FRANKLIN, Tenn., May 1, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Nissan North America (NNA) will again partner with Sony Computer Entertainment America LLC (SCEA) and Polyphony Digital Inc. for a second season of the popular non-scripted TV series GT Academy in the U.S., airing on Spike TV network later this year.
GT Academy challenges gamers and racing fans to compete in a series of online time trials in pre-selected Nissan vehicles for a shot at becoming a real racing driver. Last year's competition drew over 53,000 competitors nationwide, with 30-year old Californian Bryan Heitkotter emerging as the winner. Heitkotter has gone on to compete in races for Nissan in the United States, Middle East and Europe.
"Nissan GT Academy is a truly unique opportunity," says 2011 champion Heitkotter. "For me traveling and racing around the world has been an amazing, life changing experience so far, and I know we can achieve even more."
This year's competition promises to reach a much larger gaming audience, as prospective players can download the Sony GT Academy 2012 demo free online via the PlayStation Network (PSN) starting today.
Registration for the GT Academy competition runs from June 11-24 for those who think they can compete for one of the top 32 spots in the finals, to be held in July. From there, the top 16 players in the country will move on to the GT Academy "boot camp," where they will face a week-long series of grueling physical and mental challenges, including getting behind the wheel of actual Nissan cars to prove their driving skills. Along the way, participants will be eliminated until only one remains. The competitors' road to victory will be documented in a multi-episode reality show airing exclusively on Spike TV in late 2012.
Kazunori Yamauchi, President of Polyphony Digital, adds: "It makes me very proud to see the graduates of the GT Academy racing around the world with Nissan. This year we are aiming to make GT Academy bigger and better than ever before and so I am creating a new series of driving challenges open to anyone with a PS3 (terms and conditions will apply). You don't have to be an expert to have a go. Added to that, each country will host live GT Academy entry events to ensure that as many people as possible can enter the 2012 GT Academy."
Jon Brancheau, Vice President of Marketing at NNA said, "Nissan North America is delighted to again partner with Sony Entertainment to give another top-tier video gamer the opportunity to pilot real Nissan racing cars on the track. We are proud of Bryan Heitkotter's development as a racer and look forward to a much larger group of players this year, with the addition of a free online GT Academy demo from PlayStation Network and a larger broadcast audience on Spike TV. Gran Turismo 5 showcases Nissan performance and innovation like no other virtual experience, and it's exciting to see GT Academy bring those attributes to life on the racetrack."
Beginning today, players in the U.S. can download GT Academy 2012 FREE on PlayStation Store through the PlayStation®3. Designed to turn the best Gran Turismo players into real-life race drivers, this year's GT Academy welcomes players of all levels. Each participant will compete in a series of virtual trials, piloting Nissan cars, over an eight-week period in 40 different events. Each round features five events that players can retry as many times as they want. Only the fastest lap times will be recorded and ranked. Rounds 1 and 2 are the first set of trials to open.
The last stage of the eight-week competition will serve as the finale-- Round 8, Event 5 -- where it all boils down to one FINAL online time trial challenge. Only the fastest lap times will go up on the national leader boards, so in order to move up in the rankings, the player must continually improve their performance. Their fastest lap in Round 8, Event 5 will determine if they have what it takes to move on to the GT Academy 2012 National Finals.
About Nissan North America In North America, Nissan's operations include automotive styling, engineering, consumer and corporate financing, sales and marketing, distribution and manufacturing. Nissan is dedicated to improving the environment under the Nissan Green Program and has been recognized as an ENERGY STAR® Partner of the Year in 2010, 2011, and 2012 by the U.S Environmental Protection Agency. More information on Nissan in North America and the complete line of Nissan and Infiniti vehicles can be found online at www.NissanUSA.com and www.InfinitiUSA.com.
About Sony Computer Entertainment America LLC Sony Computer Entertainment America LLC continues to redefine the entertainment lifestyle with its PlayStation® and PS one® systems, the PlayStation®2 system, the PSP® (PlayStation®Portable) system, the ground-breaking PlayStation®3 (PS3™) system and its online and network services the PlayStation®Network and PlayStation®Store.
Recognized as the undisputed industry leader, Sony Computer Entertainment America LLC markets the PlayStation family of products and develops, publishes, markets, and distributes software for the PS one, PlayStation 2, PSP and PS3 systems for the North American market. Based in Foster City, California, Sony Computer Entertainment America LLC serves as headquarters for all North American operations and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. Visit us on the Web at http://www.us.playstation.com.
About Gran Turismo® With more than 65 million units sold worldwide, the award-winning Gran Turismo® franchise for the PlayStation®, PlayStation®2 and PLAYSTATION®3 is regarded as the best and most authentic driving simulation ever created due to its true-to-life graphics, physics and real-life cars and tracks. Since the inception of the Gran Turismo franchise, famed creator Kazunori Yamauchi and Polyphony Digital Inc. in Japan have revolutionized the racing category as we know it today. His offerings provide the gamer with the most true-to-life driving simulation within the industry and a unique medium for automotive manufacturers to showcase their products.