We’ve received a handful of fantastic Reader Submissions from Ruben Galvez Lopez, and today’s is no exception. Drawing attention to the disastrous yet populated environment of console racing games compared to the ghost towns of modern racing sims, Lopez wishes both sides of the spectrum could unite as one so we could see a resurgence in the popularity of racing games.
It’s not uncommon seeing the sim racing community being condescending towards console users, and sometimes even towards sims that dare trying to make a move into the console market. I’m sure you’ve heard stuff like:
- It’s not a sim anymore!
- It’s dumbed down to cater to console users!
What’s even worse is that the lack of options we’ve had for years make me assume this feeling is shared by people inside the industry itself. No one has released serious racing games for consoles, and the only explanation I can think of is that they thought it wouldn’t sell.
Let me get this straight – I’m perfectly aware of some of the old negative stereotypes rehashed all over the place about console players. I think it was you yourself that illustrated the skill level you’re likely to find on console driving games with this hilarious video:
I can’t disagree. Public races are a fucking jungle. The average console player is probably way worse than the average PC racer, and the number of crashing kiddies reduce your chances of a smooth pickup and play race to nearly nothing. But that does not mean by any means that everyone in the world of console driving games is a moron, and that you simply can’t race competitively on consoles. Let me illustrate my point with a video:
These guys you’re seeing trading paint safely in a big pack and having intense battles all over the race track with no hint of drama are just a bunch of guys that got together two years ago playing Grand Theft Auto V. Yeah, you read that right, Grand Theft Auto. I think it goes to show that there are plenty of competent drivers out there just waiting to be lured into sim racing. And the community would only benefit if they got involved.
I think the condescending attitude I described before is poisonous. One of the main problems about sim racing is the small player base and the lack of activity. I’ve read here on PRC.net about killer sims being a fucking desert when you try to get a race going, and how people contribute to crowdfunding campaigns for games nobody actually races! I’ve also read another Reader Submission where someone wondered if sim racing could ever become an e-sport. We all would love being able to pick and play our favorite software with a bunch of guys that know what they’re doing, and we would love if racing pretend cars on a television was far more popular. Think about it: more popularity, bigger userbase, more developers trying to nail it, better sims as a result… sounds good doesn’t it?
So why be hostile towards a potential huge source of players to increase the userbase? I just don’t get it.
Console releases shouldn’t be perceived as a threat to the genre’s purity, but as an opportunity to grow. A LOT. We just need something serious to be released in good condition, and I’m sure a lot of new people will jump on the bandwagon; hopefully they’ll fasten their seatbelts and keep their arms inside the vehicle.
The anticipation for Project CARS was immense for thousands of people that were tired of Gran Turismo, Forza, or Codemasters F1 games… or even Grand Theft Auto! The sale figures were damn good for a kind of game that no one dared to release because they thought it could not sell well. The problem is, Project CARS was fucking broken. If your first attempt to get into something happens in such a shitty environment, you’re not likely to give it another go. Now we know Assetto Corsa is also coming to consoles, and there are fears it will arrive short of key functionality like proper support for online racing.
If, after a broken game, the next title we get is a hotlapping simulator that drives well but does nothing else, a huge opportunity will be wasted to lure players. So all I can say to end the submission is:
Please, Kunos, get it right!
First, sometimes the condescending comments towards console players and the games they play have a bit of merit. Look, there’s some shit you can do in Forza and Gran Turismo that would put your life at risk if you tried it in a real car. I remember hotlapping in Forza 4 with the Mazda 787B, and being able to rapidly tap the handbrake at Sebring to rotate the rear end of the car. I’m pretty sure Group C Prototypes don’t have handbrakes. In Gran Turismo, the racing compound tires allowed me to smash the real life track record at Bathurst in a Ford Falcon from fifteen years ago. I love shit like Hot Wheels Turbo Racing and Need for Speed Hot Pursuit 2, but if you’re going to put The Real Driving Simulator on the box, back it up, because there’s only one group of people who care.
These games have traditionally not sold anywhere near as well as Madden or Call of Duty, and are played exclusively by die-hard car guys. You know your target audience won’t just play the game for an hour or two; they’ll scrutinize every last detail. When your audience is that dedicated by default, it’s important to get every last detail as right as possible. Cutting corners and dumbing down game elements doesn’t benefit the average gamer, because the average gamer doesn’t play racing sims.
This is something MakCorp, a multi-platform sim modding team, touched on a bit when talking about Assetto Corsa a few months ago. Ultimately, there are a ton of teams using rFactor not just to familiarize them with track layouts, but to genuinely prepare for a race weekend.
This $30 game that virtually everyone pirates nowadays is now on-par with RacePak and Motec in terms of data analysis. PC sim guys get pissed when racing sims are dumbed down on consoles because console games are typically created by developer teams with a much higher budget, a significantly larger amount of resources, and could blow away what these now ancient sims were able to achieve a decade ago – and then proceed to make a firm decision not to.
Second, I think it might have been one of the FSR guys that told me how a large percentage of the current FSR field got their start in competitive online racing through RaceDepartment’s F1 2010 league. We might not need a killer sim app on consoles, because those who want a hardcore racing experience migrate to the hardcore games naturally. Even myself, I remember racing F1 2011 with my buddy down the street over Xbox Live, and getting wrecked out of a race at Valencia by some shitter who couldn’t keep the car facing forward. I signed off, figured out how to apply for a credit card, and three weeks later signed up for iRacing.
Is there any one main reason the majority of public lobbies on consoles are shitfests? I don’t think so, but at the end of the day, driving cars at speed is a skill, and there’s a reason most civilized countries have you take a rigorous course before you’re allowed to pilot a vehicle by yourself on city streets – this shit can get out of hand in a hurry. Clean racing on any platform is the result of like-minded people getting together and making a group effort to get better at the game.
Third, sim racing’s lack of activity is primarily the result of online communities. Now I have just as much fun maintaining this site with my old roommate and a guy from Germany as I do actually playing the damn games we talk about, but you have to remember, for every minute I’m on here editing articles or thinking of new shit to write about, that’s one less minute I’m in a lobby actually racing. All ~50 people currently reading r/SimRacing means there are 50 less people to populate a server in Stock Car Extreme. All 400+ people online browsing the forums at RaceDepartment and bickering with each other means there are 400 less people on Assetto Corsa. And of course, there’s the heavy hitters – all 800 people reading the iRacing forums means there are 800 less people practicing or racing an official session; all 90 people complaining that a new patch broke Project CARS again results in 90 less people jumping in online lobbies they find exciting.
Fourth, Assetto Corsa is going to be a hotlap simulator when it comes out next year. Sorry to burst your bubble. I’ve heard this from a variety of sources – some with beta access, some not with beta access, it’s all the same conclusion. 505 Games want to establish the Assetto Corsa brand when the game drops for the PS4 and Xbox One, basically hoping early adopters will be happy with the finished product and vocally praise what the game does right, as well as securing funds for the sequel through the resulting sales. It’ll have more cars and tracks than the current list of content available, that’s for sure, but there isn’t a whole lot more they plan to pump into the game between now and launch day in terms of functionality. Mainstream sites will praise the driving physics, but final scores will inevitably suffer, and the various journalists will find numerous ways to say “there isn’t much to do.”
Your best bet for a good console racing sim is praying Forza Motorsport 6 doesn’t suck, as you really can’t argue against 450+ cars and an impressive track list that covers all bases quite well. I’m still curious as to why they’ve got Daytona on the roster yet no American Stock Cars, but there are tons of PC sim guys that got into this shit through the first few Forza games, and now it looks like Forza’s got some hair on its chest…