I’ve been playing Forza 4 and every indication is that it’s one of the best serious racing sims of all time… definitely the best I’ve played. It’s beautifully made. But there’s something notable lacking: Porsches.
Electronic Arts, easily the most evil video game company in the world, came up with a business model in 2003-ish, which is that they would approach everyone they could and attempt to acquire exclusive licenses to whatever they offered. The absolute most notable of these was the NFL. Nobody but EA is allowed to make NFL games for the time being, which was a convenient way of squashing their better competition from the 2K series (NFL 2k5, a non-EA title, is still one of the best football games ever AND it went on sale for a mere $20… half of EA’s own Madden series at the time, which is now $60 because it’s exclusive so why would they need to be competitive). They also got the NASCAR license, the NCAA football license, and the Arena Football League licenses as if anyone cares. They also went to Porsche and got the exclusive license to all Porsche video game content.
Now, in the latter case, it previously hasn’t been an issue. In Forza 3, for instance, EA granted Forza permission to use Porsche, which was nice of them. They couldn’t work out a deal for Forza 4, in spite of the fact that EA doesn’t make the same kind of serious racing sim as Forza. Which is very douchebaggy of them.
What gets me is that the companies granting these licenses don’t see the way this shit is harming their brands. The NFL doesn’t really need to worry: they get to be a monopoly as it is. Porsche doesn’t have that luxury. There are no Porsches in this new game at all (aside from one, a sort of remade Porsche by a manufacturer to which Porsche granted a different license, which is licensed here). That’s a stunning change from Forza 3 in which there were literally dozens of them. To make up for that missing content, Forza 4 has a much, much heavier focus on one of their competitors: Ferrari.
And that’s a shame. In the past I’ve often preferred Porsches in these games. Now, I can’t. And it annoys me. Would I ever have bought one in real life? Actually, possibly, yes. Although I’m nowhere NEAR as likely to buy a Ferrari instead, this does kind of make me sneer at Porsche at the moment. Because now it seems that an old Lancia or a Citroen DS3 or a Mercedes 190E feel, at least, like they’re just as much fun to drive.
So, fuck EA. Fuck them for not being able to play nice.