F1 Manager 2023 has had a challenging start. What was meant to be a great sequel to F1 Manager 2022 has instead received a lukewarm reception, costing both the series and its developer greatly. But what is F1 Manager 2023 missing that could propel it to success?
As it turns out, F1 Manager 2023’s biggest strength is also what’s preventing it from being greater.
Stalling on the grid
F1 Manager 2023 was meant to build on the solid foundations set by its predecessor from last year. Instead, it has proved underwhelming to fans. The game has underperformed in sales, forcing developer Frontier to reduce their staff numbers as a result.
Considering how popular Formula 1 is around the world, F1 Manager 2023’s struggles come as a surprise. With Codemasters’ F1 series going from strength to strength, especially with the success of F1 23 this year, it was expected that F1 fans would swarm to play an F1 management game like F1 Manager 2023. As it turns out, that hasn’t been the case.
So why has F1 Manager 2023 failed to see the same success?
The perfect game?
F1 Manager 2022 was the first fully licensed F1 management game in over 20 years. Fans were incredibly excited to step into the shoes of the team principal of an F1 team and hire their favourite drivers. Every car, driver, team principal and key staff member was included in the game, including photos and even driver face scans.
Not only that, each track on the Formula 1 calendar was recreated within the game, including media broadcast camera angles along with onboard cameras on each car. All of this was brought through into F1 Manager 2023, with the new visor camera also reflecting the popular new feature in real-life broadcasts.
F1 Manager 2023 includes in-depth car and driver development, pit crew training, immersive team HQ improvements, and even aspects like the relatively new cost cap regulations. Everything about the game is as realistic as possible, which points towards the F1 Manager series being perfect for F1 fans, yet it seemingly hasn’t been.
We’ve asked the F1 Manager community why this is. As it turns out, it’s mostly down to one thing.
Restricted by licenses
By far the most requested feature in the F1 Manager series is the ability for players to create their own teams. F1 Manager 2023 has already brought in the team-switching feature, but players want to do an Andretti by starting their own team. Some players even want to customise existing teams, creating new liveries for each season and signing sponsorship deals to generate more funds for the team.
This all sounds great, but it’s sadly not possible due to the licenses. F1 teams are very protective of their image, meaning no changes can be made to their logos or cars in any game.
Title sponsors also wouldn’t take too kindly to being replaced on cars, which could hamper or even prohibit sponsor licensing. This would result in cars no longer representing their real-life counterparts if sponsors aren’t included. Therefore there’s little to no chance of the F1 Manager series getting customisation options.
Even if a new custom team game mode was added to the game, there wouldn’t be much for players to do beyond changing the colour of the car and engine supplier every season. At that point, it wouldn’t offer much more than F1 23’s My Team. Even with fictional sponsors for custom teams, it would still leave the rest of the grid looking the same every single season.
This static nature of the game is also a major factor holding back the F1 Manager series.
Silly season is one of the most exciting parts of an F1 season. For those unfamiliar, silly season takes place roughly halfway through the year and is when rumours of drivers changing teams reach their climax. Teams have often returned from the summer break with new drivers already confirmed for the following year, or even new drivers already in the car if you’re Red Bull.
F1 Manager just doesn’t have this. The driver lineups remain largely consistent, with changes only really taking place due to either you signing a driver or a driver retiring. Even then, if you sign a driver from another team, the chances are your previous driver will just swap places with them.
There are also no possibilities for teams to poach your drivers or staff. If you sign a driver to a three-year contract, they will stay for the full three seasons. They’ll never get unhappy and leave, and unless you terminate their contract early they won’t get signed by another team.
Everything about the game stays static. Team principals never swap teams, and staff members also only move if the player instigates it. Compared to the Football Manager series, which is a constant hive of player and staff transfers, F1 Manager is a freeze-frame representation of its sport.
Again this may come down to licenses, or at least agreements in place in order to use certain likenesses. Christian Horner, for example, may not want to be seen as Mercedes team principal, or Fernando Alonso may not want to be shown returning to Alpine. If you can’t have every possibility, you can’t really have any.
Too close to reality
F1 Manager 2023 is a victim of its own ambition. By becoming a fully licensed Formula 1 series, the F1 Manager franchise has become incredibly limited in what it can do.
Driver academies, another heavily requested feature, are also basically impossible for the same reason. This even applies to F2 and F3 drivers, with most signed by F1 teams as part of their academy programs.
The F1 Manager series is a solid representation of Formula 1, with F1 Manager 2023 being a great sequel to the first entry, but Frontier has created a Catch-22 situation by getting too close to reality.
A better approach would have been to follow the Motorsport Manager model and create a game as close to F1 as possible without needing the official F1 licenses. That way players could have far more control over the aesthetics of their teams including sponsors, liveries, team attire, and engine suppliers.
We love the F1 Manager series for what it is, but it’s looking more and more likely that F1 Manager 2025 could be the final corner for the series. Whether that means no more racing games from Frontier, we’ll just have to wait and see.
Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the latest racing game news and deals straight to your inbox!
For more articles like this, take a look at our F1 page.