How the No Man’s Sky Debacle Affects Sim Racing

ams-2016-09-19-16-33-00-42The flood gates are about to open, and a precedent is about to be set. For the first time in the history of gaming, consumers genuinely angry with a developer over the quality of a finished product may receive their comeuppance in a fairly substantial way. Multiple mainstream sources have reported Hello Games are under investigation from a UK-based entity known as the Advertising Standards Authority in regards to their 2016 commercial success-turned-critical flop, No Man’s Sky. The investigation primarily draws attention to the content of the game’s promotional material, compared to what was actually available and functional for consumers to explore in the final product; the outcome of which is certain to send shockwaves throughout the entire gaming industry. They might not shatter windows or knock people to the ground, but they will exist, and that’s good enough for us.

There are no set instructions to follow when creating a video game. If you’d like to compose a simple text adventure allegedly simulating the effects of depression on the end user, you’re welcome to do so. Your campaign mode is not required to be longer than six hours and thirty seven minutes, nor are you obligated to include online multiplayer functionality or a host of bonus content. However, the preposterous claims made about No Man’s Sky by Sean Murray of Hello Games throughout the pre-release media campaign simply did not match what customers received when they opened the package on launch day. The Advertising Standards Authority will most certainly find Hello Games in violation of several false advertising guidelines, and with the current state of sim racing allowing developers to get away with unfinished eternal science projects, the specific results of this investigation may give our little genre a subtle kick in the ass it so desperately needs.


If you haven’t been following the endless drama surrounding the multi-platform space exploration sandbox No Man’s Sky, the synopsis is surprisingly easy to grasp. An indie developer with a very limited back catalog announced plans to depart from their previous series of games create a procedurally generated next-generation space simulator, dazzling the E3 2014 audience with an impressive trailer indicating this might be the next big thing to take over gaming. Sean Murray, the individual in charge of Hello Games, let the new-found popularity inflate his ego, and made extremely outrageous claims about what you could see, do, and explore in No Man’s Sky throughout various promotional campaign appearances. Upon the title’s release, which raked in enormous sales figures and generated what’s possibly the most hype ever for a PlayStation 4 title, customers were unanimously disappointed with the game’s mammoth list of bugs, and slowly discovered many features discussed at length in promotional videos by Sean Murray himself – such as the entire online multiplayer component – were nowhere to be found.

Long-winded complaint monologues outnumbered genuine gameplay uploads on YouTube, Valve’s Steam platform allowed full refunds of the title outside of the allotted 120 minutes of trial time, and lengthy compilations of Sean Murray discussing gameplay elements that did not exist in the retail version of No Man’s Sky earned more individual views than the game had active players. While it’s not uncommon for even the most polished of titles to have a core group of online trolls embarking upon a smear campaign for one reason or another, nearly the entire audience of No Man’s Sky unanimously dug out their pitchforks and began writing nasty emails to anyone who would listen – because the footage didn’t lie. To everyone’s surprise, entities like the Advertising Standards Authority actually listened to them and confirmed that their outrage was justified. So even before any action has been taken against Hello Games, Sony, or Valve, the mere fact that a United Kingdom-based consumer rights group has sprang into action indeed confirmed that bad video games with misleading advertisement campaigns are something no customer should be forced to deal with.

But how does this affect sim racing?

gsc-2016-02-23-21-05-48-16Some say we’re currently in a Golden Age of Sim Racing, but I find that hard to believe. Developers openly despise their audience, and pick fights with specific users across multiple message boards with little to no reprocussions. Games like NASCAR Heat, Assetto Corsa, MX vs. ATV Supercross, and Project CARS all arrived on store shelves in a less than satisfactory state, yet failed to attract any meaningful attention to the underlying problems thanks to the decline in popularity of modern racing games.

We’ve had to put up with some phenomenally buggy games, hostile developers, and advertising campaigns that your average consumer could see right through – or in some cases, easily prove they were outright lies. Any sort of precedent being set through the eventual conclusion of the No Man’s Sky investigation means all video games, including obscure race car titles that only a few hundred people care about, will hopefully be held to a higher standard. That means better games for us, and less developers trying to see how little of a product sim racers will still hand over money for. We’re at a point where Assetto Corsa on the PS4 won’t let you create a room for just you and your friends to race in & was buggy as hell, and NASCAR Heat suffers from massive framerate issues and doesn’t even have yellow flags in online races. This isn’t cool, and it would be nice if developers were forced to listen to the complaints, rather than strategically write us off as trolls.

And developers who openly discuss certain features that eventually don’t make it into the retail game? That’ll stop, too.

Let’s look back on some instances we’ve seen of false advertising or deceptive media as it relates to four wheels and a closed circuit.

maxresdefaultClubs in Test Drive Unlimited 2

It wasn’t the greatest open world driving game, and the car roster had been significantly reduced compared to the original, but Test Drive Unlimited 2 featured two massive islands to explore, and an increased emphasis placed on competitive multiplayer racing. The main bullet point of the new online features, Car Clubs, had been intended to be a way to team up with your friends and hold automotive clan matches in what was a lighthearted yet functional street racing environment. Yes, the driving physics weren’t all that engrossing, and the NPC dialogue was insufferable, but underneath the distinct warts, there was an enjoyable online experience waiting to be unleashed, and on paper it seemed like this might keep people playing for a while.

For the first three, maybe four months of the game, Car Clubs didn’t work. The entire mode simply wasn’t functional. Online events as a whole were quite sketchy and suffered from prominent lag & connection issues, but car clubs didn’t even exist at launch. And this was a pretty big deal. Lots of people loved the original Test Drive Unlimited, and were really hyped for the sequel even though a new developer had taken over the franchise. This was supposed to be the main reason you and your buddies would purchase the game, yet it didn’t actually work when it needed to the most. By the time it did, most customers who bought TDU2 had already moved on or returned it entirely.

tftOnline Multiplayer in NHRA Top Fuel Thunder

It’s certainly not everyone’s favorite discipline of auto racing, but a company by the name of Motorsims/ had a string of critically acclaimed drag racing games in the late 1990’s, during a period in gaming where basically every major motorsports series – from SODA to the BTCC – had an officially licensed simulator. The third iteration of the series, NHRA Top Fuel Thunder, arrived on store shelves in 2003 and advertised online multiplayer functionality; building on the success of the online racing hub seen in NHRA Drag Racing: Main Event. Now I can confirm there’s an online multiplayer menu in Top Fuel Thunder, but it was never functional during any point in the game’s short lifespan. The developer behind the NHRA series,, closed its doors shortly after Top Fuel Thunder was released. Many of the staff members got on-board with ValuSoft and Lucky Chicken Games, continuing to release NHRA products for the PlayStation 2 – some of which are actually quite good for hardcore drag racing fans.

next-car-game-2014-02-22-17-57-29-22Wreckfest Still Isn’t Done

Bugbear, the company behind FlatOut, came back in a big way during the 2013-2014 holiday season. Resurrecting the style of chaotic racing found in their previous franchise with modern graphics Wreckfest arrived on Steam’s Early Access platform in January of 2014. With three months to go before I’m forced to buy a 2017 Taylor Swift calendar, the game still hasn’t been released, and looks virtually the same now as it did almost three years ago.

Valve’s Early Access program allows developers to sell unfinished games at a fraction of the price as a full game, but doesn’t force developers to actually finish their game and deem it to be completed. Wreckfest, although sitting in the relatively obscure land of racing games not many people care about, is a prime example to use when pushing for a reform to the entire Early Access system. Yes, people paid a discounted price to play the game early and give the developers relevant feedback that can help shape the final product into something satisfactory, but that in itself is the catch if you will – there is no “final product” when it comes to Wreckfest. It’s not even close to being done despite sitting on the market for 36 months in beta form, and users were expecting it to be. That’s generally how this stuff is supposed to work.

When people buy into an Early Access game, they’re under the impression that the game will eventually be finished or deemed “done” by the developers. Wreckfest is just sort of sitting there on Steam, neglected by Bugbear, who instead announced there will be two more Early Access versions of Wreckfest.

indy500The Indianapolis 500 and Oval Racing in Project CARS

An entire year before the game’s release, Slightly Mad Studios posted a lengthy press release proudly announcing that the Indianapolis 500, as well as the entire 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series, would be available in Project CARS when it launched later that year – eventually being pushed back to the spring of 2015. By the time the game actually landed on store shelves, there were no oval tracks to be found, even despite the presence of an American Stock Car, and only the Dallara DW-12 made it into the game – albeit as part of a larger DLC pack; the drivers, teams, and liveries of the current Verizon IndyCar Series campaign were nowhere to be found. Any kind of content that inserts the Verizon IndyCar Series into Project CARS has still yet to materialize.

An official statement in regards to both the Indianapolis 500 license, as well as the presence of oval racing, has never been made. Instead, Project CARS fans were told deep inside an already lengthy thread on the official message board for the game that Slightly Mad Studios couldn’t get the artificial intelligence to navigate oval tracks in an acceptable manner, and the functionality would be held off until the game’s sequel.

1245086_origSony and Fanatec Fight, Proceed to Hurt Consumers

It’s less false advertising, and more of a strategic lack of information. This one’s pretty easy to explain: Fanatec is a company that makes high-end toy steering wheels to be used on a multitude of devices. Earlier in the year, many of their products worked for all major racing games available on the PlayStation 4. Within a week or so, compatibility was dropped. A flock of new titles that arrived on the shelves, including the highly anticipated F1 2016, alongside the now-redundant Assetto Corsa, were not compatible with Fanatec products.

There was no major announcement for this lack of compatibility, and no effort made by mainstream sim racing news outlets (aside from us) to let people know that it was time to get rid of your Fanatec stuff. Sim racers were supposed to infer, from the official wheel compatibility list released for each individual game, that Sony and Fanatec had a falling out for whatever reason. It would have been great to see this discussed on Kotaku, Giant Bomb, or VirtualR, but all outlets suspiciously declined to talk about something that actually caused major problems with a lot of sim racers. As I said, they basically woke up one morning and discovered the mighty expensive wheel they just purchased was now a fancy paperweight due to licensing agreements which had changed overnight. Again, not entirely false advertising, but it was extremely dirty how the industry as a whole handled this situation. Consumers basically didn’t know until it was too late. Not everyone who bought Assetto Corsa or F1 2016 was dedicated enough to comb through the support forums for their favorite title.

gsc-2015-04-04-16-13-26-09Realistically, the No Man’s Sky investigation will force Valve and Hello Games to change the promotional material revolving around the game to reflect what’s actually included within the retail experience. I’m not completely delusional here, this isn’t some massive supreme court case that will sculpt the future of gaming. However, the fact that we’re at this point indicates there is indeed a line in the sand that developers can’t cross when selling a $60 video game to the masses. There’s proof virtually everywhere that Sean Murray and Hello Games did not deliver on what was promised in No Man’s Sky, and there’s a whole host of other problems documenting widespread technical issues that quite frankly shouldn’t be appearing in a $60 video game.

For any sort of agency to physically research why so many people are upset with the experience found in an entertainment product, it’s a huge step in the right direction. It’s one inch closer to a point where customers can hold developers fully accountable for a sub-par product. In sim racing, with so many unsatisfactory releases and hostile personalities showing up on a yearly basis, we need the industry to keep progressing in this direction. I’m stoked that we’re progressing away from cucked businessmen who chalk up negative reviews to hostile nerds on the internet; the sheer fact that someone with more authority than a basic customer understands a video game can be bad and not worth the $60 asking price gives me hope for the future.


69 thoughts on “How the No Man’s Sky Debacle Affects Sim Racing

  1. Empty Box1 hour ago
    +Hash_Sim the Troll
    Have you never read any forums outside the ISI forums? Lots of the rF2 “diehards” like to try and paint the picture their sim is “cleaner” in that regard. Oh, and the idea that only quality stuff gets converted to rF2, none of that rubbish shit.

    It’s stupid.

    Rips are going to happen, both parties have taken steps to shove it into the dark, though ISI – err, Studio 397 – definitely needs to be more aggressive on it. Kunos has defintely done a pretty damn good job of keep on top of things they can actually control.


    1. Kunos used ripped Forza 4 car mods for their actual in-game content because they are too fucking lazy and broke to hire legit modelers. ISI has hired legit modelers like Studio 397 to create more content for rF2, while Kunos hires substitute and workaround modelers who only rip shit from other games.


      1. oh and btw you’re complaining that Kunos is hiring extra people to model cars for more and faster content to the players, while you’re applauding ISI for selling the game to another company to make more content and update the game’s infrastructure. You just failed big time rfactor2 shill.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. You obviously don’t know how to fucking read AC fanboy. Kunos hires unskilled modders to do shit for them, while ISI hires a professional high quality modeler team. In a few months, all of the AC fanboys will be jumping ship to rF2 because the sim will have the best content along with the best physics.


          1. But still outdated modding, graphics interface and not to mention the ghosttown that is multiplayer.

            Stop dreaming that rf2 is going to be relevant anytime soon. Isi just contracted another studio because rf2 is a sinking ship and even they know it’s dead and noone cares about it anymore….


  2. Just a comment regarding No mans Sky,slightly off topic, if this game has ppl interested in the concept and space in general, ignore that title and Download a program called “space engine”, its free, Have a smoke adn be prepared to have your mind blown adn really puts in prespective how dreadful and not at all innovating NMS really is……


  3. No doubt this article is going to attract the apologists that feel they owe something to the industry. It confuses me when I come across a pro-consumer article to find people banding behind the shady developers and their half-finished products.


  4. Im afraid you missed the biggest rort of a game this decade, Kylotonns WRC5.
    It was a freaking disgrace, the Vita version advertised night racing on the back cover and it wasn’t in the game.
    I note WRC6 is due out soon, im sure there will still be no look to apex option, how can you have no look to apex option in a rally sim?
    No doubt there will be plenty of refunds for that.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Hahaha that would have been ivan under one of his any names, a complete nut but he could actually drive ok, his rants are legendary on the net, james could do a blog on him alone.


  5. Is someone going to sue this blog for making false claims about car physics in these games? We need pro-consumer activists that fight against media that try to insert their agenda of what games people should buy or not and which we should use or not. We need pro-consumer activists that fight against media which says that we all should just buy a dfgt and a 20dolla table. These media are running an anti-campaign against companies that sell products of higher quality. This type of media should be sued.


    1. Lawsuits aren’t written free, they would only go for it if they could come up with plausible damages (eg. prove the blog is credible and has a large enough audience to matter)

      More likely they send the host a generic takedown threat & it vanishes without a real suit.


  6. “In sim racing, with so many unsatisfactory releases and hostile personalities showing up on a yearly basis, we need the industry to keep progressing in this direction.”

    Thank you for including yourself there James, in the hostile personalities section. More damage by this blog done to sim racing than by the communities or the games themselves.

    In a year and a half this website exists there’s basically only tearing down all the sims and the community and then promote products to generate revenue from people visiting because of drama and flashy titles/articles.

    This is like those magazines about celebrities with its constant manufactured “problems” in their lives or drama newspapers about occurrences. Is all done to “help society” and “expose stuff”.


  7. “More damage by this blog done to sim racing than by the communities or the games themselves.”

    I hope you’re getting treatment for your autism.


    1. James has done more good for sim racing community than any other person including Ian Bell, and James is also a real race car driver, are you a REAL WINNING race car Driver you bum?


      1. That’s what my comment was meant to be in defense of but the WordPress comments section ducks and it didn’t reply to the right comment properly.


    2. I thought you were a smart individual Trimaz, but ok… If you choose to not see that he’s ruining this gaming genre that you play.

      Please tell me how he positively influenced a good change in sim racing? But tell me more than one or two, because this place exists for more than a year and a half, so if this place is sim racing heaven and sim racing helping center, then we are in good hands, right?

      Mostly all I’m seeing here is destruction and no construction.


        Two games he has made better, Project Cars and Assetto Corsa.


        1. yea sure.. because before james people didn’t know what they wanted in AC to get fixed or added. Is like people never posted in the forums their feedback.. get some grip dude


  8. You pointed out a problem that plagues the whole videogame industry.
    You pay 60$ for a bunch of bugs and almost no content. Then you pay again for a DLC.
    Developers have no incentive to finish and polish their product, since “people is allways online”. They say: “hey, do not waste time on that, we will release a patch later”. Then, “later” translates into “never”.

    But the worst thing is that, we -the community- pay and shut up with no criticism.
    No man’s sky is not the first case, and it will not be the last one.

    “pretendvideogames” should we say


  9. Without even finishing the article, stating that you have a car in eternal development is not false advertising. As far as I can tell, the games just lack content in general, it’s not that they’re falsely claiming they have shit they don’t. No Mans Sky was shown features stated to be included in the final release. as in “Yes, portals and giant space battles will be in the game, and planets will have actual physics.” There is none of those things in the game. The race sims just flaunt what they have and simply don’t talk about all the shit that’s flawed or missing. RF2’s continual Nissan GTR development isn’t claimed to be released and available to use.


    1. Oh, it’s also one thing to say “This is a feature we’re looking into,” and “This is a feature that will be in final release.” You want developers to talk about features to generate some publicity for it, and see how people feel about it. You don’t want them to lie about it.

      The multiplayers iffy, and I’ve never touched TDU2 or NHRA whatever so I’ll give you points for those two.

      As to the Early Access, yeah it’s shitty, but it’s literally being sold as an unfinished game, and as such, legally has no binding contracts or features. They aren’t stating anything that isn’t in the game. There’s also no deadline for early access, or any rules and/or regulations. Maybe Valve should make some, would probably help a lot, but until then, no false advertising has happened.

      Hahahahaha! PCars couldn’t get AI to do an oval. 😛 That’s just fantastic. Yet another point to you, if they didn’t renounce it BEFORE release, then false advertising takes effect. If they did renounce before, then I’m pretty sure it’d still technically not be false advertising, though an actual official statement should’ve been made.

      The Fanatec PS4 support… I bought my wheel before the release of PCars, and on Fanatec’s website they said (I believe in an FAQ) that the PS4 compatibility mode was unofficial, up to the game developers and subject to change. And as such might not work with all titles. Sony did however do the shitty thing and basically outright kicked the Fanatec’s very limited support completely because they only want an officially licensed wheel. Although as you said, it’s not false advertising, but just thought you might like to know that Fanatec had that information available at least a year or two before it happened.

      On a final conclusion, as much as these dev’s tend to be dicks, there’s also a shitload of fucking stupid hostility in this corner of gaming. And dickhead dev’s don’t have any legal responsibility to not be dickheads to the customers. You can take peoples money then tell them to fuck off.

      I’m not saying this whole article is useless, but most of your claims are not in any way false advertising. This could lead to some higher standards, or at least more careful advertising campaigns.


  10. rF1 didn’t have to mislead customers. And 11 years ago it had features AC lacks today “because they’re too hard to make”.

    Get rekt.


      1. I can assure you that rF1 community is still very strong despite the years it has behind its back, the outdated graphics and the engine limitations when it comes to what you can and cannot mod.

        You must be mistaking it for rF2, or SCE/AMS. Now THOSE really are ghost towns, and in the case of Reiza I’m really happy to see it fail hard.

        And if you may refer to Steam, take into consideration that most of us still have the original disc copies and/or the original digital copies and we never really bothered updating them to the Steam digital version. That’s why Steam numbers may be low.

        There are still a lot of servers full with people playing every weekend (Or every wednesday, like the league I’m currently racing in) and the modding is still going strong, despite it’s mostly street cars now thanks to the wrong examples set by the influence of projectBroken and Assetto Cucks with their car choices of mostly ignoring race cars to focus on street cars.


        1. That’s the impression I had too, that rfactor1 is more popularly used than rf2 and possibly ams.

          And is quite intriguing why you’re complaining about other sims having a split between road and race cars in their games when a lot of rfactor mods are also road cars. That doesn’t tell you anything? And a lot of racing game players liking road cars in gran turismo and forza doesn’t tell you anything either? Or now simulation has to be fully restricted to simulation race cars because simulating road cars is heresy?
          Many road cars are more complicated to simulate than race cars. Some devs only prefer the easy way, even in terms of race cars they only do basic race cars technology…


          1. rF1 is still going strong because it’s easy to mod even for newcomers in 2016, it’s got all the gameplay features you could possibly want and that other games don’t have, or only partly have, such as:

            1) Day/night transition
            2) Dynamic weather thanks to a mod
            3) Dynamic safety car rules
            4) Rolling starts
            5) Full flag rules
            6) Ai that actually works and is not broken possible to mod even further to make it even better
            7) Biggest library of mods to choose from covering all series of motorsport from 1927 to 2016
            8) Biggest library of tracks to choose from covering both modern and historic variants of each venue
            9) The little kids moved to newer games so the ones left can actually race online without being dicks
            10) It’s currently selling for $5 usd or so, basically free if compared to modern $60 usd titles
            11) It’s not broken as newer games and you can actually play for hours without problems
            12) Received only 3 major patches in 11 years + 1 extra patch to make it work with Win7 and Win10
            13) gMotor2 engine is still regarded as one of the bests despite being at least 11 years old

            I could go on forever.

            You might have a point, but as someone such as myself who has been actively involved in the modding community for rF1 since its beginning, I can assure you that up until a couple of years ago nobody cared about street cars (Togheter with GTR2 and GTL), most of the mods were about race cars and the few street cars were usually a niche thing just for few people and/or mods relegated to GTL, if the cars themselves were older than your grandmother. They did a 180° only with the release of Forza Studio, that allowed to convert FM3 and FM4 cars.

            I couldn’t care less what people play with in other games or want in said games. You want to drive around in a racing simulation using street cars? Be my guest.

            I have only literally 1 street car in my rF1 install, an Alfa Romeo Montreal from 1971 because I like the car. I then made it wider and created the IMSA version based on the street model though.

            Others have 800 variants of BMWs, Audis etc and if they’re happy, then who cares. As long as they help with keeping the game alive by meeting on a server set to host street cars, it’s good for everybody.


        2. U dont understand the numbers on Steam..rf1 low tiny puny numbers on Steam just show u that the 13million kids dont care at all about the game and the game has no future.Only the manchildren leftover play rf1 now.


  11. This is nothing new just a variant on misleading people when promoting and advertising.Capitalism will take care of customer dissatisfaction if the young snowflake generation learn to grow up and realize that pre purchasing or buying a complex game day 1 is going to end in tears for them.How many of these manchild types will grow a set and resist buying Project Cars 2 on the day of release?Instead,they cannot wait,believe the hype and cry.To difficult for them to wait 6 weeks or so for a better experience.

    Smaller studios will always struggle because they have to hype games to generate sales and are working to tight budgets with limited talent available.It is no coincidence that Turn 10 with Forza is the least buggy product but even they have struggled with their latest release.The smaller studios would all be broke if they waited and got their games perfect.


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  12. “It’s not uncommon for even the most polished of titles to have a core group of online trolls embarking upon a smear campaign for one reason or another.” Absolutely disgusting. I’m glad that kind of behaviour is not accepted around here.


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  14. Codemasters used to Photoshop the heck out of the screenshots for ToCA Race Driver series and no one batted an eyelid. But yeah, selling a game on a rendered target video isn’t really on.


  15. There’s afunny icing on the cake when it comes to TDU2’s club feature not working: a lot of the people that worked on the game became part of Ivory Tower, the development studio responsible for The Crew.

    When The Crew was released, it featured a bug that made it impossible for the players to join the titular crews. So there you had an always-online, massive multiplayer racing game called The Crew where players couldn’t actually join other players’ crews (so in effect removing a core mechanic of the game), made by the very same people who had the exact same problem with their previous title.

    There’s something unintentionally hilarious about that IMO.

    Liked by 1 person

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