In part 1, we delved into the most memorable moments in sim racing games of the first half of 2023. Today, we take a look at the defining moments from July to December. Game releases, updates, teasers and 2024 preparations all feature.
A year full of controversy and disappointing releases was saved by a few major updates to popular sim racing games in 2023. In yesterday’s reflection on the first half of 2023, we already touched on the impressive overhaul of the Assetto Corsa Competizione physics model. We also took a look back at the mixed release of F1 23.
But today, it is time to focus on the most exciting and upsetting moments in the months from July to December of 2023. Join us for this ride through the past and make sure to tell us your most memorable moments in sim racing in 2023.
July: The Automobilista 2 Month of 2023
In the first half of the year, Automobilista 2 had already received some attractive content releases. But it was in July that the game transformed from a niche product to a popular title. Update 1.5 dropped on 26 July, revolutionising the game’s tyre model. Akin to the ACC update of April, this was a true game changer.
As we will later see, this update truly contributed to AMS2 becoming one of the main simulators of choice. Gone are the days of incomprehensible physics. In its place comes a game that feels satisfying to drive in the majority of cases.
July was not all about AMS2 however. In fact, less than a week before this major update, RaceRoom Racing Experience also received an update. Focusing on content, it included the long-awaited Porsche Pack, including a Cup car, new GT3 and fun 944 Cup.
August: Beginning Of The End For Motorsport Games?
Whilst July was certainly a positive month for sim racing, August began to show signs of upcoming controversy. It was at the end of the Summer that Motorsport Games released its Q2 Financial Report. Displaying a rough state of affairs for the team now developing Le Mans Ultimate, getting to the end of the year looked to be a challenge. In the end, it would not take long to work out the MSG strategy going forward. But let’s keep that story for later months.
It was not all doom and gloom in August though. In fact, Ian Bell was beginning to get more and more active on social media throughout the summer. But it was in August that we started to see the fruits of his team’s – Straight 4 Studios – labour. In-game screenshots of GTRevival emerged online, and we got to sit down and chat with the infamous developer. Make sure to read up on that interview here.
Whilst it may have released in July, most players put their first hours into F1 Manager 23 in August of last year. Certainly not a highlight sim racing game of 2023, we certainly had fun giving a new game a chance. Much like its predecessor, we felt that the game did not offer much in the way of racing strategy choices, or team management, trying to achieve too much at once.
September: LMDh Fills iRacing Season 4
But possibly the most captivating news of it all was the release of the iRacing Season 4 update. Completing the list of 2023 IMSA GTP cars with the Porsche and Acura, it was certainly a sportscar fan’s dream. Not only that, but the new season added the Super Formula series and raised the maximum number of car models on a single server. Many may well dub this their sim racing game moment of 2023.
Aside from the iRacing news, September is also the month that Forza Horizon 5 got a rival. The Crew Motorfest released on 11 September bringing the series to an all-new location. The latest entry also shuffles the traditional campaign idea. In this iteration of the franchise, players explore different car cultures via so-called Playlists. Sound familiar? Check out what Luca thought of the game here.
It was also in September that glares of excitement turned back the way of Kunos Simulazioni. In fact, a 505 Games financial report pointed out that an Assetto Corsa 2 release would come by the end of Q2 2024. With big boots to fill, eyes will be on this story all the way until the game’s launch.
October: Forza Motorsport – Disappointing Racing Game of 2023
Throughout 2023, one title remained high on sim racers’ expectations. Forza Motorsport would finally end a six-year drought in the series. But upon release, the game very much missed the apex so to speak. Performance, physics and AI issues plagued the game. Whilst some could look past its flaws and enjoy the title for what it is, others felt betrayed by Turn 10.
As aforementioned, major financial issues at Motorsport Games became public knowledge back in August. It would not take long for the developer’s plans to come to fruition however as in early October, iRacing would purchase the NASCAR gaming licence from the organisation. Selling assets and cutting costs would be the theme of MSG’s end-of-2023. Players can now look forward to a console NASCAR game in 2025 developed by the iRacing team.
To cap off a jam-packed month of October 2023 for sim racing, rFactor 2 launched the public version of its brand-new online competition service. Drawing fans in with great wheel-to-wheel racing and diverse content, Steam player base numbers rose to a record high.
November: EA Sports WRC Sparks Fury
Rallying has always been a niche within the niche of sim racing. As a result, very seldom to games cater to the needs of rally fans. But in early November, EA Sports delivered on an officially licensed 2023 WRC game. However, from day one, the community’s reactions towards the game were not as the developers would have liked.
Performance limitations, bugs, glitches, graphical infidelity and many more game-breaking issues pushed players away. Even today, over two months since launch, the game has a multitude of problems that render entire game modes unusable.
To continue to sorrow of sim racing game moments in November of 2023, Motorsport Games continued its cut-back strategy. In fact, up to 40% of the organisation’s workforce was let go. Luckily for us however, that did allow our editorial team to gain the one and only Thomas Harrison-Lord.
Finally, one piece of good news finally came in November. After the Kunos-505 leaks revealed the launch of AC2 in 2024, we also got the official announcement of the Nordschleife for Assetto Corsa Competizione in Spring of this year. So buckle in racers, ACC will get bumpy in 2024.
December: Le Mans Theme Caps 2023 in Sim Racing
Whilst the Nordschleife filled headlines in November, December was all about a different infamous racing track. In fact, several stories in the last month of the year saw Le Mans feature in sim racing.
First up, Motorsport Games finally put an end to its struggles by showcasing some Le Mans Ultimate footage. For the first time, the developer gave players more than a few screenshots of cars on-track. This time, we got several clips of the Ferrari 499P racing around Monza. Earlier in the year, the game was announced for release on 20 February, so we do not have long to wait now.
Elsewhere, Automobilista 2 received its final update of the year, and a long-awaited one at that. The Brazilian sim now features a trio of LMDh cars as well as the Circuit de la Sarthe, with the shorter Bugatti layout. An excellent update, it enabled the game to reach record player numbers in December.
Finally, the year saw a number of other positive stories towards its end. Not willing to focus solely on the Nürburgring, Kunos announced the GT2 Pack for Assetto Corsa Competizione. Furthermore, iRacing capped the year off with its first Season of 2024. Whilst not featuring rain, it did bring a number of upgrades to the title that should be popular.
What was your favourite sim racing game moment of the second half of 2023? Let us know on Twitter at @OverTake_gg or in the comments down below!