I’m starting to feel like the parent of an abnormally bratty child, because they just can’t get their shit together. For several years in a row, iRacing have made a tradition out of occasionally deviating from their official series’ respective schedules, hosting massive full-length online events within the service mirroring their incredibly prestigious real-world counterparts. Dubbed iRacing’s World Tour, the one-off hardcore exhibition races spread throughout the calendar are not counted as part of any standard iRacing championship, but instead serve to bring the community together for a virtual automotive festival once every month or so.
It’s a very cool concept in theory – getting everyone to partake in the virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans or Daytona 500 – but unfortunately, the team in Bedford have a habit of rarely getting it right. World Tour events are often plagued by server outages that crash the entire website, and prevent all but a handful of lucky users from finishing their races – some of whom have practiced weeks to do so. Like clockwork, each World Tour weekend is eagerly anticipated by the community, only for the servers to shit themselves just as things are getting underway due to the sheer volume of users getting in on the action, obviously pissing off a whole bunch of sim racers who have supposedly paid top dollar to ensure this kind of thing doesn’t happen.
As of tonight, the 2017 iRacing World Tour calendar has been no exception. This evening’s Roar Before the 24, a significantly slower event preceding the 24 Hours of Daytona featuring entry level road racing cars found within the iRacing service on the Florida Superspeedway’s Infield Road Course, predictably brought the servers to a screeching halt; booting everyone from the game and making anyone’s genuine practice efforts a gigantic waste of time.
On the outset, it’s really not much of a story – once again, iRacing shits the bed when it comes to a World Tour event, and those who thought things would be different this year after the chaos which unfolded during the 2016 event are made to look extremely foolish for being unnecessarily optimistic. But to iRacing’s defense, servers do fail under excess capacity from time to time, and every major online game, from Rocket League to Call of Duty, have dealt with online userbases exceeding what the server farm can accommodate. It happens, and it’s usually a sign your game is kicking ass in the eyes of the public. If people are literally swamping your game with connection requests, it’s kind of a compliment.
Except that’s not what happened here; not in the slightest. Only 297 iRacers signed up for the 2017 Roar Before the 24 – compared to the thousands of iRacers who attempt the Daytona 500 or Indianapolis 500 later in the year – indicating something is very wrong over at iRacing’s headquarters.
After finally implementing VAT taxes to their online purchases, sending subscription and content costs skyrocketing (a single month on the service is now 20 GBP, or $32 CDN), iRacing’s servers proved they couldn’t handle three hundred people signing up for one event on a dull Friday night, when barely anybody was on the service to begin with. Despite signing both Ferrari and Porsche to the simulator, and supposedly reeling in an enormous amount of revenue thanks to the largest number of active members in the history of the service, iRacing is brought to it’s knees by three hundred people. Not thousands, as was originally the case in years past; three hundred.
Any sim racer not blinded by post-purchase rationalization and hasn’t yet been forced into silence by the resident iRacing forum bullies, should be speaking up and asking the tough questions here. Where, exactly, is their money going? The service is allegedly growing in leaps and bounds, to the point where I believe 2016 was the first year the brand turned some kind of profit, but the experience for the end user is objectively getting worse. The website was slaughtered not by a mass of hungry sim racers desperately mashing buttons in an effort to tackle the Daytona 500 with their friends, but three hundred people wanting to race shitty little Mazda MX-5’s for a few hours. That’s absolutely pathetic given the manner in which iRacing is marketed. You’re paying a premium price for a game that can’t handle three hundred people signing up for a race, when there are supposedly something like sixty thousand active members.
A genuine server failure? Possibly. But this is an issue iRacing have never once managed to fix. They go out and advertise these massive full-length online races, only for them to have a failure rate greater than 70%. And while these incidents were typically reserved for ridiculous waves of people all trying to click the drive button at the same time during heavily promoted events, we’re now at a point where the website crashed even when it should have damn well been able to handle a comparatively small group of people.
Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. And if you aren’t asking questions, you’re part of the reason iRacing continues to charge an insanely jacked up price while
selling renting users an experience that doesn’t even work when it damn well should.
Three hundred people, guys. Come on. That’s just sad. We’ve talked about this.