When a new Codemasters F1 game launches, many within the community cry out for a proper F1 simulator to be developed. So let’s delve into if one should exist, and what it would be like.
Image credit: Studio 397
Here’s a drinking game idea: when the yearly F1 game release rolls around, look around on forums and communities for the reaction to it. For every one comment complaining about it not being a proper simulator, take a drink. We can guarantee that you will be black out drunk in no time.
The F1 Arcade in London launched on 24 November. Despite it being called ‘arcade’, if we use that term to apply to the software itself within the context of what us video game racing fans accept as arcade, it could not be less accurate!
Formula 1 couldn’t just use the Codemasters F1 games, because why would anyone make the journey to London when they could just play F1 22 from home? So, instead, the F1 Arcade in London uses officially licenced Formula One content on the racing sim rFactor 2, specially developed by Studio 397.
So that got us thinking. With the obvious demand for a proper F1 sim racing title, should there really be one? We’ve had F1 Manager 2022 satisfying the need for a managerial-style game, there has even been a kart racing game in the form of F1 Race Stars.
Should an F1 dedicated racing sim exist?
F1 22 vs F1 Sim: Conflicting Products
One of the gripes from the community over the Codemasters F1 games is that the handling models are simplified and not realistic enough. We all know why that is. Since Formula One is such a widespread series and known the world over, those who want to play the games are not always those with a taste for high level sim racing.
Whilst racing wheels are very popular, not every gamer has or wants one. Therefore, they will use a gamepad instead. That’s not to say you can’t use controllers on sims of course, even our own ChampionJoe proved that.
The F1 games have been referred to within the community as ‘Simcade’, a combination of simulation and arcade. However, if there was a set of scales that had F1 Race Stars on one scale representing the arcade side of officially licenced F1 gaming content, and on the other side had the 2021 Mercedes F1 car on iRacing flying the flag for realistic sim racing, where would the Codemasters F1 games fall?
Is F1 22 an Arcade Game?
Most gatekeeping sim racing fans would lob the Codemasters F1 games in with F1 Race Stars. But, the truth is that it leans way more towards iRacing than F1 Race Stars. No doubt if you drove the Merc on F1 2021 and then went to drive it on iRacing, they’d feel very different. But they would be more alike than if you compared driving a 2012 car on F1 2012 and F1 Race Stars.
The F1 Race Stars game when it came out never really took away the audience from the core series games, they could coexist. Whereas, it’s harder to imagine there wouldn’t be a huge chunk of the audience who would abandon the core F1 games in favour of this hypothetical F1 sim. So why would F1 themselves hand out the licence if they knew they were going to lose money?
F1 Race Stars and F1 Manager 2022 didn’t split the playerbase, but a proper F1-dedicated sim most likely would. It’s the same reason why the officially licenced content for rFactor 2 made for F1 Arcade won’t be available on the public build of the game. What incentive would anyone have to attend the F1 Arcade?
How to Avoid Splitting the Playerbase
Just for this scenario, we’re going to ignore the existence of F1 Arcade. Let’s imagine that development for this hypothetical F1 sim was starting. For the sake of simplification, we’ll dub it F1 Grand Prix.
To minimise the splitting of the playerbase, the first thing to do with F1 Grand Prix is make it a single release. If there are sequels, they should not come out each and every year. Also, as it’s a simulator, PC only would be the way to go.
Yes, Assetto Corsa Competizione has a console release and the new World of Outlaws game uses know-how from iRacing, but the common consensus is that sims work best on PC.
F1 Grand Prix: The Business Model
With it being PC only and the single release, there is the opportunity to adopt a different monetisation model. Instead of a one-time payment to get the game, maybe following on from the likes of iRacing where they charge a subscription fee.
If the sim released in 2022, it would automatically feature the cars from that season. When it comes to tracks though, it may not be a popular choice but in order to make money, some circuits could be made into paid DLC.
The same can also be done for classic cars. The hardcore sim racing community may be more interested in using these than the casual audience. Codemasters did bring back the classic cars from F1 2017 to F1 2020 but removed them due to a lack of interest.
As we established in our article ‘The Major Problem with F1 22‘, the majority of the core F1 Codemasters games playerbase don’t really go for much beyond what they have already available to them in-game. The players who would flock over to a dedicated F1 sim like F1 Grand Prix may be more likely to buy more content than just what’s available in the base game.
So, not only would classic cars be just as appealing to a typical player of sims like iRacing, rFactor 2, RaceRoom and Assetto Corsa, but also classic tracks. We see plenty of older versions of circuits available across the racing game world like Spa-Francorchamps from the 1960s. Any track that has held a Grand Prix could be available on this sim.
In short, the possibilities would be endless as this would be a great all-encompassing platform for all types of F1-themed content. Including current cars, a few historical cars and all kinds of tracks that F1 have been to over the years. To have it on a platform with a vastly different monetisation model would do a good job in setting it apart from the core series games.
Could it Really Happen?
Even with every effort having been made to set F1 Grand Prix apart from the Codemasters games, it may be a stretch. We will occasionally get an officially-licenced car to a sim game, like a couple of Ferrari F1s to Assetto Corsa and the Mercedes F1 cars from 2021 and eventually 2022 onto iRacing.
But unfortunately, Formula One as a franchise spills into the mainstream and the majority of people are outside of the niche of ultra-realistic sim racing. So its official game needs to be accessible to all kinds of players. Plus, like it or not, a proper F1 sim would drive certain potential customers away from the core games.
What would you like to see in an official F1 simulation game? Tell us on Twitter at @OverTake_gg or in the comments down below!