What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas…

cywrfodxuaedebbA lot of people have been eagerly anticipating some kind of lengthy tirade in regards to what’s being billed as “The World’s Biggest Sim Race” – otherwise known as the Visa Vegas eRace – but truthfully, I haven’t put much thought into it. In fact, I hardly care about the event to begin with, and maybe that’s a sign this whole thing probably won’t fling sim racing into the eSports spotlight as many mainstream outlets are predicting. But alas, with only a few sleeps remaining until the event kicks off, here we are. Let’s talk about this now.

If you’ve missed the countless articles discussing the matter, or immediately stopped paying attention the moment Formula E was mentioned, there’s something big about to happen in the world of sim racing. The FIA have decided right now is precisely the correct time to jump on the virtual racing eSports bandwagon despite auto racing fans losing interest in real world motorsports, and essentially commissioned MAK-Corp – yes, the same modders behind the horrendous Williams FW26 we reviewed a few weeks ago – to build a virtual rendition of the 2016 Formula E championship for rFactor 2.

With the enormous marketing push only a sanctioning body such as the FIA could muster, an online competition sponsored by the credit card company Visa was announced, and after a fairly traditional set of qualifying rounds – which were dominated by all the regular faces of top level sim racing – guys like Dom Duhan and Greger Huttu will be beating the shit out of each other in a half-assed rFactor 2 mod, live from Las Vegas, for a chance at $300,000 USD. Last place in the one-off event nets you a cool $20,000, so it’s safe to say that a Friday night coke binge with an escort named Shayla, and the subsequent seizure that will undoubtedly follow during the event itself, will at least pay for most of the participants Vegas escapades.

formula-e-road-to-vegas-638x425Goofy creative writing aside, this is indeed the biggest racing simulator competition in the history of the genre, and all ten of the talented sim racers who have qualified for the event know damn well that merely rolling off the grid is a life-changing moment; the enormous amount of time they’ve spent plugging away at their favorite simulators despite concerns from their family and friends in regards to their obsession will physically manifest itself into financial stability for the next decade at the very least.

Unfortunately, while the prize money alone may see sim racers such as Aleksi Elomaa or Enzo Bonito return to their families in Europe in posession of a small fortune, I cannot imagine a scenario in which the Visa Vegas eRace propels sim racing into the eSports spotlight. Simply put, these types of promotional races are often total shit-fests, and with the FIA filling 20 of the 30 grid slots with Formula E drivers who have displayed they seriously don’t give a fuck about virtual races nor the personalities from the sim racing world, there’s a large chance we’ll be looking to forget this ever happened as soon as it’s over.

kotaku-ausThough I’m usually against almost everything Kotaku puts out, the Australian spin-off of the publication have penned a fantastic article displaying the events which transpired when the entire field of Formula E drivers – the same people who will make up more than half of the grid on Saturday for the Visa Vegas eRace – were placed into the virtual cockpit of MAK-Corp’s rFactor 2 mod earlier this year. None of them gave any flying fucks whatsoever, with the entire field careening into barriers, spinning each other out, and generally treating the game like it was Burnout: Revenge. The write-up is as hilarious as it is sad, with author Alex Walker mentioning “it doesn’t seem like Formula E will be using rFactor 2 much in the future.” Unfortunately, they’ve done the opposite, taking note of how atrocious the presentation above ended up being in execution, and believing that hosting the exact same event all over again – but this time with ten extra sim racing nerds on the grid – will suddenly change everything.

And this is the norm for promotional events, regardless of how much money is on the line. Over on the iRacing servers, the crew traditionally hold an annual Race of Champions event each year, rounding up a fairly large set of professional drivers who publicly claim to call the service home for both legitimate training purposes and off-season leisure activities, letting the overall victory donate to the charity of their choice on iRacing’s behalf. It always descends into chaos, and as a whole is pretty embarrassing for iRacing as a company. They go through such extreme lengths to claim a whole bunch of real drivers are consistently making laps on the service, only for the complete opposite to be demonstrated – it’s a clusterfuck that isn’t worth the ninety minutes of your time.

Real drivers don’t give a shit about these stupid little sim racing events because their day job is to throw their ass in a real car and dance inches from death with every little fuck-up they make behind the wheel, not sit in front of a PC chilling out on Teamspeak and munching on a few bonbons. They have no obligation to take this seriously, and it’ll become immediately apparent on Saturday that some didn’t even practice. Mark my words.

And I’m not basing this off of one Kotaku article, or some hilarious little crash compilation someone made a few years ago on iRacing. Throughout the 2016-2017 Formula E season, a portion of the grid have been participating in numerous fan challenges, where a few lucky audience members get to join about eight or nine real Formula E drivers for what’s basically a private sprint session in rFactor 2, and in many cases the audience members actually fare much better than the Formula E drivers themselves.

maraI mean, it’s really fucking bad. I’ve included the titles of each clip so you can head over to YouTube and check it out for yourselves; Formula E drivers give no fucks about this stuff, and neither their attitudes nor their sim racing skill set  will change overnight. This is basically what we’re going to see in Vegas on Saturday, except people will be throwing very justifiable tantrums because it’s much more than just fifteen minutes of fame on the line.

fucking-tangNow, for the ten sim racers who did bust their asses to earn a spot on the Vegas grid – as there was indeed a lengthy qualifying procedure that properly resembled top level sim racing – I can’t imagine what’s going through their heads. Sure, even last place will leave the facility with more money than they know what to do with, but there’s still a difference between three hundred thousand dollars, and just enough to take a nice vacation with their families upon flying back to Europe. I’d hate to be Greger Huttu, leading the event with five laps to go, and get wrecked out of contention by an actual Formula E driver, three laps down, who hadn’t even made laps on the simulator for practice and was merely instructed to show up and smile for the mandatory promotional event. Because that’s probably what’s going to happen.

track-blocking-wrecksAnd if it does – which is very likely – that will be the nail in the coffin for sim racing’s chance to be a legitimate eSport. Let’s be real, some of the top level iRacing championships paraded around the sim racing community as the pinnacle in online competition have been anything but, with track blocking wrecks and RAM hacks dominating two of the service’s premier series – which typically struggle to attain more than a few hundred viewers each round compared to the millions which tune into Rocket League or League of Legends tournaments. People are barely going to real auto racing circuits, to the point where Formula E tickets were actually free at one point, so I’m a bit lost as to what’s making anybody think these same people who have seemingly lost interest in auto racing altogether will willingly want to watch a bunch of sweaty nerds bash into each other within a video game? It just doesn’t make any sense.

Sim Racing will definitely experience it’s birth as a competitive eSport on a world stage in Las Vegas this weekend, but anyone with a functioning brain can tell it’s going to crash and burn just as quickly. The Formula E drivers will show up, not give a shit, smash into each other, drastically affect the outcome of the race to the point where even people just tuning in out of boredom will get pissed off at what’s unfolding on the screen, and most will laud the event as a complete joke where racing took a back seat to carnage and confusion. Nobody will be left wanting more, some will comment on rFactor 2’s dated visuals compared to other video games on the market in 2016, and yet developers will still sit for years to come wondering why sim racing hasn’t taken off on a global scale.

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71 thoughts on “What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas…

  1. I didn’t give a fuck about this event when I saw the usual rF2 shills talking about it earlier, but that’s because I didn’t know that the actual Formula E drivers would be taking part in it. The fan challenges are hilarious every time, with the pros trolling the fuck out of the fans and ramming into each other. The thought of something like that happening again with prize money on the line is already making me erect with anticipation.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think the FE guys not taking this seriously is exactly the kick in the ass a lot of sim racers need to stop taking this shit so seriously.

    The whole idea of e-sports is just ridiculous to me, but if we want to go down that route, this little experiment is a failure already. It won’t matter if the whole field crashes out at the first turn. First of all, very few people know what Formula E is, and even fewer actually follow the series. I mean, if you want to promote something, why choose this obscure, slow racing series? Second, they’re using a dated game that looks quite ugly. A lot of sim guys think “graphics don’t matter,” and they’re wrong. Seeing rF2 will turn a lot of people off just on looks alone, and this is one of the reasons kids will never go out and buy racing games in the way they do shooters, for example. Another reason for that is the expense associated with peripherals and how hard these games are for new players. Sim racing will never be a viable e-sport because the pool of talent and interest is too small.

    And let’s not forget, we live in a time where F1 and NASCAR not only struggle to put asses in seats at the track, but are also losing TV viewers. The reality is that interest in cars and auto racing is declining, especially among younger people. So who is going to care if a bunch of dorks are racing pixels around on a screen?

    So yes, this Formula E contest is a mistake, and it will fail, but really, it won’t change much.

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    1. Sim racing cant be an E-Sport because the bulk of people who game arent willing to put $120 into content into and then $300 into a wheel and pedal setup.

      Shit like starcraft only requires a computer and the $60 game. COD requires a controller and the $60 game. Fifa requires a controller and the $60 game.

      Nobody is going to as aforementioned here sit down and drop $500+ to race with a community full of people who are half way to being institutionalized. Let alone developers who are pretty much fedora kings.

      RF2 was $15 on steam a few days ago. I dont think anyone gave a shit becuase that game even if it is fixed probably isnt event worth torrenting at this point.

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        1. You are aware that there are these things we call gaming consoles and they’re rather popular and games like CoD are extremely popular on these popular consoles.

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          1. NuckleDu won Capcom Cup with the DS4, yeah. But Xian, who won EVO 2016, used a fightstick. Though, I got it that Capcom Cup is meant to be of higher prestige compared to EVO.

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  3. Just look at the seating position and screen orientation (and let’s not even start on the FOV debate) and you can see how “serious” they take their own event.

    I look forward to the shitshow recap videos.

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    1. Damn it you beat me to it! No way could I drive in such a ridiculousness position looking up at a tiny monitor ten meters away with a FOV set to 5 million. Absolutely no clue.

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  4. Formula E in simulation: Attack every corner fast because the wall will keep you safe and you can just grid off of it. While you’re at it, do the same with the other cars.

    I’m already seeing the meta to win this contest, go as fast as you can and forget about car damage, just use the wall as a cushion, not your brakes.

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  5. As a completely random aside, anyone else getting ads on this page with “hot” girls holding console copies of Assetto Corsa as a tinder dating thing? Hahaha, what the fuck.

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    1. These (photographic model) women posted the pictures on instagram (see the link from the image) and are most likely paid to advertise a product due to having many views and followers. Instagram advertising is an industry. For example the first one ‘beardellinger’ does a lot of modeling associated with cars and auto events. The second one is ‘jillstyler_cosplay’ and does a lot of cosplays and plays video games. The third one idk, he linked it to a youtube video of AC Vallelunga event.

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    2. Basically there’s no difference between those women advertising and James advertising products on this blog.
      He’s making fun of the situation, but the real fools are we who happen to give views to his advertising on this blog. I have adblock and only unblocked to see what was the deal with these women, they are from instagram.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. The fact that real drivers make up the majority of the grid is completely absurd. Have they gone through a lengthy process and beaten actual sim racers to get the spot? Just like a sim racer likely has no hope against a real racer in real life, the opposite also holds true. This will be a fucking crap fest.

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    1. No one besides other nerds wants to spectate an event full of greasy awkward nerds playing an obscure mod for an obscure videogame.

      The real FE drivers double as PR guys: they are chosen to be the face of the sport, they look healthy, speak good English, have a good presence in front of the cameras and can be trusted to participate in all the promotional events without embarrassing their teams. This race is just another such event for them, and the selling point is pitting them against some gamers to see what happens. I think it’s safe to say that the organizers don’t give much of a fuck about the results as long as it is entertaining.

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  7. James, I wonder why you are into simracing. 95% of your articles are negative. Being you must be hard. I can laugh about your blogs but you are negative about every single game out there. I think this event is great for simracing. If such an event was 10 years ago the whole simrace world would be over the moon.

    gr,
    Joseph

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    1. That’s just bullshit, man. He’s been very positive about various aspects of all the sims (except maybe PCars, and even there he said he really enjoyed driving the V8 Supercar they’ve got). The tire model in R3E and how it helped him prepare for his own foray into amateur racing. The C9 Sprint in AC he described as one of the greatest cars ever made in Simracing. Several very positive rF2 articles until he finally gave up on it (like a lot of people have, frankly). Just look this shit up instead of making a broad sweeping generalization.

      Fact is, nearly everywhere else is blowing sunshine up everyone’s ass as they circle the wagons and defend their chosen game to the death. I play these sims and often think to myself “What the fuck are these glowing reviews talking about?”. Until I found this blog and Joe Nathan’s YouTube channel, I thought I was living in some kind of alternate reality. And it is *death* in the official forums to ever utter a discouraging word, even when it is couched in the most polite, constructive terms imaginable.

      Simracing (the software itself and its toxic community) will *never* improve unless and until we begin to talk about the serious problems that exist. Pretending that the AI in AC is any good will ensure it *never* improves. Pretending that the tire heating or camber settings in pCars are OK is going to ensure that neither is fixed. R3E won’t let you populate a private server with AI cars or adjust tire pressures. The lack of any sort of structure in rF2. For a more complete list, just look at previous blog entries for more “negativity”. 99% of which I’ve found to be true when I looked into it myself.

      We want to make Simracing Great Again. So either jump on the bandwagon and come with us or STFU. We got work to do.

      Liked by 3 people

  8. AMEN

    >It’s these Jesus thing.
    >
    >> On May 5, 2016, at 1:31 AM, Brad M1234567 wrote:
    >>
    >> It might may no difference, but for KY and WVA can we get someone to
    >>ask his belief. Does he believe in a God. He had skated on saying he
    >>has a Jewish heritage. I think I read he is an atheist. This could
    >>make several points difference with my peeps. My Southern Baptist peeps
    >>would draw a big difference between a Jew and an atheist.

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  9. You know why SimRacing is never going to be a popular E-Sport? Because its fucking boring to watch. Nobody gives a flying fuck about watching virtual cars driving in circles. They rather just start a game for themself. Without a huge amount of people watching this stuff, theres gonna be no money from advertising.
    Even Mario Kart or something like Burnout is more likely to be a popular E-Sport.

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    1. also hardly anyone watches actual Formula E, so who the fuck is gonna watch a bunch of nerds play a virtual version with shitty graphics.

      simracing is basically an exact detailed replica of an actual sport, no-one is ever going to watch it as a spectator when they could go watch the real thing instead. why would I watch the iWCGPS when I can watch actual Formula 1? Why would I watch VEC when I can watch the actual WEC?

      There’s a reason all the big e-sports are fairytale shit like DOTA, they’re set in environments and have premises and rules completely removed from reality and attract a completely different audience to actual sports. DOTA or Starcraft are interesting to people because they’re unique things.

      An inferior clone of something real is never going to attract that kind of audience.

      Like

      1. Racing is boring as fuck when it is just cars going in circles, just like watching a marathon. What makes some games engaging to watch is not the fantasy setting but the choices and strategies that the players use against each other. That’s why all the more popular sports are team based and no one gives a fuck about track and field unless there’s gambling involved or it’s hyped by the media as a dick measuring contest between countries.

        In racing most of it comes down to execution -that you generally can’t even appreciate without the help of on-screen timers-, and the action comes from the pit stops, race incidents and the rare moments when two or more cars are exchanging paint. Outside of that is mostly people masturbating to pretty cars going around a circuit making loud noises, which I never understood because I’m not autistic, or gossiping about behind the scenes drama involving contracts, regulations or what some driver said about another.

        Liked by 2 people

  10. James, this article of yours is full of BS. Have you even read the rules of the Vegas eRace? This event is going to be very different from the fan/fun “promotional” races they have had in regular event weekends. It’s organized by CloudSport simracing league, and they are going to have qualification rounds, so the Formula E guys who have not practiced enough or are too slow can’t even race against our alien overlords; and half of the Formula E grid are known simracers, so why should they drive differently than usual?

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  11. Without some element of danger, there’s no reason to watch racing.

    I don’t want to see anyone get hurt, but watching Mansell go around Berger at the Peraltada (best corner name ever) in the 1990 F1 race in Mexico means next to nothing unless Mansell is risking *everything*. What a glorious moment:

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    1. Sure. Of course no one wants to see someone get hurt but part of the whole appeal of racing is the danger and bravery associated with it. There’s no danger in sim racing, so why would I want to watch some guy sitting in front of a tv with a plastic wheel? This whole premise is ridiculous.

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  12. Given the money on the line, I suspect they’d brief the competitors to take it more seriously.

    The early events were done with the latest forza game at the time, which I don’t rember being too bad. The fan challenges were done alongside the main Eprix, so presumably the pros had little to no prep time or any real incentive to play properly.

    I’ve no expectation this will do anything for simracing as an esport, but for the FIA to be somewhat endorsing it is better than nothing I guess.

    Gotta love the shills runnig to rf2’s defence in that kotaku article though

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    1. All true. In rF2’s defense, I’ll just say that the following is pretty awesome and looks as good as anything else, and plays a lot better in terms of FFB and physics.

      1) That new Nissan GTR GT500 car.
      2) Virtua_LM’s excellent Sebring 12h track.
      3) A 49″ Samsung KS8000 running 3840×2160 with 4x AA on a GTX 1080 (sorry).
      4) TM TX wheel and T3PA’s with load cell mod.

      Yeah, I know. That’s a lot of fucking requirements. If I were running the show, I’d grab the Virtua_LM guys who did that track, then hire URD to start putting out 1 entire series at a time – starting with GT500 (those cars just ROCK to drive). Or buy the URD EGT mod and include that in the base game.

      When rF2 is done right (right car, right track, right equipment), it has the best “You Are There” feel of anything I’ve ever seen. It’s too bad there is so little available for it.

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    1. Given that it seems the F.E. brass does care about this, a lot, I suspect the drivers have been told to be on their best behavior, or else.

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      1. Well, hopefully. It doesn’t exactly matter, though. FE itself isn’t that popular, and seems to be getting less so, not more.

        So how many are going to be watching the “Fake Nerd Version” of FE? Sounds like a desperate “Hey, let’s try this maybe” marketing ploy.

        “The most-watched Formula E race was the finale in London which consisted of two rounds one day after another and had a cumulative audience of 9.8 million. It was followed by the season-opener in Beijing with 9.7 million viewers and the third round in Uruguay which was watched by 6.9 million. The TV audience steadily declined after that and reached its lowest point at the sixth race in California which had 3.9 million viewers.”

        So, the audience steadily declined (9.7mil -> 3.9mil) as the season went on. That’s not good, right?

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  13. The Russian president has rejected a suggestion of the foreign ministry to expel 35 American diplomats in response to a similar move by the US. He said Obama’s act was designed to provoke a reaction, but Russia would not take the bait.

    Africans are a primitive and stupid race.

    It should come to no surprise to normal human beings that when you put Africans in charge of your government, they use it for childish and vindictive purposes, snapping at and trying to annoy people they dislike based on stupid rumors.

    These new sanctions against Russia are the equivalent of taking a dump in the soap dispenser in the school bathroom, and then laughing when people use it to wash their face.

    Obama employs war rethoric, and Putin, instead of retaliating, throws a kid’s party and gives a wink to Trump.

    Obama’s powerlessness regarding Russia at this point could hardly be more obvious. I guess the point was to set it up for Trump to be put in an awkward position?

    I’m not really even sure.

    It was a very weird move by Obongo.

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    1. Shouldn’t even take the bait, but still:

      A guy from Ghana (my roommate at Johns Hopkins) helped get me through my organic chemistry final. Smartest person I’ve ever met, and just an all-around great person. He ended up getting trapped here due to his family falling out with the Rawlings regime back home. I never found out what happened to him in the end. I think he never saw his family again.

      So, I feel like I owe it to him to say this:

      FUCK YOU RACIST ASSHOLE. HOMO SAPIENS ARE ALL “AFRICANS” IF YOU GO BACK FAR ENOUGH, DIPSHIT.

      Like

    1. Before wasting your time you should check the Marrakesh (sat 12 nov) out.
      These drivers behaves just like 6 years boys.
      No sorry – like 4 years kids.

      Like

  14. Bit late in the party, but it doesn’t matter.

    I attented the Marrakech ePrix, and the eRace was a total joke. For the event they decided to take a Moroccan driver instead of a fan. Learnt that while having a chat with one of the Cloud Sport guy. I was a bit disappointed as I was setting some laps and wanted to have fun.

    Later this day I met the lad with his coach. After setting a few more laps with both of them, it turned out that he set some nice lap times, albeit a full second slower than for the real-life counterpart. I recall his lap-time being a 1.23.6. My fastest lap was a 1.23.3. Gutted was an understatement, but I believe it was due to the race organiser asking the Cloud Sport lads to choose Benyahia in order to calm the locals as they couldn’t get the fact that Bennani (Moroccan WTCC driver) couldn’t just have a free drive this weekend.

    It would be unfair for me to describe about the other events, but the Marrakech sim event was pretty awful.

    I believe that a huge majority of the TOP10 for the Vegas eRace will be composed of the pro sim-racers. Graham was a full second faster than Piquet and another FE driver on both Berlin and Marrakech. And the lads will be extremely motivated for the final cash price so I’d definitely put a bet on one of them for the win.

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  15. Going by the twitch comments this does not come across as good promotion for sim racing. People are not too fond of the graphics. “Looks like PS 2” and so on…

    Now waiting for the final race to start…

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    1. It turned out to be pretty uneventful, except for that crash full of simulation value with the car flying over a barrier, teleporting back to the road and driving on three wheels.

      Like

    1. After the race Pahkala was penalized 12 seconds for the boost fault and the victory went to Bono Huis.

      Man, this event couldn’t have gone worse. What a disaster…

      Like

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