Everyone suspected it was coming soon. In fact, I predicted it right here. But Forza Horizon, the open-world spin-off from Turn 10’s racing sim series Forza Motorsport, is indeed getting a sequel, as reported by CVG News. It’s going to be set in southern Europe, feature “incredible vistas” (according to its 'primary' developer Playground Games), and changeable weather. And it will be released on Xbox One. Yay! Wait, I’m not finished yet. It’s also coming to Xbox 360. And I think that makes the announcement one platform too long.
Forza Motorsport 5 was a day-one game on Xbox One and was a big part of the launch line-up. In fact, it was arguably the console’s biggest exclusive title before Titanfall crashed out of the sky and flattened everything else under its almighty weight. But you couldn’t buy Forza 5 on Xbox 360, and that was crucial to the appeal of both the game and the console itself.
Xbox One needs big, exclusive games. And I don’t believe cross-platform games releasing on multiple consoles from the same company should be classed as exclusive games. Nor encouraged.
Look at Titanfall. It’s Xbox 360 version was downplayed massively, appearing as practically invisible to us journalists pre-release because (admittedly without ever being explicitly stated as so), the game was clearly supposed to shift hardware units of Xbox One, not sell well on 360. The 360 version probably had to be made because it would undoubtedly be profitable. And there’s nothing wrong with profitable. But short-term profit is not always healthy when you want long-term gains.
It hasn’t yet been revealed exactly what the differences will be between the outgoing-gen and new-gen versions of Forza Horizon 2. But considering Forza Horizon still looks superb on an Xbox 360, is there really going to be anything on Xbox One that gamers can’t experience on 360?
The announcement suggests a few ‘yes’ points. The ‘Drivatar’ system of artificial intelligent virtual recreations of real-world gamers will be incorporated into the game. Being processed in ‘The Cloud’, that is a feature that will not (though possibly not ‘could not’) be implemented into the Xbox 360 version. It’s seen as a next-gen feature. I do wonder how it's going to work on the less-scripted tracks of Horizon, but it'll be interesting to see how it pans out. Surely nobody can consistently take the same line when the corner looks like this:
But such enhancements are hardly deal-breakers when you haven't got them. And it must be time, surely, that if you want to play the big, exclusive, first-party Xbox games, you need to upgrade to an Xbox One. Microsoft promised (and I quote) “hundreds” of Xbox 360 games over the next few years. I don’t think that’s a good thing at all. It should have promised "hundreds" of Xbox One games. It's a sad fact, but much-loved technology does eventually have to be phased out so that new technology can thrive. Just look at Windows XP.
I’m sure Forza Horizon 2 will be excellent when it arrives. Of course it will. But Xbox One needs games that A: people desperately want to play and B: can’t get anywhere else. Even the game's creative director Ralph Fulton said "[Turn 10 and Playground] share this belief that we can create a true home for racing fans on Xbox One". I completely agree. But releasing the game on 360 isn't going to help that, is it?