Forza Motorsport 7 is about to launch on Xbox One alongside Windows 10. While the game looks very promising, the PC version has not been well received by some players due to technical issues. This isn’t the first Microsoft-made title to have issues on PC. Why is it that the company behind Windows can’t seem to get its act together when it comes to making games for the platform?
The basis of this article is the recently-released demo of Forza Motorsport 7. It came out last week on both Windows 10 and Xbox One. I played it on my gaming laptop and it’s pretty fun. I’m definitely excited for the full release. Things weren’t initially so good, however. The first time I fired up the game, I was greeted by stuttering menus and insanely long load times. But the icing on the cake was definitely the fact that two of the three included races were nearly unplayable due to constant microstutters which made the framerate chug like molasses.
After a system restart and update of my graphics driver, I booted up the game once more. Things were a lot smoother this time around and I was able to enjoy all three of the races instead of just one. At first I thought the problem was just with my hardware, but it turns out that I wasn’t alone. Many players took to various forums and message boards to complain about the inconsistent performance of the demo. I even saw claims from folks with much beefier systems than mine who were getting frame-drops and stuttering.
It turns out the reason why so many players have encountered issues is due to the game overloading CPUs. It’s not making proper use of the multiple cores found in processors. But, that doesn’t make sense…why would a game in 2017 that supports 4K at 60 frames have CPU issues?
Forza MS7 looks great, but it isn’t running great on a lot of systems.
Initially, a spokesperson from Turn10 (the studio behind Forza Motorsport 7) reported that the game was deliberately only using a single core in order to reduce input lag. Like lightning, players quickly responded with disdain since the claim made no sense from a technical perspective. Turn10’s response later shifted saying that the original response was a “miscommunication” and clarified that the game actually does use multiple cores; whatever amount is available on a given system. Despite this clarification, players are still reporting issues related to the mismanagement of CPU cores, thus resulting in degraded performance on systems that meet, and even go beyond, the recommended hardware requirements.
These technical issues are similar to what happened with last year’s Forza Horizon 3. It was exciting to have a complete Forza experience come to PC for the first time, but the first six months were torture for a lot of folks due to optimization problems. While these issues were fixed to an extent, the game still isn’t buttery-smooth for everyone, myself included. The game’s performance is inconsistent. Sometimes when I launch it, it runs alright. Then there are other times where it’s a stuttering mess. It’s perplexing as to why it works sometimes. I don’t have this kind of problem with any of my Steam games.
Ever since the original Xbox stepped into the picture, Microsoft’s presence in the PC gaming market has been a mixture of minimal and confusingly poor. Before the Xbox, Microsoft’s various game studios produced a wide variety of titles for Windows which were usually well received. Some turned into big franchises like the Microsoft Flight Simulator series. Even so, Microsoft’s gaming-related attention shifted to Xbox after sales took off. Microsoft then once again showed some attention to PC gamers with the ‘Games for Windows’ brand which encompassed titles from all sorts of different studios that were certified by Microsoft. The goal of the service was to ‘regulate’ the market in order to create a standard for titles on Windows. Things didn’t really go as planned since the service launched on Windows Vista, the now infamous version of the OS that nobody likes to talk about. Games for Windows never really added anything dynamic to the experience and was discontinued in 2013.
Remember Games for Windows? Yeah, most of us don’t…
What really ended up becoming the standard for PC gaming is most definitely the Steam service from Valve. It’s safe to say that Steam is what’s mostly helped to advance the PC gaming market at such a rapid rate in recent years. Most PC gamers have a Steam account, which house their game libraries. Even some physical releases on PC require the player to connect to Steam.
While I think Steam is great and definitely enjoy using it, I can’t help but find it rather sad that it’s a third-party service which has the most influence on Microsoft’s OS. Valve has done a much better job at appealing to the needs and wants of PC gamers, which is why Steam is so massive. Right now, Microsoft is trying to play catch-up with the Windows Store and the new ‘Xbox Play Anywhere’ service. The aforementioned Forza titles fall under the ‘XPA’ label.
Microsoft is now once again directly involved in the development of games that support Windows, but it seems to be having a lot of trouble. The Xbox Play Anywhere titles are alright so far, but are more limited than traditional games since they run in Microsoft’s UWP (Universal Windows Platform) environment. This stops the more technical-savvy PC gamers from jumping into the guts of the games and modifying the code themselves, which is something that is done quite frequently with other titles. If the technical issues with Forza Horizon 3 and now Motorsport 7 is anything to go by, Microsoft just doesn’t seem to ‘get it’ yet.
Forza Horizon 3 had similar optimization issues on PC for six months.
Steam’s openness is looking more and more attractive when Microsoft has issues like this.
It’s not uncommon for PC gamers to deal with issues that are specific to the PC version of a game, but this isn’t really something you’d expect from the company that created Windows in the first place. If anything, the optimization should be top-notch because it’s the equivalent to a first-party release on consoles. Turn10 only has to worry about developing for two platforms: Xbox One and Windows 10. So, how have they managed to goof two of their releases on PC? I honestly wish I knew.
Some folks have jumped on the conspiracy-theory bandwagon and have gone to claim that the PC optimization issues with Forza Motorsport 7 were deliberate in order to make the Xbox One X version seem like the truly superior edition. I find this theory to be rather outlandish, and also very self-destructive on Microsoft’s part. But, if you think about it too much it actually starts to make just a tiny bit of sense.
Even so, in reality it boils down to people’s preferences. Those who truly want to play the game on Xbox will get it there. On the other hand, those who truly want to play the game on PC will either wait for the issues to be fixed or just skip the game altogether. Ultimately, the main point is that Microsoft really needs to get its act together for these Xbox Play Anywhere titles. Otherwise, just let Valve continue being the king with Steam.