The Road Ahead: What Can We Expect From The Next Forza?

Opinion by Andrew Ogley,
Late in December last year, Fanatec CEO Thomas Jackermeier let slip that he was to have a meeting with Turn 10 Studios to discuss the firm’s collaboration on "their [Turn 10’s] next title of Forza Motorsport" and sought ideas from the peripheral manufacturer's community of fans.

I have a meeting with the team of Turn 10 this week and we will discuss several things we could do together for their next title of Forza Motorsport.

If you would like to add something, please let me know. Please tell me any wheel/pedal/shifter related issues you have in FM6 and let us know what new features you would like to see supported in FM7.

Please do not list any other things as we will only discuss issues or features related to our products.

This is your chance to change something!
This week, there was a short but quite positive update which also confirms - although it was never really in doubt - that Forza Motorsport 7 will also be appearing on the PC.

I had a very good meeting with them and I am happy to report that there is a good chance that a lot of things will change for the better in upcoming FM titles. There is a new person who is responsible for physics and force feedback and this is a "wheel guy". He is a real world racer with car engineering background and very familiar with PC simracing.

The PC market seems very important for them and they are aware that this market is dominated by wheel users. Therefore we will intensify our co-operation and get the best out of the games for wheel users.

I cannot confirm at this point what features can be implemented but the interest to do so is very high.
Interestingly, this comes before any official announcement that Forza Motorsport 7 exists either from Turn 10 or from Microsoft. Usually such accidental reveals surreptitiously disappear, but this not only remained in the Fanatec forums, it was even updated. It seems that Turn 10 are content to leave it there too. Fresh off the win as TA's Game of the Year 2016, it feels appropriate to look down the road ahead for this year's unannounced but very likely addition to Forza.

I’m not sure how much input Fanatec had with the release of Forza Motorsport 6 either on the Xbox One or the Forza Motorsport 6: Apex (Windows) version, but what makes this particularly interesting is that Fanatec are a company that produces relatively high-end sim-racing products. A complete setup including base, wheel, pedals, shifter and handbrake will set you back thousands of dollars/pounds/euros. It’s not cheap and it’s not for the casual gamer. This is for racers who take their hobby seriously and will be looking for a good and solid racing experience, something more at simulation level than arcade level or even the simcade level. It’s clear that Turn 10 are going to give more attention to wheel users, especially regarding force feedback but is it fair to speculate that the physics will also be improved? Force feedback is rendered pretty much redundant if the physics and car handling are poorly implemented. If there is a new person on the team responsible for physics, then maybe Turn 10 are indeed looking to push the level of simulation offered by the title.

This will be quite a challenge for the team given that most of the current fanbase started playing and are probably still playing the games using a controller. Whatever Turn 10 does, they certainly don’t want to alienate those loyal fans.

At the same time Turn 10 will have to do something special to differentiate Forza from an already saturated market. PC titles like rFactor2, Automobilista, RaceRoom Racing Experience and iRacing have loyal and passionate fanbases that will be hard to pry away from these simulation level titles. Assetto Corsa is also a respected and established title on the platform, and is supported by an active modding community providing over 100 additional apps, over 100 additional car models, and over 250 community built tracks. Even the divisive Project CARS is held up as the graphical benchmark for racing on the PC. Can Turn 10 deliver something that will appeal to such a hardcore sim-racing community?

And therein lies the crux of the problem. To court the PC players, Turn 10 will have to provide a better level of simulation, and better force feedback than Apex currently provides. These have been the major complaints with the current PC version of the franchise. However, this is not what the most loyal fans, those who have followed each release over two generations of consoles, are used to and probably not what they want. By trying to court a new fanbase, Turn 10 run the risk of alienating those fans who have made the franchise the success it is. It’s certainly a prickly little problem for Turn 10 to solve but if they can keep all of the fans happy then it would be an exceptional achievement.

Forza Motorsport 5 - Gamescom ImagesFM7 might cater to the diehard sim players more than before, but will most of their fans even notice?

Regarding this subject, one final point to consider is that PC sim-rigs are usually powered by high-end machines that are generally ahead of their console counterparts. That is until you consider Project Scorpio with its extra processing power and 4K compatibility. This would be on comparable terms with such high end PCs enabling Turn 10 to deliver a similar racing experience on both platforms. With Forza titles generally releasing in September or October that may mean delaying slightly until Project Scorpio hits in the ‘holiday period’. It’s a possibility. Few titles can showcase the extra power of a Scorpio like a new Forza likely can. Forza Motorsport 5 was a launch title for the Xbox One for similar reasons.

Naturally, right now this is pure speculation but it will be interesting to track the progress and developments over the coming months, and hopefully we’ll see the results of the collaboration between Turn 10 and Fanatec before the end of this year if Turn 10’s development cycle remains constant with previous years.

Whilst we’re busy speculating, it’s worth taking a guess at the cover car. Looking back over the recent editions, there’s been a pattern and clear reasoning behind the cover car selection.

Forza Motorsport 6 featured the then new Ford GT. The special edition of the car celebrating 50 year anniversary of Ford’s first historic 1,2,3 at Le Mans in 1966. Forza Horizon 3 featured the Lamborghini Centenario, the car that was manufactured in celebration of Lamborghini’s 100th anniversary.

Is it then too much of a stretch to assume this year’s car will be from the Ferrari stable with the company celebrating its 70th year? Ferrari itself is planning to build 350 special edition cars, 70 versions from each of the 5 cars currently in their catalogue. It could be any one, or more, from the F12, 488, GT4, California or LaFerrari, any of which would make for an awesome cover.

Unfortunately, you never know exactly when Turn 10 will reveal their first teaser trailers for the title, but already I’m looking forward with some interest to the first official news for the title and of course, the first official videos.

Do you welcome the attention it seems Turn 10 is giving to the more sim-focused racers? Perhaps it'll work as long as they don't lose the options they've always given to everyone on the racing fan spectrum — sim, arcade, or the middle ground of simcade. As for the cover car, what would you like to see grace the box art come the end of 2017?
Andrew Ogley
Written by Andrew Ogley
Andrew has been writing for TA since 2011 covering news, reviews and the occasional editorials and features. One of the grumpy old men of the team, his mid-life crisis has currently manifested itself in the form of an addiction to sim-racing - not being able to afford the real life car of his dreams. When not spending hours burning simulated rubber, he still likes to run around, shoot stuff and blow things up - in the virtual world only of course.