Xbox One owners who pick up a copy of Forza 5 will have one more reason to stay tethered to the Internet at launch.
The ultra-realistic racing game will require an Internet connection on startup, as it downloads additional cars, tracks and opponent behavior. Without the downloaded content, Forza 5 will not function, IGN reports.
Dan Greenawalt, studio head at Turn 10, explained that it takes time for Microsoft to certify the content, press it onto discs and ship them out. Putting everything on the disc might have prevented Forza 5 from shipping in time for the Xbox One launch.
"Our production schedule is such that we are putting them in as late as possible and that means making them free as downloadable content on Day One," Greenawalt told IGN.
Of course, that hasn't stopped commenters at IGN and elsewhere from theorizing that the mandatory download is just an insidious form of digital rights management. While Microsoft had planned to require an Internet connection once every 24 hours to play Xbox One games, the company later reversed that decision. After an initial connection to set up the console, the Xbox One will allow games to work fully offline. In theory, excluding vital content from the game disc is just another way of keeping people connected.
Online once or always?
The truth is probably more benign than that. The game only needs to connect to the Net once, after all.
Online connectivity was already a major selling point for Forza 5, however. Instead of programming driver AI into the game, Turn 10 has an ambitious plan to learn players' behavior through cloud-based processing, and create "Drivatars" that are based on how people play the game. The goal is to make players feel like they're racing against human opponents, even in single player, so in all likelihood players will want to connect to download new Drivatars over time. Forza 5 will also have lots of community-based online content, such as custom paint jobs that players can purchase from one another.
Besides, if gamers think mandatory connectivity is endemic to the Xbox One, they're in for a rude awaking. On both the Xbox One and Playstation 4, games like Destiny, The Crew, Need for Speed Rivals and The Division will all exist in persistent online worlds, even when players are by themselves. Pure offline single-player isn't going away, but we're going to see a lot more games by their very nature require an Internet connection, for better or worse.