Sony's going about Gran Turismo 5 Prologue all wrong

It may not fully be what PlayStation 3 car enthusiasts were hoping for nearly a year and half after the launch of the current generation console, an early public tasting of the next Gran Turismo game is almost upon North American gamers.

On April 17, Gran Turismo 5 Prologue will hit North America store shelves, Sony confirmed once again this week. The game will feature six tracks, over 60 cars (see full list here) and a split screen multiplayer mode – far less than what is promised for the final version.

The “Prologue” version is just as it sounds – it’s just an appetizer for the full Gran Turismo 5 game that is still in development at Polyphony Digital. At $39.99, it’s not priced like a full-featured game, but then again, it’s not all that far removed from free demo territory.

Unable to play the waiting game, and just because I was there, I picked up the Japanese version of Gran Turismo 5 Concept when I as in Tokyo last year. After conversion, it was around $40, and I felt that I got my money’s worth since I was able to play an import that was otherwise unavailable in my home country (kudos for Sony making the PS3 region free). But in terms of raw value for the gamer’s dollar, Gran Turismo 5 Prologue falls flat.

The Japanese version of GT5P operates in the same manner of most Gran Turismo games; you race your way to opening up new vehicles. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot for hardcore racing fans to enjoy about this Prologue version, but there’s simply not enough of it.

That’s not to say that I don’t recommend the Gran Turismo fan to pick up GT5P next month, as it still stands as the best racing simulation on the PlayStation 3, but Sony could have done a lot better. And by better, I don’t mean offering more gameplay, but rather by making the product more attractive.

The DualShock 3 launches around the same time as Gran Turismo 5 Prologue. Hey Sony, remember this thing Nintendo did last year called Wii Play? Yeah, it wasn’t a full game either, but it came bundled with a Wii Remote and consumers saw it as an incredible value. In fact, Wii Play was among the best selling games of 2007.

If Sony were truly clever, it would bundle Gran Turismo 5 Prologue with the DualShock 3 controller, and set the price point at $79.99. Gamers would look at the DualShock 3 by itself at $54.99 and GT5P by itself at $39.99, and would probably just pick up the bundle instead. To be even more shrew, Sony could just offer both as a take-it-or-leave it package, being the only way to obtain either of those products, outside of the digital download.

One more thing. We all know that Metal Gear Solid 4 is going to bundled item along with the return of the 80GB PS3 this summer. Why not throw Gran Turismo 5 Prologue as the pack-in with the 40GB PlayStation 3? Europe’s doing it.

Heed my words, Sony, and you’ll have hotcakes on your hands.

"It seems as though my state-funded math degree has failed me. Let the lashings commence." -- DailyTech Editor-in-Chief Kristopher Kubicki

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