What began as a power-tripping exercise by the Formula One World Championship a few short days ago has now grown into an ugly monster that may serve to permanently damage the future of sim racing as we know it. Featuring an abundance of historical and modern Formula One content – albeit under fictional liveries and vaguely similar driver names – Automobilista by Reiza Studios has been completely removed from the Steam online store days after RaceDepartment was forced to take down pages of Formula One modifications for the popular isiMotor title. Even when developers attempt to circumvent copyright laws by using generic knock-off logos and creative team names, Formula One has now made it clear that the world’s most prestigious racing series – and anything bearing even a passing resemblance to it – is simply not allowed to exist alongside the poorly received officially licensed title.
Automobilista, the newest title in a long line of racing simulators by South American developer Reiza Studios, features no less than five different machines spanning the history of Formula One, though their inclusion in the game is due in part to exploiting a well-known loophole. Even though the 2016 Grand Prix car featured in the game drives and sounds like a McLaren, technically the car is not listed as a McLaren at any point during gameplay, and the Mobil-1 logos have been replaced by the generic markings used to identify the developer. Of course, nothing is stopping diehard members of the commuity from rectifying this issue with a little time spent in Photoshop, but obviously Formula One have caught on to how this entire scene operates and attempted to put a stop to everything relating to top level open wheel cars in any video game whatsoever.
After the existence of Automobilista and the abundance of totally not Formula One cars available in the game caught the attention of the Formula One World Championship over the past handful of days, thanks in no small part to how quickly our article regarding the situation over at RaceDepartment spread, suddenly the game does not appear on Steam at all. A team of lawyers representing Formula One are waking up in March of 2016 with the sole purpose to fuck with a group of people who are quite frankly the only folks still watching Formula One.
RaceDepartment user Sergiolo notes that it is now impossible to join any online race in Automobilista due to an integral game file no longer recognizing the various Formula One cars within the game, and struggles to express with his limited knowledge of English that Reiza Studios have “blocked” the use of the 2016 Grand Prix cars in some manner.
The actions taken by Formula One over the past few weeks, while technically legal and well within their rights, are nothing short of absurd. While I’m not a fan of Formula One by any means, a large portion of sim racers consider this corporate entity to be the pinnacle of modern auto racing. For a company of this prestige to wake up one day and begin waging an unprovoked war against their diehard fans – to the point where they are now going after entire video game developers for daring to model a car that resembles a high level open wheel participant – is absolutely disgusting, and can have chilling effects on the future of sim racing as we know it.