No One Needs an Annual Formula 1 Game

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A few weeks ago, we were pretty critical of EA purchasing Codemasters and what it likely meant for the F1 series, and no spoilers here, we’re still pretty critical about it. None the less we examined the current state of sim racing games and simulators and thought about what little impact could be made from a major studio baking a yearly installment of F1. It has its good and its bad, but we aren’t the biggest fans of it and believe that the time developing a new game could be better spent continuously improving a single game as opposed to putting a new livery on it year after year.

Before we get too deep in the critiques we are aware that the Formula 1 game is a simcade racer, and before you jump down our throats there is nothing better or worse between simcade and simulators. It is all personal preference to how you want to spend your time, plus to be fair simcades are nice to just start up and drive from time to time and they tend to offer an RPG experience which is a nice change of pace. The point of this blog is not to sway readers from simcade to simulators or vise versa, the points we are making have to do with the development and progression of the overall eSport and how a game that is 80% copy and paste each year isn’t doing it any favors.

Why Yearly Installments Are Bad

  • Encourages recycled features

  • Commercialized Emotion

Recycled Features

Now that EA is in control, you can bet that once they stumble upon the magic game mode that creates its own economy, the game will be nearly identical year after year. They found this mode in Madden, FIFA, and even the NHL games so you can be damn sure that they will find it in Formula 1 games too. The problem with this magic economy is simple, once you make the initial investment you don’t want or even really need to touch it until you have to. If you have picked up a FIFA game in the last few years you would know that they remain relatively the same year after year. They have skated by making minimal changes to the gameplay by adding the story mode and some minor tweaks to the gameplay but overall not much has changed. In reality, if you’re not interested in the FIFA story mode and you don’t mind waiting a few minutes to find a match you could reasonably play any installment since 2018 and get the same experience. Formula 1 runs the risk of falling into the same trap, it becomes a skin with minimal changes other than new liveries and just enough changes to the story mode to get you to buy it again.

Commercialized Emotion

The best part about the Assetto Corsa series is that just the feel of it alone felt like it was racing first and everything else was second. The user experience makes you feel like the development team lived and breathed motorsports and that gives these games an overall natural feel. Part of this is because the development didn’t stop when it launched and they weren’t working on the next installment while the first one was still in the promotion. You don’t get this feeling with the Formula 1 game, it feels very commercialized. After just 1 or 2 sessions of playing the Formula 1 series, it feels kinda bland, no real essence of passion or even acute accuracy is there. Ultimately what it boils down to is that motorsports aren’t an industry that can be emulated into annual installments. It’s an industry that needs to be emulated with a single installment by a team that can continuously evolve and develop it for a few years before thinking about the next one.

What They Should Do Instead

Turn the Formula 1 series into a 3-year installment. Drop the 20xx title and adopt a sub name if you have to but make it something that the team can really dig their teeth into similar to that of Assetto Corsa. Continuously improve the game for a few years then do a full rebuild every 3 years. The 2022 season would be a perfect time to do this since they are adopting the new rules and cars, it’s almost like the perfect storm has presented itself for them to turn the tide.

It’s not a likely situation but it would be the best one, fans and players hate being treated like piggy banks that can be tapped into every year. If you’re going to treat them as such at least give them a product that they won't turn on after a few years. Don’t believe us? Go ahead and look at the Madden fan base, they have been begging the NFL to pull the rights from EA for years.

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