Zwift’s April fools prank

I’m sure most know of the prank zwift pulled with making the game look like 80s VCR look. I know they develop other features and evolve with courses and what not, but it’s an interesting juxtaposition with what TR did this week. I’m sure a nontrivial amount of work went into the prank, imagine if they put that effort into other aspects of actually making a better user experience. Not to mention zwift appears to be a bit tonedeaf on things like requests to make a better (more fair) racing experience. So to have the TR folks here listening and producing a feature in these times is beyond impressive (even if everyone doesn’t love it lol)


Applying a CRT filter to something you’re already rendering with OGL or DX doesn’t take a lot of engineer-hours.

I did note yesterday that Trainer Road wisely released their feature on March 31st and not yesterday.

The A1 prank included custom artwork for riders (kits and glasses) and bikes. A Z rep made no small point in this weeks Zwiftcast, about the time it takes to make kits and such in game. They could be playing it up in light of trying to discourage people from the constant “I want my kit in the game”, but the point was made either way.

They have done something each year, along with Halloween and Xmas stuff, so this was expected, and may well have been in place long before the current mess. So I don’t think it’s right to claim they “wasted” time or money.

They just dropped the very first issue of Club function, for early beta testers. That is something long requested and parallels the goals of combating the isolation in the current state. So I see them as working forward, even if it is at their glacial pace and somewhat elitist implementation of what “they see” as the right answer (often in direct contradiction to actual user requests… but that is Z for you). :stuck_out_tongue:

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I think it was just the Zwift Steel bike with a custom texture, yes?

Regardless, that should all be using up artist time – so, competing with building new maps, adding new bikes, etc. – rather than engineer time – which would compete with feature development.

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I think Zwift may have placed their racing/e-sports priorities on pause until they get the hardware side of things figured out.

My take is that they are actually pivoting to pursue a Peloton-like model - appeal to the masses, boost community engagement, etc. Their investors are looking for Zwift to grow. e-sports was one avenue. Appeal to the masses is another, and I suspect this is the direction they are taking.

I think they are going to develop a Zwift bike that is plug-and-play for use with Zwift to make Zwift more accessible to non-cyclists. This bike will be cheaper than the likes of the Wahoo Kickr bike, but will have some of the features needed to make Zwift more immersive. Eg steering, probably climb, etc. they’ll probably save $ by using a less expensive power measurement system.

Course they could be focusing on developing a high end bike suitable for e-sports - but that has a lot more complications from a design/engineering perspective. And if this is the path, why fire their current director of e-sports?

So in light of appealing to the masses, their investment in pulling off their April fools joke makes more sense.

I disliked the prank. It was 4:30 AM for me when I rode and was a little grouchy and thought my tv was acting up before I realized what happened. Given what’s going on, I didn’t need that additional stress. I would much rather see time spent on other things and do think it was a bit tone deaf to do something so subtle that might confuse people. If it was more overt, I wouldn’t have thought twice.


Yeah, I didn’t want to imply zwift is doing nothing, because they’re always doing stuff, and the prank is an annual thing (along with other holiday stuff), but what could they accomplish if they did what TR did over a 10 day period and really focused on a major feature? I’ll admit I know close to nothing on what it takes to develop software, especially at the scale of zwift (just doing a simple PMC webapp has taken me 2 months lol)

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  • I agree that is their end game, but if the interview with Eric Min is to be taken at face value, a trainer for a separate bike will be their first real product. He said it’s a step towards a full bike, which is something they will likely do (totally paraphrased from memory of the Minterview months ago, so I may be off a bit).

  • Along with that discussion, Eric made clear that the bulk of tech support tickets are from trainers and related issues (use, connection and such). It seems that they are aiming to make something automatic and foolproof (as much as possible anyway… because they are always building better fools :stuck_out_tongue: )

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I had no problem with the “prank”…as stated, Zwift has a long history of doing this and most companies can do two things (or more) at once.

That said, given the rather obscure 80’s cultural references, you’d think a quick notice as the game loads would have been in order…“Welcome to our April Fool’s Day 80’s Retro Day…enjoy your neon colors, steel bike and VCR tape visual effects” or something similar…people were totally perplexed the whole day, based on comments in the chat box.

If I was Zwift, I wouldn’t waste my time on that. There’s dozens of trainers that work great with Zwift. I can’t see how Zwift would bring anything to the party with just a trainer. Maybe its the stepping stone to the bike, but seems like an unnecessary step.


Agreed. As Chad noted, though, that seems to be their plans…or at least what they are publicly indicating. I know in that interview Min talked about potentially doing a wired trainer for better connection reliability, etc…but that seems like, at best, a minor improvement.

They need to leapfrog the competition, not play catch-up. Using a trainer as a stepping stone / learning project just diverts resources from their opportunity to create a truly differentiated product.

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The big question here is which direction they take:

  1. A cheaper bike to appeal to the non-cyclist masses. Plug-and-play with Zwift, has features to bring the immersive nature of Zwift to life - steering, climb, etc.

  2. A more expensive bike that is suitable for e-racing appealing to hardcore cyclists. High accuracy power meter, built-in weighing scale, some side to side motion to enable more natural sprinting, etc.

My money is on #1. At least to start.

I thought their April fools joke was the release of the Crash Powerup.

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that was just a website story that was a prank. A crash powerup like mario kart would be fantastic lol

It would certainly be a less complex product to develop…but with their previous focus on eSports, and the idea of first building a “halo” product and then doing a trickle-down strategy, going for #2 first would not surprise me.

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The other problem with #2 - in addition to the physical design complexity - is ensuring integrity of the data to prevent it from being intercepted and tampered with.

Plus, there will always be some variability in measurement between bikes. Eg +/- 1% accuracy sounds good, but if you and I are competing, and I have a 1% advantage due to the calibration of the bike, that would be unfair. Maybe good enough for amateur enthusiasts, but not good enough if any $ are at stake.

I was concentrating on “Carson” more than the graphics - London and New York tend to be a bit blurry for me on casting android to an old TV, so I only really noticed the kit tbh!

I was on the zwift forums looking for advice on laptops (not related to yesterday) and a number of threads giving out about it though! I guess if you had limited time, and thought it was a set up issue, you may be more concerned.

I’m not sure they would ever include a scale. It still wouldn’t prevent weight doping and it would be tough to get a consistent weight with all the bouncing around. If it only worked when not moving, seems kind of pointless to incorporate into a bike. I always question whether to enter a weight based on my typical pre ride vs. post ride weight and I guess it would cool if the bike could track weight throughout the ride as it goes down. A scale on the bike would certainly cause some interesting behavior. I’d never put any extra weight on my bike, or at least ditch my bottles for a big climb or finish. A much cooler feature would be to incorporate a camera/sensor to capture and mimic your position on the bike (gotta stay low to cut through the wind).

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Agreed 100%…

Or a rainbow jersey.

Good reasons why a “e-racing specific” bike would be hard to pull off.