An unrewarding battle pass. Big Team Battle. The freakin’ mangler. Halo Infinite’s most hardcore fans have long had minor gripes with the shooter, but here’s a new one: Cross-promotional tie-ins. Some players say they recently bought beauty products solely for the purpose of scoring cosmetics for use in Halo Infinite. Instead, they received stuff for Forza Horizon 5.
Halo Infinite, which launched last November on Xbox and PC, is the first entry in the shooter series to have its multiplayer mode based on a free-to-play model. You know what that means: a bunch of cool cosmetics that may or may not be readily available. You’d earn some by leveling your way through a battle pass, either via the free or the more robust premium version. You could buy others in a microtransaction store. More recently, some high-tier options have started to become available via cross-brand promotions.
In January, Microsoft announced an official tie-in between OPI, the influencer-approved nail polish brand, and Xbox. Spearheading the Brand Synergy® is a line of a dozen shimmery nail polishes with cheeky names like “You Had Me At Halo,” “Can’t CTRL Me,” and “N00berry.” If you spend a certain dollar amount on these products, you’ll get cosmetic options for use in the two most recent marquee Xbox games. Forza Horizon 5 players would get a sunset-hued car livery. In Halo Infinite, meanwhile, players would get a head-spinningly gorgeous sparkly ocean blue armor coloring. (Yes, I obviously want it, why do you ask?)
But some players have said they felt hoodwinked this week, in part due to what some see as vague promotional language. From the January press release:
The full collection will be available at retail in the U.S. at Ulta when the partnership is announced and then globally starting in February where OPI products are sold. With every qualifying purchase, U.S. fans can unlock hue-matched, in-game content for Forza Horizon 5 and Halo Infinite starting February 1.
On Reddit, players say they’ve purchased OPI’s nail polish through various retailers, including directly from OPI, only to end up with Forza codes. “Got my girlfriend 2 at Ulta and it just give horizon dlc [sic]. Looks like my girls getting $40 worth of nail polish [joy emoji],” one player wrote.
Right now, the terms and conditions on OPI’s site explicitly state that Forza Horizon 5 livery is only available at Ulta, while the Halo Infinite skin is only available via Amazon purchase. That said, a Wayback Machine snapshot of the page’s original publication last month notably does not list the same qualifiers.
Representatives for Ulta and OPI did not respond to a request for comment. At press time, a representative for Microsoft didn’t have any additional information on-hand.
“I think you might have figured it out already but Forza has an exclusive in the US with Ulta for their code; a code for the Halo armor coating will be available with purchases starting Feb 1 at Amazon in the US and in other regions at other retailers,” one Xbox employee who works in Halo partnerships said on Twitter in response to the confusion.
Matthew, one player who spoke to Kotaku under request that we withhold his last name, said he purchased enough of the “Infinite Shine” lacquer at Ulta to earn a cosmetic, but ended up with the Forza Horizon 5 code instead. He’ll probably just give it “away for free to a friend or someone on reddit.” He doesn’t play Forza.
Matthew has since re-purchased the products via Amazon and was able to successfully redeem a code for the Halo Infinite armor coating, but ran into a new hiccup. Rather than immediately getting to use it, he has to wait. According to a verification email viewed by Kotaku, it won’t be available until a content update targeted for March 1 or sometime before. Other users expressed similar surprise, having believed it would’ve landed in-game earlier this week.
“I am frustrated in general by all the hiccups with the release of Halo Infinite,” Matthew said. “I admire the creativity of the OPI promotion, and I think it was an opportunity for Microsoft to deliver something effectively and transparently. Unfortunately, they missed the mark again, which further antagonizes [the] core set of Halo gamers.”