Opinion: F1 2020 - You Paid To BETA Test This Game

Day one patches, it’s a concept in gaming that unfortunately has become the norm. Before a single second of the game you just purchased has been enjoyed, it is almost a guarantee that you will encounter a hefty sized download, before you get a chance to enjoy even a single second of your newly purchased game.

Patches in the connected world serve a fantastic purpose of adding new content, fixing bugs or even adding new hardware compatibility post release. As much as day one patches annoy, it has become a necessary evil in a world where we want things now!

Even the most diligent developer will let things through the cracks but based on personal experience, the rate of bugs, glitches and incompatibility appear to have grown in number since the days of offline consoles and physical only releases. It was of upmost importance, that games released back in those days, required a level of quality assurance and testing, that was near 100% certain, that everything in the game worked and every peripheral which was listed as supported, was in fact in perfect working order. Now however, developers along with their publishers, can fast track the release of a game, get the CD’s printed and in the background continue working on last minute fixes. You may have also heard this period of a games lifecycle referred to as “Crunch”.

F1 2020 My Team Screenshot

Obviously the main aim of games companies is to make a profit, so fast tracking a games release and utilising day one patches is inevitable but when making as many Benjamin’s as possible becomes priority number one, we begin to see companies rush releases, use underhanded tactics to save on quality assurance and begin taking their fans for a ride.

This is the scenario i feel is playing out right now with the F1 2020 early release. Playing a few days early was a perk for people who pre-ordered. Our first episode of The Simracing Podcast explored why we need to stop pre-ordering and hopefully the following will convince more of you that pre-ordering is just not worth it. Because if we want to see change, if we want to get value for money and if you want to stop being taken for granted as fans and consumers, we all need to show these companies that we deserve better.

Fill Out The Bug Report Form

As of 7th July 2020 those with pre-ordered copies of F1 2020 by Codemasters, where able to begin playing but there where a lot of hiccups which either halted play, ruined the experience and in some cases F1 2020 was unplayable. The game has now been patched 3 times within 24 hours and still issues remain, they include the following (Some may be fixed by the time you read this publication)

  • Supported wheels not working properly
  • DSQ because of not taking the mandatory compound change (Present in F1 2019)
  • Game hanging in menu’s while in My Team
  • ERS level issues when in Hotlap mode
  • Issues with wheel deadzones and input registering
  • Automatic gear change problems
  • Time trial leaderboards not loading on PS4
  • Rear-view mirror FOV glitches
  • Game crashing with Nvidia GPU
  • Audio glitches on all platforms
  • Gearbox reliability glitch (Present in F1 2019)
  • Ai grip bug (Since F1 2018)
  • Ai issues with cornering speeds, pit times, SC behavior etc…
  • Game fails to load with some AMD GPU’s
  • No HDR support with DX12
  • Balance issues with My Team practice programs
  • G29 not working (Fixed with v1.03)
  • Game logic issues with in game penalties under SC
  • Fuel load bug
  • Split screen multiplayer not working / freezing
  • Game crashes on Xbox after a session
  • FFB fading away during a race
  • Mechanical failures not being repaired (DRS)
  • Controllers not being recognized on PC
  • FPS issues on Xbox One S
  • Fanatec LED’s not functioning
  • Triple Screen issues
  • Pre-order pitcoins not being awarded
  • Pitpass being revoked
  • Fanatec Clubsport F1 eSorts rim unable to use some dials and buttons

This is not an exhaustive list and it is simplified, meaning you may be on a platform and you either are not experiencing any of these or the game has been updated to patch these issues out but the principal of the issue remains and that is by just observing this small group alone, we have identified a number of critical bugs and glitches which, should have been picked up in internal testing and certainly have not made the retail version.

Pre-Order & BETA Test The Game For Us

This bring us onto the most disappointing thought of all an opinion that will be unpopular with some and that is, the pre-order early release window exists only to BETA test the game in its final run up to the “Worldwide release date” which is July 10th or 4 days later. Why may they choose this method ? Well it could be possible to shrink the QA group, they are the employees tasked with the job of test, test and test. You could outsource parts of this job to the hardcore fans of the franchise, and secure money early through the pre-orders. You also make them pay a few bucks more for the opportunity. All Codemasters had to do was disguise it under the pretense that they give their biggest fans the privilege of playing the game before anyone else and just chuck a few meaningless in game coins their way too. Codemasters can also rely on this group of fans too, since they will most probably be playing this for the next 6 – 10 months quite consistently, Codemasters could fairly assume they will be diligent enough to seek out the Codemasters support forums and post a bug report. This proposal doesn’t suggest all QA testers are replaced but it sounds like a tatic the company could use to save on development costs.

That way Codemasters have four days to work hard and patch as many of the last minute bugs and glitches that escaped the internal testing teams and fix these before the “mainstream” audience gets their hands on it. Codemasters just saved a tonne of money by shrinking the testing team, they also probably made a few more dollars by enticing people with early play and Codemasters in a way got paid, by you, the player, to fix the glitches that by all means shouldn’t have made it’s way into the game in the first place. By pre-ordering you have paid to essentially become a BETA tester for F1 2020, While it sounds absurd,in my opinion it’s hard to justify the huge number of bugs which made it to print.

We Can Change This

I am not suggesting that games should be 100% bug and glitch free, that’s just an impossible request to make of anybody but going by the number of bugs and the sheer number of posts building in the F1 2020 support forums, it would appear that you are paying to be BETA testers. I can also not prove any of this either, so it is ultimately upto you to make the decision. How you make that decision needs to hurt the wallet of Codies and if this is the case, for future game releases by Codemasters and when pre-order early access is offered, you need to fight that urge and say no but if you think that this practice is acceptable and a growing list of bugs, glitches and game breaking crashes are not products of rushed development, that over reliance on live service updates to make the game better in time is acceptable and gouging the pockets of thousands of fans gets a pass mark, then by all means continue. I will not judge you or think less of you but I fear without change, things will only get worse. As Codemasters and all big game developers will continue to make profits for less and less effort.

The F1 games I do enjoy myself and I know a lot of you do too and while it’s nice to see additions like My Team and that damn rear-view mirror finally being added, I don’t want to see the F1 franchise just become an uninspired licensed F1 game that gets a new coat of paint every 12 months and not much else. With more and more MTX taking over too, it would seem it could turn into an exercise to just take more money from the same fans each and every year, a certain level of polish will obviously remain but if that’s all they have to do each year and we are happy with that, then this is where I fear things could go. That’s why not pre-ordering will have an impact, but it has to be from everyone.