Autoblog: Porsche has been pretty territorial about licensing their products in terms of video games. How did the Porsche expansion pack play out? How did you make it happen?
Dan Greenawalt: Well, many many years ago Porsche and EA Games signed a long-term deal regarding how Porsche was going to be licensed. That deal has been resigned many times over the years. Because of the nature of that deal, EA has the exclusive rights and the discretion to sub-license Porsche as they see fit.
Porsche has been in the last three Forza Motorsports through a sub-licensing deal with EA. For Forza Motorsport 4 we were not able to find terms that were agreeable to all parties, but we stayed at the table. It took some time to value the brand in such a way that everyone agreed.
Porsche, Ferrari and Lamborghini are kind of like the holy trinity of auto brands. They pull in a lot of people. They have prestige around the world. Finding that value and agreeing on that value is really what it came down to.
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AB: This is a short term deal, correct? Are we going to see future Porsche tie-ups with Forza?
DG: This really was just about the expansion pack.
AB: Big question: will the Cayenne Transsyberia make it into the pack?
DG: We're not announcing car details right now. It does have 30 cars, seven of which are new to the Forza Motorsports franchise. We've always covered a very broad sweep of cars in our game. We have had Cayennes in the past, obviously.
The Transsyberia is a little bit of a different vehicle altogether. But, we have had Cayennes as well as classics like the 962, 914 and even mid-range cars like the 944. And, of course, all different flavors of 911.
AB: If we can skirt that a little bit, what's your favorite Porsche model? What gets you most excited from the brand?
DG: You know, when we started Forza Motorsport 1, we put in the old 1973 911 RS, which is a car I've always loved. It kind of started that iconic Porsche look in many ways and it has that sporting heritage. In early 2011 or late 2010 I was reading about this new model for the 997, the Sport Classic.
AB: Great car.
DG: I thought, "Alright, I'm almost 40. Maybe this is the year I finally get myself a Porsche," you know? It had that '73 RS look but it had modern technology and so on. Then a later press release came out with how limited the run was and the price. Then I realized I would not be getting a Porsche before I was 40.
Anyway, I'd say that in many ways, those two cars are my favorite. I like the old and the new. I like the ducktail on the new Classic Sport and the racing stripes and Fuchs wheels, of course. It's a great car.
AB: I know you guys are playing the whole Forza Horizon thing close to the chest, but can you give us any sort of idea about what's coming down the pike as far as that's concerned?
DG: There's a lot of time between now and E3 and the launch of the game in the fall of 2012. There's kind of a cadence to releasing information and giving people first playable and all that. It's teasing, perhaps, but I wanted to get people focused on Playground Games. We selected a great partner, we're excited to be working with them and they have a tremendous pedigree. I was hoping to give that news some breathing room.
The big news is: yes, there is a new Forza coming and it's in 2012, but more importantly, it's being developed by a great partner: Playground Games.
AB: Speaking of how you guys are doing, how are Forza and GT5 stacking up right now in terms of both sales and online participation. Is that something you guys monitor closely? The two titles aren't really direct competitors given that you're on different platforms, but at the same time plenty of households own both an Xbox 360 and a PS3. There are only so many dollars in the universe.
DG: You're right that we're spiritually competitors but we are on different platforms. I don't have any information regarding their sales and the like. I do know that Forza Motorsport 4 has been doing really well. Forza 4 has sold faster than any previous Forzas. If that continues, it's going to be our best-selling game to date. Obviously we haven't done aggressive bundling yet. It's all been doing fantastic sales on its own.
The thing that's been amazing is the community. We have an evergreen community in Forza 3. Two years after the game launched we still have hundreds of thousands of players playing multiplayer. With Forza 4, we changed the leveling structure so you could hit level 150 instead of level 50. We had done the math based on Forza 3 user data, which said it would take Forza 4 players nine months to hit level 150. It turns out they're playing Forza 4 twice as much or twice as often because they ended up hitting level 150 in less than four months.
That led to title update, which released today. It raises the cap to 999. I bring that up due to the success of the title. I don't know why people are playing twice as much, but I'm really excited they are. This is by far the most successful game we've made so far.
AB: So how long is it supposed to take us to hit level 999, then?
DG: We basically put a buffer on a buffer. We redid the math based on Forza 4 data, which is obviously a larger data set. That put us at roughly level 700 in about 12 months. But again, people are just playing so much. I'd be happy to be wrong again. Being wrong for that reason means people are enjoying the game and having a great time.
AB: Personal request: You have the Porsche pack coming out, we'd love to see the Porsche B32, the Porsche Vanagon. We aren't saying it has to happen now, but at some point in the future, that would be fantastic.
DG: We have this big list that we actually vet to figure out our DLC. You may have noticed the diversity is kind of crazy. You have everything from a Ford Pinto to a Can Am car in the same pack. The list is staggering to look at. What we do is look at different pieces of car fashion and car history and regional areas of car culture to have as much diversity as possible.
I don't know if you saw that the DLC that releases tomorrow actually includes the Ford Country Squire Wagon.
AB: Would that be a shout-out to the Hooniverse guys, just out of curiosity?
DG: Not particularly. To us, it fit in our wheelhouse pretty well. Obviously different cars have different communities following them and we have to look at those communities around the world. That plays in, but part of it is that it's just a big, V8 American muscle car with a solid axle in the rear. It's straight up American muscle from the '60s but it's dressed in the Griswald family dressings. It's a cool car. We really enjoyed that one.
The Forza Motorsport 4 Porsche Expansion Pack will be available on May 22 for $19.99. For more information on Forza Horizon, check out the teaser clip in the video below.