You’d think that after the release of Project CARS, the viral marketing efforts of the greater sim community would die down, and the state of news outlets and message boards would return to normal. An extremely aggressive pre-release advertisement campaign for the crowdfunded racing simulation by Slightly Mad Studios saw a tidal wave of both traditional and viral marketing methods, which served to frustrate sim racers all over the globe as Project CARS shipped with an abundance of game-breaking bugs that have still not been rectified. Financially, the experiment was a success and could be used as an example of crowdfunding done right, though anyone who’s invested serious time into the game and wasn’t a financial backer will tell you to steer clear of Project CARS.
We begin our story at VirtualR.net, a news blog that’s arguably the most trustworthy outlet for official news releases regarding the not-so-wide world of driving games. In September of 2011, Editor Rob Prange announced that he was now employed by Slightly Mad Studios, and there would be a slight adjustment in the type of content displayed on the website. At the time, most readers believed there would simply be no more game or hardware reviews due to a conflict of interest, and many people believed business would continue as usual. For a while, it did.
Unfortunately, the problem with such an early announcement was that Project CARS was still a twinkle in the eyes of Ian Bell, the head of Slightly Mad Studios. In late 2011, the only information regarding Project CARS was that the entire endeavor was still in the early planning phases, and as things would play out, would not arrive in the hands of the consumer until May 2015. The announcement of the partnership between the VirtualR and Slightly Mad Studios had been made so far in advance of the game materializing, your average reader could not find a single reason to be upset with what had transpired.
Until, obviously, the release date was only a few months away. A once trustworthy news website became your one stop shop for news about Project CARS, to the point where some stories were literally just videos of people opening the game’s package.
To make things even more ridiculous, searching “Project CARS Nordschleife” using the site’s search bar warrants 55 identical articles. An even greater number of results are listed if you substitute Nordschleife for nicknames such as “Nurburgring” or simply “Ring.” To put things into perspective, these videos usually last around seven minutes a piece due to the insane length of Europe’s greatest track, leading to a whopping six and a half hours of Nurburgring hotlap videos from Project CARS being pushed on the readers. This is longer than the entire Star Wars prequel trilogy combined.
The reason your average sim racer has a hard time dealing with this obvious viral marketing campaign by a trustworthy news outlet, is because the game wasn’t very good. Receiving a user score of 54 on Metacritic for the Xbox One version of the title, the game shipped with some incredible bugs, the full list of which can be found below:
To their credit, Slightly Mad Studios pushed out no less than eight massive patches in an effort to make the game playable for those who chose to stick around in the hopes that underneath this whole mess, there would be an extremely competent racing simulator waiting to be discovered. Unfortunately, opinions on the current state of the game are mixed at best, with most positive responses coming from those who had some sort of financial ties to the game dating back to the initial investment period. Those still unsatisfied with Project CARS say that on the outset, the title appears fine, but upon diving into the more intricate aspects of a racing sim, Slightly Mad Studios either cut corners entirely, or flat-out didn’t care at all.
One of the elements Slightly Mad Studios are accused of not caring about is Triple Screen Support. Since high definition widescreen computer monitors have become affordable for the average PC owner, most diehard sim racers opt for a triple screen setup, which effectively grants them a greater sense of speed, and an increase in awareness. During the game’s time spent under development, those who bought into the WMD investor program were told by Slightly Mad Studios themselves there would be built-in functionality for triple screen support, and there would be no need to go into your video card’s control center to force the image to be stretched across three screens. While not a selling point in its own right, the hardcore guys with three monitors were pretty jacked about native triple screen implementation, as it meant little to no risk of framerate drop.
Five months after the game’s release, this functionality is nowhere to be found, and instead it’s being promised for Project CARS 2. One user on VirtualR.net by the name of Herr Igor provided links to the official Slightly Mad Studios forums prior to release where the developer team had assured users triple screen support was a priority for them, and was questioning why it had still not shown up after countless DLC packs and the announcement of a sequel.
His links to the official Slightly Mad Studios forum topics on the issue were conveniently deleted by the owner of VirtualR.net, an employee of Slightly Mad Studios, for “baseless accusations”. Another user immediately jumps in to defend Herr Igor, but Rob Prange continues to insist he simply misread what had been posted.
Let me ask you this: If this guy truly has misread something, why not keep his original post up for others to see that he’s misread something and call him out for it themselves? Why immediately delete this guy’s entire argument so nobody can see it, and say he’s slandering people? And why are other people agreeing with him?
I know I catch a lot of flak for the amount of shit I let fly in the comments section on PRC.net, but keep in mind moments like these serve to remind me why I allow this place to become a warzone every few articles, and this kind of bullshit taking place on video game news outlets is exactly what #Gamergate wants to get rid of.