Start your engines: Gran Turismo 6 launches in less than a month. The racing series from Sony (NYSE:SNE) subsidiary Polyphony Digital has dominated sales for PlayStation games with over 70 million units sold since the 1998 initial title. However, there's increasing competition from the Forza series, which will release as an exclusive game for Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Xbox One console.

Can Gran Turismo 6 lap the competition? Here are three things to know about the game before its Dec. 6 release. 


1. It's a PS3 title
Sony's next-gen PlayStation 4 console launches on Nov. 15, but Gran Turismo 6 won't launch as an exclusive title. The game is instead targeted at the large number of PS3 owners who will either hold off on buying the next-gen system or who plan to keep the old model around for a while. The move lets Gran Turismo stand further apart from Microsoft's Forza Motorsports 5 and its Xbox One exclusivity. 

Forza's first title released in 2005. Sales of Gran Turismo have weakened slightly since Forza's market entry, but Turismo's sales remain much higher on a per-title basis. That's partly because Forza pumped out new games so quickly it turned cannibal.  

Here's a side-by-side comparison of the major console titles from each series:


Release Date

Unit Sales

Gran Turismo 4


11.66 million

Forza Motorsport


1.05 million

Forza Motorsport 2


4 million

Forza Motorsport 3


5.35 million

Gran Turismo 5


10.55 million

Forza Motorsport 4


3.97 million

Source: Data as of Oct. 26, 2013.

Forza's Xbox One exclusivity will hurt in the short run as Gran Turismo will have the wider market. Sony knows it needs to make a next-gen version soon and plans for a PS4 title in another year or two. 

2. New cars, environmental simulation, and driving dynamics
Those are the three major feature updates to Gran Turismo 6. More than 100 new cars were added to bring the total count up over 1,200. There's still the problem of redundancy -- players wanting to drive a Honda Civic are well covered -- and that takes away some of the advantage of having far more cars than Forza titles.

However, the cars come with improved driving dynamics including aerodynamics, suspension, and tires that mimic the behavior of the real-world models -- and the current driving conditions. Those driving conditions will also mimic reality by using the current sunrise/sunset times and constellations of the track's location. 

Environmental simulations are just the start of how GT6 plans to blend gameplay and real life.

3. Coming soon: GPS-customized courses 
Gran Turismo's about to dial the "real" in its Real Driving Simulator tagline up to 11. The Course Maker made available in a later update will include the ability to track a real-world driving route and put it in the game as a playable course. Players can use a mobile app's GPS to track out the course. With the modern tracking abilities of those apps, the uploaded courses should also include the elevation changes of the route.  

A future GPS Visualizer update will allow users to import the data from the Controller Area Network used in a real-life car to create custom courses. The technology will be compatible with the CAN found in certain Toyota vehicles.

What's the appeal of driving a custom route instead of a game-generated raceway? Ever wanted to do 90 mph while sideswiping cars to get out of morning commute gridlock? Gran Turismo can offer that satisfaction without the associated arrest warrants.

Foolish final thoughts 
The Gran Turismo series has built a loyal fanbase through the past 15 years, and those players have stood by the franchise in good times and bad. Forza tends to erode its own sales with multiple titles more than it hurts Gran Turismo. Ultimately, gamers will choose the title that fits the console they have -- and more gamers will own a PS3 than an Xbox One in the near future.


Editor's note: A previous version of this article stated that PS3 games will be playable on the PS4. The Fool regrets the error.

Fool contributor Brandy Betz has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.