Le Mans Ultimate’s 2024 DLC Likely to be “More Expensive” Than rFactor 2’s But “Higher Quality”

a yellow race car is driving down a race track in a video game .

a yellow race car is driving down a race track in a video game .

Le Mans Ultimate raced into early access back in February. Based on Studio 397’s rFactor 2 engine, it marks the first official Le Mans game in over 20 years and aims to deliver the most authentic endurance racing experience.

Focusing on a single motorsport series was a risky move for Motorsport Games amid financial turmoil. But so far, the gamble is paying off according to Motorsport Games CEO Stephen Hood.

Le Mans Ultimate’s initial sales “exceeded expectations”

“I’m genuinely more than happy with the reception. It could have gone either way,” Hood tells RacingGames, reflecting on Le Mans Ultimate’s launch. “We didn’t put a marketing dollar behind it. It’s not like we’re EA and have a massive budget. This is new territory for our player base and Studio 397.”

Initial sales “exceeded expectations” according to Hood. “In the first 48 hours, we expected something like 15,000 units. We did about 38,000,” he said. “I think that’s a combination of lots of different factors.”

A race in Le Mans Ultimate
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A combination of the right timing, rFactor 2’s heritage, and the unique appeal of a focused multi-class racing simulation meant Le Mans Ultimate “resonated with players.” Hood also believes that focusing on a single title instead of taking on multiple projects helped the reception. “That’s gone down well with the community – they realize it’s a labor of love from Studio 397,” he said.

“I was nervous but it went down well and exceeded expectations, which I was pleasantly surprised about. But we’re not celebrating just yet because there’s more to be done.”

Player numbers “have gone as expected”

Since launching in February, Le Mans Ultimate’s player numbers have declined rapidly. According to SteamDB, player numbers peaked at over 4,700 at launch in February before declining month-on-month, with player numbers averaging at 400 - 700 per day in May.

However, Hood is confident that new DLC and excitement surrounding this weekend’s 24 Hours Le Mans endurance race, which sees several new manufacturers such as Lamborghini, Alpine, and BMW battling it out in the elite Hypercar class, will pique players’ interest.

“Player numbers have gone as expected. Le Mans Ultimate is the shiny new thing, so a lot of people jumped into it,” said Hood. “Word of mouth spread very quickly as we weren’t really marketing it. It’s an early access title, which keeps some people away. But we thought it was right to call it early access given where some things were at the time of release. It was fairer and the price reflected that.”

Hypercars in Le Mans Ultimate
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“If you look at any historic racing game, you can see the numbers peak and then drop. And then new content is released, or in the case of many other games, platforms like Simracing.GP and Sim Grid peak the audience again and provide a meeting place for the community. You see their numbers changing and ours are very similar. We’re quite comfortable with that.”

“We’re pushing new updates out and the title will get stronger and stronger. It’s up to us to keep people engaged and bring people back. A lot of people have purchased and we’re thankful for that, but we’ve got more things for them, and we want to rebuild that player base.”

More free content planned

This week saw the release of Le Mans Ultimate’s first post-launch DLC. A free download, the first DLC added the 2024 BMW M Hybrid, 2024 liveries for existing Hypercars, and a wealth of quality-of-life improvements including an on-screen radar and race replays. However, this is just the start of Motorsport Games’ plans for Le Mans Ultimate in 2024.

Throughout this year, the remaining 2024 Hypercars and circuits will be released across four DLC packs. These will include four Hypercars, four new circuits, and seven GT3 cars. Motorsport Games expects the next DLC to add the iconic Imola, one of Hood’s personal favorite racetracks.

“We want to make it current because we’re in 2024 and there are GT3s, new Hypercars, new liveries, and new tracks. We know we’ve got to catch up,” said Hood.

BMW M Hybrid in Le Mans Ultimate
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Not all new content will be paid DLC, however. “Some DLC will be free, some will be paid,” Hood clarifies. So far, Motorsport Games has confirmed two GT3 cars will be gifted to players for free sometime this year, completing the 2024 WEC lineup.

“Maybe for every eight pieces of DLC, two of them might be free. If someone is kind enough to spend their hard-earned money on our title and buy into the experience, we want to reward them in some way.”

However, Motorsport Games’ decision to release paid DLC with Le Mans Ultimate still in early access has been met with mixed reactions. “It’s not like we’re just switching it on and saying now everything is paid. If someone buys into Le Mans Ultimate in six months, they pay a low price anyway,” said Hood, responding to criticisms. “We’re not going to force anybody to buy DLC or pay a subscription. The effort is on us to make it attractive.”

Le Mans Ultimate 2024 livery
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“I’ve got to somehow balance the books. We’ve got an expensive technical team that put in a lot of detail. It’s a deep simulation. We laser scan all the tracks for example and we pay a lot of money to get that done. And we're not charging a premium for the game. If we make it attractive, enough people will buy it to justify the expense. I’m not trying to nickel and dime people, but it is a business reality.”

“We know people are going to throw rocks at us for bringing more content in. Despite the fact we gave all of 2023 away – we didn’t just give one track and one car. People would moan then if we added DLC. We’re looking at the marathon, not the sprint. It’s about making the best product we can with the team we have available. In general, people seem to be very positive about it.”

Despite featuring the entire 2023 WEC grid and circuit lineup, Le Mans Ultimate launched at a reduced price of £24.99 / $32.99 in early access. But the current build is far from feature-complete, and the lower price reflects this.

“We’re going to keep increasing the price of the core product as we put more features in,” Hood confirmed. These will include promised features that are still absent in the current build like the long-awaited co-op multiplayer and VR support.

Raising the bar

Motorsport Games isn’t ready to reveal pricing details for Le Mans Ultimate’s premium DLC yet. However, Hood expects it to be “more expensive” but “higher quality” than rFactor 2’s. “I’m trying to keep the prices and content favorable,” he said.

“If you look in rFactor 2’s storefront and tracks are £7.42, or £4.38 or £12.99, the pricing is all over the place. The variety of content and quality has always been a concern."

"It’s one of the reasons why we put our entire focus behind LMU instead of making rFactor 3 because that was a conversation at one point. Even though it’s a huge project for us, focusing on something like LMU is beneficial when it comes to trying to make a great sim based on a recognizable brand.”

Le Mans Ultimate 2024 liveries 4
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“It will most likely be more expensive than rFactor 2. But the quality bar is going to be higher and more consistent. We don’t expect to revolutionize the business by just selling DLC at a high price. Our real goal is to build the audience numbers, which is why we went out the gate with a low attractive price point.”

While the DLC will help bring more players back into Le Mans Ultimate, new content packs will be released gradually to prevent fragmenting the player base. "There’s something to be said for getting to grips with all the cars, their characteristics, and the technical details of every track before you add more to it."

"We’re looking for a standard of racing that’s fitting for lots of different skill levels. Just piling it with more content doesn’t magically make it better. It fragments the experience and means people have more content to learn.
In time, lots more cars and tracks will be in there. At the very least we need to follow every season and make it a current title."

Are you looking forward to Le Mans Ultimate's upcoming 2024 DLC? Let us know in the comments below.

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