Good things happen when you enlist a large group of passionate people to work toward a common goal. Oh, and offering an entertainment station worth $3,500 as a reward doesn’t hurt, either. At least that’s the logic behind this particular online contest. In a joint effort between Mazda and Microsoft to help promote the new MX-5, gamers with a copy of Forza Horizon 2 can submit original livery designs for the in-game Miata to see if they have the chops to stand out amongst a sea of digital designers.

Interested in participating? Simply sign into Xbox Live on the 360 or Xbox One console, load up Forza Horizon 2, choose the 1994 Mazda MX-5 as your canvas, and get to work designing a livery using the in-game tools. When you’ve finished your masterpiece, save it as “MX5contest” and upload it to the Forza Horizon 2 storefront before 11:59 PM on January 4th, 2015.

A panel composed of representatives from Microsoft, Mazda, and Turn 10 Studios will sift through the entries to find five of the best, judging each on three equally weighted criteria: originality, aesthetic design, and technical proficiency. Once this first cut is made, public voting will be held later in the month at the Mazda hub on Xbox Live to narrow the five to two semi-finalists. These lucky individuals will be flown to SXSW in Austin, Texas, where a secondary panel of judges will determine the winner. Not only will the winning design be offered as a free gift to all gamers in Forza Horizon 2, but its creator will also receive a 55-inch curved TV, an audio system, an Xbox One Kinect console, and a MadCatz Racing Wheel.

Think you got what it takes to catch the judges’ eye? Fire up that digital pen and have at it. We’re thinking something with orange, blue, and the letters "TS"...

Click past the jump to read more about the 2016 Mazda MX-5.

Why it matters

This is really a win-win scenario for everyone involved. By utilizing the talented Forza Horizon 2 video game community, Mazda will have a huge number of top-notch livery designs to source for inspiration, not to mention all the extra press gained for the new MX-5. Microsoft gets a nod for being the vehicle that drives this brand/audience interaction, and a gamer gets a free trip to SXSW and a brand new gaming rig. By encouraging a closer relationship between consumers and producers, the inevitable result is customizability and a better product. We like stuff like this, and we wouldn’t mind seeing it go a step further. For example, how about a contest to design an actual component of the car, say, the wheels?

2016 Mazda MX-5

2016 Mazda MX-5 Exterior
- image 566915

Mazda’s iconic two-door roadster is everything you’d want from a small sports car: low weight, rear-drive, six-speed manual transmission, and simply legendary handling. That’s what makes it one of the most raced vehicles on the planet, from the cones at the autocross, to the rumble strips on the road course.

The fourth generation is just as good as previous years, with an updated design that’s a marked improvement aesthetically. Under the hood is a SkyActiv 2.0-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder with about 160 horsepower on tap. While not necessarily neck-breaking, that’s enough for the 2,200-pound chassis to perform adequately on the straights.

But the real draw is how this thing simply slices corners to ribbons. Throw on some sticky tires and race-compound brake pads, gas it up, and hit the track.

Jonathan Lopez
About the author

Press Release

For the second consecutive year, Mazda North American Operations (MNAO) is teaming up with Xbox, this time to promote the launch of the 2016 Mazda MX-5 and give Forza Horizon 2 players the chance to enter the Mazda MX-5 Livery Design Contest. An interactive experience with the 2016 Mazda MX-5 and information on the design contest will be available through the Mazda branded hub on Xbox 360 and Xbox One.

The Mazda MX-5 Livery Design Contest, which is now live through January 4, 2015, will give Forza Horizon 2 players the opportunity to design the livery for the 1994 Mazda MX-5 currently available in-game. Two finalists will be awarded a trip in March to South by Southwest 2015 for the final design showdown. The winner will walk away with a new 55-inch curved TV, audio music system, Xbox One Kinect console and one MadCatz Racing Wheel estimated at $3,499.95. Additionally, the winning design will be made available in Forza Horizon 2 for all Xbox One and Xbox 360 users as a free gift.

"In addition to shining the spotlight on the 2016 Mazda MX-5 through the partnership, we also wanted to give Forza fans a way to engage and pick up some cool prizes and see their work featured in the game," said Russell Wager, vice president of marketing, MNAO. "Fans of the Mazda MX-5 are some of the most passionate enthusiasts out there and we look forward to seeing the creativity that comes from this contest."

To enter the Mazda MX-5 Miata Livery Design Contest users must:
Sign into the Xbox Live service via an Xbox 360 or Xbox One console
Enter Forza Horizon 2, select the available 1994 Mazda MX-5 car and follow the instructions within the game to design a livery using the tools available within the game
Once finished, participants will be required to save their design with the name "MX5contest" and upload it to the Forza Horizon 2 storefront during the contest period
Entries will be accepted now through January 4, 2015 at 11:59 p.m. EST

A semi-finalist judging panel, consisting of representatives from Microsoft, Mazda and Turn 10 Studios will determine up to five potential semi-finalists. All submissions will be evaluated on a 100-point scale; with an emphasis on originality (33 points max), aesthetic design (33 points max) and technical proficiency (34 points max). The semi-finalists will be posted on the Mazda hub on Xbox Live from 12:01 a.m. EST on January 26, 2015 through 11:59 p.m. EST on February 12, 2015 for the online public voting phase of the contest. The two semi-finalists with the most votes will be flown to South by Southwest in Austin, Texas where a winner will be determined by three special judges; Derek Jenkins, Mazda’s director of design, Major Nelson from Xbox Live and Forest Byrd with TC9700Gaming.

The official rules can be found on the Mazda hub on Xbox 360 and Xbox One. A second contest with Microsoft will be announced at South by Southwest 2015.

This is the second time Mazda has teamed up with Microsoft. In 2013, Mazda made history by being the first automotive manufacturer to globally reveal a vehicle, the 2014 Mazda3, in conjunction with a live concert through Microsoft’s Xbox 360 gaming console.

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