What began as an attempt to put aside the cynical atmosphere of PRC.net and focus on what matters most about our hobby – the racing – will come to a premature end after this upcoming Saturday’s event at Road Atlanta. With participation dropping to an embarrassingly low level, the PRC V8 Supercars World Tour on Race2Play will cease operations after only five of the scheduled twelve events. The decision was made after only six cars had registered for this weekend’s race at a popular American road course, and the last round of the series at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park drew only nine participants.
Am I frustrated at the chain of events that lead to this decision? Not entirely. At the conclusion of last summer, we ran an article showcasing the dramatic drop in the popularity of the SuperV8 Holden Commodore for Stock Car Extreme. This was perplexing, as the Commodore was one of the few pieces of content sim racers were given following the end of Reiza’s IndieGoGo campaign. While the 2005 Formula One car and Stadium Super Truck were held back for the Q1 2016 release of Automobilista, the SuperV8 was actively promoted by YouTube personalities and Reiza themselves; a piece of content that sim racers could immediately download into their game and say “I contributed to help bring this to life.”
It was strange to see people get so excited for this car prior to release, only to entirely forget about it when the masses got their hands on the finished version. And not only did people throw varying amounts of money at the Reiza crowdfunding campaign to drive this car a few weeks earlier than the average sim racer, the OZV8 campaign gathered an additional $2,000 from sim racers who were desperate for a modern V8 Supercar mod within Reiza’s Stock Car Extreme. That’s right, some people paid twice for this car. With that kind of rabid fanbase, a free online league with these beasts would be a no-brainer, right?
So sometime after all this went down, we discovered Race2Play, a fantastic online racing service similar to iRacing, but for racing sims that aren’t iRacing. For the tiny fee of $9 CDN, we launched a free league for the SuperV8 Holden Commodore, using the most popular tracks sanctioned by the website. Reiza built an absolutely phenomenal car – a car some people paid for twice – and the best way to bring a fraction of the 250,000 unique readers of PRC.net together was to start a free league with said car.
We walked people through how to sign up for Race2Play, even going the extra mile to assure them they wouldn’t need to fork over any money to sign up for a premium account despite the site’s numerous requests. We gave out a handful of race-proven setups so people weren’t tripping over themselves in the garage area. We didn’t force people to spend a few hours painting liveries. We even assured people we had no say in how the races were moderated, guaranteeing there would be no admin bias that many popular leagues are prone to.
Things looked extremely optimistic before the season even began, and to this date, we have 97 people signed up for the league. Clicking around through the various profiles, the majority of drivers signed up to Race2Play specifically for this league.
But then something funny happened: Nobody showed up. Of the 97 league members registered for the V8 Supercars World Tour – a larger entry list than even RaceDepartment’s SuperV8 league – only 28 managed to make it out to an event. And of those 28 drivers, only two ran all four races up to this point. Those numbers are absolutely horrible.
Now what’s even more puzzling, is that the league itself was actually really good. There were no first corner incidents where half the field was wiped out – a big deal for any online league, including races that take place on iRacing. There was no drama between drivers spilling over into post-race chat due to accusations of intentional wrecking or shitty driving. In four events, there were three different winners, and a nice points battle was beginning to take place among the faster drivers. And despite the numerous trolls residing in our comments section on a daily basis, nobody took this trolling to the next level and signed up for a race to intentionally drive backwards on the track. Basically, the headaches that usually come with any sort of online league, weren’t there. Hell, we had a finish between two mid-pack drivers come down to five thousandths of a second.
Unfortunately, continuing to run a league where only six drivers register to participate for an upcoming event is not worth anybody’s time or effort. The race this weekend at Road Atlanta will conclude the PRC V8 Supercars World Tour prior to the halfway point in the calendar. It appears sim racers would rather throw money at crowdfunding campaigns and make “feel-good posts” about donating to said crowdfunding campaigns, than actually play the content they paid to help bring to life.