Microsoft Joins the Loot Box Fad with Forza Motorsport 7 (Updated)

forza motorsport 7

Yet another game ruined by gambling economics

I’ve already ripped Middle Earth: Shadow of War for the inclusion of loot boxes. I’ve already ripped my Digital Crack mates for arguing in favor of Overwatch loot boxes. Today I set my sights on Forza Motorsport 7. Microsoft has decided to infect the game with the loot boxes that seem to be all the rage nowadays. I can sorta-kinda forgive the loot boxes in Overwatch because the rewards are cosmetic, although the greedy cash grab sickens me. The loot boxes in Shadow of War are abso-fucking-lutely indefensible, making the game practically pay-to-win. Forza Motorsport 7, however, takes loot boxes to a new level of horrible.

Ars Technica labels Forza 7s new scheme “pay to earn”, and it’s a genius term for a ridiculous system. They revolve around CR, the series’ virtual currency. Typically, you would earn CR by racing, and it wasn’t too painful. The CR is normally used to buy cars and other cosmetic items. Of course, it wouldn’t be an AAA game if it didn’t allow players to buy CR with real-world money. But the amount earned by playing obviated the need for doing so by most players.

For Forza Motorsport 7, Turn 10 and Microsoft have added a particularly nasty wrinkle. The game now has loot boxes, renamed “prize crates”, which players can purchase for CR. These will also have cosmetic items and cars, but they’ll be random. That makes no sense because those things can already be purchased directly with CR, but fine.

What’s worse is that they added Mod cards to the loot boxes. These Mod cards are a new thing and are meant to modify the conditions and of a race. The players activate Mod cards for things like racing at night or turning off driver assist, and the next race they run will have those modifiers enabled. The problem there is that prior to this game, all Forza games let players modify race conditions via an in-game menu. Players can no longer do that; they are now forced to earn the Mod cards if they want to do so. So Turn 10 and Microsoft have introduced a system where players are forced to earn the ability to modify racing conditions, and the only way they can be earned is by opening loot boxes.

By the way, the Mod cards are single-use. Yes, once they’re activated, they’re gone.

Why would players want to modify the racing conditions? Well, in addition to setting races in ways that players are comfortable with, setting more difficult conditions allows players to earn more CR. The Mod cards activate CR bonuses when used, but again, they’re single-use and are contained in loot boxes.

So Forza Motorsport 7 players will have to “pay to earn” Mod cards, which will allow them to earn more CR. Hence the genius of the phrase. Well played, Ars Technica!

The bullshit extends to the game’s Season Pass. It seems Turn 10 has changed the perks of the Season Pass, eliminating the ability to receive a permanent CR bonus per race. The original blurb for the Season Pass read, “Forza 7 Motorsports VIP members [or persons who purchased the Season Pass] receive exclusive VIP cars. VIPs will receive additional benefits including 100% CR bonus Mods, VIP Driver Gear and more.” Now, the blur has changed. It now reads, “Forza Motorsport 7 VIP membership features exclusive rewards you can’t get anywhere else! Forza Motorsport VIPs receive exclusive VIP cars, VIP Driver Gear Suits, as well as five 100% CR bonus Mod cards (five uses each per card), and more.”

To recap: Turn 10 changed the benefits of a Season Pass, gimping the amount of bonus CP players can earn. That takes a shitty scheme and piles on yet more shit.

The small silver lining in this horseshit scheme is that CR and loot boxes are not purchasable with real-world money…yet. There’s no way to do so as of this writing, but Turn 10 released a statement to Ars Technica stating they intend to patch that ability in later.

“Once we confirm that the game economy is balanced and fun for our players out in the wild,” the statement reads, “we plan to offer Tokens [a real-money currency that works like CR] as a matter of player choice. Some players appreciate using Tokens as a way of gaining immediate access to content that may take many hours to acquire in the normal course of play. There will also be an option within the in-game menu to turn off Tokens entirely.”

All told, the new loot box scheme and changes to basic features look to totally screw the game’s economy at the player’s expense. With Mod cards replacing basic race options, players could potentially earn less CR. The only way players can apply those options is by earning single-use Mod cards that can only be earned by buying loot crates. So players will have to spend CR to get a chance to earn CR boosters. Soon, players will be able to throw real-world cash on the problem with  Tokens. All the while, Microsoft is raking in players’ hard-earned money.

This shit needs to stop. Little by little, game developers and publishers are ruining aspects of popular games by adding money-leeching quasi-gambling loot boxes. All in the name of making more money. Of course, it won’t stop until players refuse to buy their bullshit loot boxes. Personally, I’m going so far as to not purchase the game at all. It sucks that I’ll resort to doing so; I love the Forza Motorsport series. But I’m not going to support a game that purposefully gimps my experience, all the while shoving advertisements for their gambling economy as a way of “improving” it. I’ll go back to playing Forza Motorsport 6, thank you very much.

UPDATE 10/6/2017: On October 3rd, Turn 10 Studio Head Alan Hartman posted a letter on forzamotorsport.net. In it, he states that Turn 10 would immediately revert the VIP bonuses for Ultimate Edition owners. He also detailed four vehicles that Ultimate Edition owners could immediately add to their collection. The letter states that the description for the reverted VIP bonuses was “immediately updated” in the Windows Store. However, the original changed text quoted above is still posted there as of this writing.

He has been playing video games for longer than he would like to admit, and is passionate about all retro games and systems. He also goes to bars with an NES controller hoping that entering the Konami code will give him thirty chances with the drunk chick at the bar. His interests include vodka, old-school games, women, vodka, and women gamers who drink vodka.

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