Editorial: Is GT Really Coming to the PC?

According to a recent interview with John Koller, marketing head of SCEA, there is a possibility that the next installment in the Gran Turismo racing series may make an unprecedented appearance on the PC. This is our two cents on the news.

While it may be common for Xbox 360 exclusive titles to show up on the PC, few Sony exclusives have graced the platform. Even when they do, though, most of the titles (including Final Fantasy VII, Devil May Cry 3, etc.) are developed and published by third party studios.

Polyphony Digital (developers of Gran Turismo) have never developed for the PC. Outside of Everquest, other MMORPG’s, and a few titles published in the 90’s, Sony hasn’t published too much for the PC.

However, it’s a growing trend for console developers to eventually port their games over the PC as well. It is normal for western developers to release their games on consoles and PC, and even Japanese developers have dabbled in the market. Square-Enix’s Last Remnant was released on the PC recently, and Capcom’s Resident Evil 5 and Street Fighter IV are planned for later this year. The threat of piracy hasn’t stopped companies from trying to expand their market, and it looks like Sony is leaning in the same direction.

So what’s the deal with an exclusive release in China? Though Koller never explicitly states that a PC version of Gran Turismo would only be released in China, the fact that Sony is targeting the region is interesting because China has always had a bad reputation for software piracy. For instance, in 2007, THQ released an exclusive, online version of Company of Heroes in China in order to prevent it from being pirated.

The game’s producer, Tim Holman, said, “..there is no PC retail market here due to rampant piracy – everything you buy is a pirated version…”

However, according to a report by Business Wire in January of 2009, Chinese gamers are starting to buy more legitimate software for quality and customer support. Since 2006, the sale of legal gaming software has increased by 56%. Additionally, due to falling prices, more and more Chinese gamers are playing off line PC games in their homes instead of in PC cafes.

So is Gran Turismo for the PC possible? I would say it is a definite possibility, but it really boils down to Sony’s commitment to increasing their presence in the PC market. If they want it, they’ll do it, and I don’t think there are too many better titles more suited for Sony to use than Gran Turismo. Racing simulators have always been popular on the PC, and China’s booming market would be a good place to test Sony’s new business venture.

Will we see a PC version of Gran Turismo outside of China? If it makes it to China, it makes sense that Sony would sell it elsewhere too. Why go through all the hassle of making it for the PC and selling it to one region when a simple localization patch (which will already be complete since an English version is being made for the Playstation 3) could make it a viable product for the international market?

Author: mark_fujii