Still no sign of a new F1 video game

Formula One 2006 PS2

It looks as though Formula 1 fans will have to make do without an official F1 video game again in 2008.

According to Pitpass discussions between Bernie Ecclestone and Sony (previous holders of the F1 franchise) have reached a dead end. Sony previously paid $15m per year for the rights to the game.

Ecclestone’s entire approach to marketing F1 in this way is utterly hopeless and shows how badly out of touch he is with F1′s fan base. Fans have been asking for months when a new F1 game is going to appear.

Giving Sony exclusive rights to the F1 franchise guaranteed that the F1 name was shackled to an inferior product – Sony’s last F1 games in 2005 and 2006 were distinctly underwhelming with little detail or depth.

Worse, only Sony PlayStation owners could play them, locking out millions of Xbox and PC owners.

Let’s get three things straight about an F1 racing game:

First: it has to be available across platforms. What has F1 got to gain from shunning Xbox/PC/Wii owners? Nothing. So you have to question whether Sony are the right people for the job.

Second: it has to be really good – not just the F1 graphics slapped on a basic racing engine, which it was the Sony games felt like. It should be more like Gran Turismo in terms of driving feel – distinctly arcade but with more realistic leanings than, say, Colin McRae.

Third – and most importantly – it has to arrive soon. So Ecclestone, stop quibbling over the pennies and get the franchise sold. F1 is at a point of transition with many of the fans drawn to the sport by Michael Schumacher leaving – in their place will come newer, younger fans following drivers like Lewis Hamilton and Robert Kubica. F1 has to capitalise on that.

In the meantime I’m sticking with the rFactor 1979 F1 season. Bliss.

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36 comments on Still no sign of a new F1 video game

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  1. AndyWolves said on 15th April 2008, 23:35

    I don’t think there has been a decent F1 game since the great Geoff Crammond did the Grand Prix series of games (of which I duly bought all of them over the years). The problem with most console F1 games, is that they are simply too ‘arcadie’. Most F1 fans are intelligent folk who not only like the racing, but all the technical jiggery pokery too. I remember spending blooming ages changing ride heights, downforce, brake balance, fuel levels etc etc…  Come to think of it, I might nip into the loft and dig out GP4 and load it up.

  2. Dan M said on 15th April 2008, 23:42

    Buy a racing wheel for your computer and get Rfactor, there are great mods with all the difficulty you could ask for.

  3. TommyBellingham said on 16th April 2008, 0:04

    Rfactor is all you need to be honest :)

  4. TommyBellingham said on 16th April 2008, 0:05

    Also the F1 series was rubbish apart from the original and 97 then it just got worse and worse. rFactor is the best racing game I have ever played, can’t get enough of it :)

  5. Gman said on 16th April 2008, 0:15

    I believe I just posted about this on another topic last week, but the greatest F1-themed game of all time, in my opinion, was Super Monaco GP for Sega Genesis. While none of the real team or driver names were used, all of those entities in the games were fashioned after real teams and drivers. The tracks were all modeled after the stops from the late 80′s/early 90′s, including Phoenix, Imola, Mexico City and many others. One thing that made it great for me was the lack of a learning curve- it was just easy and fun to drive. While I woulden’t start following the sport for many years, it built up a basic interest in me that was sparked in the most recent season. Along with Goldeneye for N64, it ranks as one of my favorite games of all time.

    I do agree that a new F1 game is needed ASAP, and that it should take on a Gran Turismo-level of realism. I don’t buy many new games, but developing a quality game is critical to building a fan base such as the one Keith describes here- i’m a perfect example of that demographic.

  6. Architrion said on 16th April 2008, 1:27

    You should try GTR2 too. There isn’t a real F1 mod, but the driving feeling of the standard package is good enough to want to play it for hours, IMHO. And the technical background as deep as you like. I also like the great rFactor, but it could be better Live for Speed…. I tried it and I found it challenging….

  7. MrPippy said on 16th April 2008, 1:32

    Clearly, Bernie isn’t thinking with his head here. A game is important, not just with hardcore fans but to bring others into the sport. It’s probably the best way to learn the tracks for beginners and rabid fans. Also, he needs to offer two licenses: an exclusive license for F1 on the PC, and another for all the consoles. Ideally, the PC one would go to one of SimBin/ImageSpace/Blimey. Image Space did EA’s F1 games until 2002, and their engines/games have only gotten better since.  Not making a PC game would be a big oversight–in Asia/Middle East/even Europe somewhat, PCs are more popular.As for the console side, I imagine it would be either Sony or maybe EA. Neither company would do a particularly good job, unless Kazunori Yamauchi (of Gran Turismo) got the job, as was rumored a few days back. I wouldn’t mind seeing Sony get it again–neither of the Nintendo platforms suit themselves for F1 (although having your family be a Wiimote-equipped pit crew sounds like fun!), and I just plain don’t like the 360. PS3 has the best wheel support also–the Logitechs (especially G25) are the best. If you need a new F1 video game for your PS3 this year–get Gran Turismo 5 prologue and work your way up to the F2007. It looks amazing.

  8. Daniel said on 16th April 2008, 1:45

    Well, I don’t play an F1 game since the now ‘classic’ GP2 from Microprose, that showed the 1994 season drivers, post-Senna and Ratzenberger deathes…

    Thinking about it, the most important thing is to make a versatile game, that pleases those who simply wanna see themselves in a famous cockpit around tracks that really resemble the real ones, and those who wanna play real-race distances, with pit stop strategies, Q3 fuel loads choices, aerodynamic changes and so on…

    The good and old GP2 had many levels, and you could run with brake aids, gear shifting aids, unbreakable cars, ideal line drawings on the track, and could turn them off at any time…

    As for Sony’s monopoly, its a real shame, and I have no words to add to your post…

  9. Michael Counsell said on 16th April 2008, 2:49

    The whole exclusive game idea doesn’t work for F1 games or racing simulations.  Competing companies developing games improves the games as otherwise they won’t sell.  If a company has no rival why double the budget and make a much better game when it will only improve sales by 10%.  And with no rivals there is no source of comparison and inspiration to improve the next game.

    Compared to most types of games F1 games became realistic very early on and any improvement has been incremental with no giant leaps apart from in terms of graphics.  The exclusivity set it backwards and games like F1 Challenge ’99-’02 and GP4 are still played online.  I’m not sure what more there is to get out of F1 games to make them stand out in the next-gen philosophy of games.

  10. cyanide said on 16th April 2008, 3:28

    Another huge fan of rFactor. The game’s worth every penny, and with an analog input, you can waste hours trying to get the perfect lap. It’s made by ISI, the same people who were behind the other great F1 sim – F1 Challenge 99-02. Only this time, they had full control over the game and decided to make it as moddable as possible.

    rfactorcentral.net/com is one of the sites I go to everyday, just to check out new mods.

  11. Sri said on 16th April 2008, 6:31

    To MrPippy.

    Completely agree with you on the fact that the license of the games need to be split into PC & Console… A PS3 game in India(am from India) costs a good Rs. 2k+(approximately 35 euros+). A lot of money. whereas, a good PC game could be bought of for about half or less than that.

    I know there are some mods available on the net and i have dabbled with them, as i will for now. Clearly that’s a sector(PC F1 game) that no one addressed but them. Sony for the benefit of their consoles(both PS2 & PS3), did not come out with a newer PC game. They feared erosion of market. Similarly if only one company were to get the license. They may or may not do us any good again.

  12. hey dude i dig the blog.

    re: f1 video games here’s the thing.  the ps3 game – f1 championship edition – made by a uk studio (studio liverpool i believe) is phenomenal.  trust me when i say this – if you’re an f1 fan and do video games then this game will become your obsession if you are prepared to climb the learning curve.  i completed 100% of gran turismo 4 (and 3 a-spec) way back when but those games don’t come close.  the difference is the gulf separating driving from racing.

    but anyway you’d think that i’d be sweating the next release.  for strange reasons i’m not – the game was released in 2006 (so it’s actually modeled on the 2005 season which featured 3 awesome teams and a bunch of good ones) such that it is sort of the best ‘year’ to play.  over and over again of course but the setup depth is deep enough to take years to completely shake down.

    so the reality strangely enough is that i’m content with studio liverpool’s next release .. next year.

  13. Gabriel said on 16th April 2008, 8:31

    Daniel, you’re absolutely right – GP2 was the pinnacle – it’s been pretty disappointing since then. Thinking about it, on a modern computer it could run very smoothly (I remember the graphics were quite memory intensive) – any idea where I could find a copy?

  14. gavd said on 16th April 2008, 8:55

    Why don’t we drop a few thousand emails in Bernie’s inbox saying ‘give us a game’?

    That shouldn’t be too hard in this day and age, and this wouldn’t be a bad place to start such a barrage up.

  15. Journeyer said on 16th April 2008, 8:57

    I think Bernie only wants 1 F1 game (made by 1 manufacturer) to come out to maximize HIS profit.  Issuing more than 1 license for an F1 game slightly weakens his negotiating position.

    What he’s done is use the negotiating model he uses with circuit models and slap it on Sony.  It used to work for the purposes of profit (although it does not now), but it never worked for the actual purposes of gaming.

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