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Why F1 2021 will be far more expensive for some – and three tracks will be missing at launch

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A few surprises emerged when the first details of the 2021 edition of the official Formula 1 game were announced earlier this month.

F1 2021 will be the 12th game in the series for major platforms since Codemasters took over the franchise.

However fans in some regions will have to pay significantly more for the latest PC edition of the game. Rises of over 50% are the norm in many countries, while some have seen three-, four- and even five-fold increases in the retail price of the new game.

Data from SteamDB indicates fans in Argentina face the steepest price rise, from 649.99 pesos to 3,599.00 – an increase of 453.7%. In Turkey, where last year’s game retailed for 92 lira, F1 2021 will cost 419.99, a 356.5% increase.

The average price of the game has increased across all regions. But as the graph below reflects, the largest price rises by far have hit less wealthy or developing nations such as Indonesia, Mexico and the Philippines. The US price remains unchanged, while in Britain it has risen by 11%, and 9% in the Eurozone.

The change in pricing structure was not mentioned in the press release announcing the game’s arrival in July. The scale of the increase has unsurprisingly left many gamers questioning whether they will be able to afford the new edition.

The price hike resulted from the takeover of Codemasters by Electronic Arts earlier this year. The publisher told RaceFans in a statement: “F1 2021’s pricing is consistent with both EA’s and major industry publishers’ approach for each region. We are committed to offering fair pricing and value for all of our games.”

But while it may be consistent with other EA games, it isn’t consistent with past practice for the Formula 1 series. The end of lower-cost regional pricing of the official F1 game may harm the sport’s popularity in these markets.

Another change, one which affects all players, will see F1 2021 go on sale without a full roster of tracks. This is something Codemasters haven’t done previously, but it is likely unrelated to the EA takeover.

Jeddah Street Circuit, 2021
Track information: Jeddah Street Circuit
The 2021 F1 calendar features a record-breaking 23 races, three of which take place on circuits which were not part of last year’s game. These are Autodromo do Algarve – the venue of this weekend’s race – Imola in Italy which held the previous round, and the new Jeddah city circuit in Saudi Arabia.

Several of these venues were only confirmed recently. The Jeddah circuit was revealed in mid-March and Algarve was added to the 2021 schedule a month before that. This left little time to build the new circuit models for the game.

Building 3D representations of five-kilometre racing circuits to the degree of detail demanded by modern gamers is a “vast undertaking”, Codemasters’ Formula 1 game director Lee Mather told RaceFans last year.

“Roughly, a track [takes] around a year of man-hours to build,” he said. Two new tracks were built for last year’s game and both were ready for its launch in July, but the plans for Zandvoort and Hanoi were known much earlier, allowing Codemasters to start work sooner.

Last year’s game featured the 22 tracks which were originally announced for the 2020 season, many of which did not hold their races due to the pandemic. ‘New’ venues such as Imola and Algarve, plus Mugello, Nurburgring and Istanbul, were not added.

Beyond the three new tracks for 2021, Codemasters also had to make extensive changes to some existing circuit models. The Circuit de Catalunya has a new turn 10 and Australia’s Albert Park circuit has been extensively revised.

This year’s game may also differ from the final real-world calendar, as some rounds of this year’s championship are in doubt. Istanbul may return to replace the Canadian Grand Prix, and there is already doubt November’s race in Brazil will be able to go ahead.

The upshot is F1 2021 will hit the shelves in July in an incomplete state, which will make it a less compelling product, particularly for those being asked to pay five times as much for it.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 49 comments on “Why F1 2021 will be far more expensive for some – and three tracks will be missing at launch”

    1. Let’s be honest, F1 2021 is more niche than FIFA 21 or most other EA Sports games. Pricing it the same is ludicrous. In Sweden, through Xbox, I will have to pay 749 SEK (89 USD, 65 GBP, 74 EUR) and that just isn’t a reasonable cost for a game that frankly improves not enough year-on-year.

      1. Its a pile of trash. As soon as EA takeover, the ‘official F1 game’ doesn’t even have all the tracks included?
        They are a joke. Plus theres no VR support.
        Save your money. Buy Assetto Corsa for a tenner and download the F1 2021 mod. And you get VR too!

        Reply moderated
        1. Scotty I’ve recently got into Assetto Corsa and the prospect of an ‘F1 2021 mod’ sounds perfect, but I haven’t the first idea where to find it or what to do with it. Any chance you could elaborate?

          1. Look for a download called ‘Assetto Corsa Content Manager’ they do a lite version that is free to use, apart from add on’s and stuff they have a racing lobby where you can race others online without waiting an age for an empty slot to appear.

            1. @f1-plossl got it, thanks. Not quite at the racing stage yet, but it makes watching the real thing a lot more meaningful. Portimao here I come, with luck..

            2. This is a good guide to setting up Assetto Corsa, which benefits massively from the mod scene:
              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=759TcHZCBww

            3. Alesici, an excellent guide that I wish I’d seen a couple of months back. Unfortunately I now think I need a race engineer to operate the tweaks for me!

        2. It’s not EAs fault the game won’t have all the tracks. As the article explains very clearly, the races for this season haven’t been finalised. So how can Codemasters make all the correct tracks when the FIA themselves don’t know the full calender?

          You can blame EA for a lot of things, but the missing tracks isn’t one of them.

          Reply moderated
        3. Literally says that the 3 not included tracks are not due to the ea takeover and instead that the full season was confirmed after codemasters had started on the game and that the tracks take time to create.

          Reply moderated
      2. I will never buy this game at these kind of prices

        Reply moderated
    2. One small ray of sunshine, rumour has it that there will be (finally) a COOP Career mode.

      1. Yes! 2 player online co-op championship. Be team mates or be in separate teams.

    3. I never support price increases but is this a little bit sensationalist? Percentage increase isn’t a good metric for this comparison because it doesn’t contextualise the regional pricing.

      Argentina is going from £5 (woefully underpriced – the cost of a Big Mac meal) to nearly £30.

      Spinning it as a 450% increase might be factually correct but lacks some context.

      1. Hm, well, @cduk_mugello – while you DO have a point that % increases without reference to what the price exactly was in comparison to other markets is somewhat pointless, I think @chrischrill makes a good point about how much of a niche product F1 games are in many markets as well.

        And the amount he mentions certainly is nog a reasonable amount IMO. It rather points to what Rowmk9 mentions – this is a play on the fear of missing out on the next new thing pricing.

        And given that it means a steep price increase, I would think that people should get a very decent increase in value as well, although the reputation of EA rather hints at a decrease in value that can be expected.

        1. Sensationalist headlines indeed. The first thing I checked was a currency converter and 3599 Argentine Pesos is only $38.53 US. That’s already more than 1/3 lower than the unchanged US price.

          How about reporting on the inflation rates or currency fluctuations in countries like Argentina as a way to put some perspective on the price increase?

      2. @cduk_mugello While you’re not exactly wrong, you should consider the fact that the new price in some regions is a significant chunk of the mean monthly income for a household. In Turkey, from what i’ve read at least, the price hike has put it up to about 1/6th of a household’s mean monthly income. How would you feel if they hiked the price to ~250 Euros?

      3. @cduk_mugello
        I disagree. You can’t just ignore purchasing power parity, it’s like comparing apples and oranges. While I understand that a product has got a certain value, you can’t put the same or similar price (even for the same product) in two countries with completely different numbers in GDP per capita.
        Let’s take Argentina and the U.S. for example: The 2019 GDP per capita in Argentina was more than 6 times lower than that in the U.S. (9,900 vs 65,000 $). So it should be very clear that you can’t put a similar price on your product in both countries, as only a small number of the population would be able to afford the product at a price of, let’s say 50 $, in Argentina. If anything, I’d say their product is completely overpriced in the North-American and European markets.

      4. They were lucky, in the eurozome the pricing is the same across yet some countries in europe earn 5 times as much as others.

      5. Codemaster so it appears, didnt have their pricing strategy in order, leading to a grey market of imports etc. That hurts the development of a game in the long run. Global pricing strategy means in this case a correction for some markets. Whether it is fair that some-one earning a lot less, pays the same now is a different story of which you can ask yourself whether the publisher should solve this. It is a bigger globalisation theme. Initially there was price discrimination catered to local circumstances but all kinds of shady people started very lucrative ‘pumping goods around the world’ businesses. Global pricing is also a result of digitalisation of society. One can question the macro-economic developments (which is a lengthy interesting discussion in its own), for sure.

    4. The best way to enjoy games these days is wait at least a year after they first release so you can get ‘complete editions’ with all the patches and the partitioned dlc included like it should’ve been in the first place. Usually at a discount from the initial price of the base game. This is especially true of an annual series like F1 or FIFA. The games companies prey on your ‘fear of missing out’ (FOMO) and exploit you into paying full price for a half finished product. Don’t let them get away with it and vote with your wallet.

      1. Yes, that does seem to be the sensible approach.

      2. This would work with your average multiplayer game which go on for years and years whereas games like F1 typically will only last for 1 year, the length of the season and the extra time after until the next season game releases. I personally don’t mind it and will continue to buy the games each season to keep up to date. As long as codemasters release the 3 tracks daily quickly, I’m happy.

        Reply moderated
    5. EA flexing their ‘Lets rip everyone off’ guns!

      1. That’s not completely fair imho. Codemaster didnt have their pricing strategy in order, leading to a grey market of imports. Global pricing means in this case a correction for some markets. Whether it is fair that some-one earning a lot less, pays the same now is a different story of which you can ask yourself whether the publisher should solve this. It is a bigger globalisation theme.

    6. No way would I even consider buying until the new tracks update arrives.

    7. I remember back for the ps4 launch, the dev’s were speaking about how massively they were upgrading the game. Massive graphics improvement done from scratch, new animations, driving model etc. Then it came out & it was virtually identical to the last PS3 game & they’ve barely improved since. It’s just like Fifa. Same thing every year, charging stupid money for little improvement & stupid people keep buying it. It’s been in need of a graphics & damage overhaul for years. It still uses the incredibly ugly pit animations from 5yrs ago. Not going to get any better now EA has their hands on it.

    8. I don’t care about PC prices as I use PS4 anyway, nor do I mind some tracks lacking. This thing doesn’t impact my gaming experience.

      1. @jerejj Unless of course you’re planning to buy it digitally (PS4 regional pricing’s been changed too).

        1. @alianora-la-canta Physical console disc for me.

          1. @jerejj In which case I don’t know what’s happening with the costs for that version.

    9. It’s quite simple economics. It’s called Purchasing Power Parity.
      £1 in the UK equals 11.43 Turkish Lira currently.
      A BigMac in London is £6, in Istanbul it’s 28 Turkish Lira. The implied exchange rate base don the BigMac price is 4.66 not 11.43. So, the person in Turkey can by his dinner and have 6.77TL left over.

      It’s all to do with the cost of living in each country, the economists at EA has decided that people who can buy their latest game in Turkey can afford more than they could in previous years. Or maybe CodeMasters were not employing the right economists to make maximum profit based on knowledge of peoples spending power.

      Reply moderated
      1. LookingToSky
        29th April 2021, 8:55

        Man i think you are thinking wrong. As someone living in Turkey, I can explain the situation to you. A normal person can earn 2000 dollars or Euros by working in England, the United States or in Germany. However, we earn 300 Euros in a month in Turkey. Someone with 2000 Euro salary can give 60 Euros to the game. but someone with a € 300 salary cannot pay 40 euros to the game. If someone with a 2000 Euro salary in Germany gives 400 Euros to a game, we will not complain about it.

        Reply moderated
    10. If I was to guess, I would say publishers have finally realised that a lot of people are using ‘ways’ (without going into any detail on here) to access storefronts of countries other than the one they’re actually living in themselves. I saw it happening with PSN a year or two ago, where it was quite well known which countries had the ‘cheap’ PSN storefronts, so people would buy games from there, but then Sony started realising this was going on and increased prices accordingly. Steam are probably just doing the same to discourage people from ‘shopping around’ different countries’ storefronts that they shouldn’t really be accessing anyway.

      1. This is crazy because the games are virtual information. I always thought creating stoerefronts were a farce. Doesnt make semse because no physical goods are imported and thegovernment of the purchaser doesnt get any duties on it. So its just a sleazy way to make more cash imo.

        1. @david-beau Taxes do apply to digital games in some countries. For example, in the UK, games have to charge VAT at 20% if they charge money to download.

    11. Unless it all becomes a fiasco or still good…

    12. Don’t worry. It won’t be too long until EA starts adding loot boxes with microtransactions as a “cornerstone” of the product just like they have with FIFA. I suspect we’ll see the game launch without all tracks or updates as part of their pricing strategy. Want that in-season upgrade? Want to modify that livery? Want to change a helmet? Want to make a driver change? Want to add a new track? Just spend a bit to buy a loot box to see if it is included. No? Keep trying and trying and trying again.

      https://www.cbc.ca/news/gopublic/fifa21-loot-boxes-electronic-arts-1.5996912

    13. Whilst I appreciate this is meant to be a simple exercise and no-one comes here to discuss economics. Is it not worth doing the same exercise with USD/GBP/EUR equivalent pricing?

      Some currencies have massively devalued over the last 12 months (ARS is 30% down v USD) which will explain some of the difference and it would be unfair to ask the developer to take this hit.

    14. The game has always been too expensive, even compared to other sports titles. It is a half price game at best, maybe it is expensive because codies had to cash-in or because of licensing. I’m not surprised EA bought Codemasters, a single f1 game easily pays for the deal

      1. @peartree It’s expensive due to the license. To some extent, that’s been true since the 1990s, although I think the extent of that cost has increased over the decades.

    15. I’m excited to be able to drive on the new tracks. I also wish we could have some of the old tracks back like Malaysia. In the game I mean, so we could have it as a custom circuit option.

      1. What annoys me is that Algarve isn’t ready to go from day one. They have a model of that from Grid Autosport, so it’s just a matter of touching that up – and slotting in Istanbul shouldn’t be hard either (previously modelled in both Grid Autosport and previous F1 games)

        Reply moderated
    16. Hey, as an Aussie, welcome to our world. The Codemasters F1 games have always been stupidly expensive here for what they are.

      Actually makes sense why others have been loving it while I’ve been a fair bit more jaded, especially with some of the buggier releases.

    17. Codemasters own Slightly Mad Studios; the creators of the Project Cars series. They have Algarve in their games. Surely Codies could reach out to them for some assistance?
      (e.g. using what topography data they had to make Algarve from scratch, or porting SMS’ version to Codemasters Ego engine).

    18. I’ll stick with Assetto Corsa and and the freely available GP4 :-)

    19. This par for the course for EA. Why would you expect anything else?

      I predict in future years there will be dlc for individual drivers…i foresee a European season track pack. $5 to unlock Monaco.

      They will remove features and then reintroduce them 3 years later as “new”. It is there M.O.

      I stopped buying EA Sports games a few years ago. You should too.

      Reply moderated
    20. Location faking has become popular over the last couple of years, and Argentina was probably the most common place. As such, I think this was a measure to .

      Some storefronts charge the same amount everywhere – often they have to charge less to the more expensive places, to ensure the single price point is such that less wealthy places can still buy their products. This is one reason why Codemasters/EA prefer Steam and EA Origin/Play, both of which have variable pricing – it means they can charge more to people who can pay it, and less to people who cannot pay so much.

      As for the price arguments… …this is a really tough one. Any single price is going to cause problems (except perhaps if there’s an option to pay more if you want to do so). This is because the purchasing power between different people is so huge.

      If you are a minimum wage worker in the UK (and you’re not on an apprenticeship, youth discounted wage or something), it takes 5.493 hours to earn enough to buy F1 2021 – which, once the game’s finished (not sure it will be on launch), is fairly easy to justify.

      A minimum-wage worker in Turkey must work 22.896 hours, and their Hungarian counterpart would have to work 23.141 hours – close to half a week’s work for many people there. I’d think twice about buying a game that cost me half a week’s labour, though someone who especially liked this sort of game could plausibly justify this. The Hungarian worker already had to work 21 hours for F1 2020, so will probably reserve the extra money if they liked it…. ..but the Turkish worker only had to work 5.0153 hours for F1 2020. Such a big jump is likely to cause a backlash, and raising the relative cost more slowly there is likely to have been more effective.

      The poor minimum-wage Argentinian worker, however, is looking at 170.247 hours, or 3 1/2 weeks! That’s like deciding between F1 2021, or the month’s utilities bills for the same worker. A short debate for a minimum-wage worker.

      It won’t stop the fake-locators, though it may mean they pay more money (assuming they don’t decide to simply buy something more complete, or plain “not EA”, at launch). I’m not convinced it’ll actually earn EA more money in the end, however, due to loss of income from people who literally can’t follow, or otherwise think this is EA living up to a reputation of caring too much about cash (something that it’s been lowkey fighting off since its 1983 inception).

      I can’t run F1 2021, so I don’t have to worry about buying the game… …but it’s definitely given me food for thought about pricing any game I may release in the future!

      1. (NB: the utilities cost in Argentina is for Corrientes, the most expensive city in Argentina. Most likely, a minimum-wage worker couldn’t afford to live there at all, but I couldn’t find figures for somewhere more representative of where a minimum-wage Argentian worker is likely to actually live).

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