I didn’t want to spend yet another Friday afternoon deconstructing a semi-official statement written by a Kunos Simulazioni staff member, but unfortunately, that’s what’s on the agenda today here at PRC.net. Once again, the small Italian team made a questionable call behind the scenes in regards to the development and implementation of new content within Assetto Corsa, and a whole bunch of sim racers quickly got their collective panties in a twist before I even caught wind of the issue. I knew when I checked up on the Reddit thread concerning the problem and people were agreeing with a post that said “PRC was right”, we were in for an interesting couple of days
But enough with the self-masturbatory comments.
If for some reason you failed to make your daily stop at PRC.net yesterday when the story first broke, let’s start things from the top. The highly anticipated Red Pack for Assetto Corsa launched with a rather interesting yet intentional compatibility issue concerning the two Ferrari Formula One cars bundled alongside several doses of high performance Italian machinery. Basically, the two modern Ferrari Grand Prix entries that come with the DLC pack are treated as special snowflakes by the Assetto Corsa executable, only allowed to compete against each other under certain conditions, and never against any other cars in the game.
While you obviously won’t be constructing a multi-class event that pits your Ferrari S-F15T against a flock of Fiat 500’s, the real problem arises when the game won’t even allow you to try your hand at an open practice session featuring the official Kunos Ferrari F1 content alongside third party F1 mods, or even Kunos’ own Lotus Exos T125. Most sim racers are eager to compare how the Kunos content performs against the work of talented modders, yet an unnamed corporate entity has straight up busted into your living room, stomped on your bag of Cheetos, and demanded that the virtual depictions of Ferrari F1 cars by Kunos Simulazioni must be placed on a pedestal; akin to the “special” set of Lego your older brother only allowed you to play with under his watch.
So obviously, a whole bunch of people thought Ferrari were behind this inane garbage, and Assetto Corsa fans promptly lashed out at them on basically every sim racing discussion board known to man. Yes, if you opened up a certain text file and deleted one extremely obvious line, the problem disappeared, but the principle behind it was a genuine cause for concern. If Kunos Simulazioni were willing to make these sort of concessions just to have a few prestigious cars in their game, what else were they doing behind the scenes to other cars at a manufacturers request?
Marco Massarutto instead instructed Assetto Corsa fans to point the finger solely at Formula One management, in a post that never actually addressed the topic at hand, and personally left me with more questions than answers. And of course, in true Kunos fashion, he spent the final half of the post essentially telling those who had problems with the restricted use of Ferrari F1 cars to get a life.
So Marco starts off by saying that Formula One Management only allows modern video games to insert one Formula One car from any season on the car roster, as companies could essentially license individual teams and tracks to build their own Formula One product – without the official series name – at a fraction of the cost. I agree with Marco’s stance on this issue; Codemasters pays big money for the rights to develop exclusive F1 titles, and if a company came along offering a near-complete F1 product with only slight livery changes, it would render the complicated and costly business transaction totally useless, and Formula One would not be able to control how their brand is represented on a worldwide level. What this means for Assetto Corsa from a content standpoint, is that no other cars from the 2013 or 2015 Grand Prix season will appear in future DLC packs, but that’s something we could have guessed already. Given the type of car roster the team at Kunos are trying to create, it’s highly unlikely they would even bother to go after the Mercedes GP car from 2015, for example.
But then Marco goes on to heavily imply that the limited use of the Ferrari GP cars in Assetto Corsa – where a dialog box literally appears and says you can’t race Ferrari F1 cars against other car models – is due to the specific instructions they’ve been given by Formula One Management, and not Ferrari themselves.
I don’t believe it’s right to come out and directly call Marco a liar, because there’s indeed a chance he’s got several Emails with Formula One Management representatives chilling in his inbox discussing the matter, but from my own personal standpoint, I do not believe he is being truthful. No developer would ever come out and say, especially in regards to a car manufacturer they have an excellent relationship with, that they received special instructions from Ferrari to limit the use of their vehicles to ultra-specific circumstances. It would open the flood-gates for all sorts of conspiracy theories, and confirm some of the stuff we posted a few months ago about McLaren and Ferrari asking for the behavior of specific cars to be altered in a favorable manner. So obviously, the wise thing to do is point the finger at a company that has already pissed a bunch of people off this year, as it’s not like anyone other than Codemasters are obligated to play nice with them in the first place.
But rather than going on an aggressive tirade, I’d like to explain in pictures why I don’t believe Marco is being truthful, and is instead covering for Ferrari’s bizarre way of doing business.
Here’s a sweet shot of the Lotus E21 in Forza Motorsport 6 using a non-official livery, competing on the same track, in the same session, against a Dallara DW12 IndyCar. Formula One Management apparently won’t allow this to happen in Assetto Corsa, yet it’s totally fine over in the Forza Motorsport 6 environment. Are virtual Ferrari F1 cars held to a different standard by the FOM group than virtual Lotus F1 cars? That’s a bit odd.
Forza + F1? No problem.
Here’s an utterly disgusting shot I took of the Marussia MR01 sharing the pit lane with a handful of Clio Cup entries at the Molson Indy Toronto circuit for rFactor 2. Formula One Management apparently won’t allow this to happen in Assetto Corsa, yet you can do all sorts of crazy shit in rFactor 2 provided you’ve got the imagination for it.
rFactor + F1? No problem.
But we’re not done yet. Here’s a capture from the menu of Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit, where the game physically does not let you select the Ferrari 550 Maranello for use in the classic Cops and Robbers mode of play. Formula One Management had absolutely no role in the licensing agreements of this game whatsoever, yet the use of a Ferrari under non-ideal circumstances is not allowed. Hmm.
Need for Speed + Ferrari? Problem.
Here’s an entry on the Ferrari F10 from the Gran Turismo Wiki page. Before the body of the section even begins, the author notes that the Ferrari F10 and Ferrari F2007 can only be used in very specific areas of the game, and a quick google search lands pages upon pages of angry Gran Turismo fans frustrated that they shelled out top dollar for a car they’re basically not allowed to use.
Gran Turismo + F1 + Ferrari? Problem.
This picture doesn’t display the restrictions as clearly as the other captures, but the Xbox 360 version of Need for Speed: Shift was given an exclusive Ferrari Legends downloadable content pack late in the game’s lifespan. Could you modify the cars with extra performance parts, or even create your own livery – a big customization feature allowed on most of the other cars? Of course not.
Need for Speed + Ferrari? Problem.
Those who put their faith in Eden Games and the horrendous Test Drive Unlimited 2 also were greeted Ferrari’s intrusive way of jumping into your living room and obsessing over the depiction of their virtual cars. While all other vehicles in the game could be outfitted with performance modifications and basic color scheme changes, Ferrari’s in Test Drive Unlimited 2 couldn’t be upgraded. As a result, they were some of the most expensive and useless cars in the game. This was an open-world street racing affair, far away from the watchful eyes of old men representing Formula One Management.
Test Drive Unlimited 2 + Ferrari? Problem.
Lastly, we have Ferrari Virtual Academy, another title by Kunos Simulazioni which again fell prey to the hands of Ferrari specifically. The Italian manufacturer’s 2011 Grand Prix entry was not allowed to turn laps on the Nurburgring circuit, greatly frustrating fans considering the title shipped with relatively little content to begin with.
Kunos Hotlap Simulator + F1 + Ferrari? Problem.
In all instances, even when the boys at Formula One Management have absolutely no reason to be anywhere near the titles mentioned, the common denominator is always Ferrari.
- Forza + F1? No problem.
- rFactor + F1? No problem.
- Need for Speed + Ferrari? Problem.
- Assetto Corsa + Ferrari? Problem.
- Test Drive Unlimited 2 + Ferrari? Problem
- Gran Turismo + Ferrari + F1? Problem.
- Kunos Hotlap Simulator + Ferrari + F1? Problem.
When you take Ferrari out of the equation, yet retain the exact same gameplay modes, features, and functionality as titles who do play ball with Ferrari, suddenly the restrictions no longer exist. Hmm, I wonder why that is?
Ferrari is an automobile manufacturer that made headlines around the world in circles much bigger than sim racing for being notoriously difficult and complicated to work with under any circumstances, and as you can see above, they’ve established a tangible track record of restricting the use of their automobiles in a virtual environment unless ideal circumstances are crafted just for them. Considering that Formula One Management often has a habit of throwing their legal weight without any prior warning, I have a hard time believing Marco’s claims that Ferrari didn’t demand for their F1 cars in Assetto Corsa to be given special treatment.
Again, I don’t want to call him an outright liar; there’s a very real chance he’s sitting around on Skype with the other Kunos members laughing his ass off at this article while sharing screenshots of their emails with Formula One Management, but given what I’ve presented in the above screenshots, I definitely have a hard time believing that the prancing horse played no role in this commotion surrounding this DLC pack.