The North American timezone means we’re most certainly late to the party on this one, but for those who are maybe just rolling in from work, SimBin is set to be resurrected from the grave. No, this is not a drill. Sector 3’s CEO Chris Speed has announced plans to partner with the restored classic brand led by Allan Speed for a multi-platform release sometime in the future; indicating the days of RaceRoom Racing Experience and it’s god-awful reliance on micro-transactions are officially numbered.
The upcoming title – which is so early in development it probably doesn’t even have a name yet – will most certainly make use of the Unreal Engine as demonstrated in the screenshot above, as well as focus on a complete package experience resembling a spiritual successor to Race Pro for the Xbox 360. Yes, I’m aware Race Pro wasn’t the most well-received racing game to hit the mass market audience and it’s probably a bad idea to bring it up in the first place, but with Atari’s hands nowhere near the new project, as well as a developer/publisher combination fully committed to developing a brand new simulator for the hardcore guys to enjoy, this is basically the GTR 3 we’ve been waiting for.
It just took one hell of a long time to get there.
There are still warts to be found within RaceRoom Racing Experience – such as the complete lack of adjustable tire pressures – but I believe this is a step in the right direction for the genre of sim racing as a whole. We needed someone out there to sit down and build a game sim racers would enjoy; one which didn’t weaponize fanboys, rip people off and segregate the userbase with constant DLC packages, or force customers to wait on patch after patch just for basic functionalities to be implemented. I think that on paper, there is genuine potential for Race Pro 2 provided the team at Sector 3 can really sit down and analyze the biggest complaints users have made in regards to R3E. Hell, there are people out there already asking for a boxed copy of R3E as it stands right now, so it’s not like the team is too far off what many would like to see from a future project.
But there’s a key tidbit which makes this story much more interesting than it appears at first glance. Yes, it’s cool that the SimBin name has been restored and immediately been put to use; equivalent to the Winnipeg Jets name returning to the National Hockey League after two decades spent in hibernation. The mere mention of Mathais Lauda supposedly aiding with the develop is a highly questionable decision on the part of VirtualR.net and other pro-Slightly Mad Studios outlets which chose to cover this story. If you google Mathais Lauda and simply follow a couple of links around, it actually spells trouble behind the scenes for Slightly Mad Studios.
LinkedIn lists Mathais Lauda as the vice president of Lauda Interactive – a video game company which specializes in racing games – and a driver for the Aston Martin factory team in the World Endurance Championship. So this guy isn’t a lone wolf randomly agreeing to help out with the development of a new game; he’s got his own video game studio that’s actually named after him. But who are Lauda Interactive as a developer? We’ve never heard of them before.
According to SGP Business, they are a small video game developer based in Singapore. This is important, as the head of Slightly Mad Studios himself, Ian Bell, moved to Singapore around the same time the SGP Business page for Lauda Interactive was last updated.
Your next logical question should be: Do they have a homepage?
Of course they do. And Lauda Interactive claim World of Speed is their primary project. You know, the game that Slightly Mad Studios announced would be developed alongside Project CARS, yet has mysteriously failed to materialize in any fashion, and users on the official forums have more or less accepted the fact that this game will not be coming out at all.
This is where things get interesting. The more you dig around for Lauda Interactive staff member profiles on LinkedIn, you end up discovering that key personnel within the company were once longtime staff members of Slightly Mad Studios. CEO of Lauda Interactive Michele Pes left the team which brought us Project CARS right around the time post-release support for pCars had began to wind down.
I find all of this very perplexing, and possibly a much bigger story than a new incarnation of SimBin aiding with the development of Sector 3’s next racing simulator. Here you have a group of employees who were once heavily involved with Slightly Mad Studios suddenly creating a studio nobody’s ever heard of with Lauda as their “mascot”, and flying under the radar for several months before announcing plans to assist a rival developer with the creation of their new game, despite their online presence advertising World of Speed – a project spearheaded by the company Lauda Interactive staff members all recently left.
Is this all just an elaborate way to announce World of Speed is no more? Or has there been a mass exodus of Slightly Mad Studios staff members that we haven’t found out about until today?