Oh, Ian Bell – the former CEO of racing game developer Slightly Mad Studios has taken to Twitter, expelling the virtues of the mythical Project CARS 4.
In today’s (29th March 2022) now-deleted post, he first proclaimed ‘Come at me Will. I need some coverage. x’ in a Tweet seemingly aimed at Will Smith, who appeared to hit Chris Rock at the 94th Academy Awards.
Yup. We took the bait. Fair cop.
He then immediately posted about how ‘if PCars4 is awesome’ and ‘it was all me’, followed by ‘if [it] isn’t. I left 6 months ago.’
We hope the former is true. While 2020’s Project CARS 3 certainly had its fans, switching to a Driveclub-aping arcade racer following the simulator theme of the first two games frustrated community members.
Fingers crossed, then, that Project CARS 4 (PCARS4) does materialise soon and it returns to the series’ roots.
Now under the Electronic Arts umbrella, the American publisher has the accessible racer genre box ticked earlier this year with the release of GRID Legends, the mid-tier with Formula 1 and the upcoming WRC, leaving space for an out-and-out simulator to take on the likes of Assetto Corsa.
Today’s posts don’t exactly inspire much confidence. Yes, it’s great that the game exists, but at the same time, this distances Bell from the title changing tack after his departure.
For context, Bell was the former CEO of Blimey! Games, a London-based development studio responsible for the creation of the PC-racer GTR-FIA GT Racing Game and development work on the acclaimed GTR 2 and GT Legends.
From there, the company split, with Bell forming Slightly Mad Studios, who then made Need for Speed: Shift, Shift 2: Unleashed, the arguably underrated Test Drive: Ferrari Racing Legends and two Project CARS games. No one mention the Mad Box, yeh.
Slightly Mad Studios was then sold to British racing game developers Codemasters in November 2019, while Fast & Furious Crossroads and Project CARS 3 were in development.
“Our combined racing games portfolio is the envy of the industry and this new partnership will enable us to learn from each other, share resources and take advantage of emerging platforms and technology,” said Bell at the time.
As luck would have it, Electronic Arts then purchased Codemasters in February 2021 for an astounding $1.2 billion, including Slightly Mad Studios. This then led to the departure of Bell from the company in October 2021, and according to the erstwhile studio head, he’s under a non-compete at present, preventing him from creating video games.
At the time of his departure, he claimed that the studio’s future was ‘now assured’, despite the shuttering of mobile spin-off Project CARS GO, suggesting that the next Slightly Mad Studios title was to be completed under EA’s stewardship, as opposed to being canned.
The next racing game from EA and Codemasters we expect to hear about is the inevitable – but as yet unconfirmed – F1 2022, but after that, a Project CARS 4 update wouldn’t go amiss.