Whether you’re a fan of racing games or not, there’s no denying that the Vita needed more of ’em. And if we’re talking about racing simulators, there’s one big, big name in the PlayStation roster that we should talk about: Gran Turismo. Since its debut in 1997, the franchise has sold 85 million units worldwide. So, how many of these first-party wonders did the Vita get? None. Why should we care? Let’s talk about it.
In order to think about this, we gotta think back to the first game that released on the original PlayStation. Despite what many now consider to be the limited appeal of racing games and racing simulators, 22 years ago the PSX got what would become its best-selling game ever. That’s right: at almost 11 million units sold, Gran Turismo was a bingo card that definitely paid off.
As I like doing with most of my Killer Franchises pieces, I want to create a fantasy worst-case scenario to showcase how a Gran Turismo game would have sold on the Vita. As usual, this projection will be compared to the Vita’s best-selling game, Uncharted: Golden Abyss, which sold 1.62 million units.
First, let’s look at the Gran Turismo game that the PSP got: titled simply Gran Turismo, it sold 4.67 million units on the PSP, despite having the lowest-ever metacritic score for any game in the franchise. I want to look at this game because I want to create a projection based on the worst-case scenario, and show how even that would have made a positive impact on Vita sales.
“But Marcos!”, I hear you cry. “The PSP sold 80 million units!” Granted! So, let’s do some quick calculations. If the PSP sold 80 million units, and Gran Turismo sold 4.67 million copies on the PSP, that means that there’s a 0.058 ratio of games-per-system-sold. The Vita sold 15 million units, which means that even if it only matched the worst-reviewed and one of the worst-selling games in the franchise, a Gran Turismo game still would have sold almost 900.000 copies on the Vita.
While a far cry from the 1.62 million that Uncharted sold, 900.000 copies would have still put this projection in the top 5 best-selling Vita games ever. And let’s not forget that this does not take into consideration the possibility of more Vita systems being sold if it’d gotten more killer franchises. So, at the very least, while perhaps not a system seller, Gran Turismo would have solidified first-party support for the Vita, as well as cater for a market segment that was mostly left unattended on the handheld.
Would it have made a huge difference? It’s hard to tell. I definitely think that our previous entry into this article series, Grand Theft Auto, has more universal appeal and would have made a much bigger difference to how well the Vita did (let’s not forget that the PSP’s best-selling game ever is Liberty City Stories). But it’s also worth remembering that a lot of people did not buy a Vita because it did not offer these particular experiences, and considering the Vita’s high attach rate, every system sold would have meant an average of 13 games being sold to that customer. It’s a lot to think about, and definitely, something that would not have hurt the Vita at all. Sadly, it was not to be.