I apologize in advance for the problems this article is going to cause, but I strive to tell it like it is with PretendRaceCars.net, and I can only report on my own personal observations. I really hope I’m wrong with what I’m about to write, I really hope someone tells me to go fuck myself and a select few criticize my taste in women just for the hell of it, because I don’t want to believe my own screencaps. This is beyond pathetic and speaks volumes for the type of people involved in sim racing in any form.
We have to start somewhere because I’m sure this article will go the rounds at some point and be read by people not entirely familiar with the wide world of racing sims, and we’ll do so by introducing Game Stock Car Extreme, or as it’s known on Steam: Stock Car Extreme.
Released by Brazilian developer Reiza Studios, Stock Car Extreme is the official racing sim of Stock Car Brasil, essentially South America’s version of NASCAR. The game retails for $30 and is based on the aging-yet-still-amazing gMotor game engine; the Source Engine of driving games. Formerly an rFactor modding group (and a damn good one at that) Reiza’s flagship retail title is known throughout the sim community as one of the best modern racing sims available on the market. They have taken a game engine that’s almost a decade old, injected as many third party plugins into the game as possible to keep the game relevant in 2015, and bundled a killer core experience with some of the finest cars and tracks made within the constraints of ISI’s legendary game engine. Unlike rival titles, which see the userbase constantly waiting for updates or new features to be implemented, Stock Car Extreme is a fully finished, feature-complete game. If there’s one racing sim you must have, one where it’s not necessary to become involved in the game’s forums and sit around for weeks waiting upon patches to add or fix core features within the game, this is the one.
The biggest downfall of the game is ultimately what’s available for you to drive, and where you can drive it. Reiza has centered Stock Car Extreme around the 2013 and 2014 Stock Car Brasil seasons, as well as the supporting cast of amateur racing series seen at the events each weekend, meaning the game is very heavily centered around South American content. While there are several historic unlicensed Formula One cars, Go Karts, Touring Cars, Prototypes, and even a modern Chevrolet Camaro available to drive, the track roster stays largely within the country of Brazil, with only a handful of familiar tracks among the sea of obscure courses like Cascavel and Taruma that make up the real Stock Car Brasil season. Conversions of rFactor tracks and mods are available, in fact there’s a tool to easily convert mods and tracks with one click, but they pale in comparison to the high quality content that ships with the game.
What this means is that the game has a very niche userbase – Native Brazilian’s who follow Stock Car Brasil as their favorite racing series are the intended primary target, and racing sim enthusiasts who enjoy the challenge of learning new tracks and don’t care for all of the obscure content they’re forced to devour are natural adopters. Obviously, neither of the two groups are very big; a portion of a portion of an already small base audience.
But the people who do play Stock Car Extreme, absolutely love it. This is a game where I went from not even knowing Brazil had a national racing series, to signing up for a league within a few weeks of purchasing the game.
Reiza set out to rectify this last month, announcing a crowdfunding campaign for upcoming DLC. Again, the game is feature-complete, retails for $30, and is considered finished. There is no early access format like how Assetto Corsa first launched in late 2013, nor does the game’s splash screen warn you that the game is an Open Beta like Race Room Racing Experience. The crowdfunding campaign was an attempt to generate interest in the title among a greater group of people – the game is really fucking awesome, but only those brave enough to learn a huge amount of new tracks and cars have bothered to touch it, instead opting for titles with more familiar content like Project CARS and F1 2015.
Reiza’s plan to get more people into the glorious Stock Car Extreme was to start a crowdfunding campaign on IndieGoGo, offering several different contribution levels with various different perks (including a sweet vacation) in exchange for using your funds to develop DLC that a majority of racing sim fans would really really like – in particular, three specific racing series that have huge followings, but no flagship racing simulator. Among the numerous improvements Reiza promised with the crowdfunding campaign, the Brazilian dev team announced they’d be bringing three amazing racing series to their already awesome sim – V8 Supercars, Stadium SuperTrucks, and Rallycross. Google these. They’re all insane.
Regardless of which level people donated, almost all levels in the crowdfunding campaign rewarded you with one or several copies of Stock Car Extreme, or required you to own the title, allowing not only the contributor, but all of their friends to get in on the racing action as well. Not only that, but positive discussion of the game exploded across various different sim racing forums and news sites. A huge amount of people basically sat around cheering the title on as they slowly worked towards the goal of $78,000, singing the praises of Stock Car Extreme as if it was common knowledge that the game was the best racing sim available and had a huge amount of people already playing it:
Reiza managed to surpass their goal on the final day, with over 1,200 people contributing to the continued development of Stock Car Extreme, the huge list of free DLC planned, and all of the additional features announced, such as Virtual Reality support, a dynamic track surface, and many more awesome features that only add to what’s a stellar retail product. To put that number in perspective, iRacing has 2,500 active users on any given night, and half of those are oval racers. Reiza essentially managed to round up a userbase the size of iRacing’s road racing userbase to help crowdfund DLC, essentially making them a serious player among the undisputed giant of online racing sims.
At least, that’s what the numbers said.
You’d think that for all these new people who’ve just gotten into Stock Car Extreme with their additional Steam codes from the Crowdfunding campaign, and all of these hardcore fans who love Stock Car Extreme that much to the point where they contributed to the continued development of the game post release, there would be a shit ton of people online, right? Surely everyone should be taking to the online servers in celebration of a milestone for the greater sim racing community, right?
Above is a screenshot of the server browser for Stock Car Extreme. Out of the ten different populated rooms, only two are available for retards like me to jump in and race – the rest locked behind passwords meant for members of various leagues and private message boards. Even after factoring in time zones, despite 1,299+ hardcore Stock Car Extreme fans paying extra for Reiza to develop additional DLC, plus all of their friends who undoubtedly received the extra Steam codes as gifts because “hey bro, come play this awesome racing sim I helped crowdfund with me,” there are six people to race against online.
This is what one of those races looks like after the first lap has been completed. There are four cars on the track, and two of them have a chance to win. GeneRally has bigger fields and closer racing.
And despite how excited everyone is for official Reiza content given the shoddy quality of rFactor mod conversions, the most populated room at the top of the server browser, with a whopping 13 players is for a mod called Reiza37 – in other words, a shitty rFactor conversion. As we’ve discussed in the past, conversions for Stock Car Extreme tend to suck.
Now some people will point the finger solely at me and say “James you cocksucking faggot, you’re skewing data again for clicks, stop sensationalizing you piece of shit!” – and to that I say, check out the official data from Steam:
I just want to drill this home for some of you – there are 15X the amount of people who crowdfunded Stock Car Extreme’s future DLC than there are actually playing the game, even though all of these people received (in some cases) multiple CD keys to distribute to their friends.
Tons of topics popping up about how great this game is and how Reiza deserves their moment in the spotlight (which they do). Tons of people cheering on the little team from Brazil as the ending date of the campaign nears. Tons of people contributing to the funding needed to develop additional DLC, a group big enough to compete with the #1 online racing sim on the market. Tons of extra CD keys given to friends of hardcore Stock Car Extreme fans so there are even more people to race against. Preview videos of the DLC content popping up everywhere.
Nobody actually playing the game.
Stock Car Extreme features the 2013 and 2014 Stock Car Brasil season, replicated in full, with all tracks seen on the real life schedule. The title also includes a Brazilian designed closed cockpit Prototype, the 2013 Mini Challenge, the 2013 Chevrolet Camaro in all retail colors, four different types of racing Karts, five different historic Formula One cars, two different historic Stock Car Brasil Chevrolet Opala’s, two amateur open wheel cars (Formula 3 and Formula Vee), Copa Petrobas De Marcas touring cars, and a surprisingly decent array of historic and modern FIA approved circuits, most of which saw action in a handful of Formula One seasons. The game includes all relevant online functionality for anything from short races to league events, as well as an alright selection of offline modes with competent AI ranging from test days to offline championships. The title retails for $30 and is available right now.
Yet, an overwhelming amount of sim racers are perfectly comfortable sitting around bragging about donating money to Reiza’s IndieGoGo campaign on a multitude of different message boards as if this will somehow boost their reputation among their peers than actually running laps in the sim – and very few even admit they’ve touched the game, opting to say shit like:
What do you mean “when this comes out?” It’s already out! What exactly are you getting out of sitting around on Reddit being all “omg this is so great, the dev team deserves it!” You’re damn right the dev team deserves it, Reiza are awesome at what they do, but if they’re so awesome and the game itself is so awesome to the point where y’all are throwing money at them for future DLC, why the fuck are there six people online? Did I miss something here? Is the current version of the game broken? Or have we gotten to a point in time where sitting around posting on message boards is more appealing than actually playing the games you’re discussing among the community?