Watkins Glen Beats Nürburgring in Forza 6’s Most Popular Track List

Porsche 918 Spyder around a soggy ‘Ring. Hooray for 4WD! Image courtesy of FosterG.

There’s no such thing as “too many tracks”. Any sim racer will tell you that. Of course, just like the available garage that ships with a new title, the track roster is always going to be limited by time. Developers have to walk a fine line, including tracks that (hopefully) please as much of the player base as possible. Some, as it turns out, will end up more popular than others.

Community member SimTourist has sifted through the global leaderboards in Forza Motorsport 6 to get a rough idea of track popularity (check out the forum thread right here). It’s by no means exhaustive: he’s simplified most of the listings to only include the most popular ribbons for each particular location. The exceptions are Le Mans and Nürburgring, which have the Bugatti Circuit and the Grand Prix layout listed separately from the other, longer ribbons. Each number listed below is from the most popular performance class (SimTourist did not specify which ones).

The Top Gear Test Track: could its relative unpopularity have to do with the show’s real-life drama? Image courtesy of Tomcat79.

The full list, organized by number of entries (as of April 3), is as follows:

  1. Watkins Glen (875,872)
  2. Le Mans Bugatti Circuit (785,681)
  3. Sebring (761,336)
  4. Spa (751,898)
  5. Nurburgring GP (726,360)
  6. Long Beach (717,204)
  7. Prague (688,977)
  8. Bathurst (671,953)
  9. Catalunya (605,441)
  10. Road Atlanta (595,043)
  11. Hockenheimring (591,494)
  12. Brands Hatch (565,504)
  13. Alps (562,697)
  14. Rio (550,629) *
  15. Daytona (514,480)
  16. Monza (513,994)
  17. Silverstone (501,430)
  18. Laguna Seca (486,978)
  19. Indianapolis (478,184) *
  20. Sonoma (452,220)
  21. Road America (451,300)
  22. Lime Rock (420,178) *
  23. Circuit of the Americas (409,574) *
  24. Yas Marina (362,188) *
  25. Le Mans Full Circuit (337,259)
  26. Top Gear (246,734)
  27. Nurburgring Nordschleife (152,630)
  28. Virginia International Raceway (51,508)

* – These are the second-largest tallies, as these five tracks are forced on the player during the first series and first Showcase event.

What can we take from this? For one, it looks like adding Watkins Glen to the series has paid off, with a substantial lead over the Bugatti Circuit. Other than the ‘Glen, the top ten are all returning circuits from Forza 5, with Hockenheim just barely missing the cut. The Rhine valley circuit isn’t new to the series: it was first seen in 2011’s Forza Motorsport 4. The other new-to-XB1 tracks (Brands Hatch, Rio, Daytona, Monza, Sonoma, Lime Rock, COTA, and VIR) populate the bottom half of the list. Virginia’s low count is undoubtedly due to it being a paid-for track, as part of last month’s Porsche Expansion Pack.

A softer side of the 2015 Mustang GT. Image courtesy of DaveyGT1.

Also interesting is how low the full Nordschleife ranks. Fans and detractors alike bemoaned the famed Green Hell’s absence at the launch of Forza 5 in 2013. Turn 10 responded the following year, announcing the inclusion of the track – for free – at E3.

Of course, these numbers are hardly conclusive. For starters, all of the other Performance Index classes aren’t taken into consideration. Secondly, the leaderboards only record a player’s single fastest time per class. The amount of time players spend on particular tracks is still up for discussion. Perhaps Turn 10 has those figures…

Interestingly, the game’s first race location (Rio) has a mammoth 2.3 million entries. This contrasts with news from January of the game cresting the seven-digit sales mark. Surely some are multiples using the same copy of Forza 6, but it’s worth pointing out nonetheless.

This apparent disconnect between the demand for a track and the frequency it’s used in game highlights a common issue across the genre: the vocal minority. Players that get invested in a particular series to the point of joining online communities – like GTPlanet – are more likely to air their grievances than a more casual gamer.

One:1 burning bright, in more ways than one. Image courtesy of gtsteviiee.

Forza, Project CARS, Assetto Corsa, Gran Turismo – each one has a critical subset of its online community, but none of these communities represent all of the players, nevermind most of them. Even if we were to assume every single GTPlanet member owned Gran Turismo 6, for instance, they would still only represent roughly 1/19 of the total 4.88 million sales!

The Nürburgring may be understandably intimidating to casual players, but many of today’s dedicated sim racers practically demand its inclusion. Are historic tracks like the Green Hell or Isle of Man (rumoured for inclusion in Gran Turismo) worth the significant time investment? Should developers focus on content that appeals to the largest possible demographic? Sound off in the Comments section below!

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Comments (43)

  1. maciej908

    I apologise guys! It’s my fault – I’ve been testing all my fave cars on Watkins Glen!

    Truth be told it’s an amazing circuit – I love the long sweeping corners, uphill/downhill sections and long straights, good run off areas etc… It’s long but you can compare cars on this track like no other

  2. BrunetPaquet

    I must be one mega-weird casual then. I play on Above Average difficulty, with TCS, normal steering and braking, cosmetic damage, no collisions, then I go on long tracks like Le Mans, Nurburgrïng, Virginia International Grand East/West, and in the rain at that, with limited drivatar aggro and XP boost mods all in my mods list.

    Yes, I did say “Without Collisions” and with “Limited Drivatar Aggro”… to each their own.

    1. BrunetPaquet

      I apologize for the double post, I forgot to say I do stuff like 10-15 on very long tracks. Did more laps than the Nurb enduro showcase once and I plan on doing it again. On rain.

      This or 50 laps on Prague/Rio.

  3. TomBrady

    I’m disappointed in you Forza players.

    I’m pretty sure in GT6, Nordschliefe would win out and in AC, I know it would. Although most people on AC use that piece of garabge tourist layout where you can’t even race or do more than one lap at a time.

    1. SimTourist

      You give GT players too much credit. A big chunk of it is casuals which probably haven’t done a single lap on the ring.

    2. BrunetPaquet

      I play much more Nurburgrïng (Especially in the rain) than Watkins Glen, trust me. It’s not good to lump all people in the same group. This and the game has like, Eight or Nine leaderboards per track depending on car performance class.

  4. SavageEvil

    They should put up a list for the most hated course, I seethe with rage when I see Abu Dhabi in any form as people cut anywhere and everywhere, that and Road of the Americas. Online needs penalties, those tire walls were after thoughts since they aren’t well placed in many of the newer courses that have insane runoffs. Issue penalties, cut power do something, they should bring back the negative timer and use that to decide positions at the end of the race along with real time track cutting penalizations. I actually cut down on playing due to online being full on lunatics, if you’re faster then they are they’ll do the “oh I over estimated my braking prowess”, or the “I didn’t see you along side me when you were 3/4th’s of a car lengths ahead of me”. Seen it all, so the Nurburgring being high up is incredible considering that most folks barely have the focus to make it one lap or actually use brakes at corner 1.
    I do love Watkins Glen though, very fun course and almost no place to cut without high risk. Dislike wet version of every track though, nothing good comes of it with people who can barely stay on the road in the dry, that multiplies in the wet.

    1. BrunetPaquet

      +1, +1 and +1 again. I hope Forza Motorsport 7 will have penalties…

      Optional penalties offline, but enforced penalties online.

  5. breyzipp

    That is a VERY poor way of deciding if a track is popular or not. The most tracks raced are probably the tracks which appear the most in career mode, period.

    Also, if I really enjoy 1 track a lot and I raced there 100 times, or I hate another track and I only raced there once, for the stats there is no difference, it’s +1 for both.

    Completely wrong to assume those population lists have anything to do with popularity.

    1. ImaRobot

      “Of course, these numbers are hardly conclusive. For starters, all of the other Performance Index classes aren’t taken into consideration. Secondly, the leaderboards only record a player’s single fastest time per class. The amount of time players spend on particular tracks is still up for discussion. Perhaps Turn 10 has those figures…”

      It’s just collective data to show what track is used most, excluding the first few handful of races from career mode. I’m not sure why it’s something to get so angry over. If you get shunted into a track you don’t like and post a lap to it, sure it happens, but for that to happen the most popular track gets voted in, and this is how the tally will rise for a given track. Another thing is that most people take the time to enter in Rivals mode and complete laps on some of there more favorite tracks. Is it a 100% accurate guide? No, but it was never meant to be, it’s just there to show a trend.

    2. Johnnypenso

      Add to that, that while all of breyzipp’s concerns are legitimate, behaviour differences and visit frequencies between the tracks will likely average out and not affect the results with such a large sample database.

    3. breyzipp

      I’m not angry, I’m just stating these figures have absolutely nothing to do at all with track popularity. If anything, it would more be an indication of which tracks appear the most in the singleplayer + storymode part of the game. The extra long and extra short tracks don’t appear there often at all, and that is exactly the trend in this so called popularity list as well.

    4. ImaRobot

      Ah, my mistake. I haven’t really played the career since the game came out, pretty much. I’ve barely got through a few of the lower classes.


    Seeing Road America not in the Top 10 makes me happy (in a sadistic way) :)/

    Good for Watkins Glen :)

  7. FosterG

    I run LeMans every time I fire the game up, so I guess it is without question my favorite, I dig Road America too. I never run Long Beach, never! Same with the Hock.

  8. SimTourist

    Oh, thanks Kyle, didn’t really expect anything going to the front page from doing this counting, it was more of a personal interest. Obviously I had to work with the tools provided by the game and this is by no means 100% accurate, just the data that’s available to every player. T10 probably has a much better way for measuring tracks’ popularity, but I did the best I could. Again, thanks, a nice surprise today.

  9. bloodyboyblue

    The nordshleife is perfectly fun for time trials and driving around on your own, but for me “racing” equals passing and being able to run around corners side by side with multiple different lines through the corners, and it’s just too narrow. Passing usually doesn’t happen unless the person in front of you makes a mistake, especially in faster cars. Nothing to do with length for me, especially since I love Sierra. It just has a flow that Nurb doesn’t have.

    1. Tenacious D

      I like racing on the full Nordschleife, but it takes some patience because it is such a hellish narrow course. Other tracks are better for old school rubbing ‘n racing. Still, I’ll have to say that the Nurb is my true love.

    2. Halcyon925

      Seems to be a Richard-move, but I overtake on the Nordschleife by going taking the inside and swiftly exiting. Of course, no crashing is involved, and I can only do so when I have the upperhand in cornering speed. Since I enter the corner at a higher speed, the other driver has no need to brake to avoid an accident.

  10. Snaeper

    I think the length of the two tracks should be taken into consideration. I’m sure there’s a number of people who start to run laps on the Nordschleife and just give up before the lap is over, same for la Sarthe.

    There’s also the issue of these tracks being in a number of other titles, while Watkins Glen is in next to no mainstream titles currently, thus more people will play that simply because they have no other place to do so.

    1. Kyle P.

      Oh, I agree Snaeper. Lap length should be taken into consideration.

      Of course, if people are giving up before a lap is over, that doesn’t really speak for a track’s popularity. :p

      The Glen’s lack of availability in other games probably does help, yeah. What also probably hurts the ‘Ring’s rating is that it shows up so rarely in online hoppers, and doesn’t appear in the offline Career until the second half.

  11. Forgetful

    This is misleading. The ‘ring is a lot longer than the Glen. Assuming all of the laps were on the full course of Watkins Glen it totals 4.7 million kilometers. The laps on the Nordschleife total 3.1 million kilometers.

    Also that wouldn’t include incomplete laps, of which there would be a lot more on the ‘ring.

    1. ImaRobot

      Which makes it misleading how? This is recorded players on a given track, so it’s not really misleading at all. The ‘Ring is almost always gets voted against in multiplayer lobbies, so it makes perfect sense.

  12. Johnnypenso

    I didn’t get into the Nordschleife until about halfway through the GT5 lifecycle. Until then I had never turned a full lap there. Online racing at the ‘Ring was always brutal in my experience and it was too long to learn just for fun. Not a big fan of Spa either. Wanting to qualify for GTP WRS status forced me to learn a couple of sections and from there I just leapfrogged to the whole track. I still don’t turn a lot of laps there, preferring new tracks and a few of my old favourites in most games.

  13. BoneSawTX

    I avoid the Nordschleife as much as I can, never enjoyed it. Le Mams on the other hand I’ll run daily.

    1. Bjorn Lucas

      i think thats strange,… i think le mans is boring because of all the straights, nordschleife only has 1 loooong straight.

    1. Samus

      Purely down to the length I’d imagine, same with the full ring. Casuals don’t have the patience for long tracks, for some reason. I always love the outcry when someone suggests online 2 laps of the ring instead of just 1.

    2. BrunetPaquet

      Nurburgrïng is my fave track, I don’t mind trying Le Mans, especially in the rain. Must be awesome. I’m pretty sure there’s some pretty risky puddles.

      Y’know what? I’m gonna go try it right away.

    1. Leggacy

      I loved Watkins Glen on ToCA world touring cars for the PS 1. Only just got Project cars, haven’t tried this track yet, definitely will give it a go.

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