What’s next for ACC? Exploring all scenarios!

Assetto Corsa Competizione (ACC) has been doing very well, yet the roadmap for the game remains empty. This has caused a question to arise among ACC’s fans: what’s next for ACC?

In this post, I will look at all the available information and explore different scenario’s based on what I know from interviews and from talking to people working at Kunos myself. I cross-examine those with ideas based on fan demands.

While I do not have a complete picture of what is happening behind the scenes, I have some (basic) knowledge of how decisions get made and what facts play into these decisions. This might give me a better picture of what could be next, but please take this with a grain of salt: even I don’t know what the guys at Kunos Simulazione are working on.

The Current (Financial) Situation

Assetto Corsa (AC) and Assetto Corsa Competizione (ACC) are doing pretty well financially. In a recent interview with GTPlanet, Kunos’ main man Marco Massarutto announced that the games have generated €100 million in sales for their publisher, 505 Games (owned by parent company Digital Bros S.r.l.).

Since Digital Bros is a publically traded company, we can look at their financial reports. Their gross revenue from ‘Premium Games’ (to which AC(C) belongs) rose from €58 million in 2019 to nearly €75 million in 2020, an increase of 28.8%.

While this doesn’t reflect on ACC specifically, this does mean that Digital Bros’ shareholders are happy with how things are going currently and won’t be demanding a change of investments any time soon, which is good news for Kunos and ACC. Especially seeing how the stock price for Digital Bros has risen by 150% (from ~€8 to ~€20 per share at the time of writing) over the past year.

The Current (Covid) Situation

Covid has not hurt Kunos Simulazione like it would most conventional companies. A large part of Kunos has worked from home even before Covid-19 hit our planet. The developers were able to continue their work like normal, except losing out on some company meetups.

On the flipside, Kunos was hindered by what they could work on. The ‘2020 GT World Challenge’-DLC is a prime example of that.

I don’t know the full details of it, but the 2020 DLC was made in quite a hurry because the British GT DLC had to be delayed. My belief is that they wanted to do a full 2020 season update DLC after the British GT, including Magny Cours which was a replacement race in the 2020 GT World Challenge Europe series.

Because of Covid, Kunos was unable to take their laserscan equipment to Magny Cours. This meant they couldn’t scan the track for inclusion in the DLC. While this is an assumption on my part, I think they originally wanted to wait with creating a 2020 DLC until they were able to include Magny Cours.

What a laserscan looks like. Picture credit: Bsimracing

However, probably because of a decision higher up the foodchain, it was decided to release the 2020 DLC without Magny Cours, opting to only include Imola either because they were able to laserscan the track (it being located in Italy) or because they could easily update the laserscanned version of Imola they already had in AC and port it over to ACC.

So, What’s Next?

In asking “what is next for ACC” or “what is next for Kunos”, there are really only two possbile answers. Either they continue their focus on making content for ACC, or they don’t. Yes, or no.

I myself think Kunos are far from done with creating content for ACC, because the treasure trove of possible content has far from run dry.

However, a smart businessman plans ahead. If Kunos are allowed to continue their focus on ACC (or not), there are multiple scenario’s I can think of. Below, I’ll explain what I think those possible scenario’s are, and how likely I believe they are.

Scenario 1: focus on more DLC

If Kunos gets the green light to keep working on expanding ACC’s arsenal of content, what could possibly be the next thing they are working on?

While I don’t have exact knowledge of the licensing deal the publisher (505) has with SRO, it is safe to assume that the next DLC will be something within SRO’s umbrella of series (i.e. no, Nordschleife is not coming). Therefore, lets look at some likely candidates based on fan demand and possible reasons why (or why not) Kunos could be working on them.

I will rate every potential DLC with a short term probability (i.e. this year) and a long term probability (i.e. 2022 or beyond) based on my own assumptions, trying to remain objective based on the likelihood of it happening.

1. GT World Challenge America (2020)

The GT World Challenge America is one of the most demanded pieces of content. One of the reasons for this is the impressive list of tracks from the 2020 season: COTA, VIR, Sonoma, Road America and Indianapolis, while Mosport was cancelled due to Covid.

GT World Challenge America group picture at Sonoma. Picture credit: SRO

There are multiple reasons why GTWC America is not going to be the next DLC. The biggest reason is that Kunos is likely unable to laserscan the tracks themselves anytime soon. They might be able to have a local party do the scanning for them. However, concluding from the lack of Magny Cours in the 2020 DLC, this might not be within the realm of opportunities for Kunos within budgetary limits.

Another reason has to do with the potential reward for investing in this pack. The North American market, while a very big potential market, is already heavily cornered by iRacing. ACC is mostly populated by EU/CIS drivers. Going head-to-head with iRacing could be too risky an investment for 505 and might not pay off.

NA players expect different things from their racing games, iRacing’s matchmaking system being one of them. There is a big chance they would rather stick with iRacing, not in the least because of the sunk cost fallacy.

Short term probability: Low
Long term probability: Medium

2. GT World Challenge Asia (2019)

Another big series in SRO’s portfolio of series is the GT World Challenge Asia series. Sadly, the 2020 season for this series was cancelled. If Kunos were to work on a DLC for this series, it would have to be the 2019 season.

The 2019 season still has an impressive list of tracks: Sepang, Buriram, Suzuka, Fuji, Yeongam and Shanghai. Personally, I prefer these over the American tracks. However, just like the American tracks, it is unlikely that Kunos is able to laserscan these tracks.

Furthermore, the market in Asia for simracing games is small. Due to the expensive computers and peripherals needed to fully appreciate the hobby, the market is limited.

Short term probability: Low
Long term probability: Medium

3. GT World Challenge Australia (2021)

A newcomer to SRO’s portfolio is the GT World Challenge Australia. Formerly known as the Motorsport Australia GT Championship, this series will make its debut this year. It consists of Philip Island, Bathurst, Tailem Bend and Sandown.

GT World Challenge Australia had its first race last month at Phillip Island. Picture credit: Motorsport

However, all of the detractors are the same for this one: a small potential market, and virtually no opportunity to scan the tracks. Out of all the possible continents, I give this one the lowest chance of happening in the (near) future.

Short term probability: Low
Long term probability: Low

4. GT2 European Series (2021)

If tracks are hard to create, Kunos might look at doing something else: create new cars. The new GT2 series would be among the first candidates to be implemented in ACC.

The class consists of three cars: the Audi R8 LMS GT2, the Porsche 911 GT2 RS Clubsport and the KTM X-BOW GT2, while the Lamborghini Supertrofeo and Ferrari Challenge Evo have been adapted to run in the championship too.

There’s a big reason why I don’t think this will be the next DLC Kunos releases: the cars haven’t raced yet. Kunos needs (probably due to licensing) to use the accurate Balance of Performance (BoP) of the cars for each track. This means they will have to wait for the season to run its course until they can finalize development on the cars, and it will therefore be unlikely that it will be released anywhere before November.

Short term probability: Low
Long term probability: High

5. Lamborghini Huracan Supertrofeo Evo

The ‘new’ (2018) Lamborghini SuperTrofeo looks radical from any angle, much more exciting than the current one which looks like a simplified version of the Huracan GT3.

The ‘new’ (i.e. 2018) SuperTrofeo Evo looks radically different. Picture credit: Lamborghini

No, the ‘new’ (released in 2018) version of the SuperTrofeo features extensive changes to the bodywork making it look like a very aggressive contender. I saw these cars myself at Zandvoort, and they just breathe aggresiveness. The roof scoop, the shark gills, the shark fin, the sideskirt fin, it’s just pure awesomeness.

The current SuperTrofeo, however, is already one of the most overlooked car – hence The Privateer’s Pitbox’ attempt to put the spotlight on the car with our SuperTrofeo championship. Including this car as an option for DLC is interesting, but when looking at the numbers, I doubt Kunos will prioritize creating this car.

Short term probability: Low
Long term probability: Low

6. BMW M4 GT3

The BMW M4 GT3 is a new car/entrant, but we’ll have to wait for the 2022 season. As with the GT2 series, the car therefore does not have an accurate BoP yet, but unlike the GT2’s it will only have it by the end of 2022. However, I do have reason to believe this might be one of the next DLC underway.

The divisive 2021 BMW M4 GT3 from its best angle. Picture credit: BMW Motorsport

Firstly: the Fanatec connection. Fanatec started sponsoring SRO events. At the same time, Fanatec helped develop the M4 GT3’s steering wheel. Fanatec might be pushing to bring these connections together, especially seeing how the GT World Challenge events will have eSports companion events.

Secondly: in the free 2019 season-update, the McLaren 720s was included as part of the McLaren Shadow event even though it didn’t race during the 2019 season.

Based on this, I have reason to conclude that the BMW M4 GT3 might be in line among the next DLC options as a low-priced, single-car update in an event similar to the McLaren’s, sponsored by Fanatec. As long as, ofcourse, the contracts don’t explicitly forbid this.

Short term probability: Medium
Long term probability: High

7. 2020 DLC updates

Another option for Kunos is to update currently released DLC packs. Both the GT4 and IGTC DLC-packs are based upon the 2019 seasons, while the 2020 season are already finished.

A 2020 update to the IGTC means we get at least one new track: Indianapolis (which replaced Laguna Seca). Still, the track needs to be laserscanned and getting the equipment to do so to the US might be something that’s too difficult. There are no new cars we don’t already have, but there are an abundance of new skins in the 2020 season. However, because of just the small amount of new content, I don’t think it is likely Kunos will put effort into providing an updated IGTC season anytime soon.

Similarly, a GT4 DLC update would boil down to one new thing (next to the 2020 reskins): the Toyota GR Supra GT4, which fans have been clamoring for ever since the GT4 DLC was announced.

The Toyota GR Supra GT4 is a stunner from any angle. Picture credit: Toyota

Kunos could also opt to include proper 2020 versions of Zandvoort (with added banking) and Paul Ricard (with the new pits entry), but the potential pay-off vs. the needed investment might be too low to ever make those. Similar to an IGTC-refresh, I don’t think this warrants a new DLC and Kunos knows this.

Short term probability: None
Long term probability: Low

8. Cosmetic DLC

This might be something I want to happen, but if I think about the current situation wherein new content is hard to create, it becomes more of an option Kunos might jump to. A cosmetic update, expanding upon the current options for customization already found in the game.

What I mean is: more templates to choose from to customize each car and/or your driver. Currently, the in-game creator gives an average of 3 or 4 templates to choose from, with three potential colors. My idea is that this DLC (for a small price) allows the player to select from either more templates, or allows them to mix and match certain elements from multiple templates.

The current system for creating custom liveries can produce very bland results.

It’s an easy way to deepen the currently existing systems in ACC, while allowing players to personalize their cars even more to their liking for a small price.

Short term probability: Medium
Long term probability:
Medium

9. 2021 GT World Challenge European Series

The fact that we’ll be getting a 2021 update after the free 2019 update and the 2020 DLC is most likely a shoe in. Next to the new for 2021 liveries, this will most likely add two new tracks: Magny Cours and Valencia.

The only question remains is when we’ll be getting it. With the inclusion of the tracks, I doubt a November release like the 2020 DLC is an option, but could be an option. I think an early 2022 release (i.e. January) is more likely.

Short term probability: Medium
Long term probability:
High

Scenario 2: focus on the next big thing

Even though I don’t think it is likely in the near future, but if Kunos is told to shift focus onto a new game over ACC, what could it be? A smart businessman always plans at least two steps ahead, so an announcement of Kunos’ next project somewhere next year might not be totally in the realm of the impossible.

Knowing a little bit how game development works, Kunos might already be in the conceptual phase for their next big thing. However, this could also mean their next game will still be five years away from releasing.

I reckon there are two potential area’s 505 would want Kunos to focus on. And yes, one of those is Assetto Corsa 2. But the other might be more interesting…

1. Assetto Corsa 2

Assetto Corsa has been a gold mine for Kunos, but it is starting to look a little bit dated. In all fairness, mods like SOL and Custom Shader Patch are able to get the most out of the engine by adding new lighting and shaders to the game, making it still look breathtaking in certain angles.

People have been asking for Assetto Corsa 2 ever since ACC was announced. This demand from their audience is also the only reason why I think this could happen: dollar signs in the eyes of 505.

Assetto Corsa 2 might not be the big step forward people want it to be. Development on ACC using the Unreal Engine has proven difficult. Yes, they could simply lift the tech they developed for ACC and put it to use on AC2, but that won’t fix a lot of the inherent problems ACC now faces, such as poor VR due to the forward rendering of the engine.

Furthermore, the existing library of mods for AC1 won’t simply be carried over to AC2, unless AC2 uses AC1’s (already dated) engine. This means abandoning a large portion of the game’s content, and therefore splitting the userbase of Assetto Corsa even further.

The only way I can see AC2 taking shape, is if it has another long Early Access cycle like the first game. This way the devs slowly build the content while players can offer input and try out new stuff on a regular basis. This process also means that parts of Kunos can still put out content for ACC, while developing AC2 alongside.

Still, I don’t think going this route is a good idea now, especially since AC1’s userbase is still growing, and I think Kunos/505 knows this.

Probability: Low

2. Assetto Corsa “Sport”

A second option which I think is more likely to happen short-term, is a hard-fork of ACC. Kind of like how GT Sport split from Gran Turismo 6, this would take the online competition aspect from ACC and put it in center field.

I imagine they’d take ACC’s existing tech and content (probably minus the SRO-license) and create a proper matchmaking system. This would also bring with it an added monthly subscription in order to support server costs, taking iRacing head-on.

People have been asking for a better online experience, but I deem this only possible if Kunos break nearly every promise they made when they announced ACC. It would be better for them, if they have to go this route, to create a whole new entity from the ground up using the Unreal Engine and the modifications they made to their version. Trim the fat, so to say.

GT Sport’s daily races offer great variety, which is missing from ACC currently. Picture credit: GTPlanet

However, people are only enticed to switch to AC “Sport” if the product offers a complete package from the beginning. Partly due to the aforementioned sunk cost fallacy for those playing iRacing, partly because ACC’s racing is very good already. It would need to be great on day 1 to provide enough of a reason to be an early adaptor. Taking on iRacing on their own turf will most likely mean defeat and the end of the line for Kunos.

Furthermore, Kunos does not have the manpower to create a “Game as a Service” (GaaS). 505 could help in this regard, like they did with the console release of ACC, by putting a second developer as back up. This has the downside that it could lead to ‘purists’ saying that AC Sport isn’t a “real Assetto Corsa game”.

Going this route means a jump into the deep end for Kunos. They might find themselves in unfamiliar territory for which they are ill-equiped. Even though it might be an (distant) option, it remains a very unlikely one.

Probability: Low

Scenario 3: Assetto Corsa Competizione “2.0”

No, I don’t mean ACC 2. I mean a complete overhaul of the current game. One that completely redesigns how, among others, the matchmaking system works, within the game itself.

In its conception, ACC was intended to focus on the singleplayer experience with a functional multiplayer. Over the years since the release, Kunos has already slightly pivotted towards putting multiplayer first with the current iteration of the CP (competition) servers.

The current form of CP servers lack variety and importance.

An ACC v2.0 would further focus on these CP servers, with more races (in varying length and formats), a functional Elo-based leaderboard, in-game results pages, and potentially the ability to create leagues and (multi-driver) teams in the game itself.

A potential ACC v2.0 release might not be limited to just the CP servers, but could also mean a complete overhaul of the menu and expanding upon customization options I talked about under Scenario 1, option 8 above,

ACC is shaping up to be a great game with an ever increasing userbase, and it would be a shame to abandon all that work for something new. I think a pivot towards competitive matchmaking is something Kunos is wise to do, and they might already be putting in the work.

If they are, that could explain why they haven’t announced their next piece of DLC yet, purely because they aren’t focussing on DLC (which they currently have a lot of hurdles to overcome to make) at this point in time.

Probability: High

What do you think?

Having written all of this, what do you think will be next for Kunos? Do you share my view that scenario three might be the most likely of possible scenario’s? And if so, what would you like to see them focus on?

Have I missed out on something obvious, or do you think my probability ratings are wrong? Please let me know in the comments below, or send me a strongly worded tweet over at Twitter (@Felixdicit).

2 Responses

  1. April 5, 2021

    […] to announce what was in store for ACC in the future, but they didn’t. I wrote an article exploring the different directions they might go, but these are still guesstimates: we still don’t know what will be […]

  2. May 1, 2021

    […] is any indication, May might come very near to February. Unfortunately, we still don’t know what’s next for ACC, so the odds of new DLC pack for May are very slim. This means that May’s number won’t […]