It’s time to address the other side of the situation. In regards to the information we’ve published indicating a merger between Turn 10 Studios and Kunos Simulazioni is on the horizon, it’s becoming increasingly apparent we’ve been intentionally fed false information. In the spirit of the game, I must congratulate the masterminds behind the endeavor on a job well done. We truly got played, and from a spectator standpoint, it must have been an awesome read on the shitter. I’m genuinely surprised more people haven’t tried this, and those who look to follow the trend set in the coming weeks will make our next batch of reader submissions very interesting.
Now some are probably wondering why the publish button was clicked on not one, but two separate articles, and there’s a relatively simple explanation for this – one offered by our boy Ethan in the comments section of our previous article.
Mike Hornbuckle was notorious for leaking information about Assetto Corsa to anybody who would lend an ear. For the longest time, he was our guy. We got to see the Ring early. We got to see the Bonus Pack early. We learned when Stefano found the ban button on the forums. We knew about the Ferrari licensing contract asking for certain performance margins because of him. We were told about corners being cut on the historic street cars’ braking behavior, as Kunos believed replicating the exact performance would frustrate inexperienced drivers. We were given confirmation about the console announcement through him – though we were told to hold off until we saw something in public, like a tweet where a Kunos staff member indicated he was flying to Los Angeles for E3. And of course, we learned about what was being left out of Assetto Corsa – and why. We weren’t always happy with the explanation.
So a guy from Virtua Simulazioni tipping us off that Hornbuckle told him about a deal with Turn 10? Of course that’s going up on the site. Now that Hornbuckle was no longer speaking to us – as we refused to push the gospel of Assetto Corsa – it was only natural he’d end up finding someone else to speak to. As for why he no longer came around our neck of the woods? The guy threw a genuine tantrum because none of us were interested in Assetto Corsa, and began impulsively buying DLC packs for those of us that did not purchase them – a way to try and renew our interest in the title. Our boy Sal still has one sitting in his Steam inventory, intentionally failing to redeem it.
Previously, we had gone along with the guy’s Teamspeak tantrums, and an article on PRC.net from over a year ago can provide some insight into this madness. We originally ran a post on Kunos releasing a patch for Assetto Corsa in early 2015 that bricked the game, and people were pretty choked. This dude promptly got on Teamspeak and went into overdrive defending Kunos, begging me to take the article down and issue a public apology. We complied, because at this point we believed we were still dealing with a long-time sim racing brother, and not a viral marketer. A year later, we now understand things are not always as they appear in this community.
So yes, I’m straight up admitting that at one point, we were instructed to post only positive things about Assetto Corsa or else we’d be subjected to an array of interesting Teamspeak meltdowns. When we took a firm stance on how we felt about Assetto Corsa – a title that was failing to live up to the hype a year after release – he promptly told us all to fuck off. This is what the behavior of a viral marketer looks like. They’re not always paid for their efforts, and their tactics are left up to their own personal techniques, but they are a type of user hell-bent on pushing the good news of whatever product they’ve aligned themselves with.
In the meantime, our site continued to grow, meaning that any article portraying Assetto Corsa in a negative manner would be seen by a fairly substantial number of sim racers. Obviously, this didn’t sit well with the staff at Kunos Simulazioni, as well as their followers, and it’s completely understandable they’d want to stand up for themselves and their product by retaliating in some form. It’s their “baby” so to speak, and they take any criticism very personally – even before you factor in each developer’s unique personalities.
But there’s a right way to do it, and a wrong way to do it. In selecting the wrong way to approach the situation, Kunos has accidentally proved us to be correct about an entirely separate manner. By labeling us as mentally ill sim racers whenever the topic of PRC.net comes up, allowing individuals closely aligned with the team to intentionally hurt the credibility of our site in admittedly creative ways, and then proceeding to laugh about the results in public with a suspicious group of people that include internal testers and editors of other websites, congratulations on confirming the presence of viral marketers in sim racing. Some people aren’t here to race.
PRC.net is a unique place, in the fact that it’s three exceptionally talented sim racers – all with varying levels of real world racing experience – speaking our minds about our favorite PC gaming sub-genre. It would be pretty dope if this format continued into other forms of gaming, as a flight simulator blog ran entirely by commercial pilots, or a Madden NFL tips site maintained by active college football players could be really fucking cool. There are no hidden agendas to push a certain product on our readers, and there is no incentive to intentionally point out the flaws in a product we’re not fans of. If we like a game, we’ll tell you about it. If we’ve found a bug – or someone else has made a hilarious glitch compilation – we’ll throw up the link to the YouTube video. If a developer is being an asshole to his customers, we’ll take screenshots of the forum posts for you. If a driving model’s overall complexity has been reduced, we’re fast enough on the track to notice the subtle adjustments almost immediately. If we find an exploit setup, we’ll show you that it works across every car in the game. This is not the place to send us generic press releases, as the team behind the upcoming line of NASCAR titles found out.
With Assetto Corsa in particular, we couldn’t help booting up the game and discovering the artificial intelligence straight up drove straight into the barriers on certain tracks (pictured above). It wasn’t our fault that the online racing experience was not up to par with rival simulators. The lack of offline pit stops for the better part of 18 months was not us intentionally slandering Kunos Simulazioni – the game very well did not include an integral part of auto racing in the single player component. When modders cracked open several files for select DLC cars, we couldn’t help but spot the Audi R8 street car sharing the identical suspension geometry as the Lamborghini Huracan GT3 entry – something that clearly indicates the unprecedented realism advertised was anything but. And given how much time some of us had invested behind the virtual wheel of Assetto Corsa dating back to the Early Access period in 2013, yes, the cars have gotten significantly easier to drive – the equivalent of a veteran Counter Strike player discovering a subtle aim assist function that he can’t turn off in a new build.
Yes, these revelations can be slightly embarrassing after years of hard work, but most developers would be pretty stoked that a group of – let’s be honest here – amateur race car drivers have dedicated this much time to picking apart their product. If individuals are digging this far into your game where they’re taking the time to analyze tire behavior, suspension geometry, and grip levels, you’ve got an especially killer community at your fingertips – even if they’re sometimes making you look silly by presenting show-stopping bugs in all their glory.
Choosing to shove your fingers in your ears and label these individuals as mentally ill and encouraging them to seek help because they have found shortcomings in your product thanks to their years of experience with both virtual and real race cars, is nothing short of ridiculous. In many cases, your average person penning an article about this exact subject would immediately launch into a tirade explaining how mental illness is nothing to joke about. I’m not going to do that. Instead, I will simply ask why a video game developer is completely satisfied with labeling a portion of their customers as mentally ill? That’s all sorts of fucked up. Imagine if Gamespot gave the new Call of Duty release, Infinite Warfare, a poor review, and Activision CEO Bobby Kotick said in an interview that “I’ve always known the guys at the Gamespot editorial team were a bit special” and that they should “seek help.” That shit wouldn’t fly, so why is this suddenly okay?
Mental illness is not the reason my car fell through the ground at Spa-Francorchamps when the Version 1.5 patch was released. Mental illness is not the reason the field of Lotus 49’s drove into the sand trap at Vallelunga while failing to execute the gentle first corner. Mental illness is not the reason throttle management on corner exit has become non-existent as the game’s next generation console release looms in the not-so-distant future. Mental illness is not the reason the game lacks any sort of braking performance fade, and mental illness is most certainly not the reason soft compound tires on a GT2 Bavarian Motor Works entry cool down over the course of a ten lap sprint race.These are all merely valid complaints about Assetto Corsa, complaints we’ve publicly drawn attention to, and have been documented by users other than ourselves, indicating there’s indeed a problem that needs fixing.
Imagine Rex Dickson, the main guy behind the Madden NFL franchise, came out after the release of Madden NFL 17 and implied those critical of the new American football simulator have some kind of long-standing personal vendetta against the company, before calling them idiots and losers for posting videos of obvious glitches within the game? That would be an especially quick way to land on the front page of Deadspin or Kotaku for being a Grade-A asshole to your fans. Why is this suddenly acceptable here?
But before you dive too deep into the pair of questions we have posed, it’s time to get into the point of the article: the accidental admission of Viral Marketing.
Again, it’s becoming increasingly obvious we’ve been fed false information regarding a merger between Turn 10 and Kunos Simulazioni. Pulling the trigger on that story ended up being a bad decision, but it’s not like admitting we got played was something that was especially hard to do – just consult the first paragraph of this entry. However, the exact chain of events, and very public reaction on behalf of certain individuals, is enough to draw attention to a much larger problem: There’s a push to attack anyone who dares to speak negatively about their experiences with PC racing simulator Assetto Corsa. Our first major article on this ordeal was published all the way back in October of last year, and now, we’ve essentially confirmed the problem by being right in the center of it.
So let’s review things here:
- Two individuals confirmed to be internal testers for Kunos Simulazioni, willingly constructed a false news tip in an attempt to damage the credibility of a website that has published articles outlining bugs, glitches, and issues within Assetto Corsa.
- Across various sim racing media publications, the individual responsible for the false tip himself, as well as the editor of another publication, can be seen celebrating the piece of news, blatantly rejoicing the hit to the other website’s credibility.
- Kunos Simulazioni themselves are seen mocking the piece of news in various Facebook photos. While it’s obviously difficult to know if they had a hand in the whole process, they seem fairly entertained at the end result.
- Kunos staff members can be seen referring to the website’s members as “special” despite knowing full well that their own internal testers were responsible for the intentional false news tip, considering we leaked their names and a partial version of the password to the internal beta version of the product on Steam.
That’s a fairly strange chain of events if I say so myself. Internal testers make up a fake rumor to hurt a site’s credibility, a site who has posted negative pieces about the product they’re helping out with. Individuals around the community – some who run adjacent websites – can be found celebrating the obvious hit to the site’s credibility once the rumor goes live, and a pair social media uploads can be found where the developers themselves find the whole thing hilarious. When the developers discuss the news among users on their official forums, they have no problem labeling the sites’ contributors as mentally ill, even after it became public that their own internal testers intentionally fed the site false information to fuck with them. That’s fucked up, and basically confirms there’s a push to attack anyone who doesn’t believe Assetto Corsa is the next great racing simulator.
This is apparently the price for metaphorically opening up the package of a brand new PC game, placing the DVD into your computer, and writing down what happened on the screen after clicking the executable. Honest reviews and assessments of a modern PC racing simulator are met with a coordinated push to discredit your opinions and label you as a mentally ill nut job that should be avoided at all costs.