New Forza Game Learnt A Valuable Lesson About Ripping People Off

New Forza Game Learnt A Valuable Lesson About Ripping People Off

Forza 5 launched with some nasty microtransactions, made more upsetting by the fact that people already spent $US60 to buy it. Players were pissed, and creator Turn 10 spent months re-tuning the otherwise solid racer. What does this mean for open-world spin-off Forza Horizon 2? No microtransactions whatsoever. At first.

I spoke with Playground Studios’ (Forza Horizon 2‘s primary developer) Ralph Fulton about the prospect of being able to spend real money on things — cars, upgrades, and the like — otherwise earnable in-game at a recent preview event in San Francisco, and he didn’t mince words: the firestorm that came down on Forza 5 provided a valuable — though indirect — learning experience for the Horizon team.

“Obviously we couldn’t help but notice what happened with Forza 5,” he said. “Absolutely. But at the same time, I did feel bad for the team [at Forza Motorsport creator Turn 10]. They worked incredibly hard on that game and then things erupted.”

Their solution, then, is to launch at the end of this month with no in-game microtransactions — no cars buyable for real money — whatsoever. You either earn your way to the top or stall out at the starting line. Why? Playground wants to make sure the game’s economy isn’t broken — that is, obnoxiously slow for people who don’t spend real money — like Forza 5‘s initially was. They also want to show fans that this game is designed to be fair and rewarding first and foremost, that it won’t repeat the sins of its series cousin.

“We’re not trying to short-change anybody out of the experience,” he said. “We want a massive amount of content available to everyone on day one.”

“There’s a twofold strategy to that. First, we want to make sure our economy is as we planned it. From the start, we want to make sure progression, the economy, the amount of credits you get in the game — that all of that is fair and rewarding. Our job is to make you feel good about your progression. We need to make sure that’s the case once the game is out in the wild and people can play it.”

“We’re not trying to short-change anybody out of the experience. We want a massive amount of content available to everyone on day one.”

“The second half of that is to demonstrate to everyone else — to the players — that we have a game which is balanced such that you never need to spend a penny on it. It will reward you. You will feel great. You’ll feel like a rockstar for the progression you make through it.”

How exactly will that work, though? What’s the difference between “feeling like a rockstar” (or, you know, a famous race car driver, which might have been a more apt analogy) and feeling like you’re being swindled by a used car salesman? Fulton explained it like this:

“We tried to make the game really generous. We give you two or three cars in the first hour. The wheelspin mechanic [that gives you a random reward when you level up] is really important too. Everybody loves a slot machine, and you have that sense that you’ll be levelling up every 15 or 20 minutes. With that, you have this next opportunity to get more cash or even to get a car.”

Horizon 2‘s world is allegedly three times larger than that of the first Forza Horizon, too. Fulton boasted that doing everything in it would take at least 100 hours.

Of course for now, that’s just a boast — empty air, no substance. What I can say with certainty is that in my experience of the game’s first hour, rewards came fast and furious. I leveled twice and got pretty good in-game money both times. I also won a championship in my muddy, thoroughly-dented-from-driving-like-a-maniac Camaro, which netted me even more glittering prizes. Also my car’s mutant healing factor kicked in after I crossed the finish line, so I didn’t have to pay pesky repair fees or anything like that.

As is, Forza Horizon 2‘s economy — at least, at this early point — inspires confidence. We’re not entirely in the clear, though. Assuming players largely get on well with Forza‘s new, more generous side, Playground hopes to add microtransactions at a later date.

” I’m sure there’ll come a time when we want to offer our players more choice,” said Fulton. “But we won’t do that at first. The crucial thing is to make this point [about our economy] to our fans.”

An admirable goal. I’ll confess, I’m not in love with the idea of putting microtransactions in a $US60 game at all, but — for the time being — it’s looking like The Way Of The Future. Here’s hoping more creators opt to nail down the, you know, fun side of their reward systems first and then sweat the other details. If Playground keeps to its word, Forza Horizon 2 will at least provide a good model to follow.


    • I’ll admit, I want this day one, but unlike Forza Horizon 1 – there’s no you beaut, steelcase, season pass extra special edition besides the Day One edition with 3 (4 if you buy from EB) extra cars. No steelcase, box or tat.

      For whatever reason, there’s some part of my brain that really wants those editions for bigger release titles I’m looking forward to (within reason) – in some kind of twisted logic/justify my preorder kind of way. And with a backlog of games growing, it justifies these sometimes slightly unnecessary pre orders.

      I should be thankful, I guess – but Horizon was one of my favourite racers last Gen (along with SASASR1, and Split/Second… strange choices I know) and I just wanted something a bit extra spesh. I’ve noticed I can’t seem to find the steelcase/mapbook version of Halo MCC advertised in Australia either – I hope someone offers that…

      So in this effort to please the internet outragers ( who a large percentage of probably are more interested in finding reasons to hate on the game anyway, and will just use whatever reason next down the list that the hivemind tells them to) – have things gone too far the other way? Not that micro transactions are something I use, but special editions – sure. There hasn’t been too many of them this generation – especially when last Gen, when most nearly every console exclusive (Sony & MS anyway) boasted some shiny, and super shiny edition

      • See I’m more likely to buy digital, I’m just hoping when the demo comes out next week all the Day One DLC is available to digital pre orders too, otherwise I’ll not worry about them.

        These days the only real reason to buy on disc is crappy net or if you trade games in frequently. US region swap digital titles are as cheap or cheaper than EB, and I can accept game invites from friends from anywhere on the console and have it launch without timing out while I find the disc.

        I didn’t get ahold of Forza Horizon 1 until Microsoft had some stupid cheap deals with gold sale, so the online was dead by then, but it definitely became my favourite racer of last gen.

        • If digital wasn’t so much more expensive than physical in nearly every case, and so much slower to install/reinstall than physical disc – I’d be much more into it.

          I’ve had friends region swap – but I can’t bring myself to do it. I know it’d probably never happen, but that sinking gut feeling that by buying under slightly false pretenses, I’m revoking all legal right to my purchases – whether that’s truly the case or not. I don’t mind paying more in Australia so much, as yeah – our minimum wage is double the US’s – but paying more (often %10-20) for a digital copy over the already higher Aussie price, is quite the deathblow.

          Y’know what – I’d like it if some game company offered me a physical copy, with all the rights of a digital copy – easier to install/keep backup of data locally, with the added reassurance of owning it digitally if my house burnt down. I’m over 35, so trading games to friends/co workers or EB doesn’t happen anymore, and as someone who will still pine for an hour or so of even the crappiest MegaDrive game I once owned 23 years ago (that’s now long gone, and not entirely convenient or inexpensive to replace in most cases – i kind of have a “thing” for keeping my copies of my games for myself.

          I could shop around physical stores, give them my business, find the pricing / exclusive content most appealing to me – and own a legit digital copy, with hard backup available.

          Who could offer me this?

          (But I digress!)

          • 10-20% more in Australia would be reasonable. US copies are MINIMUM 30% cheaper than Australia. Hell I think watchdogs is currently on sale for $69AU, which is more than the standard US price, while it’s $40US digitally. My entire Xbox One collection is from the US store except Diablo, because they fkd up the pricing and it was the same price, therefore cheaper here.

            MS support even unlocks accounts of people who get their card or paypal locked out for buying internationally, so they seem to be condoning it. I use my real name, I use a Comgateway address in Oregon that forwards mail to me, the only thing false is the phone number. You also have to remember Microsoft has moved onto global accounts with regional wallets for everything now, Windows 8 and Windows Phone included. A few people buying out of region are worth the savings of not having to manage different systems for different countries.

            I’m also a game collector, and still have my NES plugged in, but I figure in a future where the servers I got the digital games from don’t exist anymore, I most likely wont be able to play the disc versions of these heavily online focused and requiring games and consoles anyway :(.

            Unfortunately what you want, physical purchases with digital ownerships, is what Microsoft announced at E3, and what the gaming public hated and rallied to Sony against. Funnily enough, Sony own patents on the idea, but didn’t implement it.

          • Ah DK, you are truly a giant amongst men.

            I was debating whether to buy Destiny digitally – on 360, to take advantage of the Xbox360/One double copy/upgrade.

            $100.20 on 360 – vanilla edition. No special edition/season pass edition available. Season Pass/Special Edition digital edition – Xbox One only – $130.

            It’s $67 at Target. I could physically buy a copy for each platform for $134. Or a physical 360 copy and season pass for around the same price as a vanilla 360 digital copy. Or an Xbox One physical copy, and season pass for near $30 less than the same combo in its “digital deluxe” incarnation. It’s madness.

          • Hi dknigs dunno if you saw the post above, check the Hong Kong store marketplace 🙂
            have open to see how much you are saving

            Destiny Vanguard edition $53 AUD
            destiny limited digital $76 AUD
            this is why I love Xbox one

      • Sorry for the off topic reply too.

        Dk’s post just made me think “why haven’t I preordered this game again?” and began/resumed an internal dialogue I’ve been having lately..

        • Hey guys just a shout out if you switch your region to HK you can buy Xbox one games tax free 😉 got destiny $53 pre downloaded started playing at 1:00am perth time, launch day no dramas

          Uhhh keep it relatively quiet as I don’t know how good a thing like this will last hahaha,

          Another example, trials fusion $16 instead of $59 at EB haha
          just looking out for fellow Xbox Users and forza fans!

  • Glad that the customer backlash had some effect. I was just as pissed when Forza removed LAN play as a cash grab to force players to sign up for a LIVE GOLD subscription, even if you just wanted to play with mates in the same room.

  • “Everybody loves a slot machine”

    Speak for yourself. Few things more annoying than slot machines in games that have nothing to do with slot machines.

  • That’s a pretty slick trailer btw. Nice use of that melodic dubstep track…whatever it might be.

  • I hate when they use the term “Give the players more choice” instead of “Get more of the players money”

    If they cared about choice they wouldn’t charge people to be able to cheat to get more games out of the slot machine.

  • This is a huge amount of effort to provide no real benefit to players/costomers that they didn’t have before,

  • ““Absolutely. But at the same time, I did feel bad for the team [at Forza Motorsport creator Turn 10]. They worked incredibly hard on that game and then things erupted.””

    Genuinely refuse to believe someone could include “pay to win” things in a game without considering reaction to it. EA etc have constantly gotten crap over it, and you’d have to have your head in the sand to notice otherwise.

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