With the impending launch of Formula One 2016 by Codemasters within the next week, a title which will most likely be hailed as the greatest entry in the series history due to an explosion of improvements across the board in nearly all aspects of the simulator, the studio have recently released the full list of wheels which will be compatible with the title. To the surprise of many sim racers, Fanatec-branded equipment has been completely omitted from the PlayStation 4 version of the virtual Grand Prix product, despite previous functionality support for Fanatec wheels seen in all other PlayStation 4 racing games. Not too many people will be happy about this, and today Alex G. has sent in a Reader Submission outlining the basics of the situation.
Good afternoon, PRC. I think I’ve found an interesting topic for you guys to cover, one which is flying way under the radar in the world of console sim racing. This time, it’s about the ridiculous fight between Sony and Fanatec.
You’ve probably seen it by now, but there are no Fanatec wheels supported on F1 2016 for the PS4. Even though previous Codemasters efforts such as DiRT Rally and F1 2015 were accommodating to Fanatec wheels, as well as Project CARS when it came out last year, it’s extremely surprising to see Codemasters suddenly does not support Fanatec products. It’s quite a popular brand in the small world of consumer wheels, and many PlayStation 4 owners purchased a Fanatec wheel due to their overall quality and compatibility with other PlayStation 4 games. Yet it appears from August onward, no racing game for the PlayStation 4 will support Fanatec wheels.
As you can read on the Fanatec forums, there will be no support for wheels that are not branded as “Official PS4 Wheels”. Up to August 2016, developers could program wheel support for basically any wheel they wanted on the PS4, they were just not supported in the PS4 menus – but inside the game they were fully recognized. Now, only equipment dubbed “Official PS4 Wheels” will work, like the endless stream of Thrustmaster or Logitech products. Interestingly enough, Fanatec themselves said at the end of March that they will remove the PlayStation Compatibility icon from all their wheels, because they want to release a new “Official PS4 Wheel” (which is still unknown), but functionality of all wheels would still be guaranteed. This has now completely changed. If you own a Fanatec wheel that was said to work on the PS4, no future games will support it.
Like the Fanatec forums stated, the most reasonable explanation for this situation is that Sony is asking for a bit more money from Fanatec for the license, or someone like Thrustmaster paid Sony to eliminate Fanatec from the PS4 market so Sony completely excluded support for Fanatec drivers in their new SDK 3.5. Developers are now tasked with handling the hate to keep this deal under wraps, like in the Codemasters forums, but I imagine Sony’s lawyers are more powerful than some gamers. Anyways, it’s an interesting and rather shocking twist of events to see unfold in such a niche market. In the end, everyone loses. Both Sony and the developers themselves lose revenue from their games, because once-loyal customers now won’t be inclined to pick up the assortment of brand new racing games, Fanatec loses a big chunk of their customer base as gamers are forced to run out and purchase a different wheel, and the number one loser is obviously the customer – they’ve bought a fancy Fanatec wheel that was advertised as working with their brand new system, and now all they can do with it is stare at it in the corner.
I consider myself as a Logitech fanboy, so this issue doesn’t affect me, but I do agree that it’s indeed quite stupid. You’re right, Sony essentially rounded up a giant group of people and completely screwed them over. You have a bunch of PS4 owners who loved racing games enough to purchase a dedicated wheel for their system – quite a good one, I might add – and now they’re back at square one. Assetto Corsa won’t support Fanatec stuff. Gran Turismo Sport, the iRacing-like entity for the PS4? Nope, they’re out of luck as well. F1 2016 looked to rejuvenate the franchise? Sorry, you can’t play it in a way that would be satisfying unless you go shell out upwards of $350 on another toy steering wheel. I was a part of the whole Guitar Hero/Rock Band fad back in the day, and the thought of shelling out for yet another plastic instrument to take advantage of a new feature or two was absurd, so knowing fellow gamers will be at the same crossroads over a much more expensive purchase that isn’t even required on other platforms in the first place definitely sucks.