Fans of the Formula 1 series have been fiercely loyal and passionate about the games for more than a decade. In the previous games, only the front wing could be damaged during gameplay. Therefore, there was a huge buzz around F1 2021 when the new damage overhaul was announced.
It's time to start your F1® story – F1® 2021 is OFFICIALLY HERE!
Pick up your helmet, put on your driving gloves and celebrate with #F12021game’s launch trailer
— Formula 1® Game (@Formula1game) July 16, 2021
For the first time ever, the game simulated realistic damage to cars. Every external part of the car could now be damaged. The rear wing, sidepods, wheels and more can now sustain race-defining damage. This damage was reflected beautifully in the visuals – dents, missing pieces, and cracks provided next-level realism that added so much to an already fantastic game.
F1 2021 is so awesome so far, the new mechanical failures/damage features are amazing and heartbreaking 😂 great job @Formula1game
— Kyle (@KyleGasly) July 13, 2021
However, all the new visual damage features have now been removed. There has been no official statement from Code Masters and EA Sports as to why this has happened. At launch the new damage visuals were stunning and a lot has been invested in this brilliant new feature. Then suddenly it was all removed without any warning.
Why was visual damage removed?
The visual damage was removed due to complaints from the sponsors of the game and the F1 teams. Sponsorship has always been a massive part of Formula 1. Company logos are all over F1 2021, on the cars, driver race suits, and the tracks themselves. Normally this would be out of place in a video game, but it fits perfectly due to the setting.
Why on Earth have you changed the damage model for the worse? The damage model Aarav, Ben Daly and others showed us in their 1st F1 2021 game videos was great. Why change back for worse?
— Paulo Monteiro (@YNWA_Seb_Vettel) July 31, 2021
However, these companies are not happy with their logos being damaged in-game. This once again highlights the significant disconnect between corporate giants and gaming fans. The opinions of gamers about specific brands aren’t going to change if there is visual damage to the logo. To add to this, damage to the logos happens all the time in the real Formula 1 races, therefore this change makes no sense. Fans had been promised this great new feature, which the game developers delivered in brilliant fashion and then took it away within weeks of launch.
EA Sports influence rears its ugly head
Code Masters have done a brilliant job recently of establishing relationships with the F1 teams and their drivers. This relationship has resulted in more realistic and improved gameplay. However, EA Sports has recently acquired Code Masters in a significant buyout. EA stated that Code Masters will be able to operate independently but this removal of visual damage wreaks of EA’s corporate influence.
— IGN (@IGN) February 18, 2021
EA Sports have always had a reputation of putting money above all else. There have been countless incidents in their sports games, particularly in FIFA Ultimate Team. Once again, this move seems to be putting the money flow and corporate happiness above the fans. Let’s just hope this isn’t the start of a downward spiral for the F1 video game series.