According to a top Sony Executive, Gran Turismo 6 will launch this year...on the PlayStation 3. This would be a colossal mistake for Sony that would risk sabotaging the launch of Sony's next-generation PlayStation 4 right out of the gate.
Shortly after Sony's PlayStation 4 announcement back in February, rumors started to swirl about the next title in the illustrious Gran Turismo series. Michael Denny, senior vice president of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe's Worldwide Studios told Silicon Republic, "Look at the games coming out on the PlayStation 3 like The Last of Us, Beyond: Two Souls, GT6, and then on the third-party side..." Of course, the first two games Denny mentions have already been revealed with release dates announced.
It's entirely possible Denny simply misspoke; however, I believe it much more likely to be a slip of the tongue. The question now is why would Sony release Gran Turismo 6 on the PS3 rather than the PS4? The most likely answer is because there are far more PS3 users than there will be PS4 users this holiday, regardless of how well PS4 performs at launch. In theory, this would position GT6 to sell more copies.
Unfortunately, this would undoubtedly have an inverse affect on the PS4 launch. Sony is already showing significant support for the aging PS3 at the end of its life cycle. Both The Last of Us and Beyond: Two Souls are hotly anticipated titles releasing this year for PS3. If you throw GT6 into the mix, is there really any reason to upgrade to PS4 this year? Oh and there's also a little game called Grand Theft Auto 6 releasing this year on all current-gen and next-gen systems. Again, it begs the question: why upgrade with so many quality titles to play on PS3?
Make no mistake, GT6 is a system seller. The series has sold a staggering 67.89 million units. According to IGN's Colin Moriarty, "The best-selling Gran Turismo game of all-time is Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec on PlayStation 2, which has sold 14.89 million copies worldwide." The original Gran Turismo sold 10.85 million units on the PSone. These numbers easily make it Sony's best-selling franchise.
If Sony releases GT6 only for PS4, it would certainly have a positive affect on the launch. Quality racing titles tend to age well so although sales would initially be lower with a PS4-only launch, it would likely pay off in the long run. GT6 would continue to chart strongly throughout the PS4's life cycle and would also help Sony's new console start strong out of the gate.
But maybe this isn't the best solution. Why not pull a Nintendo and release the game on both systems? After all, it worked during the launch of the Wii with The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. The game sold better on Wii by a 5:1 margin, despite being developed on the GameCube. The Wii went on to have one of the most successful console launches of all-time (Wii Sports undoubtedly played a role in this alongside Twilight Princess).
Sony would still risk losing sales on PS4 by not giving users enough of a reason to buy early; however, it would keep from alienating PS3 owners and may convince a few to go ahead an upgrade when they consider GT6 would still be on the PS4 (likely with better graphics), much like many GameCube owners did with Twilight Princess.
The console world has changed. Microsoft and Nintendo aren't the only competitors anymore. Mobile devices are surging, PC gaming is holding strong thanks to the likes of Steam, and even web-based games are having an impact on Sony's future. They can ill-afford to launch a system without an enticing hook. Killzone won't be enough on its own. The PS4 needs its Super Mario 64 or Halo. Why not launch the new PS4 with your best-selling franchise of all-time?