The notification flashed by Out of the corner of my eye as I zip through the streets of Baku in a Formula 1 car – past the monuments and minarets of the oil-rich city, the Azerbaijani flag and billboards swipe in subtly blurry Pass.
“SCToken unlocked,” it reads. I don’t know what this means.i downloaded F1 22– This is the latest in a long-running sports sim I’ve been playing for decades – without really looking into its new features, I think this cryptic note has something to do with blockchain. I think, no matter how fast you run, you can’t run NFT.
In fact, this message is my entry into what the game developers call “F1® Life” — not NFTs, but old-school unlockables that can only be purchased with in-game abilities or fiat currency (which translates to in-game “PitCoins” with disgusting inevitability). This was jarring at first, but the more I got It makes more sense to think about it – the sport of F1 has always been subject to commercial interests, so its official competition is also natural.
For my efforts – mostly driving very fast into the landscape – I was rewarded with Supercar Tokens that allowed me to unlock a car for my avatar’s virtual showroom. There are eight to choose from – the epileptic neon lights of McLaren, Ferrari and Aston Martin, the kind of cars you hear about in central London on a summer night, or the car you see in YouTube videos. GoPro mounted on a selfie stick and uncomfortably low. The kinds of cars an F1 star is likely to drive between sponsorship events.
The needs of “F1® Life” are varied. A virtual garage produces a virtual apartment — a minimalist box — and a virtual wardrobe. All must be decorated. Choose from bland soft furnishings and abstract wall art, or create a chauffeur in your image and dress him in Beats headphones and branded loungewear. (There are thousands of permutations, but somehow each one looks like an Instagram crypto influencer on a flight to Dubai, very much in line with the F1 aesthetic.) You can even invite friends and strangers to your virtual pad , cooing officially licensed and branded items within your confines — a terrifying vision of what a virtual world would actually look like.
Useless microtransactions and skins are nothing new, but they’re often stitched into the underlying game harder than that. Aside from being able to drive your supercar at limited points during the season (in the Pirelli Hot Laps Challenge), your PitCoins rarely have a material or even visual impact on your gaming experience.
Fans of the series might blame this on developer Codemasters’ recent acquisition by EA, the undisputed king of money grabs. Reviews say this is one thing that tarnishes an otherwise solid racing game – one that’s visually striking, worth playing, and achieves a rare feat that’s accessible to newcomers without alienating die-hard fans, thanks to a wealth of customizable Difficulty settings and assists. You can turn everything on and gently guide you to victory as if you were spinning around the block, or you could turn everything off and slam into the back of Yuki Tsunoda when you miss the brakes on the first corner – etc. choice between.
Arguably, “F1® Life” simply improves the accuracy of the simulation. Formula 1 is often as popular as the circus around it and the sport itself.The human factor was what made F1 so fascinating in the 1970s, the rivalry between Niki Lauda and James Hunt (as hurry) and so boring during Sebastian Vettel’s four-year reign in the 2010s.Here’s why the sport has been enjoying a revival since the Netflix series drive to survive, which makes these individual competitions stand out. “F1® Life” captures this in a way, albeit probably not in the way the developers wanted – instead of adding a sense of glamour, it gamifies the hollow consumerism surrounding (and funding) the sport .