Rethinking car exclusivity and the playlist with lessons learned from FM7

One of my least favorite aspects of Horizon starting with FH3 has been the car exclusivity. I understand the intent of the design decision as a way to encourage players to come back week after week to keep playing the game. However the way it’s been implemented for far too long is as a stick rather than a carrot, punishing players for not playing by withholding content from them, turning the game into a job where you have to play on the schedule and do the events the developers have chosen rather than being able to play the way I want to avoid missing out, and significantly contributing to a huge amount of player burnout and negative sentiment towards the game, franchise, developers and Microsoft.

This goes against the messaging of the game of “play it how you like”. If I play as I like I’ll miss out on a lot of content I would like to experience as I don’t enjoy having to log in week after week and rather tend to binge play games for a couple weeks and unlock everything before moving on, and I find most of the playlist to be poorly chosen and not fun challenges seemingly focused more on coercing players into struggling game modes rather than being a thoughtful variety of events.

Anyways, FM7 provides an elegant solution to the developer’s desire to have players log in regularly while still respecting the player’s choice. After the car exclusivity removal patch (best thing to happen to that game) we got regular spotlight cars. These were gifted out to players and the weekly/monthly challenges utilized the car to showcase the new content, but weren’t required to obtain it. Players who didn’t play for awhile still got the new cars the next time they logged in so they weren’t punished for not playing, but the regular players still have interesting new content each week and a carrot to encourage them to play and try out the showcase events each week.