November 30, 2006 - Sony and Polyphony Digital's experiment in download-based gaming has come to an early end. Sony announced today that it has cancelled the retail release of Gran Turismo HD in favor of a full-fledged Gran Turismo 5 product.
Gran Turismo HD was originally set for Japanese release later this month. Sony was planning to release the title at low cost, but with minimal gameplay content included from the start. Players would have to download cars and tracks through micro transactions.
A version of Gran Turismo HD will still be released exclusively in download form through the PlayStation store. Titled Gran Turismo HD Concept, this free download will be available through the Japanese store on 12/24. A date for the US store debut has not been announced.
This will be just the first of multiple "Concept" downloads. While specifics on the content to be included in the downloads were not announced today, producer Kazunori Yamauchi did provide some hints at a message posted on the official Gran Turismo site. According to Yamauchi, the download available on Christmas Eve will give a first look at the high definition graphics provided by the PlayStation 3. The next Concept download will include Polyphony's next generation driving engine.
As for the online racing that was being promised for Gran Turismo HD, Yamauchi says that this will be included in the final Gran Turismo 5 product. Many of the other elements that were planned for GT HD will also make it into GT5, according to Yamauchi. A release date for this true next generation Gran Turismo has yet to be finalized.
Polyphony seems to have quite a bit in the works for GT5. The Gran Turismo official site lists the genre for Gran Turismo HD Concept as "Real Driving Simulator," the same genre that's been used for the series since the original PlayStation version. For Gran Turismo 5, the genre is listed as "Online Car Life Simulator."