I always love receiving Reader Submissions from foreign countries, as it really boggles my mind how those who speak English as a second language take the time out of their day to read lengthy English articles on Sim Racing. Even though I took French in High School, I couldn’t imagine trying to sit down on a daily basis and read Francais Sim Racing articles. Today’s Reader Submission comes from Miguel from Portugal and it’s a long one, going over the rising costs of sim racing.
Hello PretendRaceCars.net! My name is Miguel, and I’ve been a longtime reader of this website. I started reading right when the blog was created, and I always enjoy taking a bit of time to read the new articles posted each day. The reason being not just for the excellent writing about one of my personal hobbies, but because this is a non-biased website. To be quite honest, it’s refreshing in the Sim Racing community.
I’ve never written anything in my life aside from school papers, and have never tried sending an Email to a website before. I’m sure this won’t be high quality stuff, but whatever.
I’m writing to you because I need to get something off my chest. Living in a country where sim racing isn’t popular (Portugal), a country where video games as a whole are extremely expensive (it’s cheaper to buy games on Amazon and ship them), it saddens me that two of the best sims out there are ridiculously expensive. Maybe not for those who think it’s reasonable to spend 1500€ on a home simulator, but for the average gamer, it is absurd.
I’ll give three examples to explain what I mean: rFactor 2, iRacing, and RaceRoom Racing Experience. And I’ll also compare them to older sims like NASCAR 2003, rFactor, GTR 2, Race 07, or even F1 Challenge. The reason I’m not getting into Assetto Corsa and Project CARS is because I’ve never played Assetto Corsa, and Project CARS is too rubbish of a game to even mention.
For the base singleplayer game, as well as a year of online access, rFactor 2 costs $44. For lifetime online access? $85. Now, in today’s market we’ve grown accustomed to pay top dollar for quality content. And rFactor 2 is a game of very high quality. The road surface model is really good, and it makes you adapt to the different road conditions throughout each session. However, modders haven’t really latched onto rFactor 2, and the modding community is non-existent save for a few familiar faces. That sucks, because it’s the whole point of the game. I don’t really understand why mod teams instead focus their efforts on Assetto Corsa. rFactor 2 is a better game (in my opinion at least), and for one year, it costs the same money as AC (not counting DLC’s, which are bullshit for that matter). Maybe if ISI made the game cheaper and get rid of the online subscription, more people would be playing it, and realize how good the game is. Sadly, that doesn’t seem to be happening anytime soon. So what did I get for my $44? Not a lot.
iRacing costs, for a two year membership, $90. Now, in Portugal, this is surprisingly cheaper than the retail price of F1 2015 (a game we know is really, really crap.) iRacing is built on online racing. And to give credit where credit is due, iRacing works very well. It pairs you with players of equal pace, compared to other sims that are loaded with bad drivers and trolls. This makes the $90 worth it, but iRacing isn’t for everybody. Most people don’t have the time to spend lots of hours sim racing to get good at iRacing. You’ll probably be too tired when you arrive home from work to set up your wheel and spend the rest of your day playing online in a super competitive format. iRacing is for those who like to sim race very often. For those who like to do the occasional race without being super hardcore, it’s better if you stick to other games. However, if you stick to other games, you’re forced to join leagues because of little online activity.
Finally, we get to the stupid price of RaceRoom Racing Experience. Emphasis on stupid. Yes, it’s free to play. For the base pack. After that, you hit the paywall that Sector 3 has created. It’s a very good game, but paying almost 200€ for DLC packs and individual cars? The guy who had that idea should be shot and buried. It’s not a good idea for how good your game is, and what it does. Nobody will be wanting to pay that money for GTR 2 with micro-transactions, unless you’re going to throw about 2000€ into a home simulator anyway. The rest? They’ll try everything to crack the game with the DLC’s, in order for everyone else to enjoy the game. Nobody in their right mind would throw that money into a game with no definitive features like iRacing, where the price goes to big stat tracking features and organized races. Sector 3 should make money in order to keep throwing good content at us, but that’s not how it is. If you just release a full priced game with all the DLC’s included, more people would buy the game, making more money a bit more quickly compared to waiting for people to fall victim to the pay wall.
I won’t talk about Assetto Corsa because I’ve never played it, and only know the things I know from what I’ve read on PRC.net, or on forums. As for Project CARS, we can just throw that into a pile of dog shit. But at least Slightly Mad Studios are trying to patch the game, right? Oh wait, they announced Project CARS 2 before the first one was even done.
For some reason, there are on average 5-10 public servers on Race 07 or rFactor, and maybe 1-5 public servers on games like rFactor 2 or Stock Car Extreme. Is it because sim racing games today are worse than the titles from ten years ago? No, but they’re certainly more expensive, and have less content. Look at the games like GTR 2, Race 07, F1 Challenge, GT Legends, rFactor, Grand Prix Legends, and even the console games like Colin McRae 2005, WRC Rally Evolved, and Gran Turismo 4… Some still have an active community! When you paid the $60 or whatever, you knew you were going to get something that had a new way to play each day, and even when you got tired of the game, people in the community were working hard to improve it with mods.
From the three sims mentioned earlier, the only one I own is RaceRoom Racing Experience. I played the demo of rFactor 2, and last year was able to convince my dad to let me try iRacing for a month. Yet I own all of the titles mentioned above, and still play them a lot, because there is so much to do! They are all fantastic games, and when we look at the old titles compared to what we have available now, I sometimes think that Sim Racing is going backwards. F1 2015 in Portugal is over $90, video games as a whole are getting more expensive, and I can’t justify buying it, but games from ten years ago still entertain me whether I’m racing online or offline.
But also looking at the games we have now, we know that despite drawbacks, if companies realize the potential this market has, and reduce prices for their games, most of the new games can become as legendary as some mentioned above, and have their life expanded by over 10 years, as it happens with some of those. We can only wait things improve from now on.
I think you have a point about the cost. I don’t think it’s 100% accurate, I still feel like the community subconsciously realizes most modern racing sims are shit and instead opt to sit around on the forums fighting with each other because they’ve already grown tired of the games, but I do agree that cost plays some factor in how big the playerbase for each game is.
Get rid of the stupid online pass for rFactor 2, and more people would be inclined to try it. Stock Car Extreme was $33, what’s another $40 for rFactor 2? Oh wait, they want $80 so I can play online without worrying about a subscription? What the fuck? Why? You’re paying ISI to access a server browser featuring servers that aren’t even hosted by ISI!
The cost of iRacing is absurd. I get that the enormous prices help cover the costs of maintaining dedicated servers and advanced stat tracking stuff, but if you want to make iRacing your main racing sim and try a sizable portion of the content, you end up quickly surpassing the startup cost of buying a next generation gaming system. Just to run a full season in a couple different series, you’re looking at anywhere from $400 – $600. When I first got my Xbox 360 back in 2007, I think it was $400 for the console, an Xbox Live membership, and three or four different games. One game, or a modern console with many games? Man, no matter how much you like sim racing, there’s one smart option there.
Personally, I think iRacing’s price is aimed at old guys and/or “gear snobs” who aren’t quite familiar with the video game market. These are precisely the group of apologists who believe cost is directly related to quality, and that labelling the game a simulator means it transcends what it means to be a computer game… but that’s a story for a few weeks from now. In short, it’s a marketing ploy to reel in the old guys and gear snobs. You know, the kids in high school who bought brand new Air Jordan’s, only to get cut from the Senior team? Yeah, those are the kinds of people the $15 per car and track are intended to exploit.
RaceRoom’s price is fucking retarded. They took Race 07 and chopped it up into tiny pieces locked behind micro-transactions, which aren’t that micro if you desire a selection of content on par with the sims of yesteryear. Look guys, I know that “you can make RaceRoom really cheap if you only purchase the car you want to drive” (this should really be a trademarked phrase by now), but I haven’t had a lobotomy, and clearly remember days when I could drive ALL the cars, whenever the fuck I wanted. I would never have discovered I prefer the mid engine layout of the Lamborghini Murcielago over the front engine layout of the Dodge Viper if I had to jack mommy’s credit card each time I wanted to change cars in GTR 2. It’s absurd for a developer to willingly cripple the concept of experimentation and free choice in search of the almighty dollar.
Like I said, I don’t think you’re fully correct about the cost prohibiting some from diving deep into sim racing, but in places where video games are expensive, it can be an issue, and I do think that you aren’t getting much bang for your buck with modern sims.