It's fair to say that the Universal Windows Platform, while offering some token mod support in the form of an isolated folder that games can optionally load mod content into, isn't exactly the most mod-friendly platform, except until now, perhaps...
It's a shame that UWP is such a closed platform, as recent hits like Forza Horizon 3 are only available through this store, and aren't being released on Steam. It's understandable why Microsoft are choosing this approach: of course they want to invest their IP into boosting their own ecosystem and platform, but it has left the modding community a little out in the cold...
But according to a recent article from DSO Gaming, both Forza Horizon 3 and Halo 5: Forge have had their encrypted protection systems cracked, which will potentially give gamers the ability to create their own mods for these games similar to any other game title.
So far the creators of this crack / exploit haven't gone into any details as to how it was achieved, citing 'integrity and nobility' - and no doubt a healthy fear of Microsoft's law team - but what they have done is provide a nice technical demonstration video, which shows the fact that it can be done, and demonstrates a few basic mods.
Both Forza Horizon 3 and Halo 4:Forge utilise the Universal Windows App platform, which, unlike traditional Win32 apps, have all their data come in the form of a single AppX package, which is encrypted and therefor cannot be modified without that encryption being bypassed. The game's files are decrypted from the AppX package and then re-encrypted when the user installs and uses the game using the Windows Encrypting File System.
The idea behind this system is to be an anti-piracy measure, of course. Why else would you come up with such a system? This is presumably why these guys are a little hesitant to share how they did this: Microsoft are not exactly going to be best pleased by the concept of modders giving the world - including pirates - the potential keys to their UWP kingdom.
Some users are even blaming this encryption system for Forza Horizon 3's performance issues (and it does lag quite badly, especially near buildings like houses, for some reason) - but one thing is for sure, now the cat is out of the bag, somebody else is going to figure out how to do this, and eventually we are going to see mods for these games trickle out - until Microsoft patches the exploit and changes it's encryption keys, that is.
What do you think about the lack of mods for Forza Horizon 3? Do you think cracking the game open to modifications would be a good thing, or a bad thing? Let us know in the comments below!