If you’re going to go through the trouble of making some sort of impromptu hashtag, and tease a “major announcement” about your video on Facebook, it better actually be a major announcement, and not something that everyone else within the ecosystem have been doing for about eleven months. This is the spot RaceRoom and Sector 3 Studios have found themselves in today, as the #WelcomeHome announcement was not a full-fledged TCR Scandinavia expansion as I publicly predicted (though I think Jean-Francois can confirm I called it in private on Facebook), but rather the introduction of Porsche into the *free-to-play PC racing simulator. After years spent using the aftermarket modification brand Ruf in substitute of the iconic German sports cars – as did many developers during the years of EA’s exclusivity deal – simulation enthusiasts who call R3E their software of choice will now be able to purchase a fleet of authentic Porsche race cars in the near future.
For the R3E crowd, as well as the developers themselves, it’s certainly an exciting time for the game, as Porsche’s inclusion is really one of the last major automotive brands to be implemented into RaceRoom Racing Experience, and there are a pretty diverse array of classes in which Porsche sports cars past and present can be dropped right into the already stout packs to compliment the field. I’m also hoping that some of the older ADAC GT Masters packs will be retrofitted with the previously omitted Porsche content, as the pricier bundles depicting one of Europe’s top GT series at the time shipped with incomplete fields due to the lack of a Porsche license. If Sector 3 were to take this route, it would be an extremely classy move on their part, breathing new life into content people may have forgotten about.
Contextually, however, I find the hype and fanfare RaceRoom tried to drum up in regards to this announcement fairly peculiar, if not outright pretentious. At the very least, the marketing department could have done a lot better given the circumstances.
Rather than simply tease a new manufacturer was being added into the mix, the affordable simulation rig company instead boasted of a “major announcement”, using the hashtag #WelcomeHome. In light of the team’s plans for an extensive online racing service, and an entirely new console game from their sister company SimBin UK, a lot of sim racers believed this #WelcomeHome announcement would be much bigger than a new car brand entering the fray – and this is a sentiment conveyed on the official Facebook page as well. For this “important announcement” to manifest itself as a mere license acquisition… It’s kind of a letdown.
And that’s because for over a year, almost every other developer in the sim racing landscape today treated their own acquisition of the Porsche license like it was a pretty major deal – which in all fairness, it was at the time. Kunos Simulazioni rocked the entire genre on June 17th, 2016, when they revealed their little studio of just under twenty people had somehow managed to wrangle the elusive Porsche license away from the grasp of Electronic Arts, revealing a trio of paid downloadable content packs, paving the way for the rest of the hobby to follow suit. But then Turn 10 got their hands on the very same license, as did iRacing, Slightly Mad Studios, and even Gran Turismo – a franchise that had existed long before EA’s exclusivity deal went into effect. Within a few months, it honestly just didn’t matter anymore, and the deal between Porsche and EA had firmly cemented itself as a really aggravating piece of trivia. So for RaceRoom to advertise this as a major event in the game’s timeline… I’m sorry guys, but that ship sailed long ago.
I also take issue with the rather strange, misguided hashtag used to kind of promote this announcement, the whole #WelcomeHome thing they’ve got going on. Dating back to Race: The WTCC Game, Porsche vehicles have never appeared in any simulator made by the Swedish incarnation of either SimBin or Sector 3 Studios. So in this case I’m not really sure what Porsche are “coming home” to, as Porsche car models weren’t present in games created by this team to begin with.
Some will try and claim this hashtag is actually in reference to the GTR series of simulators, in particular GTR 2, but they’d be factually incorrect to do so. The GTR releases were actually made by a group operating under the moniker of Blimey Games, based out of the United Kingdom, and not Germany – Porsche’s home. Those who still push the GTR 2 argument regardless of these facts are also forgetting that marquee manufacturers weren’t a key selling point of GTR 2; the game was based on the 2003 and 2004 FIA GT Championship seasons, and it just so happened that there were a lot of Porsche’s and Ferrari’s on the roster because that’s what teams were using at the time. This wasn’t Need for Speed or Test Drive by any means, where trailers showcased shiny street-legal Porsche’s and Ferrari’s for you to gawk at; it was a pretty obscure racing simulator.
Regardless, it’s good to see Porsche playing ball with even the little guys in the genre, and this can only open the door for an increased level of cooperation within the sim racing landscape.