It’s All Too Familiar…

14

For thousands of hardcore iRacing members, sim racers who schedule their free time around participating in specific online racing series, days like today have unfortunately become routine. Another massive iRacing update has once again crippled the servers in Massachusetts, temporarily preventing every single member from hitting the virtual race track. As some have spent upwards of $1000 to experience the full list of content available in iRacing, outages lasting several days irritate the userbase on a significantly more profound scale. 

Premium subscription fees and absurdly high content costs lead dedicated members to become much more attached to iRacing than your standard $60 game, and many rightfully believe that with such an expensive pricing model, outages like this shouldn’t be a recurring scenario. The lack of any offline functionality for private testing sessions can also effectively render the entire game useless on certain days of the year; a tough pill to swallow for those with limited free time. For a “premium service” that charges $99 for a yearly subscription and $12 for each individual car and track, this really shouldn’t be happening after nearly eight years in the hands of the public.

4

Yet, this is precisely the case unfolding in front of us. Despite the iRacing servers routinely failing during large online events and software updates since the service went public in 2008, not once have iRacing actually rectified this massive issue. Over five years in a row, numerous prestigious full-length races have been hampered by server issues, and updates consistently brick the website upon their release. 

While these kinds of technical hiccups are understandable in an online game’s infancy, iRacing are now over twenty five competitive seasons (four per year) into troubleshooting their own software’s recurring problems. Server woes in 2010 or 2011 were hard to get upset over, as the ambitions of the entire project were obviously causing difficulties, but the same exact stability issues persisting in 2015 raise many valid questions. A niche title for the sim racing elite in 2010 has now grown into the exact monolithic entity initially envisioned, but the official partnerships with NASCAR and the Blancpain Endurance Series have done little to push iRacing into rectifying the well-documented technical gremlins of their service. No longer an ambitious project by the company formerly known as Papyrus, they are now seen as seasoned veterans of the sim racing world; iRacing outlasting many other sim racing franchises who have come and gone. Unfortunately, like Danica Patrick’s real world NASCAR career, the raw experience of running and maintaining the service over a solid number of years has failed to nail the fundamentals.

4.jpg

Everyone knew the site would see a tremendous increase in traffic upon the release of the Nurburgring Nordschleife. Planet Earth has precisely ONE of these tracks, and rumors of the tracks’ inclusion in iRacing date back to the beginnings of the sim itself. You knew it was always a personal goal form them to revisit the roots of their company in Grand Prix Legends, it was just a matter of time before that goal became reality. Now that the fabled day is finally here, iRacing fanboys are instead cautiously monitoring twitter updates and awkwardly forcing memes on a variety of Facebook pages as they are unable to play what they’ve purchased.

Again.

While some will claim it’s not right for me to play armchair game developer and act like I know everything, those who can’t see the obvious string of bad decisions leading to events of today are simply iRacing fanboys who refuse to agree with PRC, even when we’re merely telling it like it is. Historically, iRacing’s servers have struggled with high volumes of users, and this is something that’s never been solved for good. The Nordschleife is the most prestigious race track in the world, and a whole shitload of current and inactive members are going to show up for the release and run a few laps. On top of that, you’re also releasing a modern Formula One car to replace the aging 2009 Williams F1 entry, and oh, what’s this? You’re re-doing the entire back-end of the website?

Guys, y’all have been at this for eight years. After a two-month long marketing campaign to promote the Nordschleife and McLaren’s pitiful 2015 F1 car, you can’t honestly tell me that it would be just another day at the office and everything wouldn’t spiral out of control over the course of a few hours.

volume

The lone question I have over this server outage is not directed at iRacing themselves, but the community: How are you guys okay with this?

As a customer, you have every right to feel entitled to a premium end user experience when paying several times the cost of your average video game for one racing sim, plus another $12 for every car and track you wish to drive on. If they’re gonna have the balls to market it as the greatest racing sim ever made, it’s your right to hold them to their words. Kissing their asses in various forum posts crosses the line from sympathetic to Stockholm Syndrome fairly quickly. I respect how hard the team are currently working to get the game back up and running, but I don’t feel the need to feel sorry for them.

Especially when the precedent has already been set.

SimCity

Some folks only paid around $45 for the 2013 iteration of Sim City, but were absolutely furious when the game required an online connection at all times, and the servers were basically non-existent for the first few weeks of the game. The backlash from the Sim City disaster was so strong, Electronic Arts eventually killed off Maxxis Games, a fairly respected developer, and shit-canned the franchise as a whole. Keep in mind, this was a city-building game intended for an audience that needed something to relax for an hour or two, not the world’s leading hardcore racing sim some have shelled out more than a reasonable amount to participate in.

Imagine if, like iRacing, there were some days where Halo 5 just didn’t work. Prime time on a Saturday night? Oops, servers went down, “we never expected this many people!” Sunday morning before the Super Bowl and you can’t sign in to the EA servers to finish a few games in your online Madden franchise mode? Nope, we’re out for a few days, come back on Tuesday! This shit wouldn’t fly, and heads would be rolling in a hurry.

But here we are, another update, another massive outage that cripples the service. Acceptable in 2009 or 2011, but iRacers are at the point where this is something that happens several times each year and the situation has never improved.

Start asking yourselves why.

 

Advertisements

87 thoughts on “It’s All Too Familiar…

  1. Goddamn this is a quality article and speaks the truth. I signed up a couple of weeks ago in anticipation of the Nords being released. I’m now questioning that decision and not even sure if I’ll buy Nords or not. I had planned on buying both tracks, Road America and 2 or 3 cars but I’ve just about talked myself out of it if this is what to expect. Even funnier, go on iRacing’s facebook page. The fanboys are falling all over themselves to call out anyone who dares to complain. Someone needs to call these motherfuckers out and thanks to Austin for doing it. This shit should be pinned on every forum and fb page. Preach it Austin!!

    Like

        1. Cool, can you point me to a populated server? I’m looking for some good racing here, my last iRacing race had 3 splits.

          As of 7:37 PM EST rF2’s most populated pub server has 4 people in it, GSC’s most populated pub has 11 (pretty impressive actually) and R3E’s has 5.

          Liked by 1 person

      1. Even with 3 splits ill bet the races are mostly boring.Just look at iR v8sc official uploads by lap 2 every1 is spacing out like that classic rf1 ai train effect.

        Like

        1. Yeah suuuuper boring, I really hate it. Such a bummer having populated races…

          Even my most boring iRacing race is more exciting than an rF2 pub server with 4 people in it.

          I know it’s popular to bash on iRacing around here, and it’s all good, but the fact of the matter is the racing is good, and there are a lot of people online. I would switch to rF2 in a heartbeat if that’s where the racing was, but that’s not where the racing is.

          It’s not like I love iRacing, I just love racing…

          I go where the racing is and right now it’s there…

          Liked by 3 people

    1. it isn’t perpetually like this really; Austin likes exaggerating a bit. That said, it does happen, and it’s fucking frustrating when it does. Furthermore, the gigantic price for tracks and cars ON TOP of the subscription makes running a series all the way through incredibly expensive if you don’t have all the content required for it really makes me wonder what the fuck they’re actually spending their money on.

      iRacing is great, believe me. You came at a bad time. Is it worth your money? Maybe, it depends on how serious you are about sim racing. But yeah, their lack of investment in their infrastructure makes me feel like they just want to make a quick buck and do a good enough job to keep peoples’ traps shut.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Eh don’t forget I first signed up in 2011, so I’ve seen how many years of this. It’s usually three outages per year: one software update and two world tour events. In the early days even I was sympathetic because it was still in the “growing pains” phase. Now, with how far they’ve come, the same server stuff still not being fixed is just downright annoying.

        Liked by 4 people

  2. People aren’t raising as much of a stink about iRacing as they did with Sim City because iRacing has 55,000 active members as of May 2015, while Sim City had 1.1 million copies sold in its first two weeks. That in mind, we definitely SHOULD be raising a stink about this, because EA had to deal with the gigantic mainstream demographic while iRacing is in the racing enthusiast niche, which is way smaller than most people think it is.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. 55,000 members times, let’s say, $7/month on average. That comes to $385,000/month. $4,620,000/year. That’s not even counting content purchases and hosted racing. How about some better qualified, dedicated IT people or more servers? With that kind of money this should have already been fixed.

      Like

      1. If their contracts look anything like their EULA, it’s no wonder they can’t hire decent talent; it’s probably a load of legal crap that would essentially ruin their careers should they ever decide to leave.

        Like

  3. Spot on. This game is a money pit. If you purchased all of the available tracks and cars you would spend over $1000. I could never justify dumping that much money on a game. On top of that after you spent that much money, if you don’t continue to give them more money each year you cant even use the $1000 worth of content you’ve already purchased. Stay away!

    Like

  4. Indeed, it’s “all too familiar”… that you would immediately write an article like this! I knew it would be here. HAHA Predictable. Back on planet earth, in a day or some when everyone’s happily lapping the Ring, this blip will just be a fading memory.

    Like

      1. Never played the game, but I’m the one that wrote this:
        “another shit article making an argument over nothing – keep up the good job of talking shit and driving traffic to your site!”
        Just for the fact that you don”t seem to understand companies facing IT issues (amazing, software companies having IT issues!) happen.
        Shit happens.
        Does it mean you have to shoot them down straight away?

        Like

        1. You’re comparing one of the largest MMOs to one of the smallest.

          Just googled some info… Eve Online has (roughly) 500,000 active subscribers. A 1 year subscription at full price is $131.40 ($10.95 per month). That’s 65.7 million dollars a year they make off subscriptions.

          iRacing has (roughly) 50,000 active subscribers. A 1 year subscription at full price is $99.00 ($8.25 per month). That’s 4.95 million dollars a year they make off subscriptions.

          Both of these numbers are (obviously) not profit, the majority of it goes to salaries, advertising, server maintenance etc…

          65.7 mil versus 4.95? Yeah I would imagine they can afford some extra help…

          Liked by 1 person

      2. EVE Online does not have 500 000 unique persons subscribing monthly. A lot of players have multiple alts. Futher more a lot of long time members (I’d say vast majority) actually play the game for FREE (ISK you earn in game is used to buy PLEX with which you use for 30 day subscription). I would be suprpised if the actual number of monthly subscriptions that are actually paid for is more than 1/10th of that number.

        I’ve never experienced 36+ h downtime in EVE before. EVE Online is definitely a good comparison, and it is pathetic that iR is once again surprised by the amount of users.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I don’t play this game because I think the pricing is outrageous but if I was one of the people that shelled out, I’d be pissed. Online or not, if I pay I want to be able to play it whenever I want. Server goes down for a bit? That’s one thing. This was a planned update and it’s been days. It looks pretty amateur.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The extended downtime is definitely an embarrassment, especially after all of the promotion of the new tracks/car/website upgrades. I’m sure some members will be pissed.

      I doubt most will be pissed though. Cost is relative. Many members are real life racers and those closely involved with the racing community. Let’s say the outage lasts three days. Three days of downtime works out to about $0.81 in a yearly full price $99 subscription, and about $0.40 for those who bought on sale at the $49 discounted rate.

      While losing $0.40-$0.81 worth of entertainment might be a big deal to some, real life racers can easily spend $99 in travel expenses to go one race a few hours away…then get rained out and have nothing but wasted time and effort to show for it. The lost $0.81 worth of iRacing downtime wouldn’t even be enough to buy a hot dog at the race track.

      Like

  6. They’ve got a huge part of this community on fucking lockdown. They’ve invested ridiculous amounts of money in it and there’s no alternative to it. No one wants to speak out for fears of getting their accounts banned. It’s fucking disgusting.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. yes there is alternatives, find a league that races rFactor or nr2003 via hamachi and run with them, rFactor 1 still have a massive community and several leagues

      Like

    2. This is actually s very well thought out point.

      It has gotten worlds better, the physics are pretty good now. My main complaint is having to race against the assholes in the community but that can go for any sim.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Murphys law, the more important the update is, the more the fuck up will be if it happens.
    Nothing out of the ordinary.
    Something went pear shaped and they’re solving it.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Reading Steve Myers tweets is hillarious. Some real jewels in there

    “Our VP of Operations Chris Page is unbelievable. Yes we are still having problems but he is going on 40 hours straight working.” -As well he should. Operations fucked this up. Every damn one of em needs to be there until it’s fixed.

    “We haven’t seen our families in two days. Pretty sure some of us might be single now.”
    Wah wah. You fucked up an update for something people pay for. When you fuck something up, you stay till it’s fixed. If you’d not half assed the update, then you’d be home right now and PRC wouldn’t post these articles.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Most people show empathy by opening their wallet to a developer that they feel has released a product where the pros outweigh the cons. Going any further is your first step to becoming a fanboy.

        Liked by 4 people

      2. Good thing James is over here really making people feel welcome by opening up discussion lol.

        This site doesn’t help create a friendly community one bit.

        Like

      3. Not sure what you mean by that, but okay. All I get from this site is that it’s a place for hostility. And we need less of that.

        Calling people out for being fanboys is a reason why all the good people stay in hiding. Because we’ll get fucking wrecked by some asshat who ruins the fun of the sim community.

        Apparently you’re okay with this, quick to mention being a fanboy entails anything above purchasing a sim. Fanboy has a negative connotation.

        This publication doesn’t do anything to help the sim community. It’s a toxic environment and you know it.

        Like

    1. looks like you havent family and havent been on work for one day in you life. so salty, its real life man, deal with it. And yes, think about it, next time you will pay something, where will you money goes, when you pay for you beer or candys.

      Like

  9. does it really make a difference when most of the time sim racers are jerking off and defending these games like their mother and not playing them for weeks when they work anyways

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What’s worse is that PRC incites people to not play any of these sims. Then complain there aren’t enough people playing these sims. How do they incite? Just read the articles from this year, or if you want the tl:dr, read at least the article titles.

      Like

  10. It’s a bunch of amateurs: on twitter: “we couldn’t test it until we put it online” Oh yes you can, you morons. You can do load testing on a backend without putting anything live, it’s what smart/not stingy companies do. Maybe you should hire some people who know what they are doing instead of blurting out dumb shit on twitter and facebook like “the guys been working all night!”

    Who cares? They are the same ones who made it go to hell anyway since they have no clue what they are doing apparently,. So I am happy they worked all night to try and make up for their own incompetence.

    The fact one might like iracing has zero to do with the fact it was down on its ass. People running it seem completely clueless in a lot of areas some of the time. All they did is screw it up, whether you like it or not.

    But when anybody says anything, “owww but they kept us updated on twitter, it”s so great!” You know what would be even better? When they start actually running things like a professional outfit, instead of a bunch of hillbillies.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Mistakes that happen literally every time they do a build update, 4 times a year, with “downtime” outages that last 12x as long as announced, again, consistently, aren’t “mistakes”. They’re shit planning.

        Like

  11. Could you just look further into that membership-ban court-case and light a fire under iRacing already ?

    I get the ‘cost’ ain’t worth it, but have you met with some lawyer to see if you have a case there at least ?

    I’d imagine letting them know you (might) have a case would get their attention more than just moaning about another outage.

    Like

  12. We dont need to ask ourselfs – why. Because this is how programming industry works. Period.

    Looks like you are not familiar with that, maybe because running virtualr copy on wordpress is too easy or so.

    In old days i has come here to find something interesting, something, which was turned in true-like unproofed, but interesting stuff. Today i looking here for some sort of jokes. About how can people be wrong and believe in that. Twice.

    Like

    1. Ya know, I work in the “programming industry” (whatever the F that is), I do server migrations, upgrades, etc, on a very large scale. I set reasonable downtime outages and manage expectations.

      Iracing is a premium subscription based service that operates on an “always on” online model, when your “4 hour” downtime window takes 48 hours, and all you do is post an update every 7-8 hours of “oh, guess it’s still not working”, that’s not “what happens”. That’s amateur hour shitty management. This is a recurring issue with this group. A simpler method would be to simply state the site will be down for 2 days. Do a test rollout, fix your issues and manage expectations. They failed to do that, once again. This has been SOP for the company for half a decade now. It’s embarrassing.

      Like

  13. actually fanboy is a “meme” here.

    actually fanboy of prc.net isn a “meme” here? The hating community actually dont do anything, as contraversal fanboy community.

    Looks like someone wanted to create religion, but failed. So salty again. More unproofed selfstaged things, which can play only on youngsters – more jokes about prc.net in the world of truth and adulty.

    Like

  14. Early 2015 – “PRC is stupid! Why would anyone read this trash?”

    Mid 2015 – “PRC are slandering developers and have an evil vendetta against iRacing!”

    December 2015 – “I used to read PRC all the time, but now it has gone downhill.”

    Whats next? Personal attacks on James.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Mate you aren’t even on the same level as my 16 year old neighbour who’d Like all my Instagram pictures at six in the morning. Step it up senpai, teenage girls are making you look small-time. You’ve been at this for how long? Sure doesn’t seem like it.

        Liked by 2 people

  15. Using terms like “senpai” pretty much equates to you being on that teenage girl level. What exactly do I look small-time about? Replying to the hate you guys post? Oh dear me, I would hate to think I am not taken serious by a infinitesimally sized cult of wannabe sim racing critics.

    Like

    1. Sitting in the comments section of a site you hate simply because the editor is acquaintances with a guy SRD has been chasing after since 2009 is small-time for a self-professed internet stalker.

      I wouldn’t even pick you as a backup for my fantasy league.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. With the creative username “Todd is a bitch”, you sound like someone who could provide some much needed critical and insightful feedback for PRC.net.

      Oh wait, no you don’t.

      Like

      1. Yeah it is a pretty sweet username. Don’t give me to much credit though, I had a team of high level linguistic professors develop it for me. A dumb, white trash, trailer park boys could never create such a magnificent handle on his own.

        Like

  16. It’s week 13. That’s why none of the series are really official besides a few rookies level series.

    In either case, to answer your question, I’ll never get upset about it. I bought Assetto Corsa: I find it boring. I bought rFactor 2 for 3 of my friends, but the content is meh and the servers are boring.

    At least I get some decent racing out of iRacing 12 out of 13 weeks a season.

    So.. whatever. There is no justification to you, not even going to waste my time with that.

    But we know this is week 13. Everyone knows week 13 is like this, and no one will ever expect it to be any different.

    Now, what I do understand is being upset that major events have downtime. But this is entirely different. ISRTV took the high road with this one.

    Liked by 1 person

The comment box is not a toy.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s