Forza Horizon 4

Xbox’s Aaron Greenberg On Bringing Forza Horizon 4 To Life At Goodwood

Article By 
Alan Walsh
November 9, 2018
Forza Horizon 4

Xbox’s Aaron Greenberg On Bringing Forza Horizon 4 To Life At Goodwood

Article By 
Alan Walsh
November 9, 2018

To celebrate the release of Forza Horizon 4, the latest installment in the critically-acclaimed and beloved open-world racing series from British developer Playground Games, Microsoft transformed the tranquil grounds of the Goodwood Estate – the spiritual home of car culture in Britain, into a real-life take on the Horizon Festival.

Goodwood is undoubtedly an iconic venue for the motoring enthusiast, and Microsoft lived up to estate’s heritage by hosting its biggest launch celebration event in history for a Forza racing title. The scenic countryside location in West Sussex was scattered with supercars from McLaren, Ferrari and Lamborghini, whilst an array of automobile classics from the legacy of James Bond were parked up around the estate. There was even a bespoke classic Jaguar E-Type plastered in more than 5,000 unique Xbox Game Pass codes. Inside the historic building were multiple hands-on stations for Forza Horizon 4, including controller, wheel and streaming setups, but outside the house was an array of festival-inspired activities. This included rallying in all four seasons, a showcase recreation featuring the Ford Raptor Ranger and a Hovercraft, a country lane drive in some classic Land Rover Defenders, a high-speed shootout in the latest McLaren supercars, and a scenic ride in a hot air balloon.

It was a truly wonderful, unique experience in every right, and following these Forza Horizon 4-inpsired activities, I had the opportunity to catch up with Aaron Greenberg, who leads Microsoft’s Xbox Games Marketing efforts. The conversation focused primarily on the Forza franchise, as after all, the company was celebrating the launch of its latest entry into the series with Forza Horizon 4, but we also talked about Microsoft’s approach towards events – including this incredible launch celebration at the Goodwood Estate.

“This was our dream to be able to come to the Goodwood Estate, the historic home to racing here in Britain, and it’s the setting of our game,” Greenberg tells me. “There’s nothing more quintessential British than this, and the team here in the UK actually came up with the idea and started putting this plan together about six months ago. We all thought it was kind of interesting, it was one of these things that was so big, and so kinda crazy that we just thought ‘there’s no way we’re gonna be able to really do this.’”
“And the more time we spent thinking about it, iterating on it, and putting our heads together, we started to realize like, ‘actually, this would make a lot of sense.’ So, it’s just incredible,” he continues. “People working for many months, it took a large team of people to put this together, and it’s just great to see it all come to life and to be able to share it with our fans around the world. That’s the idea as to why we did the Inside Xbox from here, why we have so much content we’re streaming from here, why we have so many content creators here, that to let people be able to experience folks like yourself share these experiences, so they feel like they’re with us at Goodwood, which is pretty neat.”

Microsoft’s takeover of the Goodwood Estate is certainly something for the company to boast about. They created an entire Horizon Festival around it and celebrated the game by allowing special invitees to experience activities that were inspired by Forza Horizon 4. It was all quite surreal to say the least, and Microsoft doesn’t typically do these kinds of events. This was something incredibly unique, and considering Forza Horizon 4’s British setting, it all made perfect sense.

Aaron Greenberg, General Manager of Xbox Games Marketing at Microsoft.

But it even extends to what was happening inside the Goodwood House as well. There were several Xbox One X hands-on stations setup with the game, allowing attendees to explore beautiful, historic Britain in freeroam or compete amongst one another in the all-new competitive-inspired Team Adventure mode. There were also several sim-setups allowing you to literally get behind-the-wheel on Forza Horizon 4. Microsoft even had a dedicated streaming room, allowing media and influencers to livestream the game ahead of its worldwide release. However, Greenberg and I were in a private parlour tea room around the other side of the house. It felt very historic and incredibly British. From the ornamentals to the furnishing, not to mention the overall size and scale of it. Never did I expect to be interviewing Xbox’s chief marketing lead in such an exquisite location.

“It is the estate and it is a real Horizon Festival, that was absolutely the idea,” he explains. “I had tea with the Duke of Richmond yesterday. This is his estate as you know, and they’ve been great. His grace has been great, helping us with a lot of things, but also just all the folks here. They do some really incredible large-scale events with the Festival of Speed, and the Revival, and other things, so to be able to do – they did say this is the first major like video game launch that they’ve ever done here, so it’s kinda neat to be the first ones to do that. Yeah, and they’ve given us the run of the whole place, which is also pretty special – and I think we’ve made full use of it.”

I told Greenberg that Microsoft had conquered the Goodwood Estate, and the result of it was brilliant. “Yes, the Forza Horizon takeover,” he says with a laugh. But of course, this entire Goodwood experience is only one of many that we’ve seen from partnerships the Forza franchise has formed over the years. It’s a series that has worked with the most prestigious automotive brands in the world. Take Porsche for instance, last year the company debuted the German automaker's all-new 2018 Porsche 911 GT2 RS on its E3 2017 stage in Los Angeles, where Dan Greenawalt, Turn 10’s Creative Director for the Forza Franchise, announced Forza Motorsport 7 as the leading flagship showpiece title for Microsoft’s new Xbox One X console.

It’s only one example of many incredible, iconic moments in the history of the Forza franchise. Turn 10 Studios has developed close relationships with other automotive icons too, including Ferrari, Lamborghini and Ford, as well as other brands in the scene like Hot Wheels, Hoonigan and even the Fast & Furious film franchise. These kinds of partnerships have led to unique automotive experiences, including special content expansions and “first in Forza” debuts. I asked Greenberg about Microsoft’s close relationship with McLaren for Forza Horizon 4, the British automaker who would be debuting its all-new racing masterpiece, the Senna, in Playground’s latest open-world racer.

“They’re great partners,” Greenberg says about McLaren. “Knowing the game was set in beautiful, historic Britain, we were really thoughtful about who is the right partner to select to be our cover car. It just worked out great because we have a history with McLaren, which you know, and in the past, we had the P1 as a cover car in Forza Motorsport 5, and we unveiled that at E3 some years ago, 2013 as I recall.”
“So, to be able to get the Senna is incredible,” he continues. “And you’re right I mean they, they do a lot of work here, but we have deep, multi-year deep partnerships with auto manufacturers like Porsche; what we did last year with Forza Motorsport 7 or working with McLaren over the many years. And as those partnerships develop over the years, we start to think about what are the other things we can do together, and how can we integrate and what have you got going on, and what have we going on, you know, and even though there’s McLaren, I don’t want to call them dealerships, but in the U.S., the experience centres there will have Forza there as well, but it’s great, it’s how a true partnership should work, and yeah it’s been really, really special – we’ve been really pleased with them.”

McLaren didn’t just debut its Senna in Forza Horizon 4, however, as it also actively promoted the game alongside Microsoft. The acclaimed British automaker, famous for its beloved supercars and motorsport legacy, hosted an official preview event for Forza Horizon 4 at its McLaren Technology Centre in Woking, Surrey that allowed media and influencers to not only receive a bespoke tour of the facility, but also get some early hands-on time with the game more than a month before release. McLaren’s involvement in Forza Horizon 4 has certainly benefitted the game significantly and follows in the footsteps of similar arrangements with Porsche and Ford. Like those automakers, McLaren also has an incredible roster of its vehicles in both Forza Horizon 4 and Forza Motorsport 7, including the McLaren 720S, which I got to experience in the real-world at the Goodwood Estate from the passenger seat as an engineer who worked on the car at McLaren drove us around some acquaint British countryside roads at high-speed reminiscent of those in Forza Horizon 4.

These unique relationships with automotive brands also benefit the Forza Racing Championship, Microsoft’s efforts in the racing esports scene. The series, which has operated events on both Forza Motorsport and Forza Horizon, sees the best drivers come together to battle it out for fame and glory. Microsoft has partnered with names like Ford, Audi, Chevrolet and Porsche over the years to bring its vision of esports to life, but in 2018, the company worked with IMSA to deliver a season of unmissable racing action on Forza Motorsport 7 – brought to life by legendary motorsport broadcaster and the ‘Voice of Le Mans’ himself, John Hindhaugh.

“The Forza Racing Championship has been fun – it’s been in many ways,” Greenberg says about the racing esports competition. “The team is pioneering competitive gaming in the racing genre, and it makes sense, Forza being the largest franchise in the space. I think they’re really focused on building a global audience, they have a big event this weekend in Mexico City, they’re just continuing to grow, the engagement and it’s really for people that wanna play and race competitively. It’s a great outlet for them, and also for folks like me that just wanna go watch it.”
“You know, we’ve seen how watching is now becoming something, as people are spending as much time watching games as they are playing games, so that really drives us to want to think about new ways to create content, new ways to create ways you can take a franchise like Forza and make it a broader entertainment franchise,” he continues. “And I think, you know, esports is one way to do that, and it was great to see at Le Mans last year that, you know, it wasn’t just the actual drivers, it was the actual esports folks who were stood on the podium as well. And so, it’s great to see you know video gamers being recognized in similar ways for their skills and talents too.”

The Forza Racing Championship recently wrapped up its 2018 season in London last month, where the top 24 drivers battled it out on Forza Motorsport 7 for their share of the $100,000 prize pool. It was the first event in ForzaRC history that was open to public attendees with a live in-studio audience, which allowed fans to come and view the racing spectacle in-person whilst cheering on their favourite drivers. It all resulted in Aurélien “Laige” Mallet of G2 Esports taking the lead in Forza Motorsport 7. The Frenchman would be joined on the podium by runners-up Robin “b0x” Betka of Noble Esports and Gary “Mitch” Mitchell of Williams Esports.

London wouldn’t be the only host to some unmissable ForzaRC competition this year, however. The Pre-Season Invitational, which saw IMSA collaborate with Microsoft in terms of both promotion and car and track combinations would see the esports series experiment with team-based racing for the first time. It was followed by the 2018 season, in which Seattle and Mexico City would host two tense playoff events, where drivers would race competitively for not only a spot in the London finals, but also a share of the $75,000 prize pool assigned for each. To nobody’s surprise, it would once again be G2 Laige, Noble b0x and Williams Mitch leading the way in Mexico City, but b0x had the upper-hand in Seattle with Michael “RoadRunner” Coyne of Williams Esports and his teammate Mitch finishing in second and third place, respectively, at that event.

“The team that runs it is really, really talented, and they’re putting a lot of passion at it, and you’re right, they’re growing the audience, they’re bringing people in, so you know, I would say the best thing to do is they’re just listening and learning,” Greenberg says about the team at Turn 10 working on the ForzaRC. “So, people have feedback that they want to see more of those types of events, they’ve been really growing their presence and it’s great to see.”

The ForzaRC is only one of many recent successes that the Forza franchise has enjoyed. Following the launch of Forza Horizon 3, the franchise accelerated beyond $1 billion in terms of global retail sales, and that title even managed to surpass 10 million players. That’s a significant number, especially for a racing franchise – but it doesn’t stop there.

Forza Horizon 4 saw more than 2 million players in its launch week, but it’s also the fastest-selling racing game in the history of the Xbox console platform and of course, the Forza franchise itself. That’s a remarkable achievement, and it goes to show just how incredibly well received and respected this series has become over the years.

“I mean, this, Forza is one of our billion-dollar franchises, and Forza Horizon 3 had over 10 million players that played the game, and now going into Forza Horizon 4, the response to this game has been kinda unprecedented, and so it’s the best-selling, highest-rated franchise of this generation, but there’s always pressure,” Greenberg noted.
“So, after we did Forza Horizon 3, we’re down in Australia, we drive along the Gold Coast, and you’re like ‘how are they ever gonna top this?’ And the team at Playground has done it again with this game, and the setting here, the weather, the investment into the open, shared world multiplayer elements, is really paying off – and the reviews have been quite exceptional, so it’s been a huge honour to see such a great response,” he adds.

Following the success of Forza Horizon 3, Microsoft announced it would be acquiring the developer behind the open-world racing series – Playground Games. The British developer, located in Leamington Spa in the UK, will continue to work on the Forza Horizon series whilst a second, standalone team will be focused on bringing to life an all-new open-world action-RPG experience. That title remains unannounced for the time being, but from what the studio’s Creative Director told me in another interview at Goodwood, it’ll be long time before we hear anything about it.

Greenberg reminisced the early days of Microsoft’s collaboration with the British studio, saying that their pitch for an open-world racing game combined with a music festival happened way back at E3 seven years ago, which is when Turn 10 Studios were gearing up to release Forza Motorsport 4 on Xbox 360 in 2011. Being a part of the Microsoft Studios family allows Playground Games to have access to more resources and capabilities to continue developing the Forza Horizon series, but to also work on a brand-new franchise for the publisher in addition to its open-world racing game.

“It’s great, Playground has been an incredible partner as you know, it started some years ago, I was talking with Alan Hartman who runs Turn 10, and he was talking about how you know, they were having dinner at E3 seven years back, and they started about, they had this pitch to go make this game that was you know, part racing, part music festival, you know kinda mashing that up together,” Greenberg says. “And, I remember the initial pitch, and I remember their initial video that they put together. We were all really excited about it, and those are great, but I think the thing that’s even more impressive is to go from that vision to actually delivering on that in a product at quality, and it’s just great seeing the franchise grow from Colorado with the first Horizon through 2, 3 and now 4.”
“They continue to up their game and being able to welcome them to the family – it was a huge honour,” he continues. “They’ve been making games for us exclusively, but now they’ve become part of the Microsoft Studios family, we’ve talked about the fact that we’re able to give them more resources to allow them to have another team to go do something else, which we’re not quite ready to talk about yet, but yeah, to take one of the world’s greatest game creators, add them to our studios team, and give them more resources and capabilities – it’s gonna be a great thing for gamers.”

This weekend, Microsoft will have even more to say on its studios and their future projects. The company is bringing back its ‘X0’ moniker for a new special event in Mexico City appropriately dubbed X018. This fan-focused event includes a special two-hour edition of Inside Xbox on Saturday, November 10th at 1pm PST (4pm EST, 9pm GMT) and will feature everything Microsoft has in store for its holiday season, including news, interviews, deals and more. Guests will include Head of Xbox Phil Spencer, Head of Microsoft Studios Matt Booty, Minecraft Studio Head Helen Chiang and many more – with news to share on Crackdown 3, Minecraft, Sea of Thieves, State of Decay 2 and of course, Forza Horizon 4.

Microsoft has also teased that it’ll have “a surprise or two as well,” along with over a dozen game announcements for its Xbox Game Pass subscription service. Between all that, and the ability to unlock free in-game items for Sea of Thieves and Forza Horizon 4, there’s plenty of reasons to tune in to what Microsoft is calling its “biggest episode of Inside Xbox yet.” Greenberg says the Inside Xbox initiative has always been about communicating directly with the fans and giving them something to look forward to every month. With X018, Microsoft aims to deliver a big holiday beat leading into 2019 and the launch of Crackdown 3, which is currently slated for a February 2019 release following numerous delays.

“I mean what we wanted to do with Inside Xbox was be able to communicate directly with our fans, and that’s something they’ve responded well to, but we wanted to deliver news, have a big beat each month, and there’s so much news that’s happening in our space that you know we could sorta let those things come out, you know, week by week, but to be able to say each month I can sit down and watch Inside Xbox and get all the biggest news of the month, as a gamer that’s a great benefit and something to look forward to,” Greenberg tells me. “I mean we all love E3 to that point, one time a year we sit down, we go to E3, everyone gets really excited – and we still think of E3 big, I think we went really big this year as an example of that, but even throughout the year, the industry is moving to more ‘games as a service,’ we have so much innovation that’s happening.”
“Whether it’s Game Pass or Xbox All Access, or things we’re doing with you know, accessories or the Adaptive Controller, and there’s just you know, the studio acquisitions, there’s so much going on that we want to be really thoughtful about how we share that with our fans, and so Inside Xbox has been one great example of that,” he continues. “We’re seeing viewership from that show grow every month and then what Phil announced is, were gonna have a big beat this November with X018, and we’re bringing back the X0 moniker, and we’re gonna be in Mexico City for this big holiday beat, and again, we want to try and bring all our fans with us.”
“And that’s the great thing about the tech and the experiences today is that we can share things, we can stream things, we can share experiences, we can pre-capture stuff, we can also stream real-time, and you, in many ways, like you can walk around this experience and go see things which is great, but you can watch from your stream, watching Inside Xbox, and get some of the best seats in the house to everything, and we think that’s pretty unique, and so how do we bring that to life throughout the year and at these big milestone events,” Greenberg adds.

With Microsoft and the industry pushing towards the ‘games as a service’ model, we’re seeing more and more titles release with expansive post-launch support plans. That means regular content drops and expansions, as well as new features and improvements based on fan-feedback. It’s an important trend for the industry as we approach the end of 2018, and Forza Horizon 4 is a prime example of it. Developers no longer ship a game and be done, or even ship a game and release post downloadable content. Today, it’s all about continuous support and enhancements, with refinements and new content releases that evolve the overall game experience.

Last month, Playground Games introduced the eagerly-awaited Route Creator into Forza Horizon 4, allowing players to create their own custom race events and share them online for the entire community to download and experience. There was also a selection of new Halloween items to unlock, and every week, the developer has also introduced new cars to add to your garage, as well as Seasonal Championships that you can complete for both exclusive rewards and bragging rights. For Forza Horizon 4, launch day was more of a milestone rather than the finishing line, and Greenberg believes this type of post-release support with weekly content drops is the right move for the future of the Forza franchise.

“I mean yeah, we haven’t even launched the game and we’re already telling you on October 25th, we’ve got the Route Creator, we’ve got the Halloween stuff, we’ve got seasons changing, we’ve got a whole long list of things that are happening,” Greenberg tells me, but keep in mind that we were still a few days away from Forza Horizon 4’s release at the time. “We’ve talked about you know there’s a couple of major expansions that are planned, and yeah, you’re right. It used to be, the model used to be that if you want to deliver new content and new experiences, you had to actually go print a new disc and ship it retail. And of course, we’ll still sell a lot of games at retail, and we have a Steelbook in the Ultimate Edition that we’re quite proud of and for folks that want to have that experience, we absolutely have it.”
“Or for people who wanna pre-order and have it available to download and play at launch, which is great, but this launch is also unique because we’re putting this day-and-date into Game Pass, and so, this will be our biggest title we’ve ever launched into Game Pass, which is a pretty big milestone,” he exclaims. “But then, all the new content that comes. New cars every week, Seasons change every Thursday as Ralph said, he’s given us the local time I’ve gotta make sure I get it right – what time it is back in Redmond, so hopefully it’s not at 2 in the morning, but yeah, it’s just fun.
“That has evolved because I remember when we first launched Forza back in the day, you know, we’d have a DLC pack here and there you know, and then even with the most recent releases, we’d do a Car Pack every month, and now we’re at a weekly cycle, and the events and just all the other innovations that are happening – because fans want to come back and keep playing and find new things, and it’s to keep the game fresh and I think the team has really delivered a thoughtful approach to how they wanna do that,” Greenberg explains.

For the record, the weekly seasonal change in Forza Horizon 4 occurs every Thursday at 7:30am PST in Redmond, which is 10:30am EST for folks on the East Coast, and 3:30pm for those of us in Britain. It’s quite a handy time because it’s in the morning for folks over in the States, but afternoon time for those of us in Europe. The cycle will always be Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring to follow the seasonal changes of the real-world, and each time Summer comes around, it’ll be accompanied by a larger monthly content release that introduces new features, improvements and experiences into the game.

However, it’s not just Forza Horizon 4 that’s receiving this level of post-launch support, as Turn 10 remains focused on updating and enhancing Forza Motorsport 7 with new content, features and improvements. Just this week, the developer released its November Update for the game, bringing with it an iconic set of seven free 50th Anniversary-branded Hot Wheels vehicles, as well as a classic Porsche Can-Am race car, updated collision physics with a new assist to help reduce the impact of a crash, and the all-new Race Shop experience – with has replaced the now-retired Prize Crates functionality. In 2019, this level of support continues with the introduction of the Forza Race Regulations adjudication system to help improve online multiplayer, as well as a rebuilt force-feedback model for wheel users and a better, more realistic approach to the cloud-powered AI Drivatars. Between all this support for both Forza Horizon 4 and Forza Motorsport 7, I told Greenberg that it almost feels like a new, different direction for the franchise.

“Yes, I think we’re you know, we’re really focused on engagement as our primary metric, and as we think about you know players and, and you make an investment on a product and how often do you play, how much value do you personally get out of it, is a really interesting and telling metric,” he tells me. “It used to be ‘hey, you sold something’ and you were kinda done with it. And that ‘you sold it and you were completed,’ but now, for us, we really care ‘hey, are people still playing? Do they feel like they’re getting value out of it? How often are they coming back? Do they feel...’”
“You know, so it’s a longer-term customer-relationship, and the games are built and designed that way, and we design our marketing that way, and you know, our modern marketing that way, and because we want people to feel like they’re getting great value out of what they’ve invested in, and ultimately that has benefits of course,” Greenberg continues. “It drives more word of mouth, you’re probably more likely to buy the next version of a product, advocate for a product, and I say the best products and the best marketing teams are really focused on that. And we’re frankly really incredibly lucky to have a 92-Metacritic rated racing game from the team at Playground, it’s such a masterpiece to be able to work with them is a huge honour as well.”

You could tell Greenberg was delighted. Forza Horizon 3 launched in 2016 as the highest-rated Xbox One exclusive with a Metacritic score of 91. Now Forza Horizon 4 has come and overtaken it with a 92. We were both sat inside a fancy parlour room to talk about the success of the franchise inside the beautiful and ever-so British manor that was the Goodwood House, whilst outside us were all these incredibly put together activities that were inspired by Forza Horizon 4. Greenberg had every right to be happy, because as well as all this, the Forza franchise remains the biggest-selling racing game series of the current generation of consoles. That’s certainly a significant accolade to have, and there’s no doubt that the teams at Turn 10 Studios and Playground Games are most proud of it.

Greenberg is undoubtedly pleased by it all too. As he says, “I think high review scores are hard to get… harder and harder to get these days. So, you know, it’s quite exceptional and something that was done in a short period of time.” Forza Horizon 4 was developed over the course of a two-year development cycle, following the release of Forza Horizon 3. In fact, all Forza Horizon titles so far have been developed within the same length of time, and the same applies for the most recent entries into the Forza Motorsport series as well. Though that could be changing with the team’s recent push towards significant post-launch support with regular drops of meaningful content expansions. We’re seeing it for both Forza Horizon 4 and Forza Motorsport 7, and ultimately, it’s the fans and regular players of these titles that benefit the most from it.

“You know, and I think a lot of people, as gamers we love and play these games, we enjoy these games, and they’re great, but you think about like they still up the bar of how much innovation, how many new things they’re doing, but they still have to make the schedule,” Greenberg says about the development of each new entry into the acclaimed Forza franchise. “And so, there’s a lot of operational things about building games that’s quite hard and I think that’s also really impressive that they deliver at quality on schedule and still add all this new stuff. They had to make the game in the same amount of time they had to make Forza Horizon 3, but they did it, and just added so much more, which is great. Gamers ultimately win in that case.”

With that in mind and the end of my interview slot with the Xbox Games Marketing chief coming up, I asked Greenberg if he had any closing thoughts that he’d like to mention. After all, with so much just happening around us and obviously the imminent launch of Forza Horizon 4, that crowning achievement for Playground Games that has become the Xbox One’s highest-rated console exclusive, there was plenty to discuss and be excited about it.

For Greenberg though, this entire launch celebration wasn’t just a momentous milestone or a spectacular way to highlight the game’s release, but rather “a dream come true.” Being the home of the spiritual car culture scene in Britain and events like the Festival of Speed and the Goodwood Revival, this was undoubtedly the most incredible way to launch Forza Horizon 4 but doing so wasn’t an easy feat to achieve either. Greenberg recalled a final meeting he had with his team ahead of the event, which featured around 100 people – all of whom ensured the Forza Horizon 4 Goodwood launch celebration would be properly executed. It takes the hard work and effort of several talented people to deliver an event of this scale and calibre whilst making sure it all goes smoothly – and as someone who was there, it’s fair to say that it did, and it was undoubtedly the most surreal, wonderful experience.

“I just think like that has been just a dream come true for us to be here,” Greenberg says. “You know, I’m really particularly proud of the teams. We have a global team, we have teams from all over the world, we have a great team here in the UK that’s really working incredibly hard to bring this together. I sat in a room yesterday with about 100 people that were all going over final plans, getting ready to go execute, you know, people that don’t see it – there’s like 10 different teams doing 10 different things, there’s a rallycross going on, there’s people actually doing all kinds of things, you know. Ken Block was just here, we were shooting him.”
“Tanner Foust in a rally car, we’ve got a Hovercraft against trucks, you know, we’re trying to bring… we’re trying to create a Forza Horizon festival, and it definitely feels like that,” he continues. “So, I’m just really, really proud of the team, it’s great because so much work, so many long hours, people cranking over the weekends, etcetera. And then to see it all come to life just makes a lot of pride and you really… we really also think of how fortunate we are to get to work in the video game industry, and we do what we love.”

I told Greenberg the event overall was a spectacle of a game launch, noting the unique rally course experience that featured all four seasons – it was truly amazing, and I got driven around it twice in a classic first-gen Subaru Impreza. Looking around me and seeing the seasons change all around me felt surreal. “I think how fast you’re going through the seasons is also incredible because you have to really pay attention, as they were driving quite fast,” Greenberg says, before asking me what my overall highlight of the event was. I said it was between both the rally showcase and experiencing the sheer horsepower and delight the McLaren 720S delivers from the passenger seat. After all, this was the car I spent most of my time in whilst reviewing Forza Horizon 4, so to experience its sheer power and speed in the real-world felt extraordinary.

Greenberg then referred to my Forza Horizon 4 Review and its extreme level of detail. There’s no doubt that I’ve always taken an in-depth approach to game reviews whilst also discussing the more finite details about the title in a comprehensive manner. “Your content, I’ve always tried to help promote and I always appreciate you letting me know about, and I thought your review was super detailed, it had so much information, that for gamers out there that was really just, I could tell the time that you put into that, and the amount of detail and capturing and how much of it was just incredible,” he says. It’s not every day you receive this level of praise from the head honcho of Xbox Games Marketing at Microsoft – and I felt well chuffed about it. It was a really special way to end the interview, but of course it was followed by a quick photo of us together, as you can see above.

“So am, kudos to you because as I said, I think you now know more about the game than a lot of us do, which is really impressive,” he continues. “So, it’s just great to be able to see, to read it through someone’s eyes like yourself and see how much you appreciated it and to be able to share all that information with your followers is just great to see because for the super-core fans you have a lot of those finer details, but also for someone who doesn’t know the game at all, they can read the review and appreciate it and understand it – which is smart.”
Alan Walsh

Alan is the co-founder and co-owner of FullThrottle Media. As someone who enjoys spending all his free time playing video games, he keeps the website updated with new and relevant content, including news stories, reviews and opinion pieces for the games he likes writing about the most. He also tweets too much, probably.