An open letter to Codemasters:
I've been a long time supporter of Codies Racing to the extent that I don't think there's a single Codemasters game I don't own. Some have been a little disappointing, but overall it's an extremely strong library.
As an F1 fanatic, I've sunk many, many hours into your F1 franchise - playing with as realistic settings as I can (occasionally using mods to boost this) and a G27 wheel and pedals. Aside from unbelievably bad sync errors in coop multiplayer, these games are wonderful experiences and I'd like to thank the team for the hard work you've put into the series.
With all that said, I hope I convey my genuine regret in saying that with a Steam Library of 300+ games and probably a further 100 physical copies of games, F1 2015 is the first game I have ever gotten a refund for. To me, it represents a core misunderstanding of the fan base you've built for the series and with most features stripped out rather than be improved upon, it's a disturbing sign for the direction the series is taking.
The absolute basic staple of the series - the career mode - is missing. This is a fundamental mistake from a game trying to bridge the sim genre with accessibility. A huge part of the appeal of these kinds of games is the escapism and the fantasy of putting yourself in the car, the cockpit or the... farm equipment, I guess? I don't quite get that side of it, but still, the point stands. Sure, it really just comes down to a helmet selection and seeing your name in the championship standings, but those things are massively important to the genre. I'm flabberghasted that you would think they weren't. Nobody wants to be Lewis Hamilton (although with rumours of him dating Rihanna, I may change my stance on this), they want to race themselves alongside him!
And I get it - I understand that the fans have been asking for podium celebrations for years and more pre-race buildup. That stuff is great, but it doesn't have to come at the expense of the already established career options. Need an un-helmeted player model for the podium? Add a basic character creator; it's not that difficult. Genuinely, I can give you the name of a pure nice guy up in Dundee who just made a great one in a couple of weeks for a furniture store. Just replace cushions with nose shape and fabric with hair colour and it's basically the same thing.
Also that then opens up the opportunity to have female player characters. Imagine the positive press when screenshots start appearing of female drivers on an F1 Podium! That is some golden PR for you right there and who knows - it might even instigate further discussion of the gender disparity in motorsport as a whole. The stunning Susie Wolff is lightning quick on the track, but still isn't taken seriously in F1. You could be part of getting her a drive!
That still leaves your Sky commentary, I'll grant you, but you've gotten around the audio issue with a common names list and a list of nicknames before. Why couldn't that work now?
The safety car issue is just puzzling. You have all the resources and the knowledge of how to make it work. A literal carbon copy of F1 2014's safety car would be a better option than stripping it out altogether. It's not a minor aspect of the sport; having all the cars bunched up for a ten lap sprint to the finish is one of the most exciting outcomes a race can have.
Then there's a lack of customisation options when it comes to race weekends. Why are we no longer able to compete in a full three-stage qualie unless we have a 100% race distance? Have your default setting, sure, but why can't the player override it? My favourite weekend setup in 2014 was practice, full qualie and 25% race distance and I see no reason why I shouldn't be able to have that in 2015.
Lastly, I mentioned modding earlier. I understand that with the complex licensing issues of the sport you've presumably been asked to prevent modding to an extent (I know I'm not the only one who immediately re-added the Martini stripe to Williams and the Smirnoff logos to SFI upon F1 2014's release). That, or a suit upstairs has decided that a yearly franchise is at risk of dwindling sales if, for example, the 2015 season could be modded into F1 2014.
This is, of course, utterly daft. Fans will come back every time you release a new game if you support what they want and keep refining the games and polishing features. Locking out modders and removing features that cause slight difficulty in development is what will kill your sales and ultimately a great series of games. I implore you not to let that happen.
My advice would be to open up more about the things that matter. Take Valve as an example - they're one of the most secretive companies in the world when it comes to their games in development, but when it comes to their releases they're completely transparent. If they fuck up, they admit it, apologise sincerely and do what they can to appease the fans. This is massively important and is why they're still completely trusted, despite seemingly forgetting to actually make games once in a while.
Let people know what you're actually doing about F1 2015. Address the missing features rather than just vaguely mentioning that people might be having issues. Explain why things were cut and whether they'll return in a content update or future game. Don't just leave us in the dark.
"Since the launch of 2015, we have become aware that some people are currently experiencing issues while playing the game"?
Come aaaahhhhnnnnn. You can do better than that. Be less corporate. Be more racing fans. Be more games fans.
Sent with admiration and support and hope for the future of the franchise baked in a crusty shell of abject disappointment,
Purchased: Apr 24, 2015 BST
Total refund: £34.97 to your Visa
£1.02 to your Steam Wallet