different between the two versions if they are to play together. If the underlying physics are different, fans simply will not accept that they are forced to buy a PS5 to be competitive.
This means that PD will simply not be able to use the PS5’s Zen 2 processor for complex physics calculations, because it must ensure that the eight-year-old Jaguar processor in the PS4 can handle it. Separating the player base can provide a solution, but we can not imagine that PD will exclude people from the FIA Online Championships for not having the right equipment.
That said, simulation title Assetto Corsa manages to preserve its more accurate physics model from PC even on base PS4. There are compromises in how the game works in other departments that are not so easily accepted with a GT game.
This does not directly affect the players, but it will be a huge obstacle to remove. Although it may solve the problems above, Polyphony Digital would actually produce two different titles with the name Gran Turismo 7: a highly compromised version for PS4, and the fat PS5 version.
This means that Sony must be explicit in its marketing in order not to make the title look terrible for PS5 owners, and not to sell the PS4 version with improved graphics impossible on that console – and even then the internet will make their job more difficult.
We can imagine the GTPlanet Forum threads now … with people posting videos of the PS4 version and trying to prove that a PS5 game from 2022 looks worse than a PS3 game from 2007, or dissatisfied PS4 buyers who post screenshots of the PS5 version and complain that their game does not look like that.
With the Standard / Premium car brake that still rings in Sony’s ears from the 2010s Gran Turismo 5 and the 2013s Gran Turismo 6, the concept of trying to market standard and premium versions of the same game should inspire fear.
Especially the perception of GT6 as a “last generation” game and its serial low sales figures should lead to internal questions about how good a PS4 is GT7 will sell, and what effect it may have on PS5 version sales.
What is not affected?
The game structure itself and – with the possible exception of some tracks mentioned above – assets and content will not vary a bit. Everything comes down to storage, which is actually something the PS5 has less of – thanks to the internal 825 GB hard drive – than the PS4. The existence of a PS4 version will not lead to changes in the driver, although we have not yet heard anything about the game’s drivers.
Other things like career mode and individual events and races should also be good, but if time of day and weather are not available, it can prevent proper endurance races from being something in GT7. Returning the tuning from the previous game will also not suffer any damage.
Features already available in GT Sport, such as the editor, should not be affected either. There is actually a chance that improvements to the editor and VR – especially with PSVR2 in mind – will be possible in an improved PS5 version of the game.
Is this good news or bad?
At first glance, this is a good idea. You can not easily argue with quadrupling the number of potential customers, and if the game has always been a PS5 title, a PS4 port lacking the more complicated features could be a license to print money.
The problem is that a PS4 version will not exist in isolation. As far as we know, it has to be the same basic game as the PS5 version, and that means the PS5 version can’t do anything the PS4 version can’t; The PS4 version will limit the potential of the PS5 version. Considering that the PS5 is built around removing bottlenecks, and tying it to the PS4’s borders for a flagship, it looks like the system shipping title is a step backwards.
However, this situation is still unclear. For now, no statements on the case have been final, and Gran Turismo 7 remains a PS5-only title according to the official landing page. Hopefully, Sony’s presence at the Summer Games Fest on June 10 will provide more clarity.
Stay up to date with all the information on Gran Turismo 7 on GTPlanet’s special Gran Turismo 7 Guidance page.