Turn 10 Studios, makers of the Forza series of racing games, just announced that ‘Forza Motorsport 7’ is meeting the end of its life. Meaning that the game will no longer be available to buy, nor will any downloadable content be available to purchase after September 15 of this year. That’s the bad news. The good news is that players who already own the game or will own it before that date will still be able to play as normal. Why is Turn 10 sunsetting Forza 7? Well, they said it themselves on Twitter: Licensing.
Before we get to what licensing is in video games, it is weird to note that Forza 7 is four years old now, with no new Forza Motorsport game on the horizon it seems. Forza 8 is still a rumor, and all we’ve gotten since Forza 7’s 2017 release date have been Horizon games and a PC port of Forza 7. Considering the age of some of the current stable of video games, four years doesn’t feel so long, and the game still plays great with decent content.
Speaking of content — that’s what you need licensing for. All of the car brands, race tracks, aftermarket parts, and trackside sponsor logos all require licensing. Basically, that means that Turn 10 pays to use their logos, part designs, cars, and the most important thing: the badge. It all comes at a cost, with many layers of exclusivity, in-game damage, and customization agreements among many others. At the end of the day, each brand is out there to promote itself and cultivate the brand identity using gaming.
Famously, Toyota and Lexus are absent from Forza 7, and that’s because of licensing agreements. Toyota was up for a new agreement and they decided to not continue with the Forza franchise. Another famous licensing story is the Electronic Arts Porsche exclusive contract, where only EA could use Porsche cars and branding in their games, hence Ruf cars being a stand-in for a decade of racing games.
These agreements are contracts, and like most contracts, they expire. Because of Forza 7’s unusually long life for a AAA launch title flagship franchise, the existing agreements for Forza 7 are going to expire. Judging by the fact that the game will still be supported but unavailable for purchase, I’d guess the contract prevents Turn 10 from generating money after a certain date, but I’m no lawyer.
This might be the first time I’ve ever seen a major game get sunsetted without a new replacement in sight, and especially for something as mundane as licensing law. It makes me wonder if the game was ever meant to last as long as it has, or if Turn 10 really took community feedback to heart and is making Forza 8 a world-beater that is finally worthy of the polish and detail of the Gran Turismo series. I’m hoping for the latter.
Anyways, pick up Forza Motorsport 7 while you still can. It’s a great Forza title, and with Forza 8 nowhere in sight, might be the only Forza Motorsport game you can get for a while. It’s being sold at a discount, so it wouldn’t hurt to have it if you have some free space. Bring on Forza 8, please!