Notification flashed out of the corner of my eye as I raced through the streets of Baku in a Formula One car, past the monuments and minarets of the oil-rich city, Azerbaijani flags and billboards whizzing by in artful blur.
“SCToken unlocked,” it read. I didn’t know what that meant. I downloaded F1 22– the latest in a longtime sports sim I’ve played sporadically for decades – without much delving into its new features, and I assumed this cryptic note had something to do with blockchain. No matter how fast you drive, I thought you can’t run away NFTs.
In fact, the message was my input to what the game developers called “F1”.® Life” is not NFTs, but good old unlockable items that can only be bought with in-game skill or fiat currency (convertible with disgusting inevitability into in-game “pitcoins”). It was annoying at first, but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense – the sport of Formula 1 has always been in the thrall of commercial interests, so it is only natural that the official game too.
For my efforts – mainly for driving very fast around the area – I was rewarded with a supercar token, which allowed me to unlock the car for my avatar’s virtual showroom. There are eight options to choose from: McLarens, Ferraris and Aston Martins in various shades of fit-inducing neon, the cars you hear speeding through central London on summer nights or see in YouTube videos shot with a GoPro mounted on a selfie stick , and held uncomfortably low. Types of cars that F1 stars can drive between sponsorship commitments.
The requirements of F1® Life are many and varied. The virtual garage gives birth to a virtual apartment – a minimalist box – and a virtual wardrobe. Everything must be decorated. Choose from upholstered furniture and abstract wall art, or create your own driver and dress them up in Beats headphones and branded loungewear. (Thousands of combinations exist, yet somehow each of them looks like an Instagram crypto influencer flying to Dubai, much like the Formula 1 aesthetic.) Officially licensed and branded items are a terrifying vision of what it really is. it will be like a metaverse.
Useless microtransactions and skins are nothing new, but they are usually sewn into the main game with a lot of effort. In addition to being able to drive your supercars on the track for a limited time during the season, the Pirelli Hot Laps Challenge! – There are several cases where your PitCoins will make a significant or even visual difference to your gameplay.
Fans of the series can blame this on developer Codemasters, who was recently acquired by EA, the undisputed king of cash. Reviews say it’s the only thing that casts a shadow over a solid racing game – a game that’s visually eye-catching, fun to play, and demonstrates the rare feat of being accessible to newcomers without alienating die-hard fans thanks to its wide range of customizable options. difficulty settings and help. You can turn everything on and gently guide you to victory as if you’re spinning around the block, or you can turn everything off and crash into Yuki Tsunoda’s back when you miss the braking point on turn one – and everything in between.
Perhaps “F1® Life” just improves the accuracy of the simulation. Formula 1 has often owed its popularity to both the circus around it and the sport itself. It was the human factor that made Formula One so exciting in the 1970s, with the rivalry between Niki Lauda and James Hunt (as shown in Hurry), and so boring during Sebastian Vettel’s four-year reign in the 2010s. That’s why the sport has seen a resurgence since the Netflix series. Drive to survivewhich brings this personal rivalry to the fore. F1® Life sort of reflects this, although perhaps not in the way the developers intended – instead of adding a sense of glamour, it turns into a game the empty consumerism that surrounds (and finances) sports.
In many ways, Formula 1 has been a harbinger of innovation not only in other sports, but in video games themselves. Tune in to watch a race (on an expensive pay-TV channel) and you’ll see that every surface is covered in advertisements for oil companies and gambling establishments, from cars to safety barriers to the drivers themselves. This tactic is now reflected not only in sports games, where you can chalk it up to realism, but also in other games: companies like BidStack systematize the sale of ads in the game world.
While gamers have often been horrified by add-ons that allow wealthy players to skip the chores, F1 fans will be familiar with the idea that there is an alternative route to the top for those with a big enough checkbook. Paid Drivers help fund some of the smaller F1 teams through their connections and sponsorship deals. Riders like Lance Stroll and Nicholas Latifi wouldn’t compete at the top level if their billionaire parents didn’t fund their careers – Stroll’s father spent £90m (about $106m, or 123bn pitcoins) on his son’s team . discs for.
Things began to change for the better under the new owners of Liberty Media, but for decades Formula One has been a master class in commercialization – how to squeeze the most out of the audience, regardless of how it can affect the final product. Former F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone, recently arrested on £400m fraud charges, had little doubt about who he was signing with. Under his leadership, the sport expanded into new territories, determined not by a desire to expand its fan base, but by the fact that despotic governments were willing to pay the highest racing fees.
So between visits to the virtual store, we visit Saudi Arabia, Azerbaijan, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain – all the tracks are recreated with love, right down to the half-empty counters. As the Saudi Arabian flag flew over the grid in my second race in Career Mode, I considered throwing some ridiculous virtual protest and pulling out. But then I thought about the pitcoins I’m missing and how empty my luxurious leather sofa would look without a matching set of virtual pillows.
F1 22 brilliantly captures the adrenaline rush of racing and the satisfaction of perfect lap times. With its unwelcome layer of microtransactions, it captures sport’s weak relationship with morality even better.
Credit: www.wired.com /