Digital Polyphony's long-awaited PS2 racer Gran Turismo 4 has apparently suffered another slippage - with the date for the game changed from Autumn to Winter in Japan, raising fears that it may not launch until early 2005.
The change was made in Sony's latest official Japanese release schedule, and it simply changed the game to "Winter," rather than "Winter 2004" - a fact which could indicate that the title is now scheduled for Q1 next year.
Gran Turismo 4's launch date has been the subject of intense speculation for several months, with many reports suggesting that the key title will miss Christmas in Europe and the USA, if not in Japan.
At present, the game is still loosely aimed at a November release in North America, but it's not clear how likely it actually is to hit that date. Failure to ship Gran Turismo 4 ahead of Christmas would be perceived as a major blow to Sony in a crucial selling period for the industry as a whole.
However, a competing rumour which emerged from Japan late last week suggested that the eagerly awaited racer will actually emerge just ahead of Christmas in the Far East, and will launch with a special PStwo hardware bundle.
This launch plan - which is highly speculative at the moment, since the existence of PStwo remains, itself, only a rumour - would mirror the company's huge success in Japan last Christmas, where a special PS2 hardware bundle was launched along with Gran Turismo 4: Prologue, a budget-priced demo edition of the forthcoming game.