The big reveal was supposed to be saved for this weekends Simracing Expo 2016 at the Nurburgring Grand Prix circuit, but it appears the two entities just couldn’t keep it under wraps for much longer. Both the official Twitter account for Image Space Incorporated, as well as software developer Luminis – who previously assisted Reiza Studios with Automobilista – have announced a partnership that will ideally speed up the development process of rFactor 2. Operating under the name of Studio 397, support for virtual reality headsets and DirectX 11 graphical enhancements are planned for the immediate future, with the full list of upgrades sure to be unveiled throughout the weekend. It’s a safe bet to say you can expect many more pieces of content, a revitalized user interface, and improved simulator functionality that in theory should turn rFactor 2 into a worthwhile modern racing simulator.
Many will be ecstatic over this announcement – in particular the core staff at Image Space Incorporated – as their long-term science project has essentially received a much needed boost of adrenaline. Personally, I’m on the complete opposite of the spectrum; I feel this is a new low for sim racing. Reading between the lines, this is fairly embarrassing. And I don’t mean that as a personal attack to anyone involved in this project; as a consumer, I feel this is the most ludicrous thing to celebrate, but let me explain why.
You were first able to purchase rFactor 2 on January 10th, 2012 according to the article regarding the topic over at VirtualR.net. Yes, I understand it was the “open beta” build, but let’s be real here – what more did ISI add to the rFactor 2 package aside from more content and slight graphics optimizations? rFactor 2 has been “on store shelves” for almost five years in its current state, and at this point I’d like the readers of PRC.net to take inventory of how much you’ve gone through over the past five years as a person. If you bought rFactor 2 as a high school freshman, you’ve graduated by now. Some of you have been through multiple managers at work, Christmas party shenanigans, and probably even relationships since this game came out. Maybe you’ve lived in no less than three different locations, upgraded your PC at least five different times, and been through two generations of consoles. Other video games you purchased in close proximity to rFactor 2, such as the remake of SSX, or the abhorrent DiRT Showdown, are either collecting dust somewhere in a cabinet, or were sold back to Gamestop prior to Obama’s re-election that fall.
After over 1,800 days spent on the market, and minuscule support from the sim racing community whatsoever – both the modding side and the driving side alike – Image Space Incorporated and Luminis are announcing that rFactor 2 is being developed. No seriously, that’s the announcement. We are supposed to be excited over a game that was released five years ago, receiving updates that should have been pushed out three years ago. Call me a cynical piece of shit who only wants to see the bad in everything, but this is preposterous on levels most won’t even be able to comprehend.
Sim racers lost patience with Assetto Corsa at the twelve month mark, when it became apparent the anakastic development process was leaving out essential features in favor of endlessly focusing on driving physics. Hardcore iRacers still reminisce about the glory days of the September 2011 tire model beta, frustrated at how the acronym NTM has turned into an all-encompassing buzzword within the iRacing forums to make excuses for car physics that still don’t feel right. And let’s not forget about the casual guys playing American Truck Simulator, who were ultimately let-down when they discovered the sequel to Euro Truck Simulator 2 had been heavily watered down and divided into numerous upcoming expansion packs. To see a company announce that they’re merely speeding up development of a game that’s already been dead for a number of years, and sim racers pretend like this is a good thing, is absurd.
Imagine if Codemasters came out and said they were on a mission to completely revitalize Grid 2. News outlets far and wide would be dumbfounded. Don’t like that example? How about RaceRoom Racing Experience; the game is in an infinitely superior state compared to the product we were first introduced to during the spring of 2013, but even a complete revitalization hasn’t saved the product from being a niche alternative for those with money to burn on sim racing. And lastly, take a look at Project CARS; this game came out a year ago after utterly mammoth hype, and a steady stream of patches and enhancements still failed to help retain the userbase desperate to make something out of it.
Oh, but what about Automobilista, you say? Please tell me how refining and re-releasing Stock Car Extreme under a different name did wonders for Reiza Studios.
What ISI and Luminis are doing with rFactor 2 has simply never worked in this genre, and to play up the partnership as if it’s a big deal only makes a mockery of sim racing. They’re taking a dead game that most people have already chosen to move on from, and are attempting to inject some life into it by announcing upgrades that quite frankly should have came three years ago. It feels as if I’m reading about the struggles of Lotus entering IndyCar back in 2012, where their top driver barely managed to reach 205 MPH while other cars were consistently in the 230’s. Sad!