The Rebirth of #ForzaCorsa: Kunos Simulazioni Has Been Sold!

ac-soldWell, this is a bit awkward.

The 2016 calendar year over here at PretendRaceCars.net was incredibly successful for us both as sim racers and shitty amateur journalists, though it wasn’t without one major blemish to our reputation. Acting solely on the word of a prominent third party modder within the Assetto Corsa community supplying us with what I believed at the time to be genuine top-secret information which wasn’t supposed to see the light of day, I pushed out an article claiming Kunos Simulazioni were in the process of being completely acquired by Turn 10 Studios, potentially as a means to help create a hardcore variant of the Forza Motorsport franchise for dedicated PC sim racing enthusiasts – as Dan Greenawalt did announce during an interview at E3 that they were working on a third Forza experience. We turned into the laughing stock of the community within twenty four hours, as Kunos Simulazioni staff members, and even other sim racing outlets, publicly roasted us and claimed we were mentally ill for even daring to post such a ridiculous story in the first place.

Fast forward nine months into the future, and it turns out the only thing we got wrong was the name of the company. Revealed earlier this afternoon – much to the dismay of dedicated Assetto Corsa fans who hoped Kunos would remain an independent entityReuters is reporting that Kunos Simulazioni have been purchased by an Italian investor group known to the world as Digital Bros, a partner of 505 Games. The group of Kunos Simulazioni staff members are no longer a wild bunch of sim racing rebels doing their best to push the genre forward by any means necessary, but rather puppets tasked with adhering to the strict demands of their overlords at Digital Bros, in exchange for a hefty payday of course.

Stefano Casillo and Marco Massarutto will remain with Kunos Simulazioni in their current positions for the time being, though with the transfer of ownership also comes the transfer of power. Kunos Simulazioni as a company is now owned and controlled by an investor group, and they have the power to remove Casillo and/or Massarutto if they aren’t satisfied with how they’re handling the company on a day-to-day basis. They can even even change the entire direction of the franchise if they see a justifiable reason to do so, or kill it outright, as we’ve seen happen to entities like Criterion Games or Maxis when taken under the wing of Electronic Arts.

It’s undoubtedly a difficult pill for fans of Assetto Corsa to swallow. Kunos Simulazioni have spent several years amassing a following of loyal supporters since Assetto Corsa’s humble beginnings in 2013, and the sale to Digital Bros – which hands control of everything to an investor group playing by cold, hard numbers – does not bode well for a game living in an already niche environment. Let’s be honest with ourselves, developers don’t get into sim racing to make money; they do it for the love of virtual auto racing, and passion isn’t something that can be analyzed in a board room by a group of Italian suits obsessing over pie charts and other metrics. Because of this, it’s certainly hard to imagine a situation where Assetto Corsa 2 continues on the path created by the original. These games don’t make a whole lot of money.

If there’s an Assetto Corsa 2 to begin with, that is…

ac-is-doneWhat you see above is the third time I’ve received this information in the past month, though I originally held off on posting it the first time after consulting Stefano directly, who warned me that Assetto Corsa fans are still trying to fuck with PRC by submitting fake news. This obviously says a lot about Assetto Corsa fans to begin with, as viral marketers and obsessive fanboys are making it their mission to ruin some sim racing blog’s credibility for giving their favorite game a bad review, but given we were nine months early to reporting the sale of Kunos Simulazioni after everyone and their dog called us crazy, I feel it’s the correct time to bring it up, because there’s a chance this is in the ballpark too.

Assetto Corsa 2 might not come at all. According to our source, who again may not be entirely factual, supposedly once every piece of downloadable content planned for release in 2017 is out on the marketplace, support for Assetto Corsa as a franchise is finished, and I was told by another sim racer that “unless someone puts down the capital to make it happen, they’re done, as they mortgaged their homes to make the original Assetto Corsa, and they certainly don’t want to go through that process all over again.” There will allegedly be no new modes or additional features that fans have been requesting for several years – which is sure to sting those patiently waiting for Kunos to polish up Assetto Corsa to the level of other simulators in terms of functionality.

I’m not saying this is accurate, but I’ve heard it about a month ago from somebody I trust, and now I’m hearing it again from an entirely different user who resides in a totally different section of the community. All of the time you’ve spent waiting for Assetto Corsa to become more than an elaborate supercar hotlap simulator – whether you’re playing it on the PC, or current generation consoles – will potentially go to waste.

ac-porscheNow that we’ve got the news portion out of the way, it’s time for me to elaborate on how I feel about this whole announcement.

Though it wasn’t the exact brand we claimed nine months ago, Kunos Simulazioni as a company was indeed just sold off to an investors group. While everybody was calling us crazy last spring for daring to suggest Kunos were even thinking of “selling out” to begin with, we had the balls to say “hey guys, this might be happening.” And it just did. Like, right now.

These kinds of endeavors – with millions of dollars and ownership of an IP on the line – don’t just happen overnight; they take months, maybe even an entire year of careful consideration and meticulous planning, especially given Kunos Simulazioni are a team of professional software developers, as opposed to a single guy making a shitty 2D indie game in his apartment. Suffice to say, they’ve been working on a deal to sell the company for a while.

One theory that has been run by us, is that Turn 10 indeed approached Kunos Simulazioni to acquire the company, but backed out when it suddenly became front page news on several sim racing websites – which would explain Stefano’s immense hatred of us; there’s a possibility we inadvertently screwed them out of a jaw-dropping acquisition. Digital Bros offered ’em four million dollars; I’m sure Microsoft and Turn 10 could easily generate a deal that eclipsed that figure, hence the animosity. It’s public knowledge that Turn 10 shopped around for a developer to create the original Forza Horizon back in 2012 before settling on an all-star lineup of at-the-time jobless racing game developers now known as Playground Games, so this isn’t much of a stretch. I’ll let that ruminate with y’all for a bit.

ac-gt-cupBased on the multiple people who have said Assetto Corsa is finished, I believe we’re not seeing AC2. However, if the franchise does continue on, it’ll certainly be met with a shift in direction. I wouldn’t mind for them to try and recapture what Enthusia Professional Racing did on the PlayStation 2, but any deviation away from what a PC simulator represents will most likely be met with backlash from the community, effectively destroying any fan base this game currently has, therefore making the hypothetical AC2 the last in the series because nobody bought it.

I can see Stefano taking the money and getting out of this altogether; the guy can do the work of ten people when it comes to coding, but he’s demonstrated time and time again that he can’t maintain any sort of positive customer relations, and that’s sort of essential in the current gaming world. People are going to come to your official forums, and some of them aren’t going to treat you like a Rockstar, nor will they find your nickname of Lord Kunos all that funny. You can’t routinely cuss these people out, and given how much of a problem these outbursts have been for him during Assetto Corsa’s lifespan, I can see him throwing in the towel. It’s nothing to be ashamed of in this case; it’s for the best.

15502-1920x1080But in the grande scheme of things, if we distance ourselves from just Assetto Corsa and take a look at Kunos Simulazioni as a whole, I’m beginning to question why this company managed to achieve such a positive reception within the sim racing community in the first place. The acquisition of Kunos Simulazioni by Digital Bros is basically the final nail in the coffin for their credibility, which dates all the way back to 2006.

We start with Stefano’s numerous netKar Pro meltdowns, which eventually resulted in a situation where users were abandoned with a broken game because the team literally weren’t in the mood to work on it. The netBikes experiment which followed failed to gain any sort of traction, all while the netKar Pro community grew frustrated with Kunos over their lack of support, whom eventually did return to fix netKar Pro a year later. Ferrari Virtual Academy, while enjoyable, was a glorified hotlap simulator that didn’t give anybody hope that Kunos could put out a complete racing simulator experience compared to other titles on the market. Kunos had built three games, and hadn’t proven they could finish any of them.

Finally, we reach the whole Assetto Corsa debacle. The game honestly had so much potential, but got lost in development and fell into the lure of big money. During the height of Assetto Corsa’s popularity, Kunos Simulazioni were spearheaded by a good coder couldn’t handle anything but being pampered with the finest grain baby talcum powder and maybe couldn’t further develop the game, a good marketing guy nabbing the licenses, and a physics developer who is poorly perceived by the expert sim racing modders. At what point do we as a community look at this situation unfolding and say “okay, maybe these guys don’t have their shit together in the slightest, and relied on a cult of personality to get them this far?”

Oh, right. It’s the point where they sold off the rights to their operation to some Italian investors group. And that point is today.

Reader Submission #131 – Illumimoblilsta

ams-2017-01-18-19-49-34-30Picking up a product from Reiza Studios is almost seen as a rite of passage within the greater sim racing community. Offering an all-around fantastic driving model that stretches the tried and true isiMotor engine to its absolute limit, both Automobilistaas well as its older brother Stock Car Extreme – provide a rock solid, no-nonsense sim racing experience free from many of the pitfalls currently affecting the genre. There aren’t any power tripping developers attacking their customers, overzealous fanboys defending the product at any cost, or delusional community members passing out fictional hero cards in Reiza’s neck of the woods; Reiza products are typically satisfactory racing simulators whose biggest flaws center around the fact that the technology powering them is tad bit outdated.

However, taking the plunge into what Automobilista has to offer isn’t for every sim racer. Though Reiza have made an admirable effort to flesh out the selection of content within their flagship racing simulator to appeal to international enthusiasts, the team have ensured the core focus of their software is essentially a love letter to the history of auto racing in Brazil. For every unlicensed Formula One machine that just barely skirts around copyright rules, or popular Grand Prix circuit operating under a fictional moniker, there’s an entire Brazilian series full of cars you’ve most likely never heard of, and every single obscure track on the schedule to go along with it. Yes, you can take an off-brand Holden Commodore around well-known locations such as Suzuka or Montreal, but a large portion of Automobilista’s content is intended to satisfy Brazilian motorsports fans first and foremost. Reiza took aim at a very specific niche market within an already niche genre, and merely allowed the game to speak for itself when curious international sim racers caught wind of it. Reiza didn’t necessarily care if people outside of Brazil liked the game, much in the same way EA Sports didn’t care if Europeans were gobbling up copies of the NASCAR Thunder series – it wasn’t built for them, anyway.

But has this approach paid off? Though Reiza have created an impressive racing simulator primarily for South American auto racing geeks – with a bone finally thrown to overseas hobbyists – today’s Reader Submission from Daniel Miquelluti paints a drastically different picture. Though Automobilista was created by a Brazilian developer and loaded with Brazilian content catering specifically to their fellow countrymen, in reality Brazilian sim racers are largely apathetic towards the title. Oops.


ams-2017-01-18-19-48-40-80Hey James (as well of the rest of PRC), greetings from Brazil! I want to talk for a little bit about the sim racing culture down here in South America, as I’ve noticed something that goes against what a lot of people probably assume about us. Here in Brazil, when some local YouTube personalities say they’re making the jump to a more serious simulator from either Forza Motorsport or Gran Turismo, many of them go out and choose either Assetto Corsa or Project CARS. Automobilista, the simulator a lot of you probably expect to be popular down here, has almost never seen the light of day in Brazilian YouTube.

In Brazil, a simple wheel like the Logitech G27 costs upwards of $190 USD used, to $313 USD as a brand new package. Minimum wage, again converting to American currency so your readers have a better understanding, is $281 USD per paycheck. That should make things pretty clear as to why sim racing in Brazil isn’t the most popular activity – a steering wheel is not even on the radar for many people. Just to be clear, more than half of our population earns less than minimum wage. So, if you’re lucky enough to have money to buy a PC, Xbox One , or PlayStation 4 ($470) along with a compatible wheel, only then are you entitled to enter the sim racing world.

Now, let’s enter the problem of how much each title costs. A regular AAA game costs between $30 USD and $59 USD on Steam. At the moment, purchasing Automobilista with the complete season pass converts to $43 USD. By comparison, Assetto Corsa and Project CARS routinely go on sale for much less, to the point where I’ve seen Assetto Corsa retail as low as $17 USD – a very good price that obviously attracts a lot of people, because most Brazilians are forced to shop smart when purchasing entertainment. It’s not financially feasible for us to buy a game which supposedly embraces our national pride and appeals to us directly, because Reiza have priced Automobilista out of reach of their own target audience. So aside from the hardcore guys, which every country has their own small group of, Automobilista hasn’t actually caught on with us. We then factor in the stereotypical sub-par Brazilian workmanship we’re known for – don’t worry, we’re not blind to our own shortcomings – so a lot of sim racers here see a Brazilian simulator on the market and immediately ignore it, because the general consensus is that products from North America, Europe, Asia, or Oceania are far more competent, because that’s usually the truth.

This should explain why Automobilista is not the most popular title by any means in its home country. The sim racers who do play the game absolutely love it, which can be seen in Brazilian reviews of the game from the avid fans, but according to Steam, Automobilista has only sold 5,000 copies here. By comparison so we have some proper metrics, Project CARS sold 13,500 on the PC alone – and that’s with a failing economy, where most can barely afford a nice PC or game console. So to summarize, very rarely can Brazilians afford a fancy wheel, Automobilista isn’t all that affordable compared to other racing games, and most of us believe international goods to be of a higher quality than what we ourselves can produce. Yes, I’m aware there are a few good private Brazilian communities. But by and large, Automobilista is nowhere near as popular down here as sim racers think.

czbfzbnuoaeiv8l-jpg-largeI’d also like to address another topic that I’ve seen brought up on PRC – the cultural problem, to be specific. Each new generation has an increasingly bigger problem with manners than the one before it. Some of the “rich kids” who can afford to sim race think they can do whatever they want, and when they go on the internet, it’s nothing more than an elaborate toy for them. It’s the perfect place for them to go wild and laugh at the expense of others. Sadly, a part of our online community is actually proud of the HUEHUEBRBR reputation, and play up on it for comedic effect – which doesn’t work well in sim racing, because most of these games require a base level of sportsmanship that our countrymen don’t always possess. In fact, the impunity culture seems ingrained within the country as a whole; you can rob or kill anyone and leave jail almost instantly in some situations.Yes, there are nice parts of Brazil, but the bad parts are very bad.  It’s why many people understandably protested our Olympic games this past summer.

Though I will say, if you get to know some of the hardcore guys, you’ll find some great people just trying to race clean and respect others drivers.

Thanks for giving me this platform to speak today.


superv8_automobilista_1Thanks for writing to us, Daniel. I’m very intrigued to see you’ve actually confirmed something I’ve written about in the past – the lack of any sort of tangible userbase for Reiza’s products. Automobilista’s Steam numbers are absolutely horrid given how many contributed to the crowdfunding campaign in 2015, and the abundance of people claiming to sink countless hours into the simulator on Reddit’s sim racing section.

amsWhen I’ve pointed this out in previous articles spanning PRC’s two-year history, some of our readers claimed there was this hidden group of Reiza supporters that simply hadn’t redeemed their copy of any Reiza game on Steam, but were rather operating on a traditional DVD they placed inside their disc drive – meaning they weren’t counted in the metrics – to the point where I began joking that sim racers were intentionally disconnecting from the internet and treating their love of Stock Car Extreme as some Illuminati-like club nobody was allowed to know about. It’s fantastic to know, straight from someone that’s involved in the Brazilian sim racing community, that I wasn’t missing out on top secret Illumimoblilsta meetings – even Brazilians by and large don’t care much for a game built specifically for them. Sure, there are private leagues like you said, but a group of fifty guys from one website all traveling from simulator to simulator over the years is just that – fifty guys.

Which is really shitty, because now we’ve had an additional level of confirmation stating a developer invested a solid chunk of their money and time into helping improve the state of sim racing, only for it to basically go to waste. Call me salty all you want, but I will never forget the absolute frenzy sim racers went into after Reiza unveiled the Holden Commodore V8 Supercar for Stock Car Extreme, only for three consecutive online leagues (two on Race2Play, one on RaceDepartment) to fold because nobody actually wanted to play Stock Car Extreme, and those who did could barely keep the vehicle under control. Throwing money at Reiza during their crowdfunding campaign was like this extreme hipster status icon in the sim racing community, because it turns out nobody’s actually playing their game in the end.

grab_158I also appreciate the explanation behind why Brazilian online culture as a whole has become so toxic. If the internet is only a toy for rich kids and wealthy families, I can understand how it’s essentially become a virtual high class suburb instead of a means of communication everybody uses for work and/or play. There simply aren’t enough people “logging on” (to bust out a term from the 90’s) for others to wise up and say “being a jackass is only funny in moderation, stop spamming HUEHUEHUE BRBRBR in the chat you fucktard.”

Though I will say, however, some of you motherfuckers are fast. It’s just shitty that an equal number of you wind up in EmptyBox videos as comedic relief.

An Exclusive Mode You Shouldn’t Care About

dirt_rally_psvr_announce_screen_6It’s certainly been a while since we’ve talked about DiRT Rally here at PRC.net, but it’s for a good reason. Despite winning our inaugural game of the year award back in 2015 – which admittedly doesn’t mean much to the outside world – the hardcore Codemasters rally simulator certainly hasn’t aged well, offering a limited selection of stages and an underlying hand of God stability assist which has certainly sterilized the raw driving experience. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fantastic off-road point-to-point racer if you can pick it up at a reduced price, but many of us have simply moved on from DiRT Rally because we’ve seen all there is to do within the title Codemasters surprised us with during the spring of 2015.

To capitalize on the Virtual Reality craze that has rocked the gaming world as of late, the PlayStation 4 rendition of DiRT Rally will soon be graced with a hefty update that adds compatibility for Sony’s own PSVR headset. Yes, PlayStation 4 owners will unfortunately be forced to pay extra for the additional in-game functionality, but the key thing is there’s now a practical use for the PSVR headset on Sony’s flagship console. Being able to physically look through difficult corner combinations and focus on specific apexes while flying through Swedish back roads at triple the posted speed limit is a welcome addition to the PlayStation 4, compared to the relatively underwhelming inclusion of Virtual Reality in Evolution’s DriveClub. In fact, DriveClub’s VR spinoff actually made people sick.

But not everyone’s happy with the recent DiRT Rally VR announcement, as Codemasters have promised owners of the Virtual Reality-enabled version exclusive content that’s not available in the vanilla game. DiRT Rally VR will ship with an additional Co-Driver mode, where you’re placed in the passenger seat and tasked with reading out pace notes – presumably for a friend online to act as a sort of quasi co-op mode. Responding to an inquiry from Twitter user Captain Slow, Codemasters have confirmed this additional game mode will be exclusive to the PSVR release of DiRT Rally, and will not be implemented in any other version of the game.

Some are a bit choked about the DiRT Rally experience not remaining uniform across all three renditions of the game, but I’m here to say this isn’t the time to give Codemasters hell. Yes, I’m aware I’ve shit on Kunos Simulazioni for creating a vastly different version of Assetto Corsa for current generation consoles compared to what’s available for PC sim racers to purchase via Steam, but an additional co-driver mode for DiRT Rally on the PlayStation 4 is completely useless no matter how you spin it.

5rxjiv0Though the back of the box claims DiRT Rally features over 70 stages across six different countries, the number in reality is just twelve. Each country features two main routes that take approximately seven minutes for a proficient sim racer to complete, and the stage count is inflated by chopping these primary routes into halves, then quarters, and doubling that number by running each route in reverse. In theory, the entire game can be seen in just under an hour of driving. This became a legitimate problem during the game’s Early Access phase on Steam, as routine monthly updates featuring new sets of cars, or the introduction of a single country, could be played to exhaustion by the end of the evening – only for the game to be shelved for weeks at a time.

DiRT Rally was originally released for the PlayStation 4 in April of 2016, meaning the vast majority of people who possess even a remote interest in rally racing have already seen everything DiRT Rally has to offer – and then some. Even if their driving skills aren’t at the point where they can recite every corner of Sweet Lamb over a bowl of Cheerios at five in the morning, the majority of DiRT Rally owners could probably outright mute the co-driver and still post respectable stage times on some of the higher difficulties. With so few stages in the simulator to begin with, and DiRT Rally’s campaign mode artificially lengthening each rally on higher difficulties by running the exact same stage numerous times, it’s genuinely hard to imagine a scenario where the Co-Driver DLC would even warrant a shakedown run.

Unless you’ve literally just gotten into sim racing this year, or have ignored DiRT Rally for whatever God forsaken reason – which most haven’t – Co-Driver mode is one hundred percent pointless. I’m all for feature parity between multi-platform titles, and it’s great to see users taking the initiative and pushing for parity, but in this specific situation you really aren’t missing out on anything noteworthy. There are only twelve tracks in the game, you’ve probably learned them all by now, and so have your friends.

ps-vr-polo-greece

Disclosure Update: Sev Has Been Given Access to Project CARS 2

5661303_origAs most of you can probably recall from our announcement on the matter only a few months ago here at PRC.net, we’ve implemented a very basic disclosure page to indicate which developers have given us special access to their products, primarily as a way to be upfront with our readers about the simulators we’re writing about on a daily basis. Though this isn’t exactly required on a glorified sim racing blog and we’re basically free to do as we please, I feel it’s the correct way to conduct ourselves given the size of our audience, and the fact that significantly bigger outlets within this virtual ecosystem occasionally mislead their readers via content tainted by hidden deals dictating what specific information they’re allowed to publish. I’d prefer to lead by example, so we’ve given out a definitive list of developers who have provided us with complimentary evaluation access to their software that can be viewed by anyone, at anytime, with a simple trip to the disclosure page. This is something we’re not obligated to do, but it’s just easier for us in the long run if we openly put these details out there rather than try to hide them.

Today’s Disclosure Update revolves around our resident overseas meme magician Severin Austerschmidt, who has been given free access to the WMD program powering Project CARS 2 – which will be released later this year. The gesture came about primarily thanks to the behavior of several other developers within the genre of sim racing – such as iRacing and Kunos Simulazioni – actively ignoring or even belittling the input of real world drivers despite feedback from these individuals being the holy grail of modern racing simulator development. Though Sev can usually be seen in our comments section arguing with other readers about political ideologies, the German auto racing scene recognizes Mr. Austerschmidt as a former Formula Renault 2.0 driver who has beaten a factory BMW competitor during an M235i VLN test session, as well as participated in Audi’s TT cup talent search – meeting some of the racers currently appearing as AI drivers in R3E’s Audi TT cup package. After Ian Bell saw a few instances of major players in sim racing scoff at feedback from those with actual competition experience, Sev was given WMD member access to Project CARS 2 to demonstrate that not every developer is a massive prick who either ignore or outright chase away real drivers.

I’m sure many will undoubtedly spam the comments section with accusations of us selling out and acting as a viral marketing outlet for Slightly Mad Studios, but I’d like to remind our readers that several of our most vocal critics have wished for us to move away from outright slagging off developers, and doing our part to suggest improvements that can be made with each respective piece of software. Sev being recruited by the Slightly Mad Studios CEO himself to provide feedback on the upcoming simulator accomplishes exactly that. If I could impose a mandatory post quota for Sev, I would, because it means a lot for one of our writers to essentially be hand-picked by a developer to give feedback on their game prior to release. The gesture displays that some developers are taking what’s been expressed on PRC.net quite seriously, as opposed to others who write us off as elaborate trolls.

To maintain some semblance of professionalism behind the scenes, I’ve asked Sev not to feed either of us with information, images, and/or videos of Project CARS 2 in action. The recent leaks you’ve seen us post of Project CARS 2 have been linked to us by other readers that have come across them in their travels. Obviously, when you enter a program like WMD, there’s a basic Terms of Service thing you’ve gotta agree to, and it’s wrong of us to use Sev as a pawn to take advantage of a developer willing to genuinely listen to one of our people, just to snatch a few screenshots from the private forums and reel in extra clicks for a day or two at most.

We will still cover Project CARS 2 in our traditional abrasive PRC fashion that you have all come to know and love, as per Ian Bell’s request. If the game is good, we will say good things. If the game is bad, we will say bad things. And for the pCars 2 shills among us, you’re welcome to give him a kick in the ass on the WMD forums if he’s not actively giving feedback like he’s supposed to.

 

Reader Submission #130 – And So the Censorship Begins…

maxresdefaultThough discussions of this story have remained primarily within private communities and message boards the average sim racer can’t access without an active iRacing subscription, the biggest online racing simulator currently in business has caused a bit of a stir as of late. Introduced only a few short days ago as an “oh yeah, before we forget” update, iRacing members not residing in the United States of America are now forced to pay a VAT tax on any pieces of content or subscription packages they purchase for iRacing. For almost an entire decade, iRacing have been able to cover the cost of these overseas taxes themselves – to the point where very few international iRacers were actually aware of what VAT taxes were to begin with – but the line in the sand has now been drawn, and it’s making several European members extremely uncomfortable. iRacing is already priced in a manner that requires acquiring each new piece of content to be a meticulously calculated purchase, and the surprise implementation of hefty taxes on virtual cars and tracks is creating a scenario where those otherwise satisfied with the service are starting to question its direction.

What was once deemed to be a quality service priced at a premium, is now slightly out of reach for several hobbyists, and it’s changing how they feel about the game itself.

To explain why several are choked about this, most iRacers purchase pieces of content on the service in bundles of three or six, as the simulation offers a discount on bundles as opposed to single cars or tracks. For residents living outside of America, these already pricey packages – thanks to currency conversion – have now been slapped with roughly an additional $20 USD in taxes, promptly sending the cost of running just four weeks in any official series skyrocketing. Essentially, iRacing members subjected to VAT rules are now paying the cost of two additional cars or tracks in taxes, along with the cost of their original order of content – which can vary depending on world currency. After conversion, a single month of iRacing for those living in the United Kingdom is now 20 GBP or $32 CDNdownright unreasonable for anyone who has browsed the Steam marketplace out of boredom in search of other racing simulators. As one user on Reddit writes, iRacing became around 25% more expensive for the rest of the planet overnight, and it was already expensive to begin with. It’s not good.

But it’s the way iRacing have handled the backlash which caused iRacing member Daniel Fletcher to send in a Reader Submission about this today. Now that the service is slowly becoming difficult to afford for the average sim racer thanks to these sudden changes in the purchasing process, those who once defended iRacing as an elite club of hardcore hobbyists are a bit disappointed to see the service isn’t progressing in a manner that justifies the enormous cost.


1Hi PRC, I have something for you guys that you may or may not find intriguing. As you’re probably aware of by now, iRacing recently started to charge a tax on top of the base subscription and content costs for international sim racers. This made me take a real hard look about what was going on behind the scenes and the direction iRacing is taking, because obviously if you’re asking a bit more for the product, the quality of the product should justify the increased costs. Currently, the focus is on pushing out content, while the tire model is still a work in progress project, and there are some pieces of content which receive announcements yet have still failed to materialize after many years.

vat-thread-postI first made a post in the VAT thread, stating my displeasure with the emphasis on content rather than quality, and it seemed I was not alone. So rather than the post getting buried in a debate about the VAT, I started a new thread in the general off-topic discussion section. Within 30 or 40 minutes, the thread vanished.

img_0030I then made another thread asking why my original thread was locked, as I could see no justifiable reason for it. As you can imagine, it was met with the usual crap of silly memes and people claiming I was ripping iRacing to pieces, which was totally false. After a comment from Steve Moore stating iRacing doesn’t like the truth, that thread was locked as well. Receiving private messages asking what my original thread contained and requests to start another one, I went ahead, this time keeping screenshots as proof. I couldn’t remember exactly how I worded the first, but the new thread was basically a mirror of the first one. Again, the usual forum idiots had their say, and it too was met with a lock. Five minutes later, iRacing unlocked it.

img_0046As the day went on, other people started to voice their concerns. it was a reasonable debate. I tried answering everybody, one by one. I never insulted anyone, or broke any rules that I was aware of.

img_0076After getting accused of trolling for the crime of answering too quickly, staff member Shannon Whitmore arrived to say I was just arguing with people, and that the thread was locked. My post history is clear for all to see. I don’t insult people. I hardly ever use the forums for that matter. But instead of starting again, I just voiced my opinions in other threads, on topic of course, which were threads about issues anyway.

img_0086This morning, it appears I’ve been banned from the iRacing member forums. I can’t see where I’ve broken rules, I just raised issues that many people have within the service. Maybe I’m just being butthurt, which is what people are telling me… but silencing the critics seems to be a real issue on the forums. Maybe this is just pointless… I’m not sure, but I thought I’d send it in regardless.


tumblr_odq83smsp61rdfljoo1_1280Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I’m sure a large pack of iRacers will quickly make you out to be delusional or mentally ill for using PRC as a platform to voice your concerns – or even contacting us to begin with – but I have to make it very clear that you’re not wrong. The service (God I hate calling it that, it’s a fucking online racing game) isn’t where it should be after eight years in operation, and the staff indeed hand out suspensions and bans like Halloween candy. It’s important to note that most of iRacing’s forum administrators were merely handed the job thanks to their role in the NASCAR Racing 2003 Season ecosystem many moons ago, so the emotional hemophilia and rash decisions you see leading to speedy bans are the result of semi-retired guys with little patience being paid to monitor the forums all day, but it’s not an excuse for how they operate. Just an explanation. When they have to deal with Lance Gomez Jr. shitting up the forums with Reddit-tier memes, I can understand from their point of view why they keep the majority of members on a short leash.

But I’ve dug through what you’ve sent me, and I honestly can’t see any problems with what you or others have written in the threads that were locked and eventually deleted. iRacing is getting old, they’re prioritizing content releases over improving physical elements of the simulator, and in your case, the prices have now been jacked up exponentially overnight. You have every right to question what you’re receiving for your money, especially since promotional material paints the service out to be this be-all, end-all solution for online racing when it clearly has some flaws that need to be ironed out. As I said about a week ago, it’s like iRacing intentionally went and created a country club-like atmosphere where members are encouraged to join with the mindset that it’s somehow not a video game, but instead avirtual online career – as if this somehow prevents it from being criticized like a video game. You’re not wrong, they need to get their shit together when it comes to certain elements.

I also definitely get a kick out of the big spenders trying to brag about how much cheaper it is to sign up for iRacing, than to go racing in real life. Sim dads who can barely work a computer aside from navigating to the iRacing member page have no right to try and say the ludicrous four-figure cost is somehow reasonable compared to something like Project CARS, just because a set of tires for their weekend warrior is $600; especially when most of iRacing’s competitors retail for $50 and provide roughly the same on-track experience in terms of driving model competence. As a member of the younger generation of sim racers – people who have been steadily hitting up Best Buy or Steam for new video games – we know that $750+ USD is simply not reasonable for a piece of software unless you’re offering a phenomenal service, which iRacing doesn’t.

So as I said, you’re not wrong to question what you’re getting for the money you’re putting down. Don’t let the sim dads shout tire costs at you. At the end of the day, it’s pretend racing on a computer monitor, and we should compare it to other video games that allow us to drive race cars on the computer monitor.

maxresdefaultNow, in terms of censorship, I’m going to open a mammoth can of worms here. iRacing indeed censors people, or at least makes the lives of sim racers who criticize the service difficult. In late 2016, I published a relatively awkward piece on PRC.net telling our readers about a private phone conversation I was able to have with iRacing’s Tony Gardner, and implied a line of communication had been opened between us here at PRC, and the boys over at iRacing.com. Basically, I dropped hints indicating  a few iRacing staff members had been monitoring our neck of the woods given the specific sim racing personalities that had come out in support of us, and they were taking the concerns brought up in our interviews with real world late model drivers quite seriously. Some of you were pretty happy to hear this information.

I would like to take a moment to apologize to our readers for posting a dishonest article – that’s not what we discussed. During the brief ten minute phone conversation, it was heavily implied I had indeed been removed from the service outright, and then ignored for eighteen months by iRacing’s customer support staff members, solely for publishing what they believed to be “unfair articles” about the simulator. It’s very important to note Tony personally apologized for this behavior on the part of iRacing as a company and did everything he could to rectify the situation in a manner that was satisfactory – so don’t pile on him and call him an asshole or anything – but it left me very unhappy that in a simulator boasting over 60,000 user, staff members will absolutely point to a single individual in the userbase and say “fuck that guy.” So I’m not surprised that for “lesser offenses”, guys are receiving the ban hammer just for talking about the direction of the software after a price hike.

untitled-3It really draws the credibility of every YouTube personality and sim racing journalist who covers iRacing into question; do they genuinely enjoy iRacing, or is there a metaphorical gun placed against their head, with personalities knowing full well the consequences of negative social media postings about iRacing? Sure, in my specific situation, I was able to get things resolved in just under two years, but it was an arduous two years full of iTard fanboys screeching that I’m mentally ill and supposedly harboring an irrational vendetta against the service. That’s the cost of speaking your mind about iRacing, so I’m not exactly surprised that other users are now starting to report censorship issues as well for doing the same, just on a smaller level

What I’m more concerned about, however, is who turns into the next Austin Ogonoski. Does Joe Nathan start his own website in 2019 after a successful string of YouTube videos, and become public enemy number one and wake up one morning to find out he’s locked out of his account, and support emails go unanswered? Does Daniel Fletcher randomly receive a two month ban for a petty infraction, only to be piled on by the community and unable to post on the message board when he returns?

Only time will tell, because as you’ve seen above, some users are already approaching that horizon.