Just under a month ago, I had no problem calling KartKraft vaporware. A hardcore grassroots racing simulator that had been in development under multiple names dating back to 2007 – and whose development team went through just as many alias changes despite leading man Zach Griffin remaining in charge throughout the duration of the project – it was heavily implied the project would see a release on Steam’s Early Access platform at some point during the summer of 2016. Unfortunately, as last summer came and went, the project failed to materialize, with social media posts from Black Delta seeing a sudden shift in tone, from claiming an initial release was just weeks away, to regurgitating the same basic indirect public relations babble, month after month – failing to inform users what had happened to the game.
The situation frustrated sim racers, as with so many young amateur karting personalities also dabbling in the world of sim racing, a game that seemed tailor made for their exact needs was instead appearing to be an elaborate ruse, stringing people along for almost a complete decade with little to show for it. Aside from carefully crafted preview videos released back when the Atlanta Thrashers were still a professional hockey team, KartKraft was turning out to be one of those projects that can only exist in the world of sim racing; vaporware ever so obscure enough for people to completely forget it existed in the first place.
Today, we can add another chapter to the story. Buried deep within an obscure French iRacing community lies three unlisted YouTube videos depicting the latest beta build of KartKraft. Initial impressions of the title from the user behind the three short gameplay clips are fantastic, claiming the closed beta experience surpasses KartRacingPro, which is seen as the definitive Kart racing sim currently on the market. The videos on the French message board are unlisted, so I’ve taken the liberty to mirror them on YouTube to ensure as many people can see them as possible; obviously someone’s going to get in a lot of shit with this article going live considering strict non-disclosure agreements are said to be in place.
Three videos totaling about six minutes in length depict three different karts on three unique Australian circuits, and it seems as Black Delta have even managed to nail some of the subtle leg moments that I’m sure everyone’s familiar with after tossing themselves around in a kart. It honestly looks really good, but so did the preview footage released in 2012.
At this point, however, I’m still left with more questions than answers. It’s fairly obvious this game still exists and is actively being worked on considering YouTube footage of KartKraft is being uploaded today, but it’s confusing as to why Black Delta have been so secretive about telling people what’s been going on with the project as of late after missing their original release window, and how visually the software still looks as it once did in 2012.
Regardless, if you’ve been looking for evidence that KartKraft is still a thing, there you go. It’s just a mystery as to why it’s taking so long to land in the hands of the public.