Gran Turismo, arguably the most iconic PlayStation franchise of all time, has surpassed 90 million units since its inception. As the series celebrates its 25th anniversary, creator Kazunori Yamauchi – who remains a force at developer Polyphony Digital – revealed the milestone in a reflective PS Blog post, in which he recited his origins at the firm as it sought to gain a footing in the lucrative console market.
“I started a movie production club when I was 14, and had been producing movies, so I first joined Sony hoping to create image products,” he revealed. “But the department they assigned me to was not what I was expecting. It was a department where the PlayStation console was just about to start, and was a place where [PS1 designer Ken] Kutaragi-san was working feverishly to bring the concept of PlayStation to life.”
Yamauchi had ambitions beyond racing games, pitching all kinds of projects, like RPGs and even puzzlers. But eventually he settled upon Motor Toon Grand Prix, a fantasy racer with bright and colourful graphics which would go on to become one of Sony’s earliest first-party PlayStation games. “If a plan for something other than a racing game had been the one that was approved, there is a good chance that I might have been making a title other than Gran Turismo today,” he mused.
The Gran Turismo project would later pick up pace, starting with a team of two part-time artists and three engineers. It would go on to become one of the most graphically impressive PS1 titles of its era, with its RPG-inspired gameplay loop hooking gamers across the globe. Polyphony Digital now hires around 200 employees, and its most recent release, Gran Turismo 7, has been heralded as one of the best in the long-running franchise.
Congrats to Yamauchi and team for the milestone, and long may Gran Turismo live – it truly is a PlayStation institution these days!