Gran Turismo (Italian for "grand tourer" or "grand touring"), abbreviated GT, is a series of racing video games developed by Polyphony Digital. Developed for PlayStation systems, Gran Turismo games are intended to emulate the appearance and performance of a large selection of vehicles, nearly all of which are licensed reproductions of real-world automobiles. Since the franchise's debut in December 1997, over 80 million units have been sold worldwide for the PlayStation, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation Portable, making it the highest selling video game franchise under the PlayStation brand. Gran Turismo can trace back its origins to 1992, when Kazunori Yamauchi set out with a group of seven to develop the original Gran Turismo, which took five years to complete
The Gran Turismo series is developed by Polyphony Digital and produced by Kazunori Yamauchi. The appeal of the Gran Turismo series is due significantly to its graphics, a large number of licensed vehicles, attention to vehicle detail, accurate driving physics emulation, and the ability to tune performance, hence the subtitle "The Real Driving Simulator", incorporated to the franchise's iconography since the fourth game. Handling of the vehicles is modeled on real-life driving impressions, tuning is based on principles of physics, and the sound of the vehicle's engine is based on recordings of the actual vehicles. The game has been a flagship for the PlayStation console's graphics capabilities, and is often used to demonstrate the system's potential.
Although Gran Turismo has an arcade mode most gameplay derives from its simulation mode. Players start with a certain number of credits, usually 10,000, which are used to purchase vehicles from several manufacturer-specific shops, or from used car dealers, and then tune their car at the appropriate parts store for best performance. Certain events are open only to particular types of vehicles. In order to enter and progress through more difficult races, a license-testing system has been implemented, which guides players through skill development. Players may apply prize money won in events to upgrade their existing car or buy a new one, collecting a garage of vehicles.
Since Gran Turismo 5 Prologue launched on the PlayStation 3 an online aspect of the gameplay has started to evolve. GT5 Prologue has enabled users to race online with up to 16 players on track at once. Gran Turismo 4 for the PlayStation 2 was actually the first online-enabled Gran Turismo game but the online aspect of the game did not make it past beta stage. According to Yamauchi, the cars in the first two games were made from 300 polygons, while those in Gran Turismo 3 and 4 were made up of 4,000 polygons, and the "premium cars" in Gran Turismo 5 were made up of 500,000 ("standard cars" are slightly more detailed versions of those in Gran Turismo 4). With the release of Gran Turismo Sport, it became the first game solely focusing on online-only racing, whereas offline is limited. However, unlike its two predecessors, Gran Turismo Sport became the first game to provide post-release content including cars and tracks, along with offline events at no charge, as well as bug fixes.