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When Developers Fight, Gamers Lose

It has been rumored for months now but yesterday, in a statement from Turn 10 community manager Brian Ekberg, the rumors were finally confirmed. Forza Motorsport 4 will not feature any vehicles from one of the most prominent and revered automakers, Porsche. Why? Because the Porsche license is wholly owned by EA and they have decided not to sublicense it out to Turn 10 this time around. So, a manufacturer that has been a staple of the Forza franchise from the very beginning will no longer be a part of it, and that kills me.

This kills me. While Forza Motorsport 4 will feature RUF, it will not include Porsche cars. As many of you know, since the beginning of the Forza franchise, the Porsche license has been available only through a sub-licensing deal with EA. In Forza 3, we were able to feature more than 35 different Porsche models by offering to collaborate with EA. For Forza 4, we were looking forward to adding even more Porsche cars, and we were especially looking forward to featuring multiple Porsche experiences in our new Autovista mode. In the end, however, EA couldn’t see their way towards collaborating again.  – Brian Ekberg

I have been an avid fan of the Forza Motorsport series ever since I decided to take a chance on a new and unfamiliar racing game called Forza Motorsport, which I discovered in the pages of a copy of the Official Xbox Magazine and found a review of the game in Electronic Gaming Monthly. Having been a fan of Project Gotham Racing, Need for Speed and other racing games, I figured this “Forza” was worth a shot. I instantly fell in love with the game and the sim racing genre altogether. Each subsequent release in the Forza series has reignited that adoration and helped to foster a love of cars that still dwells within me to this day.

I love cars. I love all makes and models of cars. So, when I heard that Porsche, manufacturer of such amazing vehicles such as the 911 and the truly lust worthy Carrera GT, was not going to be part of Forza 4, I was highly disappointed. Then, when I found out that the reason why Porsche isn’t going to be featured in Forza 4 is little more than a petty licensing squabble, my disappointment quickly turned to annoyance.

I understand EA’s motivations behind their refusal to allow Microsoft and Turn 10 access to the Porsche license; after all, Porsche is very close to EA, appearing in one of the most famous racing games of the early 2000s, Need for Speed: Porsche Unleashed. That being said, I can’t help but see EA’s actions in this case as anything other than petty and childish. Perhaps EA has seen how popular the Forza series has become and wants to hold Porsches back from the latest entry in the Forza series (which looks to be the best yet) to promote their own racing games. But, without an official statement from EA, I can only speculate.

What really irritates me is that the big loser in this situation is going to be us, the consumers who want the best racing game developers can deliver. EA isn’t hurt, except, perhaps, from the negative press generated by a small but vocal minority of gamers who are speaking out against this deal. I don’t think Turn 10 will be too hurt over this; Forza 4 will undoubtedly feature a number of awesome cars that will make the absence of Porsche easier to bear. Car lovers and gamers alike are the ones hurt by EA’s refusal to allow Turn 10 and Microsoft access to the Porsche license and that’s a problem.

I’m not naïve enough to think that these faceless corporations care about their individual customers beyond how much they’re willing to shell out for their products but people interested in racing games are not only Microsoft’s customer base but also yours. Sure, Need for Speed may not be all of EA’s business but it makes you think, is this move really going to help EA’s business here?

I hate these kinds of practices. I’m glad Microsoft has decided not to play hardball with EA and deny them access to their exclusive Ferrari license even though I may think, at least in the short term, that’s the only possible response to this kind of behavior, as childish as it may be. I can only hope that EA will change their minds about this licensing nonsense and allow gamers to buy the Forza 4 they were meant to have, rather than the game EA wants us to have.

About Justin McBride

My name is Justin McBride and I’m a guy who enjoys writing, playing games and writing about playing games. Sound lame enough yet? Well, I have other interests as well such as hanging out with friends, watching TV, going to the movies from time to time, surfing the internet, listen to good music, drive at speeds I shouldn’t be driving at and so on. The problem is, that’s all stuff everyone likes to do, so why write about it? Oh wait, seems I just did. Oops.

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