It's simply not your average racing simulator.
Although racing games had already existed before the inception of Gran Turismo, all of them had a combination of over-the-top, arcade driving physics aimed for casual players who wanted to play for fun. Then, in 1998, the first iteration of Gran Turismo was introduced worldwide and shook the video game industry due to the unprecedented amount of cars and tracks, and most importantly, the driving physics, something all gamers were never ready for since most of them were so used to arcade-style driving physics.
Ever since the first Gran Turismo was released, the franchise has become the racing standard, with the slogan “The Real Driving Simulator” on every copy and iteration since 1998. However, it is not just the true-to-life driving physics the game possesses. One of the features the franchise is most well-known for is the sheer number of cars and tracks that players can collect and race of multiple real-life and fictitious tracks across the globe. This idea also stems from Mr. Yamauchi's dream because he wanted the players to drive the cars they never driven or could even afford in real life. He and his development team, Polyphony Digital, reached out to multiple car manufacturers for doing a joint collaboration with them by re-creating a car virtually inside-out, from the exterior as well as the interior and even the smallest of details some players won't even notice. Big name brands such as Porsche, Lamborghini, Audi, and many other more are included in the game. With over 1,000 cars and 70 tracks to choose from, other racing games have yet to match Gran Turismo's unprecedented numbers of cars and tracks, not even Forza's Motorsport series, Gran Turismo's main competitor (sorry Xbox fans, Gran Turismo is PlayStation exclusive only).
In an attempt to gain more exposure for the franchise, Polyphony Digital collaborated with Nissan in 2008 to offer Gran Turismo players to compete with other players virtually for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to become a real-life professional racecar driver. Although the program became defunct in 2016, the idea carried on to Gran Turismo Sport, a spinoff from the major series where it departed from the roots (vast collection of cars and tracks) to focus on the competitive side of racing. In other words, Gran Turismo Sport has fully embraced the world of Esports and pits players against at least 10 others, with the tournaments being officially sanctioned by the FIA, the governing body of motorsport and road safety.
While the game was praised for blurring the lines between virtual and reality, other critics blasted the game for departing its roots and increased emphasis on multiplayer mode rather than single-player mode. Nevertheless, it still remains the racing standard and it did bring in a lot of new players because they learned a lot in terms of driving and racing techniques and etiquettes.
In response to the criticism, Polyphony Digital CEO Kazunori Yamauchi took the criticism seriously and promised that in the upcoming Gran Turismo game (titled GT7), he will emphasize more on the single-player experience more than multiplayer experience, something most of the longtime fans desired for so long, and that the next iteration will be a combination of the series' past, present, and future. Speaking of the past, a lot of nostalgia has been thrown into Gran Turismo 7 where the RPG-styled main menu is totally reminiscent to that of Gran Turismo 4's. If you're interested, feel free to check out Gran Turismo 7 announcement trailer which is scheduled to release sometime in 2022 for PlayStation 5. We cannot simply wait to see what's in store from the next iteration, but we can assure you that Gran Turismo 7 will raise the bar even higher in terms of being “The Real Driving Simulator”.