Still kept from the eyes of the public despite the summer months being a traditional time to release information on upcoming games, SimBin UK’s GTR 3 continues to be a rather perplexing story in the world of sim racing. Announced several times over the years before either failing to manifest, or turning into other projects altogether, the justified skepticism surrounding the current iteration of the title only grew louder, as sim racers noticed the proof of concept screenshots released at the beginning of 2017 from SimBin UK – supposedly representing a multi-platform racing simulator under the name of GTR 3 – could have been mocked up in mere minutes within the Unreal Engine, thus indicating the game might not be under active development, but a publicity stunt to secure funding. While all of us want GTR 3 to finally manifest and land in our hands given the previous edition’s widespread critical and commercial success, SimBin UK’s silence in regards to the title is indeed worrying; key job openings, a lack of social media activity, and interviews with the team themselves paint a very different picture about GTR 3’s existence. In short, it doesn’t look likely.
However, a rogue comment left on PRC, and a bit of circumstantial evidence, indicates GTR 3 may possibly be deep in development after all with the help of a major player within the ecosystem – though it’s certainly not something that should be taken as fact just yet.
The rumor, left on our website by an anonymous user in late June with no prior posting history, alleges that Image Space Incorporated – creators of both F1 Challenge 99-02, as well as the revolutionary open-ended racing simulator rFactor – have partnered with SimBin UK on the upcoming sports car simulator. Of course, with some of the inane garbage landing in our comments section on a daily basis, it’s hard to believe much of anything that’s written in sim racing’s cesspool of insanity, but there are at least grounds to turn this into a reasonable sounding rumor, rather than something completely out of left field.
Image Space Incorporated transferred development of their flagship racing simulator, rFactor 2, to a team operating under the name of Studio 397 last fall, essentially ending ISI’s direct involvement in a piece of software they’d been actively developing since at least 2003 or 2004. However, the company did not outright state they were ceasing operations and moving away from the sim racing micro-industry altogether; along with message board posts echoing this same sentiment, the last time I spoke to Tim Wheatley, he implied they had taken up a project that’s “not rFactor 3”, but will use the isiMotor engine rather than working to develop it.
I originally believed this to be a revival of the IndyCar racing franchise, considering ISI had acquired the license to both Indianapolis Motor Speedway as well as the Dallara DW12 for rFactor 2, but my assertions later proved to be incorrect when Slightly Mad Studios revealed a full IndyCar field and several tracks on the 2017 schedule for their own simulator, Project CARS 2.
If the rumor left in the anonymous PRC comment is to be believed, this would now point to ISI being involved in the resurrection of GTR 3 by SimBin UK, as the most practical application for the isiMotor engine – like I’ve discussed before here on PRC – would be in endurance sports car racing, where changes in weather, lighting, and track conditions are commonplace, and the engine could be used to its fullest extent. It would also explain why SimBin UK are so confident in announcing GTR 3 to the world despite being a relatively small staff seemingly incapable of constructing the game themselves; outsourcing fundamental portions of the game’s development to a highly experienced team would allow them to actually get the game off the ground, while taking care of the elements they are capable of achieving, such as securing licenses and retaining assets such as car and track models from their sister company, Sector 3 Studios.
Obviously, it’s all just rumors and speculation, but it’s a rumor that seems rather reasonable. SimBin UK aren’t big enough to create a multi-platform racer like GTR 3 all by themselves, and it’s been public knowledge that Image Space Incorporated are working on something behind closed doors, not yet interested in completely retiring from the sim racing community. Helping out on GTR 3 would be a natural and exciting fit for both ISI and SimBin UK, as the isiMotor engine would thrive with the subject matter centered around what their engine does best.
If hell does freeze over and this all comes to fruition, sim racers have every reason to be excited. A polished, feature-complete rendition of rFactor 2 focusing on one primary racing series is long overdue in the genre.