Let’s start the week with a bit of senseless controversy. Earlier this month, we stumbled upon brand new beta footage of KartKraft that had been linked to users at a French iRacing forum, and I promptly re-uploaded the three clips in an effort to ensure the original poster would not realize his unlisted videos were appearing on a sim racing news publication and take them down before anyone could see them. To Black Delta’s credit, the game looked pretty solid in action despite the in-game footage being a closed beta copy of the game, and most viewers agreed KartKraft looked great – though it still didn’t explain why the niche karting simulator had suddenly gone MIA; heavily implying we’d be playing it by the summer of 2016 on their official Facebook page, only to seemingly evaporate and give vague answers in regards to the title’s whereabouts.
It took a couple of weeks, but the leaked footage was removed as per YouTube’s copyright policies, filed not by the user who uploaded the closed beta footage, but by Black Delta themselves, the developers of KartKraft.
A non-story? That depends on how much you’ve been anticipating a playable copy of KartKraft, as it’s certainly an odd chain of events unfolding behind the scenes. Black Delta have demonstrated they absolutely don’t want rogue footage of KartKraft surfacing on popular social media outlets such as YouTube – evident by the takedown notice I’ve inserted above – but this is where they slightly contradict themselves. The footage we were able to obtain honestly didn’t show anything new that Black Delta haven’t already demonstrated themselves in both their own official trailers, as well as footage that’s publicly available on Steam – the three clips merely showcased a user turning one out-lap and one flying lap across three different locations. There were no blatant bugs appearing on-screen, and the game’s user-interface was at a satisfactory level of cohesiveness; in simpler terms, it was actually benefiting them to have the footage out there, as people were responding positively to it.
Furthermore, Black Delta can be seen touring around to independent electronics showcase events and letting the general public play unfinished versions of KartKraft – to the point where gaming journalists on websites such as Road to VR have been publishing detailed previews and hands-on impressions of the title as far back as August of 2015. Maybe I’m missing some sort of underlying point here, but it’s very strange that a racing sim developer would embark on such a large promotional tour and allow tons of different websites to provide coverage on the title, but the moment you upload physical gameplay footage originally recorded by a third party not affiliated with Black Delta, they come chasing after you with copyright claims. It’s oddly protective when they’re turning around and simultaneously showing off the software to a large audience anyway.
What makes this all questionable and turns it into a story, is how KartKraft missed it’s initial launch window on Steam’s Early Access platform, and we really haven’t heard anything concrete from the team since. There have been no official announcements that have come out and said “sorry we couldn’t get it out for the summer of 2016”, only the same calculated reply to users who bombard their Facebook page with questions about the existence of the game – it’s supposedly still in closed beta, but obviously people are getting antsy after footage of KartKraft in its current state first surfaced in 2011, and talk of the title first began in 2007. Of course, nobody has actually paid money for it, so there aren’t a wave of customers entitled to some kind of functioning product wondering what their cash went towards, but it’s one of those deals like Chinese Democracy by Guns ‘N Roses, where if you’re going to bother getting people all excited for a product, it sort of helps if that product materializes within a reasonable period of time, otherwise the story behind the project becomes as big as the game itself.
And that’s why the copyright strike may possibly hint at something else occurring behind the scenes. After several years parading around KartKraft, why would Black Delta suddenly not want footage of the title out in public, especially when the footage is basically a carbon copy of the content and gameplay displayed in their own trailers that have been circulating since 2011 at the earliest? Why would it be necessary to be this protective over an indie kart racing game’s publicity?
Only time will tell.