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06 Mar 2020

RealOpinions: F1 games need to release before the season starts

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Helping halt the off-season lull

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The problems

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A resolution?

Formula One action has returned to our screens for pre-season testing ahead of the start of the 2020 campaign.

The Australian Grand Prix is the first round of this year's championship and takes place on 15th March, all being well.

The official F1 game isn't out until the summer though, by which point the season will be nine or ten races in.

Sports games such as EA's FIFA usually release just a few weeks after most leagues' opening games. Almost as soon as the summer transfer window slams shut, the game is on shelves. US sports games are usually out before the season even starts.

Why can't F1 replicate this? And should they?

Helping halt the off-season lull

f1 2019 mercedes

EARLY RELEASE: An earlier release could help Codemasters' sales

Every sports league has this issue. The athletes need a break, there's no way around it. For F1, the winter months of December through to February are almost always without a GP. Fans clamour for any F1 news that does the rounds and interest in the official F1 game generally wanes.

We've previously explored how F1 2019 can engage players in the off-season, but should 2019 be the most recent release at this point in the year?

In short, the sales of the games would definitely increase if they were released earlier. Feeding off the hype of the new season like FIFA and others would only benefit Codemasters financially.

Realistically, there's always going to be a long winter lull for the sport and the game but Codies should have the capabilities to release the F1 game shortly after the first GP in March or April.

It can't be earlier as the performance of the cars is unknown, and the liveries available until mid-February.

There are a few good reasons why we have not seen an F1 release this early though.

The problems

F1 games offer wheel-to-wheel action

RISKY: Releasing that early in the year could cause issues for the game

Releasing before the season isn't a perfect idea, there's a huge elephant lurking in the corner of the room with respect to this.

Unlike football clubs, Formula One cars are fundamentally different year-on-year, you can't even attempt to guess their design, especially when going through a major regulation change.

If Codemaster's could pull it off, it would be huge feather in their cap. However, while timing is key, taking enough time is paramount.

F1 2019 was the earliest release and it was a huge success, but 2015 was also an earlier release and was a disaster partly because it was rushed.

Games regularly get delayed. Just look at how impressive Red Dead Redemption 2 is despite being delayed for a year. The same thing has occurred with The Last of Us 2 and Cyberpunk 2077 as well, I don't doubt that these decisions were made without good reasons.

A resolution?

There can be a happy middle ground. Codies could release the game to coincide with an early round such as Bahrain or China with car models that will have been present during testing.

Is two months enough time? It's hard to say for an outsider but I'd wager that it is. It isn't perfect, but you'd be hard-pressed to find an F1 gamer that would say no to a release earlier in the season.

Plus, the cars and new tracks can be updated using patches, much likes Codemasters do anyway.

If the developer could find a way to not significantly compromise the game in the process then they'd be on to a winner. However, this won't be easy thanks to the level of detail required for a finished game. If anybody can do it, it's Codies.