RF1 had lot of competition back then: LFS, GTR, GTR2, GTL, NKP, RBR, all with their modding content. Then came iRacing. In 2012 RF2 was in beta and was started the pCars 1 and AC development. Soon after that started Raceroom. I mean, the scene was alive. Silverstone and the other content that was licensed in racing games (starting from arcades) were well aware of the demand and of the value of their "brands". The reason why now the licences start to become more expensive could be several and one is certainly the crisis we are living: the companies who owns the tracks need money to keep them working; if they increased the cost of the tickets, with the risk of leaving the grandstands half empty, why they shouldn't increase the licensing fees?