Gamereactor was in attendance at the massive Le Mans 24 Hour racing event last weekend, and during our time there, in between enjoying all the racing action, we got to chat with Turn 10's studio head Alan Hartman about the upcoming Forza Motorsport 7, as well as the esports side of the franchise.
"Forza 7 will be our largest, our most advanced Forza we've ever shipped," he said when asked about the sequel, before focusing on Forza 6, which was having an esports event at Le Mans. "Here today we're still on Forza 6, because  hasn't been shipped yet, right, but it's not the same Forza 6 we shipped a year and half ago. We've continued to evolve and add esport features, broadcast features, [at] almost a monthly pace over the last year as we have invested in and been interested in esport area. There will be new innovation for esport and broadcast [...] we're going to continue to innovate because we're learning so quickly in this space, we're learning what makes great competition, we're learning what makes great broadcast, we're learning what brings in the viewership. If you're going to have professional esport racers, we need to have the viewers. If we have the viewers, we're bringing the great sponsors and all that starts creating the ecosystem so we can have the best racers in the world which bring in again more viewers which can brings in more sponsors. And it begins to look more and more like what we see up here, today, with Le Mans."
"I think developing our racing esport ecosystem is gonna be good for all racing games, whether the players are gonna compete on PC, Xbox, or other consoles [...] I think what we're doing which is unique is not just going off and trying to create exact replication of [what's happening now], but figur[ing] out what makes great esport. So, that is the journey we're on. I think we may find as we look forward through the year. I actually think that what we're making is, the racer wants to make his career out of esport and it's the best resources in esport. And we may have some switchover but we have professional racers coming to esport, but I think that would be more of a curiosity than the goal of either. I think we develop in our [own] ways."
When we asked why he thinks racing isn't big in terms of esports, he also said: "It's because we're early. So, I think when you look at any of the sport games, I think they have a challenge. And that is the challenge of 'what am I gonna watch this weekend?' Now, I believe what will happen this weekend, we believe we will reach over a million viewers for the esport championship [...] If I am into Le Mans, I'm watching Le Mans, I'm not watching the esport championship. What we're reaching is a new audience and again, I think if we're just trying to replicate that exactly, why don't I just watch that? So, we need to involve what is the right thing to race in. And we're early, I think we're very early in that. But we believe as we continue to expand and learn, increasing the quality of our broadcast, I think we will have a strong place in esport."
Can racing esports be as big as others like MOBAs and shooters in the future?