Here we go, again…
For the uninitiated, the Forza Motorsport and Forza Horizon series have included microtransactions in the form of “Token” purchases and whatnot for some time. With Forza Motorsport 6, Turn 10 Studios and Microsoft started with loot boxes by allowing players to purchase “mods” for races that alter event settings in exchange for increased experience or monetary rewards.
This is old news, but for some reason, it’s come to the forefront as a case against Microsoft as a publisher just now.
The Case Against Boxes
There’s little justification for loot boxes as a game mechanic in my opinion, and even less as a method to make money via microtransactions. As far as I’m concerned however, Turn 10 Studios and Microsoft are hardly the worst offenders. Below is an example of what you’d see in Forza Motorsport 6, if you were to peruse the mod store, complete with comparisons between having Token purchases enabled and disabled.
As you can see, the issue is old… Two years old in fact, and possibly one of the only examples of a game developer allowing players of their creation to opt out of microtransactions. When I tested the Disable Token option in Forza Motorsport 6, I expected to see that prompts for Token purchases would still show up as an option when making a mod pack purchase, but they didn’t. The Token purchases were completely disabled.
Microtransactions present in the game? Yes. Loot boxes in the game? Yes. Though hardly as predatory as alarmists might have you believe.
You may be wondering why I’m coming to the defense of a games company putting microtransactions and loot boxes in a game, and you’d be right to suspect this shift in attitude on my part. The system in place in Forza Motorsport is so non-invasive that Turn 10 Studios allows players to completely disable all Token purchases. I honestly forgot how to see how many Tokens I’ve earned in Forza Motorsport 6 because I’ve had the function turned off for so long; I had to look up how to re-enable them.
But enough about the past, let’s fast forward to Forza Motorsport 7.
PAMs: Pundits Against Microsoft
I intended to cover the issue of loot boxes and microtransactions in Forza Motorsport 7 in my upcoming review of the game (though I still will mention it), but I’ve too busy playing it. However, that hasn’t stopped others from spreading misinformation about the way things work, and it pisses me off a little that one of the developers I love and a series I’m a huge fan of is in the crosshairs simply because Microsoft is the publisher.
I’ve talked about Jim Sterling before because I find that he’s both entertaining and I respect his opinions on a great many things, but I’ve never been under the impression that he’s un-biased when it comes to gaming platforms. The man is a PC and PlayStation fan, through-and-through, and to his credit, he makes no attempt to deceive his fans on that front.
However, there comes a point where biases interfere with fact. It’s for this reason that I’ve never taken to reviewing JRPG, sports, or Souls-Borne style games. I have a bias, and I don’t want my personal hangups to skew others’ opinions on titles in those genres.
Folks like Mr. Sterling don’t always carry themselves that way. Their normal candor and brand of professionalism go out the window when Microsoft is involved, and I find it both distasteful and grating. It’s like biting into a tasty burrito filled with marinated fajita beef, onions, peppers, only to come away with a used bandage stuck between your teeth. What you originally felt was going to be a good experience turns out to be a far less enjoyable time.
Furthermore, the bias that folks like Mr. Sterling exhibit deflate their points, because their opinions only resonate with those that agree with them. That isn’t such a big issue to those that are part of their echo chambers, but as anybody who has been stupid enough to get into a political, religious, or philosophical argument on Facebook or Twitter may know; nobody’s minds are going to be changed.
I went off on a bit of a tangent there…
Back To The Meat Of The Issue
As I’ve said before, I do my best to mitigate my personal biases, which is why I find it difficult to remain silent when others don’t do the same. The loot box and microtransaction issues in Forza Motorsport 7 do need to be addressed and criticized, but the newest entry in the Forza franchise is by far the least offensive example in recent times.
The fact that Turn 10 Studios allows the disabling of the microtransaction systems is a step in the right direction for a game that carries such a hefty price tag for the complete package (the base game, car pass, expansions, etc), though ideally there wouldn’t be microtransactions in the games at all. I don’t think that Turn 10 Studios and Microsoft deserve bad press for something that isn’t even new, and to that end, isn’t even in the newest game yet. Couple that with the suppositions being thrown around that Microsoft is going to start monetizing the car customization features instead of keeping the currently free option, and you might come to understand why it irks me.
I feel it’s important as well to understand when a topic might be out of your depth as well. I’ve found myself cutting creators out of my catalog of sites to read and videos to watch because the folks behind it don’t do their homework. In one case, with SidAlpha (a YouTube creator), I stopped watching his content after he made his second retraction video in a month. He made a habit of speaking before he had all the facts of the topics he was covering and found himself in hot water.
In the case of Forza Motorsport 7, Mr. Sterling has stepped outside of his area of expertise to talk about a game series he knows very little about. He even went so far as to derive the majority of his talking points from others (like Arstechnica) in lieu of actual experience.
Those experienced with the franchise would understand that accruing enough credits to buy something in a Forza Motorsport or Forza Horizon title is remarkably easy. Turn 10 Studios and Playground Games literally give tens of thousands of credits to players through Forza Hub and with Drivatar rewards that are awarded every time you log into the game, players would be hard-pressed to run out of money. And while Turn 10 Studios has removed the credits bonus from disabling driving assists, they increased the bonuses for increasing Drivatar Skill levels.
So while microtransactions and loot boxes aren’t a non-issue in the Forza franchise, Forza Motorsport 7 is hardly the hill to die on that many pundits seem to be making it out to be. It just happens to be published by a console platform holder that gaming culture loves to hate right now.
What are your thoughts on the issue of loot boxes in games? Are there other, worse offenders? Or is Forza Motorsport 7 the epitome of corporate greed that it’s seemingly being made out to be?
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