Genuinely Perplexing, or Setting a Precedent? The Assetto Corsa DRM Mod

It’s a package of virtual race cars that should really need no introduction among most groups of hardcore sim racers, so I’ll cut right to the chase – the DRM Revival mod team are set to bring their legendary rFactor creation into a much newer sim racing sandbox, with a release date for the Assetto Corsa rendition of the Deutsche Rennsport Meisterschaft series just beyond the horizon. Anticipation for the bundle is at an all time high, as while the authenticity and overall realism of the free rFactor mod from many years ago is still up for debate, nobody can deny the quality of the car models, the beastly engine sounds, and the insane handling characteristics combined to produce an experience that basically everybody who considered themselves a regular rFactor player rushed to download, and subsequently convert to other platforms.

The Deutsche Rennsport Meisterschaft championship, contested in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, was essentially GT3 cars as if they were first conceived thirty five years ago, boasting primitive turbochargers, wild aesthetics, and a general sense of instability that punished you for even the smallest of mistakes. So naturally, there’s a bit of a hype train rolling, because if there’s anything sim racers love, it’s turning five half-assed laps in a car they struggle to properly control before immediately shooting over to RaceDepartment to boast that they couldn’t complete a clean lap and the drivers back then must have been heroes… Or something…

So as I’ve noted above, the DRM team will be taking these wonderful cars to Assetto Corsa and only Assetto Corsa, which has slowly but surely morphed into a somewhat adequate racing simulator over the past few months thanks to the hard work of Kunos Simulazioni. Now while various previews of the DRM mod have been teased almost dating back to the time Assetto Corsa first launched on the PC, in recent weeks it’s been made very clear that these cars are indeed in the pipeline and set to arrive within a reasonable time frame, so the team have been getting a bit “chatty” with all the major sim racing news outlets as would be expected.

However, in their chattiness, has come one of the most absurd details about their upcoming release for Assetto Corsa – sim racers will have the option of obtaining two different versions of the same mod. One, with simplistic physics, will be free, and the other, you’ll be forced to pay for.

The DRM team have explained there will be a “base” version that everybody will be able to download as a quasi-trial, though it will feature the same exact content as the payware version. However, the “premium” version is said to ship with upgraded physics, sounds, and support – whatever that means. It’s a genuine pain in the ass for sim racers, as there will be two semi-identical versions of the mod floating around on the internet that will be sure to cause an enormous amount of mismatches, as free users attempt to join servers running premium content, and premium owners try to jump into an online DRM sessions, only to discover the server is using the free base version in an effort to reel in more players. Assetto Corsa is already ripped on by loyal supporters for fragmenting the userbase with a heavy dose of downloadable content that strategically places desirable and/or updated cars behind paywalls, so it’s frustrating to see that community members who have undoubtedly been upset by the fragmented userbase will be going out and doing the exact same thing.

It’s also annoying to see a team that already built these cars to completion for another simulation platform and gave them away for free, will be charging for what’s essentially the same product. Had Assetto Corsa blown rFactor out of the water and established itself as the king of PC racing sims immediately upon release in 2014, I could sort of understand trying to monetize a re-release of the same cars, but both simulators are sort of equal with one another in terms of game engine fidelity. So it’s pretty lame that while the DRM cars for rFactor are free, you’ll have to pay for the Assetto Corsa variant, even though the same team made both mods, and it’s not like these cars have changed since 1979 – it’s still the same data that was researched and gathered in 2008 being placed into Assetto Corsa as it was placed into rFactor a decade ago.

Not to mention, there’s still some debate over how accurate the rFactor mod was to begin with. Sure it looked and sounded nice, but there were rumors of the virtual cars created by the DRM revival team turning laps ten or twelve seconds quicker than their real world counterparts. So it’s pretty ballsy to charge for “upgraded physics” when there’s no guarantee that the allegedly improved physics will be worth the money.

But, to play devil’s advocate here, I’m under the impression that maybe there’s a different side to the whole free/premium version thing we’re not really thinking of. Obviously, you can’t sell payware mods featuring real world brands without a commercial license, which is why United Racing Design sell Bayro’s and Darche’s instead of BMW’s and Porsche’s, but maybe the DRM team have discovered a loop-hole where if you can still obtain their creation for free and merely sell physics INI files as an upgrade, that’s how payware teams can get around pesky licensing restrictions. And that’s sort of brilliant, and could set a very real precedent for payware mods in the future where, as an example, teams could put up complete Formula One grids for free, but when you download them they hit 400 mph like that Red Bull monstrosity from Gran Turismo, and the financial transaction is merely to obtain text documents to copy and paste over the “default” physics. Everyone knows what’s happening, but in a legal sense it doesn’t get the payware teams in any hot water. I’m not a fan of payware mods because they traditionally don’t work in a sim racing environment for whatever reason, but I give the DRM team credit for trying to blaze a new trail here, if that were their intentions.

It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out, as the precedent that could be set for other payware teams to follow may be the silver lining amidst a potential cloud of mismatch errors that infuriate the Assetto Corsa community. Whatever happens, you’ll be able to obtain these vehicles fairly soon, and hopefully there will be an equally diverse number of quality historic circuits to race them on, as I can’t imagine the appropriate rFactor tracks will look all that great after being quickly converted in Assetto Corsa for use with the DRM cars.


43 thoughts on “Genuinely Perplexing, or Setting a Precedent? The Assetto Corsa DRM Mod

  1. Didn’t they anounce to release on ac because they said they was sick of payware mods in rfator? So seems odd they are now selling these.
    Also like you say they will probably be nothing like the real thing like most mods, yet most ac users laud it’s realism. Also never understood that if you complain about the lack of tracks in ac most people will say there are loads of quality mods but then those same guys will insist on laser scanned tracks.


  2. which has slowly but surely morphed into a somewhat adequate racing simulator over the past few months thanks to the hard work of Kunos Simulazioni.

    Lol PRC likes Kunos again now too, is Stefano also secretly sponsoring this website? I guess in 5 months or so you will tell us.


  3. I’m still not getting their pay scheme. Seems like it would be way simpler to avoid licensing $$ by simply renaming the cars a bit (like URD does).

    Also, these weren’t really the GT3 cars of the 80’s. GT3’s are heavily production-based. Cars like the Zakspeed Capri and Lancia Montecarlo were tubeframe silhouette racers with almost zero connection to the road car they sorta-kinda resembled. The one exception being that they had to retain the roof and, of all things, the same suspension design – which is why the Capri has the strange combination of ground effect tunnels and a live rear axle.

    OTOH, the BMW 3-Series was *heavily* production-based, to the point where BMW actually had a kit where you could take a production E21 and convert it into the fire-breathing DRM car.

    Which, given that my first car was a 1980 320i, was pretty fucking cool at the time 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You can change the car name, but the sponsors on the doors are still real. Companies like Wurth still exist and so on.

      To get away with it, they should go the pCARS1 route as they used real liveries but fake logos.

      Also, while the race cars weren’t mass produced (except the 935s, there were a shitload of them built, sold and raced for a total of something like 16 different variations and models) for the track, they still were for the road as required for the homologation.

      BMW built so many road legal M1s that at one point they didn’t know what to do with them and modified them for Group 4 specifications.

      All in all, rest assured that the “premium” package with better sounds and physics will be leaked on day 1, so everybody wins.


            1. But you pay to remove ads, not to download and play the game. Again, that’s the difference you’re not understanding.


        1. How old are you FMecha? After I read this comment I decided you are either below the age of 14 or have some kind of severe learning disability


  4. Great news for console owning German AC community. Will probably drop around winter 2028. Oh, and it’ll most likely be wank.


        1. You definitely have to do your research. Everything URD does is incredible, and the RSS Formula Hybrid 2017 is very good. Both are paymods. The ASR and VRC donation-mods are excellent as well.

          There are no easy answers. I look for reviews before I buy.


          1. You didn’t read the whole article. Some paymods can be good (like ones you mentioned) and others can be shitty (like ones I linked, which was actually BN97’s reader submission).


      1. Its a dangerous mentality though and if the quality starts to degrade a little it can cause issues, this has been seen time and time again with RTM. You may have modders that put everything into appearance and have a laugh with the physics, may people dont read reviews or do research on a seller.

        There are the guys that put a lot of effort in but its the potential increase in the janky modders and furthermore there is the increased risk of manufactuers getting word of this and shutting down mods with all their power like what nintendo does with fangames at the moment though there isnt much chance of this happening right now.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I can understand concerns about manufacturer response/licensing issues, but I’m not sure why the market can’t handle quality issues (as it does with complete games).


  5. I don’t think free distribution (of otherwise infringing files) obviates the trademark licensing requirement.

    If I build a restaurant that looks exactly like McDonalds (to the extent that the community reasonably perceives it to be a McDonalds), giving away free food doesn’t make it legal.

    If I offer lower quality food (for the argument’s sake, let’s assume that’s possible), McDonalds will lose customer goodwill, diluting their brand.

    Kondor is absolutely right that they should simply re-brand the cars, and if they want to make some money, they should freely release a single car, and charge for the package.

    Although I haven’t thought about the issue extensively, I don’t see an obvious problem with paywall mods. URD certainly seems satisfied with their success, and the community seems to enjoy their work, which bodes well for DRM’s creators.

    I’m also not sure why it bothers anyone that they’re suddenly demanding payment for something previously given away. Even if the AC conversion required no extra time & effort, they should be able to distribute the mod as they fit.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. “because if there’s anything sim racers love, it’s turning five half-assed laps in a car they struggle to properly control before immediately shooting over to RaceDepartment to boast that they couldn’t complete a clean lap and the drivers back then must have been heroes”

    This may be the most accurate description of simracing ever written

    Liked by 1 person

  7. You failed to recognise the real storry here. Put at least some effort again into this dude.
    Right now I read here what I have seen somewhere else but contra. Just stupid contra, for the sake of it.


  8. Just check this thread, where are the trolls strong. Your trolls are organised and know very well what they do.

    BTW how comes instructors are posting adds these days? 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Good point, but honestly it’s just going to be hella confusing to have two nearly identical mods floating around. That alone should have been enough to can the idea.
    Release a single free car and put the others behind a paywall like AC does.


  10. Whether you give away or sell a product has very little to do with whether it is a copyright violation. Now, that doesn’t mean that the mod team doesn’t think it does (people believe all sorts of stupid shit when it comes to copyright), but it won’t help them.


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