The Gran Turismo series debuted in late 1997 with the original PlayStation 1 game, Gran Turismo. The game sported an unprecedented 180 cars, 11 race tracks, and high-quality visuals. It was quickly sold out in Japan, and developer Polyphony Digital raced to produce both North American and European versions of the game. The original Gran Turismo was very well-received not only due to the quantity in the game but also due to the quality racing simulation gameplay. Eventually, Gran Turismo would become the highest-selling game ever on the PlayStation 1 platform.
Shortly after the success of Gran Turismo 1, lead developer Kazunori Yamauchi announced plans to release a sequel which was aimed to be even better than the original. Nearly 2 years later, Gran Turismo 2 was released for the PlayStation 1. The game beat its predecessor in nearly every regard with a whopping 650 cars and 27 race tracks. While Gran Turismo 2 never outsold its predecessor, most critics agree that it was a worthy sequel, and was arguably better than the first.
Fast forward a year, and the PlayStation 2 is finally out. The system increased the potential of the series, and now the premier racing simulator was seeking a solid sequel. In 2001, Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec was finally released for the PlayStation 2 platform. While there were less cars than both previous titles, the sheer quality of the driving experience and the overall presentation outdid both. The game sold out in most stores worldwide as people raced to see what all the fuss was about. Not only did the title push the PlayStation 2 platform itself, it also was rated as one of the best games ever made.
Just a few years later, Gran Turismo 4 was released for the PlayStation 2 platform. Unlike its predecessors, the game was met with criticism. Polyphony Digital had promised an online mode which never materialized, and what was considered the ultimate racing simulator still lacked damage modeling. Forza 1 was released only months later and was able to pull together what many considered the superior simulator experience. While that is debatable, Gran Turismo 4 still sold over 3.5 million units despite criticism.