The dormant month of December brings upon us a time to reflect over what 2015 has brought the world of sim racing, and since early January we’ve been dedicated to bringing you endless controversial stories that other websites are contractually obligated not to cover. With our home base located on a League of Legends Teamspeak server, and our lengthy articles written by just three guys sitting in their jammies, our premium WordPress blog has amassed over 220,000 unique visitors and over 700,000 hits. Statistics that impressive for a small-time operation indicate a sim racing rip-off of TheDirty was exactly what the people wanted.
And that’s because our no-nonsense approach allows us to predict shit months in advance, and be downright cocky about it. What started out as a creative outlet for myself and a few of my buddies turned into a reputable source for sim racing news, because month after month, we proved time and time again that we weren’t just pulling things out of our collective asses. Twelve times we’ve stepped up to the plate with extremely controversial news other sites were too afraid or politically correct to publish, and twelve times we’ve knocked it out of the park.
Let’s start from the top.
#1 – We predicted the disaster of WRC 5 based on the company’s previous efforts.
On January 23rd, we did about five minutes of investigation into the upcoming WRC title by Kylotonn Games. After Milestone had lost the WRC license and set out on developing a rally simulator with Sebastien Loeb’s namesake, a team whose claim to fame were a line of fitness titles for the Xbox 360 was awarded the rights to the official World Rally Championship game, due out as the 2015 season came to a close. Based on this observation alone, we predicted that WRC 5 would be a shovelware-quality title. We were right. Upon release in October, the game struggled to stand up to titles from the PS2 generation of rally games, such as Colin McRae Rally 2005, and was so underwhelming that the game rarely sees more than one hundred players running the executable at any given time.
#2 – People are still writing to us about how bad Project CARS is, six months after launch.
Armed with access to the WMD forums and a trusty PrtScn button, PRC.net gained widespread notoriety for reporting on the chaotic development of the controversial crowdfunded racing sim by Slightly Mad Studios. As viral marketers rushed across message boards far and wide to proclaim the gospel of Project CARS, we here at PRC.net offered a very different take on the game. On January 31st, we published a detailed look at the internal development forums, one which saw a plethora of comical glitch videos, as well as users receiving bans for pointing out game-breaking bugs and questioning the direction of the game. Over the months prior to the game’s release, we continued to call delay announcements weeks in advance and posted numerous beta videos foreshadowing the eventual disastrous launch in May, injecting screenshots of forum posts where financial contributors admitted to outright lying about the game in order to generate false hype.
Slightly Mad Studios apologists and even Ian Bell himself claimed we had an irrational vendetta against both the company and the franchise, yet six months later, people are still sending us lengthy essays describing how broken Project CARS is.
#3 – We knew F1 2015 would be a disaster as far back as February.
A leaked magazine preview indicated Codemasters had already been struggling with F1 2015, the first time the series would be released on next-gen consoles. While other sites carefully danced around this leaked info, we bit hard and regurgitated it as fact. By the time the game was released in July, virtually everyone who had gotten their hands on the title had already made a glitch compilation/review hybrid video for YouTube showcasing how much of a step backwards F1 2015 was compared to previous entries in the series.
#4 – We knew NASCAR 15 would suck based on one trailer.
It definitely helped that I had once been an active member on the official Eutechnyx forms, and it definitely helped that I’d been burned by their licensed NASCAR titles on more than three occasions, but there was still the odd chance that the team from England could have gotten it together for one final release.
However, a guy I used to league race with worked on the mobile platform LEGO games for Traveller’s Tales, and while in school for game design he’d made friends with a fellow who would later go on to be employed at Eutechnyx. The stories passed on to me indicate Eutechnyx had not been taking the NASCAR project seriously since they first acquired the rights to the license in 2010, and most of the developer team apparently sat around laughing at how stupid NASCAR is as an auto racing series for a large portion of the series’ development. Like 2011, Inside Line, 2013, ’14, and now NASCAR 15: Victory Edition, we will later look back on these abominations with absolute disgust. It was an easy call to make that the game would be garbage. From a very reputable source, Eutechnyx viewed the development of not one but five games as one big joke.
#5 – We knew that Assetto Corsa would be coming to consoles long before the public ever did.
When Kunos Simulazioni first posted a picture of a stack of PS4 developer kits piled high inside their Vallelunga offices, our Assetto Corsa informant was quick to tell us that this was not just a simple “side project” as the team described to the public. The challenge was to leak this information to the general public in a way that made it seem like we were taking a shot in the dark, and our answer came to us in the form of a LinkedIn profile for one of the KS developers. Just under a month after we posted a foreshadowing screencap indicating one particular KS developer was proud of his work in bringing Assetto Corsa to Sony’s Playstation 4, a next generation console version of Assetto Corsa was formally announced on our competitor’s websites.
#6 – We announced Project CARS 2 two months before Slightly Mad Studios did.
While the boys in Europe were able to trace my IP and remove me from the WMD forums in an effort to prevent us from leaking any more information, we had more than enough people willing to provide me with their login details to continue leaking controversial new details about the Project CARS franchise. Two months prior to the official Slightly Mad Studios announcement and a few weeks before the first game was even on store shelves, we announced Project CARS 2.
#7 – We proved iRacing holds childish vendettas over those who dare to criticize it.
Less than 24 hours after posting a critical piece picking apart the entry level experience within the iRacing.com servers, my IP address had been banned from accessing the website, and those with close ties to iRacing confirmed that they have traditionally struggled when dealing with criticism. As we restructured the site behind the scenes and brought aboard two new contributors, one of them requested to hide completely behind an alias in fear of how iRacing would treat him if his ties to PretendRaceCars.net were made public. The other didn’t give a shit, and as a result Sev is the only contributor out of the three on PRC.net posting under his real name.
Despite these very real concerns about iRacing’s tendency to over-react to even the slightest bit of negative comments about their product, iRacing fanboys assured everyone across multiple forums that the Massachusetts-based company does not immaturely chase after random sim racers, claiming PRC.net is simply the ramblings of a mentally ill sim racer who needed to be kept well away from the service.
However, upon trying to subscribe to the service himself in October, Sev was automatically given a permanent ban from iRacing the moment he attempted to sign up for the online-only racing sim and log in for the first time. iRacing had never dealt with Sev on a personal level previously, but felt the need to blacklist him from registering four months in advance. Meanwhile, the PRC.net contributor not posting under his real name continues to build race-winning setups for drivers participating in NASCAR-sanctioned events within the iRacing software.
#8 – We were the first to bring attention to the widespread AI problems within Assetto Corsa.
While mainstream sim racing websites praised the effort by Kunos Simulazioni to continue to update their flagship racing sim on a consistent basis, we here at PRC.net were instead notified about game-breaking AI issues that made the single player portion of the game virtually unplayable to all but the most dedicated of Assetto Corsa fanboys. Instead of covering up a rather fundamental flaw in the popular Italian racing sim, we chose to report on it. The initial piece generated a huge amount of controversy as those who created the very first AI crash compilation video were known forum trolls said to have some sort of irrational vendetta against the Mediterranean developer, yet two months later the AI problems only blossomed into a vulgar display of incompetence.
As the editor of PRC.net, I’m tasked with inserting an array of Assetto Corsa-related screenshots into each article. Most of the time, I use my own, and photographing the endless AI bugs for a stream of negative articles became as simple as booting up a race using the game’s default settings and having FRAPS running in the background.
Initially, many believed we were fear mongering over the embarrassing AI issues within Assetto Corsa, as the game was believed to be the anti-thesis of the bug-ridden Project CARS and some couldn’t comprehend that a relatively likeable developer released an equally buggy game comparable to a title some had spent the summer laughing at. Four months later, AI issues are still a hot topic of discussion, and sim racers are curious how this game will be received on next-generation consoles.
#9 – We warned our readers about iRacing’s New Surface Model having possible exploits, and we were right.
Prior to the release of iRacing’s New Surface Model, a user by the name of iRacerUK on Reddit posted a worrying analysis of a few patch notes he’d discovered within the iRacing forums in regards to the upcoming update. Citing iRacing’s decision to remove the thermal track surface camera a week before the massive update went live in mid-September, iRacerUK believed iRacing was attempting to cover-up a potential bug or exploit with the revitalized racing surface upgrade. The user was immediately met with hostility on Reddit, with some claiming he was out to destroy iRacing and had an irrational vendetta against the developer team, while others believed I was behind the account myself. Knowing how iRacing has a tendency to botch major updates to their game, we covered the story here on PRC.net and told people to prepare for the worst. Several readers believed this story was nothing more than “made up drama and speculation.”
Three weeks later, the competitive aspect of the iRacing.com servers had been crippled by a massive exploit directly related to the new weather and surface conditions that allowed users to join each session at a specific time and receive a much cooler track surface and environment. Many high profile races, including several NASCAR Peak Anti-Freeze Series events and the opening rounds of the $13,000 iRacing Blancpain Endurance Series had been affected.
As we first caught wind of this controversial exploit in a livestream chat with a Club Finland member during an iRacing Peak Anti-Freeze Series race at Darlington, we are now banned from commenting on any future live iRacing event as well.
#10 – We were the first website to actively address the censorship on Kunos-related Social Media outlets.
In late September, we received a Reader Submission from an avid PRC.net reader explaining he had been blocked from commenting on the official Assetto Corsa facebook page for being critical of the game. Reception to this article was mixed, with some people defending Kunos with the argument that Facebook is not a technical support forum, nor is it the place to air your greivances about what the game does or does not have. A few weeks later, we received word of another user who had been suspended from the Assetto Corsa forums; a sound modder who’d been given the boot for criticizing the sounds within the popular racing sim. Again, readers believed his words were overly harsh, and that the temporary ban was well-deserved.
Two months later, a four page thread on RaceDepartment is full of individuals who have been blocked from commenting on at least one social media outlet run by Kunos, their lone offense deemed being critical of the game. RaceDepartment staff member Chris Stacey calls the official Assetto Corsa forums an “utterly disgusting environment”, and claims he was jumped on by a “super fan” for “simply asking a question.”
#11 – Sev accurately predicted the sheer disappointment of Need for Speed 2015
Details of the 2015 iteration of Need for Speed emerged quite slowly, as only individuals Electronic Arts personally approved to cover the game were allowed to show off footage of the closed beta via YouTube and other video sharing websites. Prior to the full car list being revealed and only a handful of videos were available on YouTube, Sev revealed many controversial details that upset longtime Need for Speed fans. Three months before the game was in the hands of the general public, Sev revealed that your garage space in Career Mode would be limited to five cars, there would be no gearbox option, customization elements would be severely limited, and the game would require an active online connection – even to play through the single player career mode. I think the only thing he got wrong was the car list, though the game’s 51 cars has still been lauded for being an extremely poor, small list missing many notable tuner culture icons.
Many Electronic Arts apologists around the internet claimed it was simply too early to pass judgement on the game, as only a handful of people were invited into the closed beta, and Ghost Games were set to add many more features into the title between August and the game’s eventual release in early November.
A month after the game’s launch, the general consensus is that Need for Speed 2015 is an entirely forgettable experience, and those who actively defend the game on a multitude of message boards have posting histories with suspiciously pro-Need for Speed posting histories – a practice in line with reputation management tactics used for other EA releases.
#12 – We had an informant in the Assetto Corsa beta. All that stuff we posted? It’s real.
Many readers of PRC.net have always been curious as to where we’ve received some of our more colorful information about Assetto Corsa from. There have been many articles and Reader Submissions alike that indeed reference some really bizarre claims about the future and inner workings of Assetto Corsa with 100% certainty, causing the Assetto Corsa fans among us to become extremely distraught over some of our more “outrageous” postings that indicate a disastrous console release in 2016.
In short, sometimes when we post insider information about this game, a whole bunch of people show up to say we have a vendetta against Kunos and Assetto Corsa, and if we continue to post this kind of slander, we’ll be sued.
Sorry guys, it ain’t happening. In fact, we’ve still got a list of stuff we haven’t leaked yet that’s just sort of sitting there on a list.
Viral marketing is every bit as real as the paranoia makes it out to be, and each developer puts their own spin on guerrilla advertising. Some companies such as Electronic Arts and Slightly Mad Studios go the intrusive route, flooding message boards with hundreds of new users hell bent on convincing other members how awesome their new game is, and obviously that gets annoying after a while for those who were around before the hype train started.
Developers without the luxury of a massive budget instead enlist the help of prominent community members, handing out a few free DLC packs or inviting them into a beta program and letting their natural feelings of gratitude over what the developer has gifted them govern the tone of their message board posts. Kunos have done this with Assetto Corsa, Eutechnyx have done this with their NASCAR games, and to a lesser extent Sector 3 have done this with RaceRoom Racing Experience. Personally, the way Eutechnyx handled viral marketing bothered me the most, as pretty much every moderator on their official forums was only in it for a free copy of that year’s game – a game that struggled to ship in a state above shovelware quality for five straight years.
When it comes to Assetto Corsa, we got our information from a guy named Mike Hornbuckle. When we took a firm stance on what PRC.net stands for, and continued to publish negative articles about Assetto Corsa as our own experiences with the game were less than satisfactory, we stopped hearing from him. The stream of concerning information we’ve published on this game, such as:
- Ferrari has a contract stating the La Ferrari must be quicker than the McLaren P1 on specific tracks.
- McLaren forced Kunos to make the McLaren 12c handle better than its real life counterpart.
- 505 Games doesn’t care about the quality of the upcoming release, they just want to “establish the brand” on consoles and earn enough revenue to make Assetto Corsa 2.
- It was Marco’s call to put the game on consoles, and not everyone was happy with the decision.
- There are several LMP1 cars on the horizon.
- 70% of Assetto Corsa owners have never clicked on the Multiplayer tab even once, therefore Kunos doesn’t see multiplayer functionality as a necessary requirement.
It’s all from the same guy. Kunos are aware, what they do about it is up to them. If that makes you weary of sending off Reader Submissions, use an anonymous email provider like SharkLasers.com to cover your tracks. It’s how I signed up for Ashley Madison.
To nail one big story each month is pretty impressive given PRC.net has only been active for a little under a year, and we hope to continue the trend as we move forward into 2016. As a little gift for y’all, here are some of my favorite hater comments I’ve seen over the past few days. I couldn’t wait until December 25th, so consider this an early non-denominational holiday present from Santa:
And if you’re too old to believe in Santa, believe in shills instead.