National Football League fans and journalists alike use Ryan Leaf as the defining symbol of a draft bust; the ultimate example of failure to live up to insurmountable expectations. Sim Racing now has it’s own Ryan Leaf, as three years of development and eight patches have still failed to rectify a glitch in Project CARS that randomly launches the player’s vehicle into the stratosphere.
A cunning experiment that first began in 2012, Slightly Mad Studios directly asked for both the creative input AND funding from the sim racing community in order to release a game that could potentially dethrone the likes of Forza Motorsport or Gran Turismo. Delayed three times in the six months leading up to launch, the eventual release of the title was plagued with a maddening list of bugs and glitches left unresolved from early beta builds from 2012, issues financial backers and Slightly Mad Studios themselves scrambled to cover up while releasing no less than eight major patches.
Of course, while owners were still struggling to play the game for more than a few minutes at a time without running into game-breaking problems, both a sequel AND comprehensive DLC plans were announced. The base game didn’t work as advertised, and in some cases wasn’t even playable, but Slightly Mad Studios continued to act as if their new IP had amassed a legion of loyal followers.
These are truly dark days to be involved in Sim Racing. After Batman: Arkham Knight made international headlines for a disastrous release that forced Activision to hand out refunds to anybody who asked for one, Project CARS was able to stay in the shadows primarily due to the game’s roots within the community. With the development crowdfunded through a large portion of the sim racing audience, and promises of a return on everybody’s investment, both individual users and web publications joined together in a mass display of viral marketing to ensure they would receive their money back.
Only once the dust had settled did information trickle out that the game was of extremely poor quality.