This little story over on the official Assetto Corsa forums was handed to me a few days ago, and while it’s not exactly a Reader Submission, I’m going to structure it like one for ease of readability. As you’re all most certainly aware of by now, Assetto Corsa on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One was a flop. No, people aren’t mad at the fact that it doesn’t have over a thousand cars and seventy tracks; by all accounts the game was basically broken upon launch, with mass reports of intrusive technical issues, and basic gameplay options such as custom lobby support for online racing totally excluded. It’s not something you’d want to purchase for your Xbox One or PlayStation 4. Aside from Kunos Simulazioni appearing to “weaponize” the fanboys, who are adamant that people “just don’t understand what Assetto Corsa is trying to achieve”, it’s extremely clear by now that releasing a product as poor as Assetto Corsa is not the right way to introduce sim racing to a mainstream audience.
Again, this story of a video game store encounter was originally posted on the official Assetto Corsa message board, but moderators quickly locked it due to “unacceptable comments,” so we’re going to talk about it here instead.
We called into a local electronics & toy store tonight on the school collection run, we were picking up a Skylander figure now they are going cheap, when we encountered this little scene.
A mother, with her son, was requesting a refund on Assetto Corsa from the shop assistant. Her son had been playing the game and was getting headaches because of the “slow background movement, like watching an old movie” and she would not let him play it any longer.
Her requests for a refund were rebuffed many times, she had the receipt for £42.99 but the shop assistant was having none of it. The usual you’ve broken the seal on the game and played it so we can only give you the trade in value was the reply. (This is actually nonsense and breaks both UK and EU law but somehow these shops continue to get away with these excuses). They were offering £12 as trade in price as they already had a high level of used stock in the store. She asked about refunding the game and taking a copy of F1 2016 instead, the store point blank refused.
About ten minutes in it all got very emotional, the mother was explaining that she did not have enough money to buy another game with just £12 trade in. I understand this, games are a luxury item , not everyone has the money for multiple new game releases each month. (And before anyone makes crass replies, have some humanity for those with less than you) The boy wanted her to keep the game but she was having none of it. So now Assetto Corsa really has brought a tear to people’s eyes. The shop are embarrassed but unwilling to budge, no sign of a manager anywhere. I know the boys in the shop and they are not bad lads, just telling the corporate message so I’m not painting them as the bad guys here either. There are some not so good as they are made out guys in this story though.
At that point our kids had played on the demo machines and were ready with their Skylander choices, what a parent trap that is, the things they never tell you about bringing up kids. The argument was continuing so I picked up a copy of F1 2016 for the Xbox One as well. Call me a soft touch but I just couldn’t see this go on any longer. We walked to the till and the assistant started ringing through the items. He noticed the F1 2016 and said “you know you’ve already got this game don’t you, I remember you picking it up”. I replied yes, and the penny started to drop, “Oh you are buying it to give to them aren’t you”. He then disappeared into a back room where I imagine a manager was watching on and returned to sell me F1 2016 at a reduced price.
Our kids gave the F1 2016 game to the surprised boy, they’d been locked in the ever more heated row and noticed none of it. There were more tears but much happier ones. Last I saw the shop were also making the full refund which proves there are still some good people in the world.
The point here is that poorly released games hurt real people who might not have the money to pay for the mistakes of game makers and publishers. I read a lot about how passionate Kunos are and that they really ‘care’ about the game. I really do question if that is true. They didn’t care enough to test it properly on console ,that much is for certain. Depending on your view of people this may mean nothing or a lot to you.
If you’ve got kids you’ll already know that telling them it’ll be fixed in a month just isn’t going to wash.
I think both the publishers and the developers Assetto Corsa need to think a lot harder about the impact of such a poorly produced game and who they might be hurting most.
This is why shitty games bother me. Personally, I can afford to spent some change on what ends up being a hunk of shit, but I’m still young enough to remember when I had to comb through review sites and determine what I’d like to receive as a reward for good grades. If reviewers lied to me because they were given incentives to write bullshit about a game, or developers fucked up and released a horrid product, that’s what I ended up being stuck with for the next three or four months. I will say I was extremely lucky to be raised in the GameCube/PlayStation 2 generation, where instant classics like Burnout 3: Takedown and NASCAR: Dirt to Daytona seemed to be falling out of the sky on a monthly basis, but I was still left with some clunkers. Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX 2 was an outright mistake, as was Monster Jam: Maximum Destruction despite my love of monster trucks, and who could forget the original Top Gear Rally for the Nintendo 64.
However, I’d say those were easier to stomach back then. Even as a kid or a teenager, you understood the basic concept that some video game companies sucked ass at what they did. I knew going into Dave Mirra’s game that Acclaim was no Activision, and it wouldn’t quite be Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater on two wheels. And I knew with how little press the developers of Top Gear Rally had received in Nintendo Power magazine that it wouldn’t be on-par with masterpieces like Hot Wheels Turbo Racing.
What currently makes this situation worse are comments like these from the developers themselves on social media:
I mean, that’s phenomenal. Y’all have moms dragging their kids to GameStop to Assetto Corsa because it’s in such a fucked up state it’s actually giving the little guy have headaches, and your response is to say you’ve made progress on fixing what is obviously a massive problem, but you’re going on vacation for a bit. Naw dude, just naw. That’s a dipshit move right there. Man, the first Top Gear Rally sucked and isn’t even worth the five minutes spent checking it out in Project 64, but at least I didn’t get to see the developer boast about half-assing the game on social media.
I think our boy MBK72’s observations are correct. Kunos are not passionate; they’ve simply weaponized fanboys into regurgitating bland marketing lines to spread awareness of the product at a ground level. If you want to see passion, just ask Xbox 360 sim racers what they thought of the Project Gotham Racing franchise, PlayStation 2 sim racers what they’d thought of Enthusia, or what anybody who owned a gaming console in 2005 thought of Burnout 3: Takedown. These were games that were made with passion. Assetto Corsa on the other hand? The fuck is this shit?