Riding high on the momentum Assetto Corsa’s 1.11.3 patch produced, we ended the weekend here at PRC.net with a lengthy positive review of Burrito’s Mercedes Benz-Sauber C9, a phenomenal piece of Group C machinery from the late 1980’s. Though rather unspectacular when you first acquire the car legitimately through Assetto Corsa’s original Dream Pack DLC, burrito’s allegedly approved modifications to official Kunos content brought the car in-line with what actually competed during the 1989 World Sports Car championship season. Due to supposed licensing constraints – which forced Kunos to model the low-downforce Le Mans special rather than the car which dominated the 1989 campaign – the Sauber C9 available as premium downloadable content for Assetto Corsa is unfortunately quite useless within the popular racing simulator, considering Le Mans isn’t featured on the roster of circuits. I mean, you can try and take it to Spa or Mugello, but it’s going to be an understeering pig. And you can definitely go out and acquire a third party version of Circuit de la Sarthe, but let’s be real here – Kunos make phenomenal tracks the community can rarely match. You didn’t buy a modern racing simulator to mess around on yet another rFactor conversion from 2007.
Veteran physics modder burrito, who had recently pushed out a phenomenal third party vehicle in the Ferrari F2002, set out to rectify the issue, claiming to receive approval from Kunos to use the low-downforce Sauber C9 as a base for the WSC-spec car most people wanted to begin with, and release it on RaceDepartment as a free upgrade that actually required you to own the relevant DLC package before the car would load in-game. Yet in just under a day, Kunos Simulazioni staff member Stefano Casillo demanded burrito to remove the car, claiming he didn’t have permission to begin with, and that he was “finished” with Kunos Simulazioni – which led many to speculate whom exactly Kunos had working on the physics of official content behind the scenes.
I can see both sides of the argument. Kunos isn’t in a position to fuck around with major licenses and admit they basically gave out sensitive race car data to some random modder on the internet who hadn’t been contractually obligated to keep his mouth shut, but at the end of the day, Assetto Corsa was advertised primarily as a modding platform, and the data.acd converter is so easy to use even I can bust open encrypted car files and go to town. I’m not a fan of how Stefano unloaded on the guy over at RaceDepartment instead of merely saying “hey man, you did a really nice job, but I checked with the team and we changed our minds after looking through some of the contracts” – though at this point between the random restructuring of the official mod community, the numerous tirades on RaceDepartment, and excuses such as “football season” to explain the delay of the console game (which ended up being a disaster), it’s stuff that should really go in one ear, and out the other.
No matter which side you take on that argument, at the end of the day Assetto Corsa owners – those who didn’t fetch the car from our latest post and prefer to stick with official content – still don’t have a relevant version of the Sauber C9 to mess around with. And this is actually quite silly when you explore what else Assetto Corsa has to offer.
Some over on RaceDepartment are claiming Kunos simply didn’t acquire the rights to the World Sports Car variant of the Sauber C9 – you know, the car that would be enjoyable to drive on the default roster of tracks instead of being a supersonic understeering piece of shit – but just by clicking around the menus, there might be more to this story. Kunos were more than capable of building a circuit-spec Sauber C9, they just didn’t bother.
While Kunos did not acquire the rights to the Ferrari 458 Challenge series – a private championship for Ferrari owners campaigning somewhat equally prepared track variants of the Ferrari 458, Kunos instead got around the lack of a license by modelling a Stage 3 Performance Package on the default Ferrari 458, and basically admitted in the description it was a Ferrari Challenge car. Taking advantage of the game’s Stage system, which allows content creators – or the developers themselves – to start with an existing vehicle and slap on 3D model adjustments or performance tweaks, Kunos included a Ferrari challenge car within Assetto Corsa – it just wasn’t called that in the menus. In the official forums, most people acknowledged it was a Ferrari Challenge car, and during the Early Access period I recall it was one of the more popular cars in the game – but it drills home the point that Kunos at one point were absolutely, one hundred percent willing, to work around a license they didn’t have for the benefit of their audience.
The Ferrari F40LM was a beast of a GT participant in the mid 1990’s, but once again, Kunos simply couldn’t acquire the rights to model the exact car for use in Assetto Corsa. Rather than admit defeat and hope modders would get to work on the F40LM once the game came out, Kunos instead heavily implied the Stage 3 Ferrari F40 was in fact an F40LM – or as close as they could possibly get to it without pissing off Ferrari, according to the vehicle’s description. It sure didn’t look the part of an F40LM, relying on the street car 3D model, the inevitable influx of 1990’s GT liveries from the community, and a convincing set of physics to get the point across, but everybody knew what they were getting with the Stage 3 F40.
But these tongue-in-cheek nods to cars Kunos were unable to license for Assetto Corsa straight up stopped with the Stage 1 variant of the Lotus Exos T125. Prior to landing two modern Ferrari Formula One entries in this year’s Red Pack DLC bundle, the only professional category open wheel car on the Assetto Corsa car roster was hidden in the upgrades menu for the consumer-spec Lotus Exos T125. Designed as the ultimate toy for elite track day snobs, the Exos T125 was basically a Formula One car that a rich asshole could run at his local track with the help of a few buddies. Kunos used this vehicle as a base to sneak an actual Formula One car into Assetto Corsa when they didn’t have the rights to any at the time, creating a Stage 1 Performance Package rendition that was basically the 2013 Lotus Grand Prix car. Though some would argue the car’s on-track performance and underlying physics figures were merely estimations, the work Kunos had done previously for Toyota and Ferrari on both Ferrari Virtual Academy and netKar Pro suggested they weren’t exactly taking shots in the dark.
I’m really perplexed as to why Kunos couldn’t model a Stage 1 variant of the legendary Group C prototype to begin with, when they seemed to have no problem doing so previously with other cars on the roster – including vehicles from Ferrari and Lotus, of whom the former is known for being notoriously difficult to deal with when it comes to video game licensing deals. This was basically the entire point of Kunos creating the Stage system for vehicle selection – allowing multiple versions of the same base vehicle to co-exist within the application. Marco Massarutto also confirmed in a live stream that Le Mans is not going to appear in Assetto Corsa, so why intentionally go out and model the Le Mans-spec variants of certain cars knowing full well there isn’t actually a use for them in your game? The whole scenario is just really silly.
But what’s even more bizarre, is for someone like Stefano to go out and chastise a respected modder of their game for essentially doing the exact same thing the actual developers of the game did. Just as burrrio ended up not having permission to create the high-downforce WSC-variant of the Sauber C9, Kunos didn’t have permission to create the Ferrari 458 Challenge Series, the Ferrari F40LM, or the 2013 Lotus E21. These cars have been in the game as far back as early 2014, and they have never caused problems. They’ve also demonstrated that licensing doesn’t mean shit in this situation – contrary to their claims in forum posts regarding the matter – and Kunos were very well capable of building a high-downforce C9 themselves by merely calling it a Stage 1 upgrade, they just chose not to, and instead chased after someone in the community who did.