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Posted: May 4, 2023 @ 09:40 am GMT-0600
Updated: Mar 12, 2024 @ 11:59 pm GMT-0600
Sorting Tags: F1 2021, News - All, News - Software,

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Before writing this I did reach out to my contact for EA to simply ask for a reason for the de-listing and did not receive a response, not that I expected one.

Back in March EA removed F1 2020 from stores. This followed the de-listing of every other F1 title except F1 2021 and F1 22. As of today, F1 2021 has been removed as well. I’ll say it, straight out, that as an archivist and individual who respects and reveres the history of gaming and sim racing, this is disgusting. I want people new to the hobby to be able to experience the history of sim racing, that’s why some of the older DOS-based sims can be played within a browser.

The de-listing occurred on the same day EA announced F1 23 and a continuation of the Braking Point storyline. A storyline you can apparently no longer experience as a new player because EA doesn’t want to sell it anymore. Unless they have included the applicable content and story in F1 23 as a first chapter, it’s gone.

The only way that this would make sense to me is if EA were planning to release an F1 game, without a yearly title, and put the individual yearly content in as downloadable season DLCs where you could perhaps play through an entire career (although Alonso and Hamilton still have us beaten considering their careers began before 2010). That’s what I’d be doing with the F1 license, and it’s not like EA are strangers to that (F1 Challenge 99-02). If that’s not the case, not the long term goal, I see absolutely no sense in this at all except to attempt distracting users from the fact that each year you’re selling the same product, something else EA aren’t strangers to.

F1 22, as the developers readily admit, wasn’t great. The game engine wasn’t capable of replicating the physics of the cars, and honestly they just weren’t fun to drive. They’re now, with the removal of the 2021 cars with F1 2021, the only option for someone getting into F1 and looking for a game. While Codemasters had themselves removed a couple of titles before EA ownership, that had come about via license expiry on historic cars or the titles becoming broken (they can be easily fixed by replacing a dll – but it may not have been legally OK for Codemasters themselves to apply that fix). Since EA took ownership, they’ve removed everything else…

De-list dates (bold during EA ownership):
F1 2010 – September 21, 2017
F1 2011 – May 5, 2021
F1 2012 – March 11, 2022

F1 2013 – December 31, 2016
F1 2014 – March 11, 2022
F1 2015 – March 11, 2022
F1 2016 – March 11, 2022
F1 2017 – March 11, 2022
F1 2018 – March 11, 2022
F1 2019 – April 18, 2022
F1 2020 – March 15, 2023
F1 2021 – May 3, 2023

F1 2021 also wasn’t on sale for a reduced price since March 28, 2022 when it saw a -75% offer, according to SteamDB. This means that anyone waiting for the next Steam sale – for an entire year – didn’t see one.

A lot of the time licensing does have a 3 or 5 year term, and I did wonder if that might be the case with F1, but the removal of F1 2021 basically seals it in my mind that this isn’t about licensing at all. F1 2021 didn’t have any historic cars and although the F1 Icons Pack did include some historic drivers F1 2021 was released on July 13, 2021 which means we’re just 22 months, less than two years, out from release. The F1 22 title is also the first in the renewed license announced back in 2019, which would mean F1 2021 should be under the same term limits as F1 2011, a title that was sold for almost 10 years. If licensing is the issue then I don’t understand why simply removing the DLC for new buyers isn’t a better option than removing the title as a whole.

I should note, perhaps, that if you own F1 2021 or you can find a Steam key then they will still work. This is about new players. New fans. New sim racers. Imagine having your first F1 sim experience be F1 22 right now?

Will this sour my appreciation for F1 23 knowing that it is potentially being sold as a yearly replaceable ‘experience’ rather than a sim racing platform? It’s hard to say. Even though the chances of me going back to F1 2021 were slim (F1 2020 was better), I hate that new fans can’t go back and experience V10s, beat Hamilton in his era of dominance or beat a rival to the championship in Abu Dhabi, 2021. Developers and publishers should really be thinking about whether or not they respect the history of the medium, and so should the companies licensing cars, tracks and racing series to them.

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