I remember a time when I used to buy racing game and play it nonstop for six months pick up another racing game and play it for the six months leading up to the next big release or FPS. Several releases of Project Gotham Racing, RalliSport Challenge, Burnout, Need for Speed, Dirt, and Grid came and went. When some of those original XBOX games became obsolete by not being backwards compatible when the 360 released they were sold off or stashed in the closet. When Forza Motorsports 4 released I thought it had the chance to be the racing game to end all racing games and all my other racing games went in the closet.
Playing Forza 4 I thought I had found contentment. I quickly figured out I had a decent amount of skill painting the cars and joined an in game club and met tuners, expert drivers, and other car guys/girls from around the world. We didn’t know it then but that’s when auto-centric games changed; and the day after the last DLC pack shipped, they stopped being fun.
Full discloser: I;ve never owned any version of PlayStation and have therfore never played any version of GTA or Gran Turismo. Further I have not played any Need for Speed since Most Wanted in 2005.
Modern racing sims like Forza Motorsport 6 are fast and beautiful, with a brilliant color pallet where the view and physics can make for intense immersion...for a while. Even with a game as buttery smooth at 60fps like Forza 6; monotony can set in. In Forza 4; developer support and a relentless schedule of monthly challenges were spot on and always gave players a new goal to shoot for, and a need for a new car to learn to push to the limit. That community support dropped off in Forza Horizon and didn’t return in Forza 5, and now in Forza 6 it’s anemic. Nowadays I spend more time in the paint booth than on the track.
Problems Defined: I believe evolution and profitability have lead to the current state of affairs where we have Forza/Gran Turismo fans on one side, and Horizon/NFS fans on the other. (Grid and Dirt series fall closer to the middle.) It appears independent of the console that developers will make either a sim based game or an arcade based game with only a small nod toward the other. Players on the other hand come from three groups; sim racers, arcade racers, and those who like both equally. Fans who like sims predominantly hate arcade racer games, arcade racers find sims too serious with no room for error. Both are very vocal. This means developers are likely to disappoint as much as 2/3 of the fan base even if they do a great job on the game they intended to make.
Forza, Gran Turismo, and Need for Speed were great when they were the best of the breed but now it seems they are the only titles both publishers and gamers can get behind. Games like Project cars and The Crew get hammered even before release by fan boys. One starts to suspect these “Fans” may be incentivized by the premier game companies their criticisms are so dark. This stagnation in auto-centric games has allowed all of the modern franchises to hide a multitude of issues, lack of content, or just putting half of the content as DLC rather than sell what many would consider a complete game.
When a complete game cost $50 a gamer could better afford to gamble on a game like Burnout, or Flatout; have fun for 3 - 6 months and then buy another game. Now when the full content version of games grab $100 or more its difficult for the average gamer to risk their money on a game that might only get a rating of 8/10. You at least want the fun factor to last as long as the DLC lasts.
Special note: If you want to be in the top 10% of drivers add $600 to your gaming budget for a Thrustmaster wheel/pedal combo and another $400-500 on a Playseat chair. If you’ve gone this far add two more HD screens and assorted equipment so you can include side views.
All race sims suffer from the same basic problems; the creators focus on physics frame rate and car count rather than making a game that a player can immerse themselves in. (The historic content in Forza is excellent on first run but lacks replay ability.) Community creation, support, and involvement is mostly grass roots which means its strongest 1 month before release and three to four months after launch. Most DLC takes 6 months to be completed and most of the players have long since moved on to another game.
All non sim type car games suffer from the same flaws. They are often too simplistic and redundant with zero community support from the publisher who is already making the next cash grab game at the lowest budget possible.
Concerns: Forza Motorsport 6 is six months old. The Porsche DLC has just released and in the same week Turn 10, Forzas’ publisher, announced that Lamborghini will be on the cover of the next “Forza Game”. Not Forza Motorsport 7, not Forza Horizon 3, but “The Next Forza Game”
This has me wondering is Playground Games out and Horizon is dead? Are we 6 months from Forza 7? I haven’t raced let alone painted 1/4 of the cars in Forza 6 and the only DLC I bought was the Porsche Pack.
Possibly the biggest concern is the pent up animosity being stored in gamers who always have a laundry list of wants that overwhelm any game developers best effort. If a developer excludes a racing series as popular as F1 its considered a failed game. If the developer gives us an F1 car we want them all from all eras; and ditto to all the historical and new tracks as well; if they don’t the developer sucks. If the developer gives us a JDM car it better be the S14, and we better be able to Rocket Bunny every car including the 1978 Ford Pinto. We don’t want every car we ever lusted after, we want every car from every game we ever played, and we want them paintable, upgradeable, tune-able, and throw in any body kit ever designed for it and two more custom ones just to switch things up.
Everyone who has played a racing game has had a moment; a moment where they were a driving god and shaved a 1000th of a second off their best time; a moment they pulled off an impossible last corner pass for the win. That’s what endears tracks to gamers, that’s why we remember they’re names. that’s why we want every track in every game. Is a racing game complete without Silverstone? What about Indianapolis? Then how can a game be complete without Suzuka? We want every track in every game, and yet we still want more. Americans want more American tracks, cars, cities, and throw in the Pacific Coast Highway, Pikes Peak, and The Tail of the Dragon while you are at it. Meanwhile Japanese drivers, and all drift racers, want every Japanese track, and Touge run included. Still not satisfied the Europeans will want Goodwood, rally courses, hill climbs, and more of the heritage of racing. (It took until Forza 6 to get the Zakspeed Capri.)
Solution: No game maker can make every racer and gamer happy. Hopefully developers as talented as Turn 10 are willing to continue to try. I think technology is at a point that we may be able to get a future car centered game that can solve all these problems and bring back that winning moment we all remember from racers of days past. Basically we need a game that stops polarizing the two genre of car games and brings the racers and the gamers together.
One Racing Franchise to rule them all what I’m imagine they might call Forza Horizon Forever. Basically Destiny for racers.
Imagine for a moment an open world racer where city locations are based on real cities downtowns and are connected by typical Forza Horizon open landscapes and highways. Intersperse the openness with real-world racetrack destinations we know and love. Have the physics tight on the tracks and more forgiving everywhere else. Along with the standard Forza fare reintroduce racing and non racing mayhem from games of Christmas past so the nubes and crash monkeys who just want to get stoned and wreck someone don’t feel the need to do it to a guy that just wants to race clean.
So already we have some problems solved; all the tracks we want are here already so sim racers are happy, and it has city and open world aspects that avail to those who like to roam and those that like carnage.
Instead of taking a year, or more, to make a game that all but the hardcore will leave in a matter of weeks or months; give this one game a three year life cycle. This will help multiple facets. When a gamer is given 400+ cars they’d be lucky to buy let alone drive half of them in 6 months. So instead of a glut of cars at the beginning make it 200 cars and an announce structured DLC program instead of the mystery that needlessly surrounds it now. I had pent up desire for the Porsche pack because I knew it was coming. I didn’t go a single month thinking I wished Id paid for it. Having not utilized most of the cars from launch I never felt I needed any of these cars. Monthly rivalries died off, season campaign didn’t require anything new and it wasn’t worth the gamble of paying for a 2000 Plymouth Prowler or a 2005 Aztek.
If the developers could possibly make the starting price of the game low enough to incentivize more to make the initial investment, and then keep the developer/community interaction high to keep people playing and wanting that next DLC. If the game has monthly car releases and event updates it should be able to keep gamers coming back for more.
A delayed release structure could help the painters in the community by giving them more time to paint liveries as new cars come into demand. As it is now too many are copy pasting Forza 5 liveries, or when in doubt Martini, Gulf, Red Bull everything. Too many tuners utilize third party research or tuning aps to nock out tunes that aren’t useful. Here again the delay and community involvement might help get tunes that actually improve drivability.
This brings up an important point. There is no way of validating a tune without using it. Forza 4's Storefront made finding tunes/liveries much easier, and you could find “Your Tuner” and hope they tuned the car you wanted for the specific track you wanted; sometimes. The leader boards now let you download a tune directly so you can see the tune has potential, but not how that tune will do elsewhere. This system could be improved if there was a system that told you how a tune would preform elsewhere or maybe co-opt the Drivatar technology into a engineer and driver instructor to teach us how to tune a car to our driving style, or better how to adapt our driving to maximize a tunes potential.
Another method of the delayed release could allow the developer to have big seasonal updates to include new features and tracks scheduled when normal ebbs in use would occur, such as holidays and when competing games are released and bring those who left; back for more. If I have a choice between a $70 half baked game and $20 to keep the one I’m enjoying going, I’m going to save $50 that I can spend on the next update. The delay release aspect would also, in my opinion, give developers the opportunity to get DLC right and require fewer patches and disgruntled fans.
I’m not a marketing or licensing guy, obviously, but I would think this would give a better structure and tool for the developer to get more licensees onboard as they wont be needing to do it again the next year and the year after that. I would think if the developer is committed long term those franchises that want their products in front of gamers would see a better long term option. A longer contract might just make everyone’s job easier too.
Maybe I’ll be surprised when “The Next Forza Game” is officially announced at E3. The Hype Train left the station for Horizon 3 last year even before Forza Motorsport 6 even released. It’s possible Forza 4 was peak racing game and all we are left with is sim racing and arcade mayhem until nobody wants to play them anymore. Maybe I’m just a cynical old man who’s finally too old for videogames. I hope not on either count. I also hope the creatives get the proper backing and are ready to give us the driving game we all can play...together.
Either you made it all the way to the end (congratulations!) or you scrolled all the way down here to request a livery. I have many cool ones already made and many more in process. If you have Forza Motorsport 6 my liveries can be found under gammer tag Jammer 505. Requests will only be considered if they come through the Xbox Live. Reason # 1 I don’t have time to make liveries for people who just want to see a photo here. Reason # 2 I want to be able to confirm you have the game. Further I don’t do custom work for people I don’t know. Sorry. Its too easy to end up designing a livery for a professional driver for free. Its been done. If you send a friend invite it may or may not help your request get made. It depends mostly on my available time. And who couldn’t use more friends on their rival list?