Interview: Forza Motorsport 5 creative director defends in-game economy, amount of content

By Garnett Lee, Nov 26, 2013 4:00pm PST

Forza Motorsport 5 is shaping up to be an excellent playing game (our full review coming soon). However, gamers are angry at how certain locked cars are priced beyond the means of normal gameplay. With the game offering in-game credits via microtransactions, gamers are up-in-arms about the in-game economy. Turn 10 creative director Dan Greenawalt responded to our questions.

Why are there locked cars in Free Play mode? There's no progression element to Free Play, but a player can't just play with all the cars in the game?

Having a limited Free Play garage including rentals was introduced in Forza Horizon. Our goal was to get players to form connections with the cars that mattered most to them and to feel invested in the cars they own.

What happened to the wealth of community features that made Forza so strong? It's surprising to see so much gone on a new console that's build to be community oriented. Where are clubs Storefront? Custom lobbies? Gifting of liveries and tuning?

Community is core to what we do on Forza Motorsport. In fact, it's the core part of the Franchise vision. For example, we have an even better community building system in place for creators with a curated content system that automatically serves players the best curated paints and tunes in the game. Gone are the days of managing your Storefront inventory. In the last generation most of our painters put up their works of art for free because they wanted the notoriety. Now, our best creators are paid in-game and recognized based on the usage of their creations, rather than number of downloads or market value. At the same time, drivers get this amazing UGC and don't have to pay anything for it. In all, it's a much better system for both parties.

Regarding car clubs, the new UI system in Forza Motorsport 5 means everything gets rebuilt. Being on the Xbox One gives us the opportunity to rethink old problems. The original Forza Motorsport featured Car Clubs, but Forza Motorsport 2 on the Xbox 360 didn't. For that matter, car clubs weren't in Forza Motorsport 3 either.

Finally, in addition to racing in a variety of preset lobbies, players can still create custom lobbies to race in with their friends.

What is the expectation for someone who wants to "play" their way to the top? Even with Drivatars I see players reporting between 5-30K in daily earnings. To be able to buy the top cars, or even just a single top car, at that rate would take a very long time. Even factoring in a lot of daily racing. Furthermore, credit earning does not seem to scale and ramp up with leveling.

The expectation is that different cars are more expensive and that makes them more rare. Because of the classification system, there is no "top" to the production classes. Currently, we have some players earning lots of credits and some players earning not nearly as much. This is a skill- and strategy-based economy with rarity provided by in-game price, not locking mechanisms. Players can receive +65% payout for playing against the hardest skill level Drivatars, up to +50% bonus credit payouts for turning off the assists, and up to +35% payouts for sticking with a favorite manufacturer. That's +150% bonus based on skill and strategy. When you couple that with Drivatar rewards, UGC payouts, and Forza Rewards (our franchise-based loyalty rewards) there are plenty of ways to earn credits in Forza 5. However, the fact remains: racing, skill, and strategy are the engine of the economy. Of course, we continue to monitor the economy via customer feedback as well as in-game telemetry and we have the ability to make adjustments should it be warranted.

What happened to the beloved Green Monster?

I assume you mean the Green Hell, aka the Nürburgring (and not Fenway Park!) When we built the tracks in Forza Motorsport 5, we had a set ourselves an extremely high quality bar. With a brand new graphics engine created specifically for Xbox One, we wanted to take advantage of light and atmosphere and there was no better way to show that off than the tracks themselves. As a result, for the tracks in Forza 5, we started from scratch. That meant going back to the beginning and capturing them in a way that would correct inaccuracies from the previous generation, updating tracks where warranted (such as the new layout for Silverstone), and using state-of-the-art techniques to bring these tracks to Xbox One. That included the use of laser-scanning technology, which allowed us to capture tracks with pinpoint accuracy. Tracks like Spa-Francorchamps and Bathurst – two of the most heavily requested tracks from the Forza community – are in Forza 5 and brought to life in stunning detail. Even tracks like Laguna Seca – a circuit that has been in the Forza series since the original game – have benefited from this approach. Forza Motorsport 5 players expect the cars and tracks in the game to be built to the highest detail and realism – anything less wouldn't be Forza. For that reason, we didn't put in old low res content just to pad our numbers. Expect more news on tracks in Forza Motorsport 5 in the near future.

With it being a flagship title for the new console, already a lot of cash to lay out for gamers, and not the largest garage of cars, why is there day one DLC? Why couldn't those cars have been part of the core game if they are ready at launch?

First, some context: As you know, Forza Motorsport 2 shipped a year and a half after the launch of the Xbox 360. It featured 270 cars (200 base models plus 35 race car liveries as well as 35 aftermarket tuner body kits) without cockpits and just 12 environments. This was less environments than the original Forza Motorsport, as all of the environments had to be rebuilt for the bespoke new generation engine. By comparison, Gran Turismo 3 A-Spec (the first GT game on PlayStation 2, and not a launch title, by the way) shipped with 150 cars and far fewer tracks.

Obviously, we did not cut anything from Forza Motorsport 5, as we had to build it all from the ground up. All 35+ gigs of it. We started the game a year before Forza 4 shipped in order to give us the time to build the game we wanted to build, and to define racing for the new generation. We have a new UI system, we have new materials and lighting that stress the imperfect details of the world running at 60fps and 1080p. There are the new physics and AI innovations - features not possible on last generation hardware. Of course, now taking advantage of next gen hardware, the tracks require more resolution, detail and materials – this is simply the cost of moving to a new generation for any team wanting to push. In addition, we have Forzavista for every car. This is what allowed us to do the close-up pre- and post-race cinematics and high-resolution cockpits, as well as the reflective cockpit glass. We were able to use the added console power to make cockpit view more immersive and more drivable than last generation. We've already seen from player data that the number of people that are playing the game from cockpit view (as the primary view) has greatly increased from Forza Motorsport 4 - that is the result of the same investment they gave us Forzavista.

Here's the context that is probably most surprising; Forza Motorsport 5 is actually the largest racing game ever delivered at the launch of a console, by a long shot. In fact, it would be huge even by second holiday standards. As mentioned above, it is bigger than Forza 2, which was delivered a year and half after the launch of the Xbox 360. It also has more car diversity than any previous Forza Motorsport; by including open wheel race cars and track toys like the KTM X-Bow and the Ariel Atom on top of the diversity that took us years to build up across multiple iterations on the Xbox 360. Moreover, we've defined an uncompromised quality bar for new generation racing games in both car and track detail and immersion - all while, delivering unprecedented size.

Regarding DLC, we have found that 10 cars a month is the fastest we could create “just in time” content. Just like in Forza Motorsport 4, we are planning to add as many as 10 cars a month to Forza Motorsport 5. It takes more than six months to build every car. Delivering cars in monthly packs allows us to keep the game new and fresh for those that are interested.

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