After Most Exciting Season In History, Video Game Publishers Realize F1 License Is Worth A Lot Of Money

Sebastian Vettel is your new Formula One champion. Who saw that coming? Conventional wisdom last weekend said that Red Bull made a mistake by not issuing so-called “team orders,” telling Vettel to make way for his Australian teammate, Mark Webber, in his quest to win the F1 driver’s championship. As it turned out, lady luck was on Vettel’s side (that, or Ferrari forgot that Vettel was also in the running to win the championship!) and he went on to win the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and thus the F1 driver’s championship. It was, by many accounts, the single most exciting Formula One season in history. Quite the season, then, for me to begin following the sport closely!

A video game based on this season, F1 2010, was released by Codemasters (the same people who make Grid and Dirt) in September, and has sold a tremendous number of copies. I bought mine on Day One from Steam, thank you very much. In fact, Codemasters has sold so many copies that other publishers are said to be knocking on Bernie Ecclestone’s (often referred to as the “F1 supremo”) door, offering giant sacks of money for the rights to create F1 games.

I have no information to this end, but I’m going to assume the publishers in question are the usual suspects. You know, EA and Activision. An EA-produced game could be fine (Need For Speed Shift was one of the best racing games of 2009), but I shudder to think what an Activision-produced F1 game would look like. Lord knows they’d probably demand the inclusion of the Daytona 500 in order to “make the game more palatable for American consumption.” That, and they’d throw someone like Danica Patrick on the cover for no reason at all.

Codemasters has sold 2 million copies of the game, and that’s largely without any American sales whatsoever. Pro-rata, that would be more than 4 million copies sold.

Not to say that the game is perfect—players have long complained about the limitations that come with being developed for a five-plus-year-old console, such as not being able to see whether or not your opponents have pitted or not, which is pretty vital information in a real race—but Codemasters has proven its racing bona fides long ago.

I just grabbed these screenshots a few minutes ago. The original resolution was 1920×1200 with 8X AA, AF to the max, and Ultra graphics settings. It runs at around 130 frames per second in DX11 mode, sometimes dropping into the 90s when a lot of cars are onscreen. Not bad for a console port!

One more!