Porsche Returns to Simracing After 12 Years
Edit: It may have been more than 12 years. New sources report the exclusive deal between Porsche and EA took place in 2000.
Porsche is finally returning to simracing after spending 12 long years away from the genre. Kunos Simulazioni, the Italian developer behind Assetto Corsa, has announced it has come to an agreement with Porsche that will see cars like the 918 Spyder and 919 Hybrid added to the lineup offered in the game. If that doesn’t seem like a big deal to you, you might be surprised.
In the simracing world, many cars that would otherwise be totally inaccessible in real life can seem almost commonplace. Take, for instance, LaFerrari, the Mercedes AMG GT3, or the Shelby Cobra. The first is a $1.4 million car, the second isn’t street legal, and the third is a limited-edition sports car from the 60s—yet all three are available in Assetto Corsa and across various racing video games, joined by dozens of other outrageously expensive or equally rare automobiles.
Except for—you’ve guessed it—Porsche. Around 12 years ago, Porsche signed an exclusive deal with Electronic Arts that prevented any other developer from offering Porsche cars in their products; so while auto manufacturers like Ferrari and BMW have been bolstering their brand in racing video games, Porsche’s reach has been very limited, much to the chagrin of fans.
Of course, Porsches have appeared in video games during that time regardless of the deal—via illegal mods, clever workarounds, or in racing games produced by Electronic Arts.
Unfortunately, EA has never published a proper simulation racing title with realistic physics—its games are usually targeted at casual players who just want to pop in a three-lap race and win without applying any of the skills one might have to learn to race a real car.
But because simulation titles like Assetto Corsa go to extreme lengths to recreate cars in painstaking detail, from the suspension geometry to the drivetrain characteristics, they need to work with the auto manufacturers to obtain all of the necessary information—something they couldn’t do with Porsche because they weren’t allowed to display their cars in their games anyway.
Some developers began substituting the brand for RUF, the German manufacturer behind famous aftermarket Porsches like the Yellowbird and the Rt 12. However, no matter how good of a workaround that proved to be, simracers and Porsche fans still wanted the real thing.
Finally, they’re going to get it. After 12 long years, Porsche is returning to the simracing world. Some of the cars that will be introduced to Assetto Corsa will probably include the 911 Carrera S, the Cayman GT4, and the 718 Boxter S, if the reveal trailer shown below is anything to go by. Needless to say, the fan reaction has been overwhelmingly positive.
And sure, it’s even better to just buy one of the things and take it out on a track day. Unfortunately, most of us can’t afford that—until we can, simracing is the next best thing.
Kurt Verlin was born in France and lives in the United States. Throughout his life he was always told French was the language of romance, but it was English he fell in love with. He likes cats, music, cars, 30 Rock, Formula 1, and pretending to be a race car driver in simulators; but most of all, he just likes to write about it all. See more articles by Kurt.