rFactor 3 was cancelled in favour of Le Mans Ultimate

Thomas Harrison-Lord
Before Stephen Hood returned to Motorsport Games in 2023, rFactor 3 was on the cards. Here’s how he made the call to focus on Le Mans Ultimate instead, and why a true sequel could still be something that happens further down the line.
rFactor 3 was cancelled in favour of Le Mans Ultimate

Le Mans Ultimate is currently Studio 397 and parent company Motorsport Games’ tentpole sim racing title – but, it could have been very different.

The official game of the FIA World Endurance Championship and classic French endurance race takes the underpinnings from the venerable rFactor 2 and is topped by licenced content as a garnish.

That is denigrating the effort somewhat. It is a bit more than that, with the development team updating, revising and eventually replacing pivotal elements during an early access phase. In a few days from now, fresh netcode is set for implementation, which, according to its creators, should help form a basis for more “robust” multiplayer performance.

As each subsequent update launches across the rest of the year, in theory, it should become less of a derivation and something more distinctive. Something, one may suggest, that is hypothetically what a ‘rFactor 3’ could have been, but within a WEC straitjacket.

Turns out, a direct sequel to the lionised denarian was a legitimate option instead of Le Mans Ultimate.

Cadillac Le Mans Ultimate rFactor 3
The decision was to create rFactor 3 or Le Mans Ultimate – the latter was ultimately chosen.

Motorsport Games CEO Stephen Hood has confirmed to Traxion the existence of the plan to directly replace the rFactor 2 sandbox, and why he decided to focus on Le Mans Ultimate instead. This followed a scaling down of the Miami-headquartered company’s visions upon his return to the company in April 2023.

“Very early on [after my return], it was rFactor 3 or a Le Mans project,” explained Hood.

“I thought we had to scale back in order to focus, even though we were very excited about doing all those things.

“We have to say no to some things in order to provide for LMU, and it’s very difficult to say no. In business, everybody always wants to say ‘yes’, because [otherwise] it seems like you’re turning down an opportunity. But delivering one thing is really important, and if Motorsport Games need to do one thing, it’s deliver a reasonable game.”

While LMU still has a gestation period ahead of it, with no public target for a ‘version 1.0’ release, once it has been firmly established, rFactor 3 could be back on the table.

BTCC BMW rFactor 2
rFactor is set to receive new BTCC content later this year

When asked if the improvements being implemented for the early access endurance title could be retrofitted back into rFactor 2, Hood was clear he’d rather they look forward instead:

“I don’t think they will, it would be very difficult to do that without breaking the product.

“There is a desire internally within the studio to produce rFactor 3, which would tidy up what our rFactor 2 was.

“I think it’s much more likely that we would head in that direction, using the underpinnings of Le Mans Ultimate to make a much more fitting product for the future of sim racing under the brand ‘rFactor 3’ than it is trying to inject things back into a legacy product like rFactor 2.

“We’re exploring many different opportunities as to what the future of the company is. The team that we have got is very talented. We would like to bring more people into that group, to expand our operation, to really drive home the advantage that we have with LMU – we’re very passionate about it – and then deliver on other things like an rFactor 3 in the future.

“That would be amazing in my mind. We’re curtailing those opportunities right now to just focus on LMU.”

This is very much ‘new era’ Motorsport Games – or ‘Season 2’ in Hood parlance – trying to not bite off more than it can chew, before rebuilding.

The Vanwall hypercar in rFactyor 2, not rFactor 3
The Vanwall hypercar in rFactor 2, not rFactor 3

But first, something different…

When the time comes, however, something different may be on the cards to sit alongside the serious simulation racing titles. Shrouded in mystery, the pragmatic leader provided some clues as to possible directions.

“I actually see the next opportunity being using our amazing physics engine, from the likes of rF2 and LMU in a driving experience, which we’ve already started looking at, and having LMU as the racing experience alongside that driving experience,” teases Hood.

“I’m very excited about that, and I bore people to tears internally about it, but we must first get things in place for LMU and have that process working cleanly.”

The first of several anticipated updates arrives for Le Mans Ultimate 10th June, before the first paid-for DLC follows in July. Traxion will publish a full interview with Hood soon, acting as a pilot episode of an upcoming podcast run.

Previous Post
Golden Lap team-mate rivalry

Golden Lap hands-on: A beguiling ’70s managerial throwback

Next Post
Dormant KartKraft could be sold

Dormant KartKraft could be sold

Related Posts