Back in 2017, an exciting new project was announced. A fresh driving game, it used Unreal Engine technology to deliver what was touted as a “realistic racing experience” for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
Several stills were released, including well-known BMW, Bentley and Audi GT3 race cars, plus Spa-Francorchamps and Nürburgring Grand Prix circuits.
Adding to the excitement was the development team – SimBin – and its name, GTR3.
Except, it wasn’t the SimBin universally loved for its creation of Race 07 and the associated expansions (not forgetting the often overlooked Xbox 360 exclusive, Race Pro) but rather a brand new studio. SimBin Studios UK hung onto the coattails of its illustrious namesake, but the reality was the main team behind the garlanded GTR 2 had split into Sector3 Studios, continuing to develop RaceRoom Racing Experience, and Slightly Mad Studios, then working on Project CARS.
No matter, anticipation reached fever pitch. The GTR brand name was associated with three of the finest simulation racing platforms ever created – GTR (2005), GT Legends (2005) and finally, the sequel in 2006.
Now, in 2023, following the closure of social media channels in 2021, the project is officially dead.
26 months ago, the formal statement from the GTR3 team at least sounded hopeful for a continuation of development following what sounded like some bumps in the road:
“Work on the project will continue behind the scenes,” read the Discord post.
“But from now on, there will be no more empty promises. No more optimistic statements. We know we’ve let you all down: not just once, but on more than one occasion over the years.
“The solid talent in Simbin Studios UK will be backed up by additional resources and a fresh plan. When we re-emerge from this self-imposed exile, it will only be with real, hard facts.”
Sadly, that never happened.
When Jean-François Chardon, Head of Studio at KW Studios for RaceRoom and a SimBin veteran of over 14 years, was asked on the Traxion.GG podcast if GTR3 production has ceased, his answer was straight to the point:
In fact, J-F and Sector3 worked on the initial stages of what was set to be a return to form for the storied brand.
“In 2015, we made the [GTR3] prototype using Unreal Engine and that prototype was taken away,” said Chardon to Traxion.GG.
It was sent to Liverpool and the nascent SimBin UK, a company spun off from Sector3 but with a newly built team. From there, the RaceRoom team had expected to receive the Unreal technology back once GTR3 was complete to upgrade its PC-only simulation.
“At Sector3, we were only tasked with RaceRoom,” explained Chardon about the timeframe in-between handing over the initial prototype and now.
“We were and still are a skeleton crew, and maintaining RaceRoom was enough to keep us busy. So we couldn’t really continue growing or improving on the engine [ourselves].”
The folding of the GTR3 project, however, left RaceRoom somewhat in the lurch, with graphics rooted in a decade ago.
However, while that was a setback, the Sector3 team is now under a new branding, that of KW Studios. The automotive suspension manufacturer has been involved as an investor since 2009, but now the change of name is a way of publicly showcasing the partnership. It also has big plans to reinvigorate its beloved RaceRoom.
“Now we are pretty much [back] at the same step we were at in 2015, “ said J-F.
“Except now we have the freedom of expanding our own team.”
With that budget and freedom comes a recruitment drive for developers and a plan to restructure the platform’s back-end, implement a new user interface, adding splits and daily races to the online and investigate new graphics engines. RaceRoom is about to make a comeback.
The full details are in the latest episode of the Traxion.GG Podcast, which you can now watch on YouTube or listen to on Spotify and Apple.