Forza Horizon 4 is one of Microsoft's most successful games in recent years, with millions of players around the world across both Xbox One and PC, as well as through the increasingly popular Xbox Game Pass program. It's fair to say a ton of people love this game. I'm one of them.
But you can never please all of the people all of the time, and this past weekend brought the controversy. And brought it hard. A bunch of players got, admittedly, quite a lot of free stuff. A lot of players did not. And a number of those players are angry. In some cases, way more angry than a video game should make anyone.
What actually happened
Early on in the weekend, during the middle of the night U.S. time, somebody inside Playground Games pushed out 200 free Super Wheelspins to every player who could log in to the game and check their messages. Since I'm in the UK, the same time zone as Playground, I was one of those fortunate enough to catch it and spent about half an hour rolling through while writing a post about the good news.
At first many assumed it was a glitch or an error, but a tweet from the Forza Horizon Twitter account suggested it wasn't. It actively told players to go and check their messages.
All's good. A ton of free stuff for everyone!
And then it stopped, sometime during the morning in the U.S. as what certainly didn't seem to be a mistake, actually turned out to be one.
Yesterday, we accidentally sent an in-game message gifting Super Wheelspins to every player as they logged in. Earlier today, we stopped sending the erroneous in-game message. We recognize our mistake and apologize to all of our players for any confusion.Yesterday, we accidentally sent an in-game message gifting Super Wheelspins to every player as they logged in. Earlier today, we stopped sending the erroneous in-game message. We recognize our mistake and apologize to all of our players for any confusion.— Forza Horizon (@ForzaHorizon) May 16, 2020May 16, 2020
Did someone go rogue? Misunderstand what should have happened? Maybe 200 should have been 20? Whatever it was, it stopped, and it created a PR issue for the team within the community.
Those who got the stuff were lucky and there's no suggestion that anything they've redeemed will be taken away. Some of those who didn't manage to redeem the Super Wheelspins took it in their stride, acknowledging that mistakes happen and they're not really losing anything. Then there are those, and I'll admit there's quite a few, who seem to be really p*ssed and are going to stop playing the game apparently.
Is it really worth getting angry about?
Here are a few of the (anonymized) comments that you can find if you scroll through social media and reddit from those who aren't too pleased with how this all happened:
Should those players be even a little upset? Sure. It's human nature. If you see someone else getting something for free that you can't get yourself you're going to be envious, and in this case, rightly so. Is it worth yelling at the developers about on social media and uninstalling (or threatening to) the game? No.
For one, this is one of those times when "it's just a video game" needs to be understood. Especially in the current global crisis, getting as mad as some people seem to have been getting over this isn't healthy. This isn't ruining the game, it isn't going to make the auction house a mess (more than it already is) and yeah, while your buddies might now have a few million more credits and some extra sweet cars you don't have, is that really making your own enjoyment of the game any less?
Should Playground Games address this in some way, though? Absolutely. Even if I disagree with a number of the reactions, there's clearly unrest in the community and it's in their interest to at least try and rebuild that relationship. I'm not a developer, so I don't know the practicalities involved, but just saying "give everyone else 200" or "take back the stuff everyone got" isn't terribly likely.
For one, the latter is as unfair as those claiming they've been unfairly treated. It isn't the fault of any player who redeemed those spins based on what looked like official information from the studio. And with over 12 million players, how likely is it that they'll be able to (quickly) identify who claimed them and who didn't and push out the reward selectively to everyone else?
What should or will they do? I have no idea, and nothing short of 200 free Super Wheelspins will ever make the most vocal complainants happy. Nor do I even know if it's possible to selectively reward these players, but something has to be better than nothing and an unhappy portion of the community.
Keep playing if you enjoy the game
I claimed the 200 Super Wheelspins. Am I now suddenly a god tier player? No. I actually added about 12 new vehicles to my garage, most of which I'll never drive, and through the credit rewards and selling duplicates I made about 33 million credits to go on top of the 50 million credits I already had that I wasn't spending.
Forza Horizon 4 isn't the type of game where "the best cars" really exists. Thanks to tuning and the wide range of race types on offer, there is no "one size fits all" best car. And after more than 250 hours in the game, those 200 Super Wheelspins made a negligible difference to how I'll be playing from here on out. And I wager the same can be said of a lot of the longer term players.
If you're a new player, then yes, those 200 Super Wheelspins would have been really helpful and I do hope there's something that can be sent your way as some kind of apology. But free stuff is never what made this game fun to play. It's nearly two years old and I still have a great time every time I fire it up.
If you enjoy Forza Horizon 4, whether you got the free spins or not, then keep playing it. If this has soured you to the point you're going to uninstall and stop playing, I'd say you probably didn't enjoy playing it that much in the first place. This isn't the first game to have a polarizing issue, and it won't be the last. But whatever you're playing, try to enjoy it.
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Richard Devine is a Managing Editor at Windows Central with over a decade of experience. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently, you'll find him steering the site's coverage of all manner of PC hardware and reviews. Find him on Mastodon at mstdn.social/@richdevine