August 29, 2013
IRVINE, Calif. (August 28, 2013) - Next week 42 gamers will descend on Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit in the UK for Race Camp, to battle it out to become the 11th winner of Nissan PlayStation GT Academy. GT Academy was born from a simple question: Can the world of virtual racing discover a real world racing talent? This collaboration between Nissan and PlayStation produced its first graduate in 2008 and within three years that graduate took a podium finish at the Le Mans 24 Hours. Championship wins in some of the world's toughest, most prestigious races, and much motorsport industry recognition since then, has categorically answered the question.
Back in 2008 Autoblog.com stated: “This is either the stupidest idea ever or the most brilliant co-promotion for two brands in the history of mankind.” Five years on GT Academy has had nearly four million entrants via PlayStation 3; over one billion miles driven virtually in Nissans on Gran Turismo; has been watched on TV by over 120 million people across the globe; has delivered tens of millions of dollars of media coverage online and in print; and has won numerous awards.
The television show for GT Academy Europe has attracted interest not just from the 120 million viewers in the 160 countries it is broadcast to, but also from the advertising, broadcast and media industries. “GT ACADEMY” has no less than three prestigious Lion Awards, one of which was the Cannes Golden Lion, won in 2010 for “Best Use of Branded Content” at the 58th International Festival of Creativity. Most recently it took the Broadcast Digital Award for “Best Content Partnership.”
It is a multiple winner of Campaign media awards in the UK. Campaign is the must-read magazine of the UK advertising industry and their summary of GT Academy in 2010 estimated the global media value of the 2010 European competition at more than £30 million.
In addition to great television coverage, GT Academy grabs the headlines every time a new winner is crowned. The winners' stories create natural headlines. The 2011 winner was a student on a gap year, unsure of his next move. Winning GT Academy has thrust him into the spotlight as he races against the future stars of Formula One in the FIA European Formula 3 Championship. Old-fashioned “rags-to-riches” tales capture the imagination of editors who report on the dreams that GT Academy is making come true.
GT Academy's online presence is growing fast. To illustrate the speed of this growth between May and August this year the GT Academy Europe Facebook page grew by over 50% in terms of subscriber numbers. The same exponential growth can be seen on other social media platforms including Twitter, YouTube and Instagram.
Entry to GT Academy is via the Gran Turismo game on the PlayStation 3. Since the launch of PlayStation 3 in November 2006, 70 million units have been sold globally and continue to be sold at a record level. The Gran Turismo game itself, now celebrating its 15th year, has also sold 70 million units.
In 2008 just 25,000 people entered GT Academy (Europe) but word soon spread and the second competition in 2010 attracted a staggering 1.1 million entries. GT Academy now holds competitions in the US, Europe, Russia, Germany, the Middle East and South Africa, with further expansion planned across the world as demand continues to grow year after year.
The 2013 GT Academy competitions are now well underway with the finals for the US, European, Russian and German series all taking place in September. Globally the online qualifying period for GT Academy 2013 attracted 1.3 million entrants over a four-week period, compared to 1 million over an eight-week period last year.
“At the launch of Nissan PlayStation GT Academy we had many doubters about whether we could find good racing drivers,” said Nissan's Director of Global Motorsport, Darren Cox. “We actually proved we could find great racing drivers who now are becoming stars around the world. Doubters also questioned the risk to launch such an Innovative Marketing program at a time where gaming, content and social media were not as ‘mainstream’ as they are today. The numbers and awards speak for themselves. At Nissan we are most proud of the fact we were once again ahead of the curve and that the idea continues to grow globally. Nissan is currently investigating more markets to expand this innovative idea into. The biggest growth area could come from emerging markets which either do not have a heritage of motorsport, or where motorsport is completely out of reach for the majority of young people.”