And now we return to our regularly scheduled programming.
It’s not just us here at PRC.net noticing that the car count in pretty much any organized online race is less than stellar, and the elephant in the room is finally being addressed over at Race2Play, an organization service I personally use and endorse thanks to how it improves on the already fantastic format offered by iRacing. NewtypE Productions has sent us in a quick Reader Submission to kick off the week, drawing attention to a thread within the official Race2Play forums discussing the “death” of sim racing in North America – and what can be done about it.
Hey PRC, just wanted to send this in since you guys are the ones who brought me to this website, but apparently it looks like major changes will be made to Race2Play, and guest accounts appear to be in trouble.
Grid sizes are at an all-time low, holding events with any sort of satisfactory turnout is basically not happening anymore, and league organizers who have stuck with the site through thick and thin are wanting changes to be made – and fast. In short, they want to shrink the site to accommodate only the paying members, returning to the “roots” of McArthur’s endeavor.I’m really tight on money and can’t afford to throw money at them, so I’m currently using a “guest” account, but with how things are going, it looks like the elite want to cut out people in their userbase who “abuse” the most basic level of membership.
I have a feeling those small rosters you were talking about are going to get even smaller. They want to get rid of guest play, and more or less use the site as a small sanctioning body for the six or so leagues that still manage to reel in more than fifteen cars. What do you think about this?
Well let me start by introducing Race2Play for some of our newer readers.
Race2Play is a site essentially acting as an equivalent to iRacing for racing simulators that most certainly aren’t iRacing – mostly titles powered by the isiMotor engine, as well as Assetto Corsa. The stat tracking and scheduled start times that have turned iRacing into a juggernaut are faithfully replicated and in some aspects improved, even churning out automated race recaps following each event, and allowing for much more customization of your user profile. Not only can you use the site to merely enter races, if you’re not happy with the current crop of events, you can actually create your own, get all your buddies to join the site, and run your own private league through the website without having to worry about server hosting and all that – it’s automated, and the site does it for you. Provided you can get people to show up, the service is awesome and works 100% as advertised. It’s one of the few products on the current racing simulator market that has virtually no issues to speak of whatsoever.
But as mentioned above, car counts have been absolutely disastrous. For all of the various forum personalities across places like r/SimRacing and RaceDepartment, who claim to love rFactor, Automobilista, rFactor 2, Stock Car Extreme, or Assetto Corsa, when it comes time to actually hit the track, it’s a fucking ghost town. And I’ll demonstrate why this is occurring in just one attachment.
To close out the weekend, I jumped into a 30 minute Stock Car Brasil race at Imola on Race2Play, signing up only a few hours before the event started. These cars aren’t entirely difficult to drive, and setup-wise they’re pretty hard to get wrong – you’ll just be subjected to varying levels of understeer – but the shot above displays precisely why online racing is dying a slow and painful death. Less than five minutes into the race, and everyone is running in their own zip code. Sure, I had a fantastic battle with Nunes Pereira of Portugal for the win, but most of the field had dropped off the face of the earth. For all the hardcore sim racers who love to brag about their hobby as being more demanding than your average Need for Speed title, most of the field couldn’t even keep the leaders on the horizon for longer than a race usually lasts in EA’s old Burnout games.
I obviously can’t say for certain but think about it – there are guys who are hardcore enough to be comfortable purchasing a niche title like Stock Car Extreme, most likely putting down some serious cash for fancy toy steering wheels of a higher build quality than my bummy Driving Force GT, and in two laps their entire investment has been invalidated because they outright suck at the game. It’s understandably demoralizing, and those are just the guys confident enough to sign up for a race in the first place.
Eighteen people made the conscious decision to sign up for this race. Six simply didn’t show up for various reasons. Of those who did, more than 50% of the field was so far off pace, they either wrecked out, got lapped, or weren’t on anybody’s radar at all – and as a driver, that’s not a whole lot of fun. Two of them were slow, but competent enough to finish somewhere behind the leaders – so I’ll label them “gentlemen drivers.” The final two got to slug it out for the win. I might as well have been in a private Grid Autosport session with Dustin driving against a field of AI cars.
Car counts are down across the board because as sim racing evolves and becomes more complex, a whole lot of people are finding out that driving cars in a competitive environment isn’t exactly easy. Three races into the season driving shitboxes at my local short track, and I can safely say this applies to real life as well – there are some people out there who just don’t get it. So while it sucks that Race2Play will most likely be re-structuring themselves and taking away a bit of the magic that made it this hidden oasis of sim racing, I can’t say I really blame them. If barely anybody is using the service, and those that do are a non-factor in any race they enter, the logical step from a business perspective is to instead accommodate your remaining diehard fans who have stuck with the service from the start. I personally don’t think it’s a good idea, the site just needs a slick YouTube video and some promotional push on places like VirtualR or RaceDepartment to bring in a whole flock of users, but that’s easier said than done.