I shouldn’t have to be making an entry into our Intenet Safety category this early into the week, but alas, here we are. Just as John Sabol and Billy Strange Jr. over at Inside Sim Racing were really starting to revive the once-prominent sim racing news outlet from an awkward period of time in which Darin Gangi’s public spats with numerous sim racing personalities stole the spotlight away from the website’s actual content, and restore a bit of the brand’s former glory with solid commentary pieces and critical analysis of modern racing simulators, it appears the crew are right back at square one with their most recent announcement. Tapping into the concept behind an excursion that the former host of ISR may or may not have dabbled in away from the slick Sim Racing YouTube production of years past, Inside Sim Racing’s newest venture will allow you to pay triple digits for a one-hour Teamspeak session, Skype conversation, or traditional phone call with either Darin Gangi or John Sabol. And if you fancy to talk to them a bit longer… Well.. That will cost extra.
In my opinion, the concept of the whole thing is just really strange, but let’s at least read what they intend the service to be used for before we tear into them.
They’re calling it Inside Sim Racing’s Consultant Service, where in exchange for at least $100 USD, plus $50 for every additional hour of their time you want to waste, you’re given free reign to sit on Skype with Darin Gangi or John Sabol and basically ask them for any sim racing advice that comes to mind – whether it be how to learn a particular car that’s giving you trouble, the steps to calibrating your new wheel, or getting them to walk you through installing a mod for Assetto Corsa – nothing is off limits.
Sorry, this is literally insane. Inside Sim Racing want to put a hefty price tag on the act of going to Reddit’s sim racing section – or virtually any sim racing message board – and asking a simple question, as if they’re sugar babies being paraded around on Dr. Phil and genuinely believe an hour of their time on Skype is somehow worth $100 USD. I get that a lot of people call us the cancer of the sim racing community for publishing lengthy autistic tirades about a NASCAR game making Jimmie Johnson’s Chevrolet Impala the wrong shade of blue, but charging upwards of $100 to talk to some guy on the internet about which racing simulator you should purchase next week rips straight into financial domination territory. I get that the resident sim dads among us don’t know any better and have far too much disposable income just waiting to be thrown away, but anyone who genuinely thinks this is a good idea need to step away from the computer screen for a few moments. These guys are selling 60 minute Skype dates starting at $100, and they’re being dead serious about it, while pretending they’re a legitimate sim racing news outlet that’s intended to benefit the average sim racer. We at least operate under the title of “the worst site you could possibly visit for sim racing news” and don’t take ourselves too seriously. What’s ISR’s excuse?
Supposedly, the reason for this is that team are overwhelmed by questions from their viewers regarding how complicated this genre is, and desperately need a way to reduce the amount of private messages loading up their inboxes on a daily basis. While I’m not privy to the exact view count numbers the Inside Sim Racing forums and YouTube videos receive – so my analysis may not be accurate – I can say that we have a very substantial following that’s beyond anything you would imagine for this genre, and the amount of emails I receive, whether it be Reader Submissions to be published on the site, or just general queries about the genre, is never overwhelming to the point where I need to charge people three figures for the time it took to respond to them. Our genre is not big enough nor popular enough to create a situation where emails are literally flying in to the editor of a website, and I can’t physically get to them all. This is sim racing, not Call of Duty or FIFA.
Not only that, but our Teamspeak server is open to the public, free of charge. Many of the individuals who have stopped by to ask a quick question, discuss a recent article, or merely shoot the shit with us, have turned into guys that show up on a nightly basis just to hang out. I pay for both the website and the Teamspeak server out of my own pocket; there is not a scenario I can fathom where I’d need to charge people $100 for a Skype date with myself, Dustin, or Sev, and claim it’s for “upkeep of the website.” So not only do I believe it’s totally unreasonable to put this kind of a price tag on mere sim racing advice, I have a hard time believing it costs this much to run an outlet such as Inside Sim Racing. I do it myself, and it’s basically nothing. Granted, we don’t have the YouTube program, but when Thrustmaster is shelling out several thousands to place their products on your show, I’d assume you wouldn’t need to beg your viewers for more.
It’s so absurd and preposterous that I’d actually like to be proven wrong in this instance, and for someone like John or Darin to show up in the comments section with a screenshot of 200 unread emails in their inbox as a way to justify this new endeavor. To me, however, this just looks like they’re trying to monetize their role in the world of sim racing to an extent that puts them on par with a troubled woman on Dr. Phil – rather than contribute to the community in a meaningful manner, they’re subtly trying to exploit a a vulnerable group of rookie sim racers by slapping a ridiculous price tag on questions that they might not even be aware several free online communities can answer in five minutes, such as “what wheel should I purchase” or “what’s the proper steering rotation for an F1 car?”
There’s simply no need for this, and as much as I take being the most hated man in sim racing in stride – maybe even play up on it a bit to provoke a portion of our readers into losing their minds – it’s pathetic how we are sometimes blamed for the destruction of the sim racing scene, while sites like Inside Sim Racing are now charging upwards of $100 for a Skype date, and announcing it like this is somehow a good thing you’ll willingly want to spend money on.
And that’s before we talk about what their advice may actually contain. When companies such as Thrustmaster are putting down thousands of dollars to advertise on Inside Sim Racing’s YouTube channel and website, do you really think Sabol or Gangi are going to give you an accurate piece of advice if you drop the $100 and ask them what piece of hardware you should purchase?
Of course not.