For those of you who are maybe just making the rounds of their favorite sim racing news outlets, you’ve undoubtedly discovered there’s a bit of an uproar within the Assetto Corsa community. We’ve known for a while now that Kunos Simulazioni will bringing a pair of Porsche DLC packs to their highly popular yet fundamentally flawed racing simulator, re-introducing an iconic brand of sports cars to the niche market of sim racing after years of exclusivity deals held by Electronic Arts – restricting the German manufacturer to casual-oriented Need for Speed games, with the occasional Forza Motorsport diversion. The content is highly anticipated by virtually all PC sim racers, as it serves to fill the final gap of sorts in Assetto Corsa’s car roster, allowing virtual motoring enthusiasts to play with all major European sports car brands under one roof. In theory, it should be something to celebrate, right?
As is customary with the massive add-on car bundles you’ll see for games like Forza Motorsport, as well as previous Assetto Corsa DLC packs, one free car is released alongside the pack as a teaser of sorts to give users an idea of what to expect from the premium purchase. Rarely is it ever anything special or noteworthy; instead serving as a way to download the content onto your console in order to compete in online lobbies and physically see the proper car model of your opponent – who did buy the premium DLC bundle. Assetto Corsa fans have had years to figure out that the free car is usually something people won’t drive, and they’re better off just outright buying the DLC pack. It’s honestly not some life-changing investment that requires careful consideration, especially if you’re already putting a ton of hours into Assetto Corsa and spent hundreds on a fancy toy steering wheel. It’s a ten dollar car pack. Change your large coffee to a small and pick it up on the following Friday if it’s such a big deal. I shouldn’t have to hold your hands on this one.
In keeping with the tradition of free cars being less than inspiring diversions, Kunos Simulazioni made the “free trial cars” a totally pointless pair of Porsche SUV’s typically piloted by desperate housewives, alongside a sedan that basically nobody would ever want to drive in a racing simulator, the Porsche Panamera. Assetto Corsa fans freaked. I mean, they were livid at Kunos Simulazioni intentionally making the free cars complete pieces of shit that nobody would ever be interested in racing. Even though pushing out useless free content has been a common practice for years within the entire genre of driving games, and hardcore sim racers were typically used to spending hundreds on fancy plastic steering wheels – so a ten dollar car pack really shouldn’t be a problem – a free car sent them off the rails.
I’m going to defend Kunos on this one. The sim racing community is being absolutely fucking retarded. Yes, it’s cheeky for a developer to use god-awful soccer mom crossovers as a “teaser” to a highly anticipated piece of race car DLC, but you knew several years ahead of time that they were going to do this. There are much bigger things to shit on Kunos Simulazioni for; this isn’t one of them.
But just how Kunos handled all of this is something we should be discussing. Ever since this game was thrust into the public spotlight during the fall of 2013, the Kunos Simulazioni staff have been notorious for engaging in petty fights with the sim racing community when they simply didn’t need to. If I had to take a guess, I’d say the company simply doesn’t have any sort of PR guy, and if they do, he’s paid to merely reply to angry console owners on Facebook with the same five preset statements. We began the year with Stefano fighting with people on RaceDepartment. In an extremely suspicious move, Marco Massarutto randomly went on an unprovoked rant that discussed how all versions of Assetto Corsa were the same – something that was demonstrably false when the console version landed on store shelves a week or so later. Then we have the token giga-thread where the hilarious phrase Have Fun or Get Out was dropped, and who can forget the day the team axed the entire modding community after two and a half years of first party support?
I’ve never seen any developer actively do everything in their power to tarnish relationships with their customers in the way Kunos Simulazioni have done over the past ten months. This is a situation in which these guys didn’t even need to respond in the first place. I mean, who gives a shit if people are moaning about a free car? I can understand if people are choked that the game is broken and are looking for answers as to when it will be fixed, but a free piece of DLC is so far down the totem pole it doesn’t even matter if you address it or not. Put it out on the marketplace, let people buy it or ignore it, the end. So why in the fuck does their reaction – which is basically isolated to a few sim racing message boards – upset you enough to go on a tirade against your users? This is something that is a literal non-issue and does not need any sort of official response from the team. Instead, now they look like assholes by getting into a shit-flinging contest when they should be hard at work improving the console version of Assetto Corsa, which last time I checked still isn’t anywhere near satisfactory according to the comments on their own forum.
It’s really starting to sink in why this game failed to live up to expectations. Kunos Simulazioni spent more time becoming emotionally invested in petty message board fights than working on their product – and this has been a staple of their development process dating back to the netKar Pro days. The whole thing is becoming increasingly pathetic to view from the sidelines.