At this time last year, the team at Turn 10 Studios (where I work at Microsoft) was basking in the afterglow of having just shipped a great racing game: Forza Motorsport 3 for the Xbox 360. After working on the game for 3 years, we were very proud of what we’d created, we’d showed it off to the world at trade shows, and now we got to sit back and watch the great reviews (and sales!) start to roll in. After a brief holiday break, we spent 2010 getting back to work on our next project, all the while waiting to see what our biggest competitor (Gran Turismo) would come out with to try to beat us. They’d slipped their ship date numerous times over the past 2 years, practically bowing down to let us waltz into the 2009 holiday selling season unchallenged. And now, there was a better than average chance they’d even miss holiday 2010 also. But in what I can only imagine was an intense scramble driven by corporate mandates from the highest points at Sony, they finally released their game this November. And so far, they’ve underwhelmed. After “racing” against them for years, could it be that we had overtaken them without even knowing it at the time? Could it be that the fastest and meanest car on the track had run out of gas? According to many of the reviews, yes.
Rather than attempting to cut and paste choice quotes from around the games industry, I’ll just cut to the chase and post the rollup scores. In the games industry, the MetaCritic score is a pretty important yardstick. All the reviews for a given title get weighted and tallied; generally if you get 90 or above you’re in good shape. The bigger your game is (i.e. more expensive to produce / needs to sell well to be profitable, etc.), the more important it is for you to get strong review scores. That said, I’m pretty happy how our little competition turned out this time around. The individual reviews are all on the other end of those links, but the average score is what matters at the end of the day:
Any way you do the math, 92 > 84. And while we shipped a year apart on competing platforms, and the sales figures won’t be true apples-to-apples comparisons, it certainly feels like there’s a new king in the racing game genre. Forza has really raised the bar and stolen the crown. We entered a tough racing games market with a strong, entrenched leader. And through hard, focused work driven by passion for racing games combined with relentless customer focus, we won. Congratulations to everyone at Turn 10 Studios, and thanks for making this one of the proudest points in my career! I played Gran Turismo games long before Xbox even existed, it feels strange to compete against something I admired and enjoyed so much when I was younger. But it feels pretty good to win! :)
We have snatched the pebble from the hand of the master.