Is rFactor 2 a ghost town?

16 Apr 2014

Is rFactor 2 and its multiplayer feature alive?

In this video GamerMuscle asked himself a question that is often mentioned on small forum threads, but for some reason never gets discussed in public. “Is rFactor 2 Multiplayer alive, or is it close to non-existent? Back in March 2009 when respected software developer Image Space Incorporated announced they would start work on rFactor 2, it generated a big buzz in the sim racing scene. After the huge success of the original rFactor in both the league and modding scenes, it sounded as if this would become the next big thing. Many out there where all ready dreaming of a next-gen Gmotor engine that would bring the rFactor platform the security of living on for many years to come.

Now after  4 years the mighty rFactor 2 seems to have fallen. While there is without a doubt a hardcore fan base, nothing much seems to happen within the rFactor 2 world. It is clear that the rFactor 2 engine is not a new next-gen development system, but a reworked version of the old trusty Gmotor2 running on DX9. This does not necessarily have to be a bad thing. ISI proved that the old engine still has some life in it. With features such as RealRoad, Night and Day cycles and changing weather features, this engine has a lot of potential of being close to perfect for a hardcore simulation screen.

So where did it go wrong? (ed: Many out there will now jump up out of there chairs and say nothing went wrong, and this is the best thing ever). Now back to reality. When we look arround in the Sim Scene, it is apparent that the huge former rFactor user base is no more. Since the product is still in development, you would expect that a lot of people would wait for the product to go gold before having a go, but still. Even today, now the title is more than playable, community interest seems very low to say the least. First of all the platform received a lot of criticism for its looks. While developing the RF2 platform, competing companies have raised the bar on what to expect from a game/sim in the visual sense. With projects like RaceRoom Racing experience, iRacing, Assetto Corsa and Project CARS it has become clear that while hardcore sim racers often shout that it’s all about physics, the reality of it is that graphics, sounds and accessibility are the keys to success. ( note that this is not an opinion, but sales and community numbers seem to prove it ). Reiza Studios who are using the old Gmotor2 engine that is basically rFactor, proved that the old engine is capable of doing some amazing stuff. The looks and feel are spot on. Game Stock Car proved to be very popular in the community both offline and online. So what is going wrong with rF2?

Asking arround within the Sim Racing world, there seem to be a few factors that keep people from embracing rFactor 2. First of all there is the user interface. The installation and updating system is to much of a hassle for the occasional user who wants to jump in now and then for a quick race. the word ” fiddling” came up many times. some even mentioned that by the time they have everything running, they lost interest in doing a race. Also graphics and performance seem to be a much criticized part of the project. While all of this is relative, and depend on user preferences, the majority seems to prefer the competing platforms out there.

Then there is the public Multiplayer function. While this is the most anticipated feature in other Sim products that did not yet support multiplayer, rFactor already has this feature. Then there is reality… On any given moment, there are an average of 15 people online. many times divided on multiple servers. rFactor 2 multiplayer is indeed a ghost town it seems. This is a very worrying sign, because the rF2 multiplayer option is what made its predecessor so popular. As we all know, it’s very hard to get people in an empty cafe. we all tend to go where the people are.

Then there is the modding scene. While the original rFactor was the mother of all modding platforms, rFactor 2 has been abandoned by many modding teams out there for a number of reasons. We will not go into this right now, because it would be an endless discussion. Modding the WIP of rFactor 2 is not very rewarding at the moment. The small user base, combined with the immense amount of work has gotten many mod teams out there unmotivated, while a small part of the established names even decided to stop modding all together. With the massive amount of content produced by the competing platforms, it raises the question if there still is a mass scale interest in mods. The majority of modding teams out there have put their projects on hold and announced to come out of hibernation when Kunos Simulazioni releases its modding tools. The reason for this is obvious. All the mentioned factors above!  Modding teams want a modern platform. Also a solid future for a platform they put time and effort in will help, and most importantly… A user base. What is the point of putting 2 years in a mod when there is hardly anyone interested? I have read many of these statements over the last few months and in my personal opinion, it is clear that the modding scene will steer away from rFactor 2 as more and more teams will shift platforms.

Three years ago I would have never believed that one day i would write down these words. In my humble opinion, rFactor 2 is losing the war. A real shame because as many out there i have always been a huge fan of this little underdog. Trough the years they proved that a small company can make a difference when it comes to building a loyal community. I can’t start to state how much i would want this platform to succeed.

What do you think?

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