Forza Motorsport: Apex makes the jump from console to PC
  • Just two weeks ago, in response to a bit of rumour-mongering and guess-work on a Gran Turismo-based website, I said on Twitter that the possibility of a Forza Motorsport game appearing on PC was "2+2=5.4x10^3 levels of supposition, but if this was true it'd cement my next gaming purchase being a PC."

    And now today we have the news confirmed by Microsoft and Turn10 themselves.  It sounds like a tentative first step as they've noticed that the successful PC racers (yer iRacings etc) have a very different structure to the 'Pay $60 and get pretty much everything up-front' model that has been predominant on consoles for the last generation or two, although I would also say that those PC racers are also very different games - with even more of a focus on realism.

    The interview with Phil Spencer is interesting because it gives a bit more detail and indicates that this is all a bit of an experiment.  Specifically on Forza:

    PCG: You’re also trying out experiments, like Apex is a free curated version of Forza.

    Phil: Yeah.

    PCG: Why do that specifically? Why make the free curated version rather than just Forza 6?

    Phil: We’re very transparent on this one. We shipped Forza 6 obviously in the fall on Xbox One, and the team started to look at could they build a 4K version of Forza with the assets that they had, because they capture and build their cars and tracks at very high resolutions. With their engine they were already supporting DirectX, obviously, from Xbox, so they were able to bring up the engine and bring up the assets, and show something that frankly when you see it is just stupidly stunning. It looks great. But we don’t think Forza 6 is what the PC racing fan thinks of as a racing franchise. If you look at the racing franchises that are on PC today and do incredibly well, they’re not, kind of, $60 shrinkwrapped products the way we built Forza 6.

    This is a good example of, you know, I’m not trying to make all games the same everywhere you go. So we're going to learn. We’re going to put Apex out there and people are going to give us feedback about what they like and what they don’t like. I wouldn’t say it’s a model for how we would do PC Forza in the future, but it’s a great opportunity for us to get it in the hands of people, allow them to play—as you said, it’s free, so we’re not charging people to go play it—and get the feedback from the PC gaming community around here’s what they like and here’s what they don’t like. I think we have something to offer, because I think we have—frankly this is a boast—but I think we have one of the best racing studios on the planet in Turn 10. But we didn’t build Forza 6 with the idea that it would go to PC, so instead of kind of creating the wrong experience for the PC community that’s there, we chose to do something less expensive for the customer and, to be honest, an experiment by us on what we could do.

    So what do we think?  Is this the beginning of the end already for the 'Bone?  And will the notion of Console exclusives become even more meaningless if all the main Xbox ones are also going to be appearing on PC day-and-date?  And, after the almighty cluster-fuck that was Games for Windows Live, do we even trust Microsoft with trying to produce a PC gaming platform?
  • I like Forza because it gave more value than Gran Turismo - the online was better and there's more customisation which gave it a longer lifespan. However, I'm not sure about a game being like a platform or bay to launch DLC off of. I didn't take well to Stars Wars Battlefront, Sims 4 (although they've been doing this since the start), or any of the music games like SingStar or Just Dance. (songs ended up costing too much and we just stuck to what was on the disc)

    With the increased cost of production for these AAA games, I don't blame them and eagerly await to see how this experiment goes. I'll happily buy it when the value preposition is just right; most likely when there's a GOTY final release.

    As for the Xbox / PC paths meeting up, I'm not surprised and think they're quite smart to look at the cycle of smartphones instead of the venerable 10 (7-8 really) year lifespan of consoles. Assassin's Creed Syndicate on PC needed 4gbs of vram and yet the current generation of consoles only have like 512mb. (? I think so?) Processor-wise, they're very under powered already and with Moore's Law of tech doubling every two years (although we're seeing its actually faster), I think console cycles should be shorter. From 10 (7-8 really) years down to 5 (4 really) years. Then to 3 (2 really) years.

    That's about in line with the PC community with how frequently they upgrade CPUs and video cards. The rest of the bits (sound, networking, etc) can just go to good, efficient PCB design because they've reached a plateau of good enough levels.

    If I can give Microsoft money every two to three years for a solid, top-notch machine that'll do the one thing I want it to seamlessly, then that's a great turnkey solution I'm very happy to go with. The same with PlayStation and Nintendo.

    I don't see this as an either or path, with how I'll still keep a gaming PC specced up in iterative cycles as well.

    Ultimately I'm very happy that more Xbox games are coming to PC (and vice versa) and that more people will be able to play the same games. If they want to wage semantic wars then fine, but otherwise, I see this cooperative growth as a good thing.

    I'd really like a lot of the Xbox co-op games on PC with LAN support, even if you have to be persistently online for the matchmaking. And I would really like Forza 7 at 4k, but just $60 for a mostly complete experience.
  • This was all done in a big push to big up Directx 12 (and ultimately Windows 10) , that's as much as I would read into it. But, the trend will most likely continue at least for a while, indefinitely this would kill their console model at least in its current form and probable console suicide. So I expect that this sort of thing will stop abruptly at some point and return to its current form.

    Worth mentioning the disaster that has supposedly occurred yesterday with the release of Gears of War on windows 10.
  • It seems also that Microsoft is wanting to go head to head with Steam. I don't know the full details but apparently they are quite willingly 'supposedly' to keep the Directx 12 APIs as open as possible to devs selling through any platform. But it seems that devs would be risking their relationship with Microsoft by releasing games through other platforms { than the Windows Store), so it is not as really as friendly and open as Microsoft would like us to believe.

    AMD cards seem to really like DirectX 12 (Except in the first full DirectX 12 game the Gears of War re-release disaster).

    Their is also the Khronos Group who are developing a low-level API (similar to DirectX 12 ) . It is a continuation of the AMD developed Mantle API (which they donated) but is very much in its infancy and it aims to replace Open GL as THE open gaming API. The early examples show poor performance but again this API is very young and far from completion of their eventual plans. Eventually this will be a competitor to DirectX 12, the sooner the better  {And of course wont be confined to the Windows platform). Competition is always good.

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