It’s been a busy and understandably frustrating week for the team over at Image Space Incorporated. After months of sparse activity compared to other major racing simulators, community manager Tim Wheatley conducted a less than promising interview with sim racing media giant RaceDepartment. Tim offered little in the way of hope for rFactor 2’s future, and the overall reaction to Tim’s lengthy piece served to frustrate diehard rFactor 2 users, who realized that rFactor 2 might not evolve into a truly revolutionary product.
After we ran a story here quoting a SimHQ Motorsports user that claimed to have inside knowledge about Image Space Incorporated and the rFactor Pro software, both Tim Wheatley and Gjon Camaj took to the official ISI forums in order to address the situation.
Contrary to the rumors floating around, development on both rFactor 2 and rFactor Pro – which is primarily handled by an entirely separate company altogether with help from ISI – hasn’t stopped. However, Camaj admits that other unnamed projects might slow specific rFactor 2 developments – which isn’t exactly a good thing given how this particular sim is already evolving at a notoriously slow pace.
Tim Wheatley also admits that development on rFactor 2 has been slow – again, not the best situation given rFactor 2 is one of the oldest “modern” racing simulators on the market, and simply hasn’t amassed the following of the original. Wheatley also addresses the interesting rumor at SimHQ head on, by basically calling the guy a liar, and then saying sites like PRC.net don’t care about these facts and will continue to enjoy bashing developers.
The rest of the thread continues with your typical crop of fanboys praising the responses, as well as the new pieces of content added to rFactor 2: a remastered fictional track, and a fictional SCCA Historic Trans-Am entry based on the 1974 Chevrolet Camaro. It’s important to give credit where credit is due: this car looks awesome.
For me, as a third party with no vested interest in any racing sim, the past week or so has been extremely interesting to watch unfold, and the chain of events raises more questions than it does answers.
- rFactor 2 has been around in some form since 2009. This is a game that BSimRacing originally used to promote their World Super GT mod back when I was in high school. In terms of age, only iRacing has been available for a longer period of time.
- rFactor 2 has been developed at a snail’s pace. After seeing an open beta release in 2012, the game quietly entered a quasi-released state in 2013. While still a very competent simulator with no major flaws, it’s hard to get excited about a product that is just sort of sitting there in a corner, with nobody knowing if it’s really ready for public consumption or not.
- rFactor 2 is not popular. Aside from being used for major online racing leagues, such as Formula Sim Racing and the Virtual Endurance Championship, the server list is no more active than a small farming community in Kansas or Iowa. The default selection of content is patchy to say the least, and mod teams have not embraced the new platform due to the extremely complicated tire model. Because of this, most sim racers either lost interest in rFactor 2 due to a lack of content & updates, or didn’t care for the outrageous pricing model, which saw some pay $40 just to access an online server browser.
So we’ve established that rFactor 2 is dated, has been developed over the course of seven years, and hasn’t been embraced by the sim racing community for a multitude of reasons. I guess it’s time to analyze the recent events now.
- Tim Wheatley is interviewed by RaceDepartment, and gives an array of depressing answers. Most sim racers who take the time to analyze his answers realize there is basically nothing planned for the future of rFactor 2. Tim essentially answers “no” to every question thrown at him, and many of the questions are extremely basic inquiries. Cars announced over three years ago have been pushed aside, DirectX 11 and Virtual Reality support aren’t on the agenda, dirt pickup on tires isn’t coming, and lastly Tim hopes the community will randomly push out a huge assortment of payware mods to breath life into the aging sim – something that would actually be illegal. In short, a lot of people read the article and went “oh, shit, I guess rFactor 2 is dying.”
- Some guy on SimHQ claims he works in the auto racing industry, and received word that ISI are pulling support for rFactor Pro. We’re at a point where this guy could be blatantly making shit up to troll unsuspecting users, but it’s not uncommon for people “in the know” to lurk sim racing forums. You only have to look at places like iRacing or RaceRoom Racing Experience to realize there’s a shitload of real world talent and brains chilling out among us.
A few days go by, and to third parties like myself, who really don’t care about what happens to any sim on the market, it truly looks like ISI are moving on from rFactor as a franchise. The game has been demonstrably dead on arrival for years on end, Wheatley gave a depressing interview to a trusted media source about the future of rFactor 2, and now some guy is saying that rFactor Pro’s support is in jeopardy as well. I would like to know what I’m honestly supposed to think?
- ISI randomly releases a re-built Toban Raceway Park for rFactor 2, as well as a fictional SCCA Historic Trans-Am ride. The Howston Dissenter was first advertised in rFactor 2 preview renders all the way back in 2009, and most sim racers will recognize Toban as the “demo track” from the original rFactor. My biggest question is how in the world did ISI take six whole years to release a car? I mean, you can’t honestly tell me that a muscle car from 1974 takes years worth of research to perfect, when cars like the Dallara DW12 were awkwardly shoehorned into rFactor 2 featuring a ton of 3D model flaws and other odd behavior. To me, this looks like a knee-jerk reaction, as if we here at PRC.net stepped on an ant hill, and this was their “see, we’re not dead” card. Just calling it like I see it. Will the two Panoz GT cars be next?
- Camaj and Wheatley both take to the ISI forums to assure their loyal fans that development hasn’t stopped, but admit things have been slow. Again, I’m just some guy watching this all unfold, and as someone who doesn’t care either way, rFactor 2 has been figuratively sitting in a corner for six years. This is a fact. Yet somehow, after years of doing practically nothing to make people consciously aware of rFactor 2, and conducting a lengthy interview with a trusted website in which you admit there’s nothing people should get excited about in the future, suddenly this is all chalked up to being PRC’s fault? Good one.
It’s my personal opinion that something more is going on behind the scenes, and we’ll figure it out sooner rather than later.