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Turn 10: Forza 5 micro-transactions were our idea

Turn 10: Forza 5 micro-transactions were our idea

Fri 13 Dec 2013 10:13am GMT / 5:13am EST / 2:13am PST
PublishingDevelopment

Dan Greenawalt claims that Turn 10's intentions were misunderstood

Turn 10's Dan Greenawalt has claimed that Forza 5's controversial microtransactions were not an imperative handed down from Microsoft.

In a comprehensive interview with Eurogamer, Greenawalt responded to many of the concerns that have surfaced over Forza 5's use of in-game purchases. These free-to-play monetisation techniques are a common feature among the launch titles on Xbox One, but Greenawalt insisted that Turn 10 independently chose to use them.

"Honestly I think, unfortunately, people attribute too much communication to this organisation," he said. "For the most part, Microsoft sees it as we're doing a good thing so keep it up, and so we're left alone.

"I'd say the biggest inspiration is the way the world is going. This is happening more and more in games, and I understand gamers being resistant, especially if they feel like they're being short-sheeted. I think people are looking out for being short-sheeted, and they're seeing conspiracy where there isn't one. And that's common in today's age.

"It's not about making more money, it was actually about saving people's time when doing the grind"

"We were definitely not mandated to include these - we were experimenting in Forza 4, we experimented a bit in Horizon and now we're further experimenting in Forza 5. But we experiment a lot of things - and when we get them wrong we try to fix them."

Greenawalt was careful to not that, "perception is reality," and so Turn 10 is dedicated to patching Forza 5 to bring it in line with the community's expectations. However, Greenawalt also stated his belief that the studio's intentions have been fundamentally misunderstood. The single most divisive aspect of Forza 5's economy was the price of specific cars, which were as high as 30 in some cases, though all could be earned by playing the game in a conventional way.

"If you look at free-to-play games they usually have things called paywalls, where you're slowly wearing something down and the only way to get around it is to pay. That's not what we implemented in Forza 4 and that wasn't our goal in Forza 5 either. We don't have paywalls," he said.

"There's a small group of players that can't be bothered to do things and they have disposable income. They're the sim guys in a lot of cases. They don't want to do the career, and they don't value those aspects, and that's alright by me.

"It's not about making more money, it was actually about saving people's time when doing the grind. I can totally see how people are perceiving it, but that wasn't our thought process - we designed the tokens last, which isn't how you'd do it if you were making a free-to-play game... As a creative director, we were looking at it as basically giving people cheats, but if you want to put cheats in you have to pay for them, which puts a barrier in and makes it exclusive to those who want to pay for them."

15 Comments

Klaus Preisinger
Freelance Writing

953 804 0.8
Popular Comment
Revenue per user, there is hardly a critic of Forza 5 that misunderstands anything about it.

If you are so concerned about my time, then UNLOCK EVERYTHING the second I put in the disc. There, problem solved, my time, not wasted. Do not create a progression that is the foundation of monetization and expect it to sit well with potential customers or the people writing reviews for them. Getting all the content you paid for without any additional bullshit barrier of time and money is not cheating.

Posted:4 months ago

#1

Jed Ashforth
Senior Game Designer, Immersive Technology Group

90 140 1.6
Popular Comment
I read the piece on Eurogamer earlier and Dan Greenwalt really doesn't do himself, or Turn10, any favours. Trying to spin any act of charity or goodwill out of this just makes the situation worse, and assuming anybody is going to buy the wide-eyed surprise and actually believe this shit they're shovelling just seems even more disrespectful to their critics.

I'm glad we're all down to the meat of this discussion now; it really feels as if in the last few days many of the commentators on this are finally throwing back the retort that we have always expected some unfettered access route to our purchase in the form of a cheat code or an arcade mode, as Klaus points out. Whatever else on top of that may be open to debate, there's no possible excuse for locking content away outside of the structured career and online modes, especially considering how small the content offering is in F5 compared to F3 and F4.

"...if you want to put cheats in you have to pay for them, which puts a barrier in and makes it exclusive to those who want to pay for them." ... "We don't have paywalls," he said.".
Ah right, I see - they're pay barriers, not pay walls.

Posted:4 months ago

#2

Pete Thompson
Owner / Admin

147 63 0.4
As someone who actually plays Forza 5 I don't see the issue really, I like the Forza series, I've played and still have them all, Even so I'm not someone who will do the countless grind to complete the game, but, I've not yet used any other form of currency in Forza Motorsport games other than that which I've earn't through progression.. I currently have around 30 cars in my garage and of those I only use one or two..

@Klaus, I'd avoid GT6 if you feel that strong about progression, as you have very little freedom, progression is tedious and every thing is so expensive..

On the subject of Microtransactions, GT6 has these aswell (as did GT5), yet I hear no one complaining about that ;)

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Pete Thompson on 13th December 2013 5:23pm

Posted:4 months ago

#3

Barrie Tingle
Live Producer

337 103 0.3
@Klaus And what about those of us that don't want all cars unlocked from the moment the disc is in the drive? You suggesting I should pay to lock them again just to unlock them over time through career progression because I enjoy that side of the game?

Forza 5's system works for me, at no point have I felt I needed to give additional money just to get a car. Heck, I bought the two most expensive cars in game using credits earned so it isn't like you need to grind the same races to get them.

Saying you are paying more to get the content you paid for is a short sighted view of it. In your example you are basically saying do away with progression and unlocks in games. A lot of games from FPS, driving games etc have a strong focus on unlock trees and removing it leaves the games with a very bare and unsatisfying feel.

Posted:4 months ago

#4

Anthony Gowland
Lead Designer

155 428 2.8
You suggesting I should pay to lock them again
Why would paying have to come in to it? What a ridiculous straw man.

Posted:4 months ago

#5

Hugo Trepanier
Senior UI Designer

152 127 0.8
It all depends on how much grind is reasonably expected to get access to the content, really. How many hours of play should be considered "normal" for someone to unlock a high-valued vehicle? To me it makes sense to have to win several races before I get to drive the super bogie, but I would feel cheated if I had to drive for 1000 hours (insane amount). Part of the fun of games like this is just testing out the different rides so it makes no sense to make the best ones completely inaccessible.

It especially feels worse when the developers recognize they set the bar too high and are willing to lower it down... for a price. If they just offered this special car as DLC instead no one would complain.

I really liked the system used in one of the recent NFS games where all cars were immediately available, you just had to find them in the world. On the other hand, getting a measurable sense of progression is also very welcome.

By the way, the recently released Angry Birds Go also offers high-value cars for a price, except it's free initially. It's best car is only available as IAP for $50.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Hugo Trepanier on 13th December 2013 5:50pm

Posted:4 months ago

#6

Pete Thompson
Owner / Admin

147 63 0.4
@ Hugo, Most of (If not all) NFS games also have Microtransactions from day one that allow you to unlock everything you can earn through progression, therefore negating any need to progress at all..

Posted:4 months ago

#7

Richard Browne
EVP Gaming and Interactive

77 67 0.9
This whole thing is so much ado about nothing. If the option wasn't there nobody would give a rats - it's just Forza as Forza has always functioned. Nobody is forced to use them. Unlocking everything from day one is a total strawman as well, it's not Forza or actually a game if you do that, it's just a car sandbox which Forza has never been.

Posted:4 months ago

#8

Anthony Gowland
Lead Designer

155 428 2.8
Unlocking everything from day one is a total strawman as well, it's not Forza or actually a game if you do that
So a racing game stops being a game if you have all the content unlocked? I can't say I've ever heard that opinion before. Do you really play racing games purely for the unlock tree, rather than because you enjoy racing cars around tracks, winning races, climbing leaderboards, that quest for the perfect lap, etc?

Posted:4 months ago

#9

David Doel
Games Marketing Assistant

12 9 0.8
Popular Comment
The problem I have is that these kinds of things used to be cheat codes, remember those? Now they've been replaced by micro-transactions in full $60 priced games.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by David Doel on 13th December 2013 8:21pm

Posted:4 months ago

#10

Greg Wilcox
Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

1,993 902 0.5
While flawed, Test Drive Unlimited and TDU 2 did this better (save for the cars you needed to buy later on) and worked fine as pure driving experiences as opposed to race after race after race. Just drive around and explore, earn money through events and points through doing other stuff and use those to unlock cars and content at your leisure. I'm not a fan of metered pay in games like this, but it seems to be the way things are going.

Posted:4 months ago

#11

Tamir Ibrahim
Programmer

74 53 0.7
The main problem I have with the comments made by Greenawalt is this line:
It's not about making more money, it was actually about saving people's time when doing the grind
Regardless of the arguments being made in the comments; if it really was about saving people's time, you could easily add an option to unlock all the cars.

I have no problem with F2P, I actually like F2P. But on a more abstract level, should a racing game in particular define how I choose to play the game? If I only want to buy the game and race the top level cars should I really need to play for a set amount of time in order for the game to deem me worthy enough to play it how I wanted to play it in the first place? Buying the top level cars works great if the game is reduced in price or free. But not when it is a full price game to begin with, it's all relative.

Posted:4 months ago

#12

Neil Young
Programmer

232 186 0.8
@Tamir - thing is, that's content that traditionally would've been hidden behind skill checks and/or grind anyway - all content out of the box suits certain genres (group party), but isn't expected of others. In which case the payment is not unlocking content as much as bypassing the pre-exisiting requirements. If you don't want to pay, you're experience is no different than if the payment option wasn't there.

Where it gets a lot more contentious is if the balancing is changed to promote said payment.

Posted:4 months ago

#13

Richard Browne
EVP Gaming and Interactive

77 67 0.9
@ Anthony - yes it becomes a racing sandbox as I said. For me part of playing GT was ALWAYS the progression mechanic. Unlocking cars and tracks were REWARDS. That's what gamified the sandbox. Saying it should all be unlocked fundamentally changes what GT/Forza are.

Posted:4 months ago

#14
Weren't these called cheat codes in another life. Isn't that what people used to do?

What a load of rubbish and don't expect me to believe that the difficulty curve hasn't been modified as well.

Posted:3 months ago

#15

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