Doesn’t This Already Exist?

The widespread popularity and overall brand recognition the team over in Bedford Massachusetts have achieved with their iRacing.com software has effectively put an end to a major debate within the sim racing community: there is simply no substitute for online racing against live competition. The sheer size of iRacing’s userbase compared to the relatively tiny core audiences of other modern auto racing simulators is a pretty substantial indication that developers must embrace the new era of online motorsports events which iRacing has pioneered – scheduled start times, detailed statistical analysis, and harsh penalties for childish behavior. Unfortunately, developers continue to treat iRacing’s success as an oddity. Titles such as Assetto Corsa, rFactor 2, Automobilista, and RaceRoom Racing Experience all ship with generic server browsers that are a relic of yesteryear, and this plays an integral role in the long term success of each title. While the four aforementioned games may feature a more competent and accurate physics engine powering the driving experience, iRacing continues to trump their rivals by offering virtual racers an entire online career to explore.

The only racing sim to come along and give iRacing a run for it’s money in terms of popularity, would be the little racing simulator developed by Vallelunga’s Kunos Simulazioni. Assetto Corsa’s beautiful graphics, clever marketing campaign, and a vast array of third party modding tools stole some of iRacing’s thunder, but many players quickly found themselves without much to do in the online portion of the simulator. With obvious gaps in functionality, and minimal effort to accommodate the needs of serious online racing leagues, Assetto Corsa’s online environment quickly became overrun with casual servers. While there were a bunch of people playing Assetto Corsa, there weren’t many people racing in Assetto Corsa – most online rooms were dedicated to hastily converted rFactor drift mods, or Nordschleife tourist sessions that descended into crash-up derbies.

The small group of avid sim racers over at Sim Racing Portugal have attempted to breathe life into Assetto Corsa, as well as other unstructured racing simulators, by building a program they’ve named Sim Racing System – a tool which essentially provides titles you probably already own with a type of online career mode, equivalent to the experience offered within iRacing. The grassroots marketing campaign executed primarily by early adopters of the program has began to pop up around a few message boards and Facebook groups, excited over the program’s potential, as this more or less gives people a reason to race rather than endlessly run half-assed laps around the Nordschleife in supercars.

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I don’t feel the same way. In fact, I’m actually a bit confused. Very confused. Someone’s already made a program that’s objectively superior to what SRP have built with Sim Racing System. I’m not trying to rain on anyone’s parade here and be the resident mongoloid, as it obviously took a lot of man hours to get their program to function and these fellows indeed deserve a pat on the back for completing the project, but we have this already. We didn’t exactly need another one. And not only has a program like Sim Racing System already been assembled and it’s free for you to enter, but it’s been polished to near-perfection over a period of several years.

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The brainchild of Tim MacArthur, an individual iRacing once brought to court many years ago, Race2Play was literally one guy’s attempt at building something like iRacing, but better. MacArthur took what people liked about iRacing – the scheduled start times, detailed stat tracking, and emphasis on clean driving – and proceeded to go the extra mile in an effort to prove iRacing wasn’t anything special. As someone who’s driven in almost 50 different events within his virtual playground, I can safely say that MacAthur has succeeded with flying colours. Not only does Race2Play mirror the iRacing experience almost completely, he’s managed to improve on what iRacing offers. Each event spits out an automated race recap, and users are welcome to submit their own screenshots. You can give reputation points to individual drivers you enjoyed battling with. Sim racers who stumble upon fantastic third party mods or tracks for any one of the several isiMotor sims featured are allowed to submit these pieces of content to be added into the list of available cars and tracks. Each type of car features its own individual iRating – something longtime iRacers have literally begged for on a yearly basis. Those willing to bust out the credit card for a premium membership can create their own teams and officially ranked series with their own custom schedule, race format, and points system, but merely existing and participating in races on the service is completely free.

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The icing on the cake, is that Race2Play is incredibly polished. In my 49 events on the service, there have been basically no technical issues aside from those exhibited by the simulation software itself. Not only is MacArthur’s service objectively more in-depth than iRacing, it also fucks up less, too. And paying for it was optional. On the flip side, Sim Racing System offers none of the above aside from basic scheduled events and leaderboards, with the creators begging for more entrants to help stress test their service. As someone who’s already a regular on Race2Play, I have zero incentive to try this clearly inferior software out. I understand voicing this publicly may make me sound like a dick, but we really only needed one piece of software to interpret post race XML files and put them into a fancy website that keeps track of statistics. There wasn’t really a point to building another one, especially when the software that already exists is as established and polished as Race2Play.

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A lot of people jumping on the Sim Racing System bandwagon believe the new software will revolutionize how people play Assetto Corsa in particular, and I’m here to say that’s just not the case. Assetto Corsa is one of several titles which Race2Play fully supports, and the participation level in events taking place within Assetto Corsa has been nothing short of abysmal. The upcoming list of events barely manages to reel in more than five individuals, and with not everyone turning up for the race, the numbers below don’t even represent the field size on the grid when the lights go out.

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There are also claims that organized racing software will help improve the overall quality of on-track action, and as someone who’s competed in at least 37 hours of racing in the past few months alone (most races on Race2Play run from 30 to 45 minutes), crunching numbers and spitting out generic safety ratings won’t magically turn the majority of the field into competent drivers. Below is on-board footage from another participant in the aforementioned GT3 race at Sears Point, and it’s really not the image of some otherworldly experience you’ve got in your mind. The guy gets dumped at the start and spends the rest of his race running in his own zip code – as is the norm in any public lobby.

I’ll also include the clusterfuck of a Porsche Carrera Cup race at Oschersleben that’s mentioned in the intro of Black Flag, just for good measure. I don’t expect people to sit here and watch fifteen minutes worth of online racing, but if you get far enough into both videos, you’ll see what I mean about the quality of driving:

Sim racers are definitely a fickle bunch of hardcore gamers. They enjoy crowdfunding titles, but in the end don’t actually play the content they’ve crowdfunded. They spend copious amounts of income on optional sim racing hardware, but very rarely does their level of talent reflect how much they’ve spent on their “rig.” They claim a majority of each title’s userbase primarily spend time in the offline portion of the title, yet iRacing – an online only simulator – remains the most popular hardcore racing title by an extremely large margin. Hell, we’ve even seen people claim iRacing is a bargain at nearly $900 for the complete package of content, and then state $7 is too much for a document that teaches them how to be a more competent online racer. So I guess it’s perfectly in line for the community to outright ignore an already established online racing service that both mimics and surpasses iRacing, only to get excited about an identical service with only a fraction of the features.

This isn’t a battle between rival racing simulators, where each piece of software has a set of pros and cons that will appeal to different tastes. We’re talking about an automated program that hosts races for like-minded drivers, and then interprets an XML results file to spit out data back to the website. We only needed one of these, especially seeing as how Race2Play consistently struggles to fill grid spots on a daily basis despite the quality of the software powering it. Now that we have two programs, an already small group of dedicated drivers will be split in half. Instead of being lucky to share the track with eleven other drivers, we’re now going to have five or six. Grid: Autosport boasts bigger online fields.

It feels as if the boys behind Sim Racing System are the kids back in high school who read the wrong side of the whiteboard before dipping out of the room prematurely, and accidentally completed last night’s homework assignment all over again. As I’ve said earlier, no disrespect is meant towards the team, as their software obviously works and they indeed deserve a cookie for their efforts in building something like this from the ground up, but Race2Play existing for several years and being a fantastic product sort of makes their efforts a bit pointless.

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66 thoughts on “Doesn’t This Already Exist?

      1. Seems like you have missed my point. It’s the time of the races not the quantity. They don’t have to be “pick up” races around clock, but a few events on R2P that aren’t in the early hours of the morning for a huge percentage of the world would be great. If you want to offer a world class online based service it needs to operate around the clock these days. Maybe you could get in someone’s ear at R2P about this? I would be happy to talk to sim racers in my timezone and encourage them to race there.

        All this aside you’re comparing apples to oranges with this article, the services are similar but not the same.

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        1. Good post, I agree that R2P would greatly benefit from increased frequency and 24 hr schedule.

          That said, I’m not too sure the main guy handling the show is going to relish the thought 😉

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    1. “It was a good race, but I just couldn’t catch that Ostin Augonoski. Can’t help feeling like I know this guy from somewhere…”

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  1. Lol that was my bad on that Sears Point Race (i actually live near the area and thats what us locals call it) didnt meant to knock him outta the way…

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  2. “…but very rarely does their level of talent reflect how much they’ve spent on their ‘rig.'”

    So in other words, perfectly models actual amateur racing!

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  3. You should have analyzed why didn’t R2P gain more traction with AC and other sims. First, the online racing in sims is divided in public servers inside the game, league racing communities, and then on iracing, racedepartment, race2play, and the more recent sim racing system.

    Race2Play is more obscure. It comes from the older times when the trendy sims were race07, rf1, gtr2. And for some reason it never imposed itself on the newer sims, but also because it has concurrence from iracing, racedepartment, and league communities. Then the others race or just drive offline, or use their time in public servers.

    SRS, at least in AC’s case, is giving players the same easy pick up racing inside the game (although in form of booking servers where you can choose your skin as well). And basically that’s what iracing is doing too. Race2play is more like Racedepartment Club racing than what Sim Racing System is doing.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. “Race2play is more like Racedepartment Club racing than what Sim Racing System is doing.”

      No its not all, it sounds like you have never used R2P, you sign up, then click the event you want to enter, get server password done, as long as name is exact same as in game, everything is taken care off.

      Let me say again, R2P, sign up, click the race you want to enter, receive password,play.

      how in the hell can you say thats hard?

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      1. That’s what you do in RD’s Club races. Sign up in the respective thread of the event that will take place in some days from now.
        SRS: “Race every Hour, every Day!!”

        So this makes R2P much more similar to RD Club events than how SRS works.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. You just sign up once, and thereafter presented with a events list, that in the right timezone, can be every hour/30mins in various sims, and click join upto a few mins before race, your added,and you get very detailed briefing screens along with password etc no forums needed at all/

          Any who, thanks to the ozzy feller below,Im gonna try SRS, if its got any decent oz/nz racing Im in, can easily use both.

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  4. Love R2P, unfortunately the aussie NZ times, like every where for sim racing in this time zone, is dead, the only chance I get with R2P is at weekends,I love the right ups at the end, but I guess SRS will have same issue with timezones.

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    1. Aussie here, just about to do my second SRS race in two days of being signed up. I have been an R2P member since 2007 and in that time only been able to compete in two races, even then they were both after midnight. These SRS races are around the clock. I’m about to start one in half an hour. There seems to be at least one race p/hour across the board there. It’s not going to replace my proper league stuff, but it’s still better than shelling out a hit tonne of cash on iracing.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Well it may be your opinion that this is unnecessary, but apparently others think differently. If your program of choice is so great, why did this team feel the need to develop an alterative? And why are people supporting it? Must be Race2Play isn’t the solution everyone wants. Live and let live I say.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. James, I really think you should have given it a go before writing this piece. SRS works well and it’s integration with AC makes it simple. Have a proper crack at it.

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  7. Sorry, but SRS and R2P have nothing to do with each other.

    Lets say I want to race abit with Assetto Corsa.
    SRS: There’s a race after half an hour. Great! Ill have some time to practice.
    R2P: There’s a race after 3 days. Well… what do I care? I might be dead by then…

    R2P is pretty much multiple leagues into one, to save you the hassle to look for a specific league. If you want to race a specific sim or, even worse, a specific car, there are maybe two or three races a week you can join… If you’re even awake at that time, and you still might end up in an empty server.
    SRS uses the formula that makes iRacing popular…and, with AC as a game that is already popular, as opposed to (unfortunately) Rfactor2 or Automobilista, it might actually give iRacing a run for it’s money.

    I just hope iRacing doesnt have that formula trademarked or something…

    Liked by 2 people

  8. R2P has ZERO events you can enter at a decent time if you live anywhere other than the American contintents. SRS is linked to EU times, meaning you can find races you can enter and still get enough sleep to be a productive member of society the next day. This is a huge difference for me even if the difference in polish between the 2 services is huge.

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  9. I usually agree fully with prc,but this is just complete horse shit,man you are showing your fanboyism,criticize others but do it yourself.
    How can this srs be bad for anything.
    R2p might be ok for y’all yanks but we needed races around the clock,not just for a certain part of the world.
    I wish srs all the best,iracing needs a kick up the arse.

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  10. Took a look at Race2Play, next Assetto Corsa event is apparently in 3 days so while I’m sure Race2Play is good at what it does, there’s absolutely room for SRS.

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    1. minorating and servers with booking support.

      Maybe I’m missing something here.

      Is it the stats logging that is causing the excitement?

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      1. People will join to compete at a specific hour, and that makes the difference. Yes, R2P and RD have that too, but you need to sign up outside the game and generally wait some days until the next race.

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  11. Very good app, just had a great 15 driver race with bmw 235i and racing was very clean indeed, platform like this of course wouldn’t be possible with rfactor 2 or automobilista ghost town playerbase

    Liked by 2 people

  12. we get it your a good racer! Your Epeen is on display. Now when will pass on the info that will make us great drivers?

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  13. integrated in the game and running every half hour is what I hope will make it successful. It will bring me back to AC online that’s for sure and hopefully many others.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Why? There are already plenty of minorating AC servers running reasonable time periods that allow you to get at least one race in an hour.

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  14. He’s a regular to a service that’s been running for years with only 49 races. I lol at him

    That’s not a ringing endorsement… I’ve already racked up 2 in a day

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      1. Lol. So the service that you said was already superior to this couldn’t meet your own requirements…

        So it appears you did need some type of service other than the one you say is the winner.

        Oh well.

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          1. I’m no neet but I’m up to 4 so far.

            You seem to be finding reasons to justify a service not working for you. It’s ok you can admit you got it wrong and the regularity of races on SRS is a major pro over R2P.

            You could start a trend of you admitting you got it wrong.

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  15. Your complaints about the type of people and quality of driving mirrors everything I see in the “car enthusiast community.” Everyone want’s to spend time putting on the fastest parts, hardest, lowest “coil-overs” etc. All to go drive slowly, aka with 10-15 mph of the speed limit, or like idiots / dangerously, but still ultimately slowly, to a parking lot so they can compare how “white” their crap aftermarket HID’s are and so they can list all their “mods” in their forum signatures. They all want to talk about how fast they are, how into performance they are and then when someone tells them to buy good tires they all cheap out and get some budget crap. It’s all really about buying the next thing and bragging about what they have bought. You know what I’m talking about, think of all the car “enthusiasts” who have this part and that part for their car still in boxes uninstalled, but are are already talking about buying the next thing.

    Liked by 1 person

        1. How do you know is just bragging and not sharing with others how they feel about their customized car.
          AZRCD’s post is just generalizations of some examples he might have witnessed. The problem is making that into a stereotype about the whole “car enthusiast community”.

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  16. Not only does r2p already exist, but AC already has minorating and server booking.

    Are people just too fucking privileged to use server browsers now or something?

    I don’t get it, either someone explain in a way or that makes logical sense or admit James is right.

    iRacing got the jump on MP racing platforms. Having people fragmenting into different services isn’t going to drastically change comparative player count ratios positively.

    R2P looks ready to scale out, maybe the people in time zones that feel left out need to make their interest more clearly known as a group (if they haven’t already).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Is weird how PRC is all about creating progress to make sims better and now they question that progress by saying what was there is good enough. May be good for James, but it wasn’t for everybody. James should have analyzed why R2P was failing or just stagnating, at least for Assetto Corsa (not sure about the reality of other modern sims in R2P) instead of doubting SRS.

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  17. Monopolies are bad… It’s unfortunate that our economic beliefs support them and not competition…

    Race2Play’s monopoly has allowed them to charge for ridiculous things like creating your own team or uploading a skin…

    Whilst providing a service filled with ram hackers driving alien lines to victory lane…

    Spent a year on that service myself and it was before most of the ridiculous things had a price tag put on it, so I could put up with the lack of stewardship against the hackers, I had my own group to race who I knew didn’t hack…

    However all of these ridiculous charges, and the fact you could not book a spot in a race as a free member as any premium member got priority over you, was enough to put me off the system…

    As long as SRS stays free it will be superior to R2P as an all inclusive platform…

    Which in a fragmented community such as sim racing, we need the most inclusive platform not another separatist effort like R2P…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t think anyone is going to offer iRacing comparative services for ad revenue alone.

      Need it cost as much as iRacing? No, absolutely not. Still doesn’t mean it can reasonably be free.

      I like the ideal, though I find it unrealistic, especially if you expect some sort of sanctioning body to oversee anything.

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      1. Leagues have been offering sanctioning bodies for free for ages… ad revenue and donations were always the icing on the cake for the enjoyment of a good racing community…

        All it takes is passion…

        And when something is built with passion first instead of profit first the end result is often a lot better…

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  18. Well have yet to try SRS, system appears to of been down last 24hrs and has dumped my account twice so far, not sure whats going on.

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      1. Im stuck, it dosnt pick up my rf2,AMS installs and Im not allowed to DL AC app,even though I have a verified account? keen to give this a try.

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        1. You need to register with your real name and then moderator will give your account permission to download the app in couple of hours

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  19. Doesn’t this already exist? Yes, it does.

    So do sim racing guides that people think we’re stupid enough to pay for.

    Pot, kettle, black.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Austin as good as you are at satirically shitting and praising everything under the sun, I suggest you do some fiction now. Slow news day again? And btw, SRS is great.

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      1. I’d say it started last summer with the AC article that mentioned Associat0r and gave him a reason to spam all over the site.

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  21. I tried SRS. I like it…particularly the part where it allows you to run your own skin. (Of COURSE I like it; I won the first SRS race I entered.)

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  22. I’m an online racer. Have been since PGR2, TOCA 2 days.

    I’m an old man now, over 40. I’m unfit and pretty talentless in most areas. At best I’m an average sim racer.

    However, sim racing is my outlet. It’s my source of competition. I have a competitive streak and I want to compete. I want to take on other human beings, do better than them and feel self satisified about it.

    I’ve tried entering communities and leagues but as well as having an emphasis on fairness (which I’m mostly supportive of) there’s an emphasis on camaraderie and friendliness, cordial voice chatting. I’m not supportive of this.

    Sim racing is my competition arena. I don’t want to be cordial or accomodating. I want to snarl at other cars. I want to dislike them, I want to dismiss them. I want to beat them.

    The best of both worlds for me would be the structure and numbers of a system such as this, without the community.

    My ideal is an online race, where I doin’t know anyone, don’t communicate with anyone but have a good, clean, competitive race against them.

    Like

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