To give our readers some insight as to how PretendRaceCars.net operates on a day-to-day basis, it’s essentially a group of dudes sitting around on Teamspeak bullshitting about racing sims, and anything noteworthy we discuss is then refined and reshaped into a proper article. Activity in the Teamspeak server traditionally spikes around 10:00 PM Eastern, when a whole bunch of us get together to share what we’ve learned about the scene over the past 24 hours. And during one of those discussions no more than two weeks ago, one of our informants posed a very peculiar question to me:
“Are you like, counting down the days until Assetto Corsa’s console release…? Like, I honestly can’t imagine how genuinely excited you are to just wreck everyone’s shit again like you did with Project CARS.”
The dismal state of Assetto Corsa in 2016 is something we’ve documented quite extensively throughout the past six months here at PRC.net.To condense no less than twenty articles chronicling the game’s fall from grace into a single paragraph, we knew a guy who knew a guy that was in tight with Italian Developer Kunos Simulazioni, and he fed us a smorgasbord of damaging information regarding the popular PC racing sim. Just as people began to believe Kunos were leading them to sim racing euphoria, we opened the floodgates – the artificial intelligence was broken, “realism” was little more than a marketing buzzword, and several corners were cut for the impending console release. Assetto Corsa fanboys were sent into a frenzy with every new article we published, doing everything in their power to discredit what some have affectionately given labels such as “the hate blog”, “tabloid rumors”, and “the ramblings of a mentally ill individual.” Despite our declining reputation within the sim racing community, we pressed onward, beginning the new year by exposing some of Stefano Casillo’s forum rants towards his own customers and calling out the blatant attempts to generate hype via cheeky viral marketing.
But truthfully, even with the evidence pointing towards the game falling flat on its face, I didn’t want Assetto Corsa to fail. Look, sim racing is simply not in a good place right now. iRacing rips people off, Project CARS carefully treads the line between “scam” and “complete letdown”, Sebastien Loeb Rally Evo shipped with brutal technical issues, RaceRoom Racing Experience invades your wallet with their ridiculous funny money system, and Reiza is selling you yet another copy of rFactor: Community Edition. Our genre desperately needs an all-around “good guy” developer – one which the community can rally behind as we look towards the future of sim racing.
If Kunos ship a product full of issues, one that doesn’t stack up to the competition and warrants widespread complaints as Project CARS did in 2015, I receive the ability to say “I told you so” on the Internet for about a day. This doesn’t improve a game I’ve already invested 291 hours on in the hopes that one day it would stack up to ISI titles, it doesn’t magically increase the relatively little ad revenue I earn off of PRC.net… All I earn is the ability to win Internet arguments for 24 hours at the expense of everyone – including myself – getting pissed off that a game they looked forward to was instead a complete letdown.
And yet, here we are. Today, Kunos Simulazioni and 505 Games announced the release of Assetto Corsa on next-generation consoles would be delayed by two months due to “polish concerns”. Originally slated for release in April of 2016, the title will now land in the hands of the public during the first week of June.
I’ll admit, I smiled when somebody Emailed me the link to the first VirtualR.net article. I had just sat down at Subway for my 30 minutes away from driving rental cars in circles, and took comfort in the fact that I’d be able to spend the middle portion of my day eating my favorite soup and reading the collective outrage across sim racing forums far and wide. That was at 9:36 AM. By 9:43 AM, I no longer felt on top of the world, proud of the fact that I dared to report on Assetto Corsa’s flaws, and 505 Games had also agreed that the game was not ready for public consumption. Instead, I was bummed. Once again, a sim racing developer had let us down. We were just starting to recover from the Project CARS disaster. The message boards were just beginning to clear up, free of shills and other miscellaneous viral marketers from the nation of WMD. Here we go again.
As the guy behind PretendRaceCars.net, this news is fantastic. More credibility, more traffic, more advertisement revenue, and more shit-storms to read when people inevitably link to this article on other sim racing forums. Prior to this news breaking, I was working on a Trans-Am mod for Stock Car Extreme. I figured that’s how I’d spend my Wednesday; hey guys, I found this sick mod, rectified an obvious physics issue, and now it’s really good! That’s what was on the agenda today. Instead, I got to type my feelings on Assetto Corsa getting delayed after like a billion articles foreshadowing all of the bugs and glitches fanboys desperately tried to downplay.
But as a sim racer who’s sunk 291 hours into Assetto Corsa, and spent months alongside my friends praying that it would move past the permanent science project phase, I feel cheated. Kunos Simulazioni have gone on the record and said that Assetto Corsa is fundamentally the same game across the PC, Playstation 4, and Xbox One. The same cars, tracks, gameplay, features, options, and most importantly, shortcomings… Everything is the same, and that’s been their rallying cry for better or worse – a proper PC racing simulator, even when it’s not on the PC.
However, the PC version costs $60. The PC version already features three premium DLC packages. The PC version is labelled as a finished product. As for the console version? Publisher 505 Games immediately steps in and says “no guys, it’s not ready for the public.”
Oh yeah? What about our version? The one that’s available right now on Steam? The same game featuring an aggressive post-release DLC plan and numerous premium packages only serving to segregate the online community? What about that version? It doesn’t seem like it’s ready for the public, either:
This is the reality for Version 1.4 of Assetto Corsa. $60 for a PC racing simulator, and an extra $30 in downloadable content, for a game where users run into problems such as “game freezes on track after 10+ minutes”, “mouse cursor freezes on launch”, and “racers getting randomly kicked from servers.” Why couldn’t this version of Assetto Corsa be delayed for polish concerns as well? These are just a small list of issues sim racers currently have to live with in a game deemed feature complete, sold for full price on Steam, and whose fanboys chase after you across the internet if you even dare mention that you weren’t satisfied with this game. Why is it fine to push a product of this quality on PC sim racers, but the moment the console masses come into play, the marketing babble turns into “hold on guys, we need a few months to polish the game up to ensure we can face the major competition.” What gives?
The glitches, issues, and workarounds section of the Assetto Corsa forum does not read like the message board for a game that has officially been on the market for something like eighteen months – this is basically what you read while a game is still in beta. And don’t forget, these are just a list of technical issues – we haven’t even started talking about the atrocious stuff plaguing the artificial intelligence and other integral gameplay aspects of the sim itself. Quite frankly, we don’t need to, as YouTube can do it for us.
I got the chance to try out Forza Motorsport 6 at a buddy’s house last week. He’s got one of those entry-level Thrustmaster Ferrari wheels with minimal force feedback and flimsy plastic pedals, but it does the job for how serious he takes his racing. And despite having to be gentle with the wheel, and constantly deal with the input lag produced by a high-definition television not really intended for gaming, Forza 6 overwhelmed me with the amount of shit there was to do within the world Turn 10 had built. At it’s best, Assetto Corsa doesn’t even come close to offering an experience like Forza Motorsport, Gran Turismo, or Project CARS, and on the Xbox One and Playstation 4, an experience like that is required just to register as a blip on the radar.
For 505 Games, delaying Assetto Corsa won’t save the project, but rather soften the impending harsh reactions of the console audience. Sim Racers on the PC have gotten used to a flurry of broken promises, and they will have no problem defending eternal science projects like Assetto Corsa to the bitter end, but the console masses have been spoiled in comparison. Even if Kunos Simulazioni were able to iron out every last bug and minor complaint, there’s still no reason to choose Assetto Corsa over one of the already established console titles. With polish concerns popping up so close to release, not only will very few console owners even touch this game to begin with, the handful of folks that do will inevitably spend their time recording countless glitch videos for a shot at YouTube notoriety.