The executives at Microsoft may have technically reversed the decision to make the Xbox One an Internet-required console, but the Forza Motorsport 5 developers seem to have discovered a loophole that will make some portion of their online-only dream come true. The physical discs will be pressed with large chunks of the game’s code missing, which will force consumers to connect online to download the rest of the game.
Speaking to IGN, Turn 10 Studios boss Dan Greenawalt explained the installation procedure for Forza Motorsport 5 as follows:
“So when you first boot up the game, we’re going to ask you to log in, and when you log in you’re going to get the Drivatars and you’re also going to get a whole bunch of content: tracks and cars. Our production schedule is such that we are putting them in as late as possible and that means making them free as downloadable content on Day One.”
“[But] that is required content to play the game. We basically have designed the game to work with all that content no matter how late is coming in, in order to make the biggest game possible.”
Aside from the fact that Forza Motorsport 5 undermines Microsoft’s promise to allow users to never have to connect the Xbox One online (after a one-time setup process), there are some other troubling issues associated with the manor in how this game is being distributed.
The first disappointing aspect of being forced to download missing bits of the game, is that Microsoft has clearly embraced the current-gen day-one patch (which is one of the most offensive business practices developed over the last several years) and evolved it into the next logical step — selling incomplete physical products.
The other, and probably more troubling, long-term problem with this distribution method is that it seems to make it impossible to preserve the game for future generations. Twenty years from now, when Microsoft is no longer maintaining the Xbox One servers, will any working copies of Forza Motorsport 5 exist? The discs may still be around, but without the servers needed to provide the rest of the game they will be useless.
Maybe there won’t be a need to preserve Forza Motorsport 5 for all time, but if this becomes a common trend for all Xbox One games, there are going to be some serious issues. The lack of historical preservation in the video game industry is already a major problem, and partial content on discs is only going to make matters worse.
[Update] Dan Greenawalt has since elaborated on his original comments, telling IGN: ”
“In the beginning of the game, the player will be racing against Drivatars that are contained on the disc and were trained by the [Turn 10 development] team. While playing, the player will be asked to connect to Live in order to download a completely fresh set of player-created Drivatar opponents – it’s not a lot of data, but the download contains enough Drivatars to cover all difficulty settings. Connecting will also download new content – but the vast majority of the launch content is contained on the disc.”
“This download is simply additional cars and tracks…”
“The player won’t be blocked from playing the game [if they have not connected online] but deeper areas in the career mode were designed to utilize these additional cars and tracks.”