More details emerge on FIA Gran Turismo digital license release

Chris Stead 16 October 2017

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Gran Turismo Sport launches on October 18 for PS4, but those hoping to get their FIA-ratified license in 2017 better pour some water on their fire.

Race fans have started their engines, and tomorrow the light goes green for Gran Turismo Sport on PS4. There have been some big changes to the beloved series’ structure for this, the seventh entry in the two-decade running race simulation. But it’s realistic, the incredibly fun gameplay remains intact. Where the game really separates itself from its predecessors and all other games in the genre is in its affiliation with the governing body of motorsport, the FIA. Reach the endgame, complete all the challenges and prove that you have the etiquette and safety standards or a professional when competing online, and you can earn a real race license.

But that’s effectively all we know, despite the game coming out in just hours. I recently spoke to Polyphony Digital’s founder and series creator Kazunori Yamauchi, who gave me a base overview of how a typical Australian player would climb the ladder and earn that license. The end result, should that player get there, is that CAMS (Confederation of Australian Motor Sport) will send you your license in the post after you buy it in the in-game store.

Yesterday I reported that the minimum cost of that license would appear to be $300 per year. Today I got a call from John Murphy, the commercial director at Confederation of Australian Motor Sport, who shined a bit more light on the situation.

When I first tried to get in contact with CAMS last week, Murphy hadn’t heard from Sony in a couple of months. He reached out to Sony over the weekend to see if there had been any movement or new information about how the FIA ratified components of Gran Turismo Sport would work, but nothing had changed. He did confirm that CAMS and Sony did meet earlier in the year and that CAMS is a huge supporter of the concept. The belief is that the FIA Gran Turismo Digital License brings with it massive potential to get more people interested in motorsport and converting from gaming to real participation.

Murphy went as far to say they have begun plans to link the FIA Gran Turismo Digital License to other programs they run. He specifically mentioned a junior development program, which adds weight to his enthusiasm for what Gran Turismo can do for the sport. Murphy said that CAMS was genuinely excited for the game, were happy to send out the license, and wanted to help pilot and trial this pioneering concept.

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But Murphy was also quick to reiterate that the FIA Gran Turismo Digital License is unknown territory for the FIA and all the ACNs (National Automobile Club) globally. He said that Polyphony Digital has been working so hard on the game and that - in his opinion at least - the FIA is behind where they wanted to be by this stage with setting up the structure for how the online competition and the real FIA Gran Turismo Digital License will be handled.

It’s important to note that CAMS is unable to speak on behalf of the other ACNs across the globe in terms of their timings, other than to say that nobody is currently wise to how the FIA Gran Turismo Digital License will work. Murphy’s next meeting with Sony is scheduled for late November, and while he is hoping that there will be some visibility from the FIA on how the Gran Turismo competition structure will be set up by that time, it’s not the main agenda of that meet.

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As it currently stands, Murphy made it clear it’s all about getting the structure for the Gran Turismo Sport online championships and the FIA Gran Turismo Digital License right at the FIA level. This is beyond CAMS’s control, and also no doubt Sony Australia’s. It sounds like it’s all gone on the backburner while Polyphony Digital has been busy completing the game, and that talks can now start on that part of the game in earnest.

Murphy said that the FIA ratified championships and license will happen, but given that there is currently no timeline on when the required structure will be provided to CAMS by either the FIA or Sony, it’s unlikely to be sorted anytime soon. If they are not next meeting until late November, it’s fair to assume that the FIA Gran Turismo Digital License will not be available for purchase by gamers until 2018, even if you will be working towards from launch day.

If there is one last note I should add, it’s that Sony has never specifically stated that the FIA Gran Turismo Digital License will be available on launch day. It’s just never said it won’t be, either.

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