To start things off in true self-masturbatory fashion, a few months ago we ran a story here on PRC.net regarding the impending console release of the popular PC racing simulator Assetto Corsa. Citing insider information from an individual whose identity we’ve revealed by name in previous articles, we broke the news that Kunos Simulazioni were not looking to make an impact on the console gaming scene, but rather “establish the brand” with the help of 505 Games as a publisher. Our insider revealed the ultimate goal for Kunos Simulazioni in 2016 was not to shape Assetto Corsa into a complete title, but to generate enough revenue to ensure the brand’s survival and generate financial stability for the next project – Assetto Corsa 2. Obviously, people weren’t happy to hear this, as the hardcore sim racers among us have already written off the title. On the other hand, Assetto Corsa owners from the complete opposite end of the spectrum couldn’t care less if a hypothetical scenario arose where cockpit view was removed for AC2, speaking volumes about the supposed “sim racers” supporting this title in the first place.
Some sim racers, including us here at PRC.net, believe Assetto Corsa lacks in several key areas compared to other serious driving games alongside it. As someone who purchased the title mere hours after the initial version was released as an Early Access title, it was unfortunate to hear that progress on the game had essentially taken a back seat to a constant barrage of DLC, and an impending console release that is sure to disappoint those who’ve grown accustomed to the massive worlds supplied by Forza, Gran Turismo, and to a lesser extent Project Cars. While a rather large group of people blasted these “unsubstantiated rumors” when we first published them, Stefano Casillo’s comments on RaceDepartment earlier today all but confirm Kunos Simulazioni lack the budget to flesh out the game and bring it up to par with other modern racing sims, and the focus will indeed be on reaching into the customers’pockets.
Stefano’s comments today are much more respectful and courteous than his previous outing on RaceDepartment a little over a week ago, though they contain just as much unsettling info. Kunos are simply not concerned at the fact that Assetto Corsa lacks many features and functionalities seen in other offerings such as Stock Car Extreme, RaceRoom Racing Experience, or rFactor 2, as the mindset is to merely develop a game better than their last outing – Ferrari Virtual Academy. To bring you up to speed, Ferrari Virtual Academy was a $15 time trial competition, featuring four cars and three tracks.
This mindset is especially strange, as the last development team to operate with this ideology quickly faded away from the spotlight. The Gran Turismo brand was once a highly respected line of racing games for Sony’s flagship home console, but as Forza Motorsport established itself as a serious competitor despite only appearing on Microsoft systems, both Gran Turismo 5 & 6 were blasted by fans for failing to improve in many critical areas. The most obvious display of Polyphony’s lack of desire to put out a compelling product was displayed in the car roster itself; a majority of the 1100+ cars found in the latest iteration of Gran Turismo are merely re-touched Playstation 2-era car models, while Forza featured an entire livery editor inspired by Photoshop. As a result, Forza has only grown in popularity, while the best days of Gran Turismo are almost surely behind them.
Now, in response to RaceDepartment user DewCrew88, Stefano admits that the Kunos team simply do not have the budget to flesh out the areas of the game that many of the diehard sim guys believe require attention. This quote below is something that I believe confirms the intentions of Kunos throughout 2016, a plan we’d leaked a few months ago. After a New Year’s Eve press release adding up to little more than a list of DLC to expect in 2016, Stefano has openly confirmed the budget of Assetto Corsa doesn’t allow for much time to be spent adding any requested features – even if they’re integral to the long term survival of a racing sim. You can easily draw the conclusion that with the abundance of current & upcoming DLC, as well as the admission of the small budget preventing any substantial work from being done on the game, the quest for the almighty dollar is fueling the direction of the game’s post-release support.
To drill home how much they are relying on DLC in the upcoming year, I’ve highlighted all mentions of DLC in a portion of the New Year’s Eve 2015/2016 press release. No less than 40 cars are teased, while the ability to an execute a pit stop in an offline race – something a game would be laughed at excluding as far back as fifteen years ago, is “being worked on.”
I mean, seriously. A game with the tagline “Your Racing Simulator”, but no pit stops? Oh, don’t talk about that, let’s drool over the massive list of upcoming DLC that you’ll have to pay for if you want to continue to race online, as there’s currently no way to join sessions unless you own each piece of DLC the server is using:
It’s extremely easy to break all of this down to the very core, and the harsh reality may be upsetting for those once expecting big things out of the title: Assetto Corsa is more or less finished, and the upcoming bombardment of premium additional content, as well as the console release in a few months, is to ensure the long-term financial stability of the studio. For those unsatisfied with Assetto Corsa in its current state for any number of reasons, it’s safe to say there won’t be an effort to turn things around.