When rumours regarding the announcement of a Forza Motorsport release on Windows 10 began to gain traction, like many of our readers, we here at PRC.net were under the impression that Turn 10 Studios had been hard at work polishing up Forza Motorsport 6 for hardcore PC racing sim elitists. As it stands, the popular Xbox One title is leaps and bounds ahead of many already-established Steam-only offerings such as Project CARS and Assetto Corsa, with Turn 10 merely required to add the necessary hardware functionalities to ensure the game’s success among what is sometimes a hostile crowd. Instead, Turn 10 has gone and done the exact opposite of what everyone wanted: they’ve given us a whole lot of nothing.
Forza Motorsport 6: Apex will be a free-to-play Windows 10 title featuring 20 locations and a little over 60 cars. There will be no extensive career mode, no online racing, no car upgrades, presumably no tuning, no livery editor, no storefront, no steering wheel support, and little in the way of single player or online progression. The title will serve primarily as a tech demo for the Windows 10 operating system, rather than a fully-featured racing sim intended to compete with the big names dominating the market. Turn 10 believes they are unsure how the Forza franchise will be received on the PC, and would like to enter the fray in a strategic manner – using a low-risk offering that is a direct slap in the face to anyone even mildly interested in a PC version of Forza. In short, today’s reveal pissed off a lot of people.
What bothers me about the whole endeavor, is how smug both Microsoft and Turn 10 are about the whole project. Microsoft claim they are “100% committed to the PC gaming space”, while clearly pushing a product that is simply laughable, even on paper. Turn 10 have literally ripped everything even remotely enjoyable out of Forza, and somehow gone the extra mile to exclude the exact target audience of this game on PC via the omission of steering wheel support, and then pretended that this is all somehow a good thing that people should get excited about.
This is absolutely fucking absurd, a plan indicating Turn 10 Studios have done zero research on the very precise market they intend to enter. The 2015 calendar year saw exactly one racing sim worth buying, surrounded by numerous eternal science projects, whose trend-setting marketing gimmicks served to hide certain unfinished gameplay elements or bugs. A major Forza release would cause a tremendous shift in the genre, as basically every sim racer would check it out due to sheer curiosity – and most likely find a few things to like about it. I simply don’t understand the need to test the waters with a game whose mere existence already angers people – the market has been theirs for the taking for quite some time.
For example, iRacing sells a wire-frame version of Long Beach for $5 under their tech track program, with an outdated Dallara DW12 IndyCar for sale at a price of something like $12. Meanwhile, Forza’s got the new IndyCar aero packages and what appears to be a laser-scanned rendition of the iconic California street circuit as part of the base package. Now, I don’t know about you, but I’ll take a slight reduction in tire model fidelity if I can drive something that looks a hell of a lot better than this:
Yet, instead of taking full advantage of the current state of the sim racing scene, Turn 10 will set out on releasing a completely pointless addition to the already sizable list of half-baked eternal science projects. Except this one isn’t even a science project, with continuous updates sprinkled throughout the year. Forza Motorsport 6: Apex is pure bait – bait that entices you to upgrade to Windows 10 and subject yourself to all kinds of backdoor activity monitoring. Now I’m sure the fanboys will inevitably pop up to defend this game, with preposterous claims such as “why are you complaining about something you’re getting for free” – but it’s the ideology behind the title that causes a bit of concern: A high profile developer sat down and mathematically crafted one of the most useless driving simulators of all time. No steering wheel support, no modes, no features, and barely any content. Pass.
And we haven’t even gotten to the Free to Play garbage yet, so I guess we should get started on that.
The Free to Play sales model doesn’t work when applied to racing games. I’m not just pulling this out of my ass to sound like I know what I’m talking about: every major free to play release over the past five or six years has been either a commercial or critical failure, and in some cases, both.
- Need for Speed World sounded good on paper – combining the maps from both Carbon and Most Wanted into a huge MMO that had low system requirements, but was slowly overrun with micro-transactions and hackers.
- Victory: Age of Racing was an online post-apocalyptic Formula One racer powered by the NetKar Pro engine. The game’s main draw was the elaborate car builder, allowing users to mix and match different eras of Open Wheel cars, but lag was prevalent in the builds I tried during my time with a beta key over at RaceDepartment. The few races I got into, it was clear this game was intended for Russians and Brazilians driving on keyboards.
- Project CARS was originally intended to be a Free to Play title, but the thousands of WMD members vetoed that idea in favor of a more traditional $60 release. Take a guess why.
- Sim Raceway was a half-baked attempt at copying iRacing on the isiMotor engine, through a partnership with the Jim Russell Racing School over at Sonoma Raceway. While the graphical fidelity of some tracks were stunning enough to be converted into rFactor, the entire package cost upwards of $550 USD. By comparison, the original rFactor was sold at a fraction of that price, and free third party modifications could easily help eclipse the roster of content in Sim Raceway. Sim Racing YouTube personality Empty Box has indicated on Twitter in the past that the company itself has been in some legal hot water, and refuses to cover their products.
- Copa Petrobras de Marcas was an attempt to help Reiza Studios reel in new fans by offering the entry-level touring car portion of Stock Car Extreme for free, but the team from Brazil ended up releasing a fully-featured title in the end with the cars included in the base package.
- RaceRoom Racing Experience is more or less the spiritual successor to GTR 2 and the Race 07 line of expansions, but the bizarre Free to Play pricing format only serves to anger and confuse people. Even when some sim racers are giving the title the highest of praises for aspects in which it truly shines, such as the sound or diversity of content, you will always find at least one mention of the atrocious pricing model. As a result, R3E’s Steam activity numbers are the lowest among all modern sims, even though the game itself is quite good.
The whole Free to Play concept just doesn’t work in this environment. Sim racers are fully aware when something has been built to fuck with their wallets, because the average age of a sim racer is much older than that of other genres. We’re not a large pack of children obsessively grinding through Call of Duty after school, begging mommy for her credit card so we can buy the new map pack. We’re past that. I hope.
But maybe this is all part of Turn 10’s plan? Maybe they’ve actually sat down and studied the sim racing scene, and opted to build a version of Forza Motorsport 6 for the PC with the minimum effort necessary to be deemed “acceptable” by the community.
The fanbase surrounding Assetto Corsa doesn’t care that the AI is buggy, Career Mode is that of an iPhone game, flag rules don’t do a whole lot, or that you can’t race at night. People have still eaten it up regardless, happy with the fact that they can drive in circles on a track by themselves and pretend they can drift like Chris Harris. And the fanboys surrounding Project CARS don’t care that over ten major patches have failed to fix hilarious bugs such as cars falling into the ground, or wet weather tires providing the fastest lap times in dry conditions. People still sit around on forums bragging that the game sold a million copies, and they made X amount of money by participating in a viral marketing scheme. Hell, even the iRacing guys love to claim that the enormous cost automatically places the game into a league of it’s own, and will literally say you have some sort of evil vendetta for daring to suggest David Kaemmer’s experimental tire model could use a bit of fine-tuning. It doesn’t matter that every modern racing sim lacks something; the masses will perform a stunning set of mental gymnastics to tell themselves that this is all somehow okay.
It’s not hard to imagine Turn 10 showing up, realizing they could literally shit out the most bastardized version of Forza imaginable, and reel in the money from micro-transactions as the people with very legitimate complaints (like myself) are deemed “crazy” or “a serial moaner” by random sim racers wanting to earn brownie points with the developers. Bam, welcome to Forza Motorsport 6: Apex.
So maybe Forza Motorsport 6: Apex is the game we deserve? When sim racers sit around sucking the cock of various developers as they continue to half-ass updates and push out unfinished games, just so a random community rep re-tweets them on Twitter or invites them into the closed beta program, this mentality effectively gives the thumbs up for other developers to show up and do the exact same thing. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the ideology powering Apex, and you shouldn’t be, either. It’s the future you chose.