The latter half of 2015 here on PRC.net was admittedly spent ripping on one game in particular. After the abysmal launch of Project CARS – a title plagued by a pandemic of hefty technical glitches and viral marketing gone wrong – our attention then turned to the participant in the red corner. Set to deliver us from the extremely disappointing outcome of Slightly Mad Studio’s crowdfunded racing simulation, the small team over at Kunos Simulazioni gained a demonstrably larger fanbase in the weeks following the release of Project CARS. A title that was intended to bring sim racers into the next-generation of video game technology, Assetto Corsa established itself as the most popular racing simulator on Valve’s PC marketplace once the dust had settled – easily beating out iRacing, DiRT Rally, and Project CARS in terms of active users.
However, while many sim racers sung the high praises of Assetto Corsa, we started digging into the various rumblings and uncertainty of the title’s future that were mentioned in passing throughout the dark corners of a few sim racing communities. Users once dismissed as annoying trolls and obsessive fanboys came running to us with very genuine problems they had experienced during their time spent within the sim, and quickly we began to paint a much different picture of Assetto Corsa compared to the shining achievement the game was marketed as across other various sim racing news outlets. We pushed what had admittedly been a flurry of “anti-Assetto Corsa” articles on our readers; and eventually concluded that viral marketing had played a large role in how Assetto Corsa was portrayed to the masses.
It appears that our desire to go against the agenda of other websites has gotten under the skin of employees at Kunos Simulazioni.
A sub-section of Reddit exists solely for game developers to converse with each other anonymously or semi-anonymously in regards to their experiences within the industry. And that in itself is pretty cool. Much like message boards reserved for law enforcement officers, firefighters, or retail employees, r/GameDev serves as a “safe haven” for developers to talk among fellow industry contributors without leaking information or personal feelings through intrusive interviews. In a thread started by anongamedev22, a relatively simple question is posed towards his fellow comrades: how do you deal with psychotic customers?
It’s an understandable question to ask: some gamers indeed go through great lengths to damage the reputation of a company, occasionally they’re successful in their campaign, and this can be hurtful to those on the receiving end. The newest game in the Tom Clancy franchise by UbiSoft – The Division – has already been met with intense critical and user backlash for collision detection issues that literally break certain aspects of the game’s online progression. As a result, massive sites like 4Chan and Reddit are being flooded with posts regarding Tom Clancy’s Walking Simulator, all of which basically link to the same video. Another popular shit disturber would be the infamous Derek Smart, who has embarked on a prolonged campaign to question the legitimacy of the upcoming crowdfunded title Star Citizen – though I’m not too well-versed on whether he’s in the right or not. And most recently, we’ve got our boy Bacon Country, who went on a lengthy tirade regarding the lack of quality in the most recent NHL game released by EA Sports after his Career Mode player was sent down to the minors despite leading the NHL in points.
What I’m getting at, however, isn’t too difficult to understand. It’s the internet, and if people feel let down by a video game, some motherfuckers will pull no punches and post some extremely unflattering shit that could embarrass them in the eyes of the public – and sometimes, they’re in the right. It’s understandable that a developer would want to know how to handle this situation better – they have feelings, too.
But for Kunos, this whole scenario is just part of being successful.
Make no mistake, that line about “blogs dedicated to discrediting your game” is about us, because we’re the only news outlet in the sim racing scene who does that.
So to get all Dr. Phil up in here, how does this incredibly obvious jab toward our site make me feel?
I feel disappointed.
I’ve owned Assetto Corsa since the Early Access version went live in the fall of 2013. I’ve posted on numerous forums over the past few years encouraging users to get hyped for certain major updates, and leaked information from our boy in the closed beta program with the intent to get people excited about what Kunos had in store for sim racers. However, when the game’s development stalled in favor of a misguided console release and a steady stream of DLC packs, so did my excitement. Yes, it had come a long way since the humble beginnings in 2013, but it still had a long way to go. It wasn’t fun to fire up Assetto Corsa for a quick single player race, and be subjected to so many AI issues that I basically made a meta-game out of how many ridiculous screenshots I could take of the computer-controlled carnage. The awkward, clunky, and limited multiplayer functionality was a far cry from some of the more traditional isiMotor sims used for competitive league play without any issue. In a short period of time, it got extremely hard to defend this game as a sim racer. This wasn’t where the genre was supposed to be going.
From an outsider’s perspective, you could say PRC.net spent a few months carrying out a vendetta against Kunos Simulazioni. Truthfully, we were merely documenting what happened whenever we fired up the game. If it wasn’t good, that’s not our problem. Now if you enjoy Assetto Corsa regardless of the several flaws, that really doesn’t matter to us. Objectively, there are many things the game simply does not do well compared to the other products on the market. We spent time documenting those aspects, because nobody else in the community would.
I am disappointed to see a developer attribute a group of people finding very real and tangible bugs in their game – bugs that were bad enough to cause a two month delay for the console release – as a “milestone” on the road to success. Like, let’s be real here – the guy called these people idiots for getting upset enough about massive glitches to document them, only for his game to be delayed due to the exact glitches people were complaining about. How is this a milestone, exactly? The customers you called idiots ended up being right.
Now we could end the article here, but instead I want to draw attention to another reply within the thread that takes a remarkably different approach to the whole situation, and in the end it worked out for the better. This is thinking outside the box on an entirely new level.
This is the approach Sector 3 Studios have taken with us. Make no mistake, we have absolutely trashed the team over the previous few months in regards to some of the questionable decisions regarding RaceRoom Racing Experience, such as the absurd micro-transactions, questionable online server bugs, unrealistic exploit setups, and region-locked competitive events. However, while other developers have labelled PRC.net as a “hate blog” that’s “dedicated” to “discrediting” their game, Sector 3 have instead taken our articles as genuine feedback. The ability to run a low-downforce setup across every single vehicle and location combination in the game has been fixed in the upcoming patch – and it was thanks to us making it front-page news that the issue had even been discovered. Yes, it sucked for the guys at Sector 3 to see hardcore sim racers calling their game “simcade” upon the discovery of this exploit, and threatening to move on from the title altogether, but the end result is that the game has been made better.