It’s time to say goodbye to the Project CARS series, as an upcoming sequel and the franchise have been quietly culled by EA.
According to GamesIndustry.biz, Electronic Arts has put an end to Project CARS development.
“Today we announced internally an update to our racing portfolio. Following an evaluation of the next Project CARS title and its longer-term growth potential, we have made the decision to stop further development and investment for the franchise,” said a spokesperson to GamesIndustry.biz.
“We are focusing on our strengths in our racing portfolio, particularly licensed IP and open-world experiences, and expanding our franchises to be more socially-led with long-term live services that will engage global communities.”
“We are working with everyone impacted by this decision to place them into suitable roles across our EA Sports and racing portfolio, as well as other parts of EA, wherever we can.”
An ignominious end to a potential sim racing dynasty
The mostly simulation-focused racing series was created by Slightly Mad Studios, with the first title launching in 2015 following a period of crowdfunding. It was perhaps best known for its dynamic weather and variety of car types.
This was then followed by a sequel two years later that featured rallycross and ice driving on an evolution of the proprietary Madness game engine. Both games were recently delisted from sale.
A tumultuous period followed as the London-based studio struggled with both Project CARS 3 and Fast & Furious Crossroads. The former eschewed the serious nature the fanbase had come to expect from the franchise, taking progression systems from Driveclub, downgrading the visuals and removing tyre wear and pitstops.
The latter was universally panned, with uninspired gameplay, ponderous online multiplayer and in the latter half, half-baked levels obviously designed to extend the experience in a cheap way. David Jaffe may be a fan, but I was certainly not.
However, it was during this period that Codemasters purchased Slightly Mad Studios. Then, in February last year, EA purchased Codemasters, and thus SMS and Project CARS. By October, its founder, Ian Bell, had departed.
A fourth mainline – excluding the Go mobile spin-off – Project CARS game was in development.
The legacy lives on
In March of this year, SMS founder and former CEO Ian Bell tweeted: “‘If PCars4 is awesome’ and ‘it was all me. If [it] isn’t. I left 6 months ago.’
This followed a post claiming that “[Project] CARS 4 will be the most realistic simulation ever made.”
Speaking of which, Bell recently announced that he’s leading a new sim racing title, GTR Revival, with a team ironically entitled Mildly Annoyed Games.
“Decided to make the follow-up to GTR 2 with the original team,” he posted.
Slightly Mad Studios originally spawned from the 2006 PC title GTR 2, where half the team worked under the Blimey! Games moniker, before making Need for Speed: Shift, Shift 2: Unleashed for EA and Test Drive: Ferrari Racing Legends for Atari. It was after these projects it went solo for the first Project CARS.
Its Madness game engine is still licenced to and used by Reiza Studios to create Automobilista 2 for PC.
While Project CARS 4 may be over, at least AMS 2 will continue the series’ technology in some form, and members of the original team will be working on GTR Revival.