The 2023 season is over at long last and all eyes are moving to next year, for F1 fans and F1 gamers. F1 24 is looking like a make or break game for EA Sports & Codemasters as next year's official Formula 1 game will be the most important in over a decade.
The 2024 race calendar has already been decided and the grid is all most set. With 19 of the 20 drivers confirmed for '24 at the time of writing and no new circuits hitting the championship.
We already know a lot about the real-life 2024 F1 season, but we know almost nothing about the video game that will accompany the campaign. This is why next year's game is so crucial for EA and Codies to get right!
In search of fresh air
The game wasn't bad by any means, but there has been a noticeable drop-off in quality since EA acquired Codemasters back in 2021. F1 2021 was fantastic, but F1 22 wasn't as good and F1 23 has continued the downward trend.
So, EA needs to turn around the game's negative slide, but there are other reasons why 2024 is a make or break for the Formula 1 game. For a start, there is nothing new in terms of tracks and drivers for 2024.
The only change to the calendar for '24 is the return of the Chinese Grand Prix, but that circuit is already in F1 23. Every driver for 2024 is confirmed except for Logan Sargeant at Williams and he's likely to re-sign with the Grove outfit.
Not only that, but none of the current drivers have changed teams, either. Aside from a potential name change for AlphaTauri, it will be a copy-paste job in this respect.
What can Codies do?
If the content of the real-life season is unchanged, EA and Codemasters will need to impress F1 gamers in another way. As refreshing as F1 World has been in some respects, it's not for everybody and that alone won't be enough.
Braking Point is unlikely to return after featuring in F1 23 as well. That mode is on a two-year cycle, so F1 24 will almost certainly be without a story mode.
So, the most logical thing for Codies to focus on is the game's My Team and Career Modes. These are the core single-player modes of the game and have been the franchise's cornerstone for over a decade.
However, F1 23 saw minimal changes to My Team & Career Mode compared to F1 22, which disappointed many fans. In truth, though, the core of My Team has by and large remained the same since it was introduced in 2020.
Codies don't need to make sweeping changes to please fans, either. Simple changes such as making your own power unit would revolutionise the gameplay and keep the mode feeling fresh.
Other changes such as re-introducing classic cars and drivers would also bring a lot of old school fans back to the F1 game. Classic circuits too, would be extremely popular, and it's even possible to add a whole classic season as MotoGP 22 proved last year.
If Milestone, a relatively small developer, can manage this, EA and Codemasters, two companies with huge resources available to them, have no excuses.
And then there's the bugs...
No matter how well made, all games will have bugs and glitches somewhere. It's just the way modern gaming is. F1 23 has by far the most bugs of any F1 game in the modern era.
Even the fixes for the game aren't always working, as players like Twitter user @F7R_Jeroen found out when he did his best Mark Webber impression in Las Vegas.
It's a very bad sign that the F1 game hasn't changed much over the past few years and there are more bugs than ever before. You'd think that this would be the one benefit to having development being relatively static, but that's not been the case.
The F1 game's slippery slope
Sports games on the whole used to be great, but times have changed hugely when it comes to that. There's no getting away from it: the likes of FIFA/ EA Sports FC, Madden, and NBA have all fallen to rock bottom in recent years.
Some series such as the WWE franchise have had to take a break from annual releases to re-work the game. So what happened?
There are many reasons behind the decline of sports games, but one of the biggest is the emphasis on in-game microtransactions rather than working on the gameplay which made these series a success in the first place.
Focusing on short-term profit will catch up with developers eventually, though. Some feared that the introduction of Podium Pass and F1 World into the F1 game signalled the beginning of this transition.
If done right, though, Podium Pass and F1 World could be the future of the series in a good sense, as they add additional content and keep the game fresh for the whole 12 months until the next game is launched.
If this becomes Formula 1 Ultimate Team or a pay-to-win system, this will be the death of the franchise. The F1 game is the exception to the rule right now, being the sole survivor of the pay-to-win epidemic and let's hope that continues to be the case.
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