Ars Notices The Forza Delisting Process

No Forza Motorsports on the Horizon

Sam Machkovech with an article for Ars Technica titled “How one game’s delisting pokes a hole in the Xbox Game Pass promise”:

Microsoft has long boasted about the backward compatibility of its Xbox consoles, letting you play hundreds of past-gen games on newer systems like the Series X/S. But the game publisher and console maker is quieter about taking older games down from its digital storefronts—and this week’s latest casualty, in the form of a popular first-party game, presents problems for Xbox’s recent sales pitches.

On paper, the basic announcement may look humdrum to savvy modern-gaming fans. Starting September 15, 2021, the sim racing game Forza Motorsport 7 will no longer be available on Xbox’s digital download shops. That date marks roughly four years past the game’s 2017 launch on Xbox One consoles, and “four years” is key. Since the Xbox Live download store has been in operation, other Forza games, both in the Motorsport and Horizon camps, have been delisted at a nearly identical cadence. This suggests that the game’s car licenses factor into the cutoff dates.

I’ve been pointing this out for a few years, and I’m glad that others are noticing. it’s not just Microsoft’s Game Pass that’s broken, it’s the whole backward compatibility and “love of preservation” that Microsoft pretends to care about. As Machkovech goes on to note, this particular delisting is even odder because there isn’t a newer Forza Motorsport game on the horizon. Although, there is a new Forza Horizon game on the way. Of course the versions on disc will continue to function, but it is exceptionally odd that beloved games like the Forza series can just up and disappear from Microsoft’s digital store. It is kind of nice that Microsoft heavily discounts these games before they’re delisted, the “ultimate” version of Forza Motorsport 7 is only $20 right now, but it’d be better if they didn’t get delisted. If Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, and Valve, and all the other companies selling games digitally want us to buy games from them digitally, they should make sure someone who loved an earlier version of the game and wants to go back is able to.

Notably, when Microsoft returned to Steam with their games, Forza Motorsport 7 wasn’t on that list. Only the Forza Horizon games are on Steam.

I love the Forza Horizon series and the first Forza Motorsport was the last game I worked on at Microsoft, it makes me sad that these games aren’t better preserved for anyone who wants to play them and watch them evolve over time. The last few versions of the Horizon games have been particularly interesting with their different open worlds to play in, they’re not just replicating famous race tracks, they even have tie-ins to various fun toy lines like Hot Wheels and Lego.

Forza Horizon 4 is a Delightful Arcade Driving Thing

I have only barely dipped my toe into Forza Horizon 4, but it’s already a fun and goofy open-world driving game just like the last few, with the notable addition of changeable seasons affecting the greater British landscape this entry takes place in.

The Horizon offshoot of the Forza series have always been odd games. I don’t really enjoy the racing aspect because I’m terrible at it. Maybe it’s because even the simulated experience differs so much from the regular-ass driving I do in reality, I don’t know. Despite that, I just turn the game down into easy mode and love blasting through town and country hunting for bonus boards to knock down, hidden barn finds, and the absolute thrill that is the missions the game puts you on. The missions have specific goals that sometimes, and the most fun times, turn the game into an almost Tony Hawk Pro Skater-like experience and attempt to get a high score in flipping your car over five hundred times. It’s the only game I’ve ever played where I can spend an hour flying around a construction site and not make any progress but still have had great fun.

The cars are all well rendered and beautiful, I play on my desktop computer or streamed to the TV for big screen car drivin’.

Horizon 4 also includes real-time multiplayer in addition to the Drivatar ghost cars that populate your game and races with your Xbox friends in addition to randos.

It also still has the silly customizable skins you can download or create that can turn your ride into An Anime car or apply a livery full of advertising from your favorite race-mobile as-seen-on-TV.

Perhaps the most ridiculous new thing in Horizon 4 is the addition of unlockable dances for your avatar that appear before a race, after a race, and most ridiculously, whenever you find a vista in the game and you’re offered the chance to stand on or about it and dance.

The one change that is a little concerning is that I understand you can’t just download a new tuning for your car on the fly. That little bit in Horizon 3 let you turn a mediocre cheap ride into something approaching a supercar just before a race.

Keza MacDonald was moved by the seasons while reviewing Horizon 4:

The game even turns our weather into something beautiful. As the seasons change, so does the climate and the nature of the light, along with the driving conditions. Edinburgh’s New Town shimmers in pale spring sunshine, and in winter the snow in the Highlands sucks all the light out of the sky. The cottages in Ambleside are prettiest in the summer, when the trees are so bracingly green you can almost smell them. If you have a 4K television, this is what it was made for. Now and then, such as the first time I drove past Edinburgh Castle in the perfect twilit blue of a summer night in Scotland, its beauty made me quite emotional.

The Forza series meaningful to me for a different reason, the first Forza Motorsport was the last game I tested at Microsoft Game Studios before quitting that job, and I’ve never returned to play the Motorsport line. I’m just not cut out for more serious racers. Horizon’s got what I want in something slightly more earnest than Burnout.

Forza Horizon 4 is out now on the Xbox One and Windows. I recommend getting it digitally downloaded if you can so that you can play on either platform.