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Why you won’t be able to drive a Porsche in Forza 4

Plugged In

Forza 4

When the first Forza game hit shelves in 2005, you could whip around the tracks in a Porsche. In 2007, when the sequel was released, you could, too. Ditto the 2009 installment.

But when Forza 4 comes out this October, the well-known German sports car won't be in your garage. And you won't believe the reason why.

Just as some sports leagues negotiate exclusive licenses with publishers, so too do car manufacturers. And for some time now, Electronic Arts has held the rights for Porsche cars.

In previous years, the company has been open to sub-licensing the cars to other games (which is how they've appeared in other Forza games), but this year, the company is refusing to hand over the keys.

"Since the beginning of the Forza franchise, the Porsche license has been available only through a sub-licensing deal with EA," says Dan Greenwalt, creative director at Turn 10, the developer of the Forza series, which is published by Microsoft. "For Forza 4 … we were especially looking forward to featuring multiple Porsche experiences in our new Autovista mode. In the end, however, EA couldn't see their way towards collaborating again.

"We've asked our contacts at EA to reconsider their position frequently and regularly over the last 18 months. We also reached out to various influential people in gaming to lobby on our behalf, and on your behalf, but that was to no avail."

Neither company has gone into detail about what the sticking point was on the deal this time around. (EA didn't reply to a request for comment.) EA, though, does have its own high-level racing game due out roughly a month after Forza 4 is released. It's certainly possible that the publisher intends to use Need for Speed: The Run to promote that Porsche exclusivity. (In fact, trailers for the game have already shown hints of the still unrevealed 2012 Porsche 911 Carrera S.)

And before you begin muttering about the weirdness of exclusivity rights, it's worth noting that Forza holds the rights to all Ferrari cars.

Still, it sounds like Team 10 is hoping to find some way to work things out — perhaps in a DLC package.

"While we respect EA's need to run their business as they see fit, we've regularly collaborated in the past and hope we can find our way back to that approach," says Greenwalt.

"Even the guys with the fastest car in the world still get car envy once in a while," said Microsoft's Ryan James.  "With that said, EA is a great partner of ours and we think both companies will have great racing games for fans this holiday."

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