Like many people, I’d like to own a PS5 or Xbox Series X one day. Of course, there’s no telling when I’ll have the chance, seeing as how the damned contraptions go out of stock in milliseconds. But my one comfort is that Gran Turismo 7 and the new Forza Motorsport still don’t have release dates. So why rush?
However, those who have been paying close attention know that Sony has been hard at work trying to drum up hype for GT7 of late. Yesterday (Nov. 18), Sony took over the Oxford Circus stops in the London Underground with PlayStation branding, in anticipation of the PS5’s launch today. It’s somewhat clever as far as brand tie-ins go, considering Sony used to peddle magazines and demo discs under the PlayStation Underground banner back in the ’90s, but I digress.
The relevant bit here is that in addition to those Oxford Circus entrances, Sony has commandeered platforms around London and renamed them in the theme of PS5 exclusives, the Verge reports. Londoners who visit the Seven Sisters station, for example, will now notice it’s been dubbed the Gran Turismo 7 Sisters station, complete with art of a Porsche 917 from the game plastered on its walls. The station names will stand only for 48 hours, but the visual branding will remain in place until mid-December.
Normally, I wouldn’t bat an eye at frivolous PR stunts like this, especially when London and indeed all of England is back in lockdown; it’s hard to imagine a great many people are riding the tube in the first place. But while Polyphony Digital, the studio working on GT7, has offered all but radio silence on the title’s whereabouts since it was first announced way back in June, Sony is dropping subtle hints regarding its ETA in various places.
A PS5 sizzle reel published to YouTube on Nov. 9 says in fine print that GT7 is “anticipated first half 2021,” alongside Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart and Returnal. And a clip uploaded to the official Gran Turismo Facebook page in late-October carried with it the title “Coming Soon.”
I want to believe GT7 will be here by next spring, I really do. But history is not on our side, as Polyphony Digital has a habit of missing release dates. Gran Turismo Sport was delayed more than a full year, from its initial window of late 2016 all the way until November 2017. Pretty much every entry in the franchise has been tardy, save for Gran Turismo 6, which actually did hit its December 2013 target. Gran Turismo 5 was teased throughout all of 2009, but didn’t emerge until the end of 2010. (In fact, if you want to feel old, next week will mark GT5's 10-year anniversary.)
There is cause to be optimistic, though. GT7’s launch trailer showed smooth and, dare I say, release-ready gameplay, flush with a very sophisticated looking career mode, signifying the game was already quite far along as of last summer. Footage we’ve seen so far also looks graphically similar to GT Sport, indicating that Polyphony is carrying over a great deal of assets and physics tech to the next installment, just presumably boosting it with the PS5’s added power. This could translate to an expedited development cycle, at least compared with previous iterations.
And yet, even as the dev team hammers away at GT7, Polyphony still found time to update GT Sport last week by adding the GR Yaris to the game’s repertoire. Toyota is a Gran Turismo brand partner, having sponsored the series’ FIA Gran Turismo Championship esports program as well as the GR Supra GT Cup. Gran Turismo also happens to be one of the only gaming series Toyota appears willing to license its road cars to anymore.
Considering the visual similarities between GT Sport and GT7, the random new car update and Sony’s constant teases, I am cautiously optimistic that GT7 is actually nearer than cynics think. Next week, Polyphony will hold its first FIA GT Championship events since February, with the World Final slated for December. In recent years, the studio has tied trailer drops and new info to its esports gatherings, so there’s a fair chance we could have a better answer to when GT7's actually coming before 2020 concludes.