Forza 5 dev defends microtransactions

"We don't have paywalls," creative director Dan Greenawalt says.

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Turn 10 creative director Dan Greenawalt has spoken out to defend microtransactions in his studio's recently released Xbox One racing game Forza Motorsport 5. In an interview with Eurogamer, Greenawalt said the game's in-app purchases are an evolution of those offered in Forza 4 and are not structured in such a way that players are forced to pay to advance.

"I understand that if it looks like a duck and it quacks like a duck... I know the statement. But honestly 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," Greenawalt said.

"We don't have paywalls. We have acceleration, and that was based on feedback from players in Forza 4--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," he added.

This is a similar line to the one Sony president of Worldwide Studios Shuhei Yoshida took in defending microtransactions in Gran Turismo 6. Unlike Forza 5, Gran Turismo 6 is the first entry in the long-running series to feature microtransactions. Yoshida said the game's microtransactions are aimed at "busy people."

According to Greenawalt, Forza 5's microtransactions are "not about making more money," but rather for people who want to save time. This point has been lost on many gamers, he argued.

"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--you would design that economy and the token economy first, because that's how you make your revenue," he said. "That's not how we make the revenue--we sell the game, and the tokens aren't a big revenue driver. 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."

Greenawalt also addressed Turn 10's recent announcement that it was adjusting Forza 5's in-game economy after player feedback. Overall, he explained that Turn 10's ultimate goal with Forza 5 was to create a "truly next-gen" experience and acknowledged that there have been various bumps along the road.

"The biggest experiment was the acceleration--but that wasn't meant to be a paywall. The grind was not designed to be arduous, but I understand people perceiving it that way and that's why we're making the patch to change the grind. It was not designed to be any more so than it was in Forza 4. We're changing it because that's how people perceived it, and perception is reality," he said. "We changed so much in the game, and our goal was to make a truly next-gen experience, and some of the assumptions we made in converting our data from Forza 4 to Forza 5 were wrong. And that's why we're fixing it. That's why we lowered the price of our most expensive car from ten million to six million--we wanted to make it more accessible. And we have people that have already earned the car--the GTO and the F1 car--but that was about rarity. We didn't want to lock cars, we didn't want to have unicorns, we wanted it to be based on work that people put in. We're making changes."

Microsoft Studios corporate vice president Phil Spencer recently said that Microsoft is "still learning" about the best ways in which to implement microtransactions in its console games. Xbox One games Ryse: Son of Rome and Killer Instinct also feature microtransactions. These games have systems in place through which Microsoft can monitor what players buy--and why, Spencer said.

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