Are an Over-Saturation of Streams Hindering SimRacing as an eSport?

npas-daytona1-1500This topic shouldn’t need a lengthy introduction, so I’ll make things as short as I can for today. The growth of the eSport phenomenon in very specific mass-market titles, such as Counter-Strike, League of Legends, and even the Madden NFL franchise, has led to a scenario where every basement-dwelling nerd armed with a semi-competent PC and modern high-speed internet connection believes the world deserves to see a live play-by-play broadcast of whatever online match they’re participating in.

Whether the footage focuses on the first person viewpoint of someone playing their title of choice into the wee hours of the morning, or is instead an elaborate production built to present the online competition as if it were a major sporting event – complete with some sort of amateur commentary team – the popularity of streaming has skyrocketed over the past three years. Gamers are not only scouring YouTube for hilarious gameplay clips accompanied by colorful personalities; they also want to watch this stuff unfold in real-time within a competitive setting. For a large portion of the planet, live broadcasts of League of Legends matches have become what Sunday Night Football is to traditional sports fans.

However, while other video game genres are prospering from this relatively cutting-edge way to consume these titles from a spectator standpoint, sim racing has become even more obscure despite an influx in broadcasted events. Hundreds of thousands of people are flocking to watch fighting game tournaments or Call of Duty matches, but simulators such as iRacing – who openly bill themselves as “the original eSport racing game” – reel in less viewers than your kid’s Christmas concert.

The reason behind this probably isn’t what you think.

shootout-streamAbove is a screenshot I snapped only seven laps into last nights iRacing Peak Anti-Freeze shootout, a 40-lap brawl that brought together the absolute best active oval drivers on the iRacing service for a quick little romp before the actual season began. Despite the iRacing simulator being a predominantly oval-focused simulator, with the majority of users residing in North America and flocking to the numerous stock cars found within the online-only racing sim, the broadcast attracted just over 200 viewers. Nick Ottinger, Ray Alfalla, and Byron Daley are some of the absolute best in the world at driving a virtual race car in iRacing’s competitive environment, and yet this “star-studded lineup”, the sim racing equivalent to rounding up as many of the best active League of Legends players on the planet for an impromptu broadcasted showdown, had less viewers around the world than what a local Canadian high school football team can reel in on a weekly basis for their games.

Make no mistake, 206 viewers is absolutely brutal for how much effort is being put into these events, and this isn’t the first time I’ve seen such a low number on a major iRacing broadcast. Aside from the opening round of the season at Daytona, and the inevitable shitfest that occurs at its sister track Talladega, view counts for Peak Anti-Freeze series races – the highest level of sim racing in the world – never manage to acquire more than a few hundred people watching at once. It’s simply awful for the image iRacing tries to present to the general public; you have these massively elaborate broadcasts that are watched by basically nobody.

c1juohuwgaaj3lShifting gears away from iRacing, Formula E and the monolithic credit card company VISA held a one-off million dollar prize purse showdown back in January, dubbed the Formula E Visa Vegas eRace. Despite the enticing event format, which saw the world’s best virtual road racers compete toe to toe against the complete roster of Formula E drivers in a static setting that relied on driver skill over dialing in the perfect setup, the broadcast could only retain around seven to ten thousand viewers or so, most of whom mocked the dated visuals. We later learned the event was aired on a Twitch channel that primarily hosted Counter-Strike tournaments, meaning that for all the money that had been dumped into this supposedly world class event conducted with the FIA’s blessing, they couldn’t even stream the footage to the correct audience.

pit-lelIt’s a pretty dire situation when you look at the bigger picture of what’s going on; you have all these fantasy bullshit games skyrocketing in popularity that are being watched by millions around the world, but the genre of sim racing – which lends itself quite well to this online broadcasting thing – is basically stuck in a rut and unable to capitalize on the boom in any meaningful way, even with the help of companies such as the FIA, iRacing, and a goddamn credit card company doing everything in their power to spread the joy of sim racing. None of this seems to be working.

So what’s happening, and how do we reverse it?

Oct 11, 2015; Concord, NC, USA; Sprint Cup Series driver Joey Logano (22) during the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

I think you could make a fair argument by drawing attention to auto racing’s steady decline in popularity away from the computer monitor, as both Formula One and NASCAR – two of the biggest racing series in the world – have struggled to deal with empty grandstands as of late, so if people aren’t going to the races in real life, why would they ever watch nerds on the internet compete in a virtual representation of it?

stands-inlineIn my opinion this is a decent argument, but despite the lack of people in the stands, nobody’s telling you the other side of the story. NASCAR tracks are removing grandstands en mass, but on the flip side, the NASCAR Subreddit is growing exponentially with each passing month, more and more YouTube videos about NASCAR are uploaded every day, and Twitter/Facebook stats always shoot up whenever there’s a big moment on-track.

The reality is that people just don’t go to events anymore because tickets are too expensive for what they offer, and the high definition, fifteen million camera television broadcasts by and large offer a better experience than sitting in a stationary spot for four hours out of your day, only able to see the cars for a second or two at a time. Auto racing isn’t declining in popularity; people are just consuming it in a different fashion. You only have to look at the 2017 release calendar to figure out people still fucking love racing at its core.

  • F1 2017 is due for release this fall.
  • DiRT 4 is due for release this summer.
  • Project CARS 2 is due for release this winter.
  • Gran Turismo 7 is due for release this fall.
  • Need for Speed 2017 is due for release this fall.
  • Forza Motorsport 6 is still being updated.

That’s a whole lot of major racing game releases by big-name developers for a sport that’s supposedly in decline and people don’t care for. And developers like Electronic Arts, Polyphony Digital, Turn 10, Codemasters, and Slightly Mad Studios are all teams that don’t just go out and make hardcore games for a sport that is falling like a rock in the court of public opinion. They’re in this to make money. Racing games still obviously make money judging by how many are coming out in 2017 alone.

So if auto racing isn’t dying, and racing games are more popular than they’ve ever been before in the gaming landscape, why has sim racing not taken off as an eSport?

The answer is actually pretty simple: too many goddamn people are trying to cash-in on the boom at once, and it’s over-saturated the market.

16930391_10154436905289001_1935531452_oThere is no cohesive effort to present sim racing as a legitimate eSport by a talented group of individuals who know what they’re doing, and the “market”, so to speak, is flooded with so much useless crap and amateur broadcasts, that any sort of meaningful viewerbase that would otherwise give sim racing a proper footing in the eSports market is instead split across hundreds if not thousands of miscellaneous videos. Above I’ve provided an example of what I’m getting at – here you have an iRacing user, who obviously has the technological know-how to stream some sort of sim racing broadcast, is going out and wasting it all on an iRacing practice session. Completely and utterly pointless.

On top of endeavors like this, you have so many private leagues that stream all their races for their 17 YouTube viewers, and an abundance of individual twitch users who hit record on basically any simulator they play, that it’s impossible as a viewer to figure out what you want to watch. It’s as if the National Basketball Association suddenly expanded to 485 teams overnight – which means no one series or simulator as a whole can gain the following needed to make the next step up the eSport ladder; there simply aren’t enough viewers to go around for the sheer number of broadcasts shitting up YouTube and Twitch. Everybody is trying to get a piece of the pie all at once, but the sim racing pie isn’t big enough for everybody because this is an incredibly niche genre to begin with, so what happens is that they’re walking away with crumbs, and as a result the genre doesn’t go anywhere.

iracingsim64-2014-06-08-22-59-09-57Fixing this doesn’t happen overnight, but there is a way to at least reverse from where we’re at right now.

There needs to be one major sim racing championship that is pushed to the forefront as the definitive online competition in the genre that everybody does their part to help promote, so outsiders or those on the fence can follow the action and think “wow, this looks neat, I want in,” rather than stumbling through a YouTube & Twitch landscape cluttered with amateurish sim racing broadcasts.

It has to have the best sim racers in the world, the best sim racing commentators calling the action, the best broadcast crew working to present the event in a professional fashion, showcase the best piece of software our genre has to offer, be aimed at a target audience who will be somewhat receptive to it, and boast a massive, meaningful prize for those who finish well.

The Visa Vegas eRace, for everything it got oh so terribly wrong during the abhorrent display in January, came the closest anyone’s ever gotten to launching sim racing as an eSport into the spotlight. There was a major prize on the line, a solid roster of drivers on the grid, and a professional studio-quality production fueling the whole thing. Before the first green flag even dropped, it made for entertaining TV.

But it was over too quickly – the race was a one-off exhibition event that was completed in two hours, instead of an entire championship where we could grow to know and love (or hate) certain personalities over an entire season – which is why a lot of people watch sports; the natural story lines that develop are pretty fucking entertaining. Yet instead of moving on to race number two with all of the competitors rattled by technical issues and a hastily amended final outcome, the credits rolled and that was it. Now what? Back to our obscure streams that nobody watches? What are we supposed to do now? Just sort of sit around and wait for all of these obscure rFactor 2 streams to quadruple in size?

Of course not. You have to keep it going. This is why you conduct a major sim racing championship instead of a one-off race.

Now in terms of simulation software, rFactor 2 looked absolutely awful – a kind of Flight Simulator 2000 vibe with modern lighting and reflections, so not a whole understood why this genre is so special to so many hobbyists. Straight up, you can’t be using rFactor 2 for this kind of thing. It’s just not the kind of software that looks good in the spotlight. Go away fanboys, you know it looked like a goddamn cartoon and this matters on this kind of platform. People were openly asking on the stream what was happening during the pit stop segment, because the cars were just sort of parked in an empty paddock area as if they’d wandered outside the map in an old Call of Duty game. You can’t have this. Sorry.

You also can’t have this event broadcasted on a Counter-Strike tournament channel. Here, I’ll put it in even simpler terms; you aired a Formula One race on the Golf Network. Good job.

And okay, Bono Huis won $200,000 USD… Good for him! Do we get a follow up episode? Do we tune in next week to see him test a Formula E car? Of course not! We have to head back to our obscure little websites, three weeks later, to see spy shots posted on a sim team’s Facebook page, to find out what happened to our champion. That’s not how you get people excited for the winner, or what future events may hold in store.

What you need is one killer championship. Because at the moment, you don’t have that – instead you have several minuscule tournaments that are spectated by only a fraction of the sim racing community.

maxresdefaultIt’s obviously a pain in the ass to coordinate a kind of all-encompassing world sim racing series to help advertise the genre on a wider scale, but you have to walk before you can run. Sim racers are burying themselves in endless low-quality streams of private leagues watched by twelve people, while the developers of the games themselves struggle to retain any kind of meaningful audience with their own broadcasts, simultaneously asking why sim racing hasn’t exploded in a fashion similar to League of Legends or Call of Duty despite how well the genre lends itself to a competitive platform.

You need to reel people in with one major production first, and you haven’t done that. Hell, you’re not even paying people to cover your events, instead telling them that “the prestige of the iRacing Pro Series is more than enough compensation for your work.”

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55 thoughts on “Are an Over-Saturation of Streams Hindering SimRacing as an eSport?

  1. I’d definitely love to see a solid beginning-to-end streamed sim racing championship. I enjoyed that iRacing event at Phoenix with the drivers from various motorsports series competing all at once, and I had thought at the time, “man, I’d love to see more stuff like this while the offseason’s going on.”

    And then nothing unified and coherent came up since, at least that I came across and that wasn’t an embarrassing trainwreck within minutes.

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  2. This is one tough sell when it comes to sim racing , with the likes of counterstrike it has dominated the online first person shooter market for years and has the user base to hold the interest for esports tournaments and the like .

    Sim racing on the other hand doesn’t have that dominant product that gives people the enjoyment to watch , most games have barely any flag rules and or damage to speak off , half the visuals are terrible , speaking off damage and accidents ( a big part of the excitement of watching racing I enjoy on tv ) in sim racing they are just so non existent that it really isn’t visually entertaining at the end off the day.

    GT sports hasn’t helped with the races they recently showed us , I think it does more damage than good when a company shows people racing each other in a competition and its like bumper cars in a static environment ( boring as hell to watch ).

    Its a tough sell and Iracing isn’t going to be the one to get the break through if any.

    I’m not a shill by any means but if project cars can actually produce what they are saying they can with the dynamic environments , this may well put them at the forefront of this subject.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Although I agree with your argument, I’m pretty sure that practice was broadcast purely as a means for the commentators to acquaint themselves with the drivers, and prepare themselves for the actual race broadcast.

    I’m not sure why they had to broadcast the session to do their homework, but perhaps they also wanted feedback from the drivers, and any audience members the broadcast happened to attract.

    As far as the larger argument regarding audience fragmentation, it’s a pretty standard Tragedy of the Commons scenario, highlighting the inherent pitfalls that arise when individual entities must subvert their short term self interest for the long term health of the collective.

    As you indirectly suggest, the best interests of the entire sim racing community are met by a single software platform and championship, and as much as iRacing wants to be sim racing’s Counterstrike, and may someday become that, it isn’t yet.

    I’m also not convinced the audience is there, just as I’m not sure motorsport fans are simply consuming content in new ways. Apparently, teenagers are not as interested in cars as they were in the past, which doesn’t bode well for motorsport in any form.

    That said, I’m also pretty gobsmacked that League of Legends fans pack MSG for matches, and the Big Ten Channel airs conference matches (or whatever they’re popularly called) in primetime.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I think I must simply be too old to understand the appeal of watching a racing (or any other) game stream. It just seems very odd to me. The reason racing is appealing is because of the skill, risk, and bravery involved when you’re actually out on a track. It’s just not that impressive to watch someone imitating that in a virtual form, from the comfort of their living room. I suspect a lot of people feel this way…

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    1. I don’t know about other games but I do love to watch good StarCraft II matches. Not only does it teaches me new game plays but it’s just exciting to watch those intricate chess matches with close battles and turn of events. I guess I could also enjoy good top tier sim racing as long as it was somewhat clean and not just a shitfest.

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    2. I agree with you completely. Plus I would add, why the hell would I watch someone else play a video game when I could be out there myself? I have 0 talent worship in my blood for people who play video games. I mean how dumbed down do they think the population is? You want me to be a fan of a video game player?

      Ray Alfalla might be a nice guy but he isn’t anymore talented than the 1,000’s of others who can hold a pretty wheel. He just knows something about the video game they don’t. Sorry, same for Luza when it comes to video game racing. Anytime software is involved, there are hardware tricks involved. And that is killing iRacing.

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  5. Makes sense.

    Love him, hate him, whatever James/Austin/mattress chick/pizza delivery guy (or whatever your online personas are) has some straight up insightful thoughts on our hobby.

    There is a reason streaming has blown up and because pretty much anyone can do it, lots of folks do it. I mean I’m in my mid 50’s and pretty much every time empty box tosses up a video I watch it from beginning to end.

    Why is that?

    He’s pretty damn good.

    There’s no drama aside from the racing.

    The commentary matches the action, no stream of consciousness shit, no ranting and raving, it’s about the ride.

    While he may have sponsors, you don’t know it from the driving videos.

    I watch because he’s very much a fine tuned machine himself, he’s like a driving bot, programmed to hit his points, that consistency is a joy to watch because I know it takes an immense amount of time and practice to drive like a robot.

    I’m sure I could easily come up with another 15 reasons but you get the idea, he’s pretty damn good but yet he only has 51,000 subscribers. Now as far as that goes 51k subs for a guy that drives pretend race cars seems pretty big until you consider that pretty much any chick that gets in front of a camera for more than a one off thing has hundreds of thousands of morons watching as “it rubs the lotion on its skin”.

    I certainly don’t know what the answer is but I do know that when I read that Ian Bell has put aside his wheel and is exclusively using a controller until the release of PCars 2, just so he knows that the experience will meet the expectations of the intended market or something like that, then I kinda already know that the answer is not one that’s going to be uplifting from my perspective.

    But again maybe it’s all pretty simple, mud, chicks, skimpy outfits = sim racing viewers.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Can you not see his lap times on his videos? He’s no alien, but he is consistent, has a good line on most tracks and is about as far as you can possibly be from being some random back marker. How can you say with a straight face that he is “slow as fuck”?

        I mean, I know how you can say it, you’re just trolling. A rhetorical question really, just felt the need to call this comment out for what it is: hyperbole bullshit. Just like the majority of comments on this site…

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        1. I can say it with a straight face because he is slow. I’m not posting my details to “prove” anything, I know my iRating and I know his, and yes I can see his laptimes – that’s how I know he’s slow. Besides, even if I was also slow as fuck, that doesn’t mean I couldn’t recognise when other people are too.

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  6. Sim Racing just does not work as a spectator sport.Like most real racing it is run for the benefit of the competitors.The most popular Iracing stream on Twitch is Matt Mallone and the guy does a pretty good job and yet he only gets about 200-400 viewers which is way more than anyone else but pathetic compared to other games.

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    1. If you make sim racing stream an event in an esport style, you get better audience. But the whole of sim racing doesn’t care about iracing’s series. The whole of sim racing (exaggeration, but still) cared about the Formula E one off event.

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  7. Simracing isn’t a popular esport for the same reason motorsport isn’t a popular sport – They are insanely fucking boring for spectators.

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  8. 1) Since I got into sim racing a few months ago (still a bloody noob) and took a look at racing videos on youtube, I noticed the low viewer counts for those iRacing youtube streams and VODs myself, so low that I immediately wondered how this is financially viable, considering how many of those broadcasts are churned out (it feels like 2 to 3 per day).The streams seldomly exceed 200 concurrent viewers, the same for viewer counts on the archived VODs. Yet, all of those broadcasts have a commentator duo and an acceptable amateur production value (they probably use some OBC overlay API interface for iRacing to get the standings scrollbar, grid order and the like). But the mic quality is quite poor and the volume of each commentator can sometimes differ quite heavily to the point of not hearing one over the other; the instant replays are often a mess (but show the “RaceSpot TV” logo for way too long). Speaking of RaceSpot TV, the question here is (which is something I’d like to see covered by you) what the relationship between RaceSpot TV and iRacing is. Does iRacing pay RaceSpot to cover all those broadcasts? Or does the RaceSpot team do it for free, and see it as advertising their website / commentator service, or as a stepping stone to commentating general eSports / way to get noticed, or just for fun because they are a bit mad? Which one is it?

    Whatever the relationship there is, it appears they have agreed to some kind of “code” when doing their broadcasts. I’ve begun racing the Skip Barber in iRacing, so sometimes I watch the Skip Barber 2K Cup broadcasts on youtube, done by RaceSpot TV. In one of the earliest races of the current season (I think it was the weekend iRacing had those widespread server problems due to their 24h Daytone event), there were 55 or so cars on the track and about three quarters in, 15 to 20 people just dropped from the server. In the minutes leading up to the drop, many cars began to lag / disappear / reappear. The commentators never acknowledged this. When it got really bad just prior to the drop (about which you could read in the 2K cup thread on the iracing forums, it was discussed quite openly there; whether the race should be repeated, counted, or a drop week added) – they cut to a commercial (tellingly an iracing ad about the then upcoming Porsche Cup car). I’m not sure anymore how they explained the missing 15 drivers once they got back to the broadcast. It was either “a couple of drivers have retired since we left” or they didn’t mention it at all, when it was quite obvious what had happened (they must have seen the DC messages in their spectator client as well). It all felt quite misleading, especially contrasted with the league members discussing how to handle the mass drop in the member forums not open to the public. So it appears iRacing has put a gag clause on RaceSpot TV for when certain things are happening on screen, probably because of an ill-conceived notion of a clean public image. An image almost nobody takes a look at, considering the viewer counts. It’s weird.

    2) Sim Racing is not a good match for eSports. This has nothing to do with the amount of twitch streamers or number of broadcast. There are shitloads of streams for all kinds of games. I’ll try to keep it short, but I’d argue:

    Sim racing is a boring spectator experience. I myself found it to be quite a powerful help to put me to sleep in the evenings. It’s just not fast paced enough, highlights are far and few between; it’s mostly cars time trialing or racing in a conga line. The broadcast tends to focus on the lead pack, and showing the lead pack tends to be boring. What happens in the double digit positions is almost never covered and shown. It would be too confusing anyway, since there are way too many participating players to keep track of (hence the focus on the lead pack or maybe a well known name finding themselves fighting through unknowns in the mid pack after an incident or something). 90% of the race drivers are just “noise”. I dare you to try keep track of the guy on position #16 at the start of the race, what happens to him, how close he races, in what situation he’s in. It can’t be done. There will be a instant replay of an unrelated incident, and when they switch back to the live coverage, that player may have gained/lost five positions – or even retired – without you ever knowing what had happened. There’s no proper “team aspect” when you consider the whole race a “match”, it doesn’t matter if two racers *technically* belong the same racing clan or whatever, each one races for his own position, there’s no *proper* team effort a viewer could immediately grasp while it plays out, and subsequently become a “fan” of such a team. The races go on for too long, there are no “rounds” that reset the stakes (10 laps in, the finishing order of the top 10 is most likely set in road racing, but there may be 30 laps to go…), it’s just the one long race, and if “your favorite guy” (think storylines) has to retire early or falls out of top 10, that race is most likely done for you as a viewer, Also, Sim racing is too similar to its real world counterpart (which is unfortunately it’s aim and therefore its downfall as an eSport), if you can be arsed to even watch other people race over that long period of time, you might as well watch the real thing, which also has proper production value and you know, no nerd stigma. Cost of entry is another point; sim racing is legit expensive. Think about the cost of iRacing. It’s ridiculous. Think about the price for wheels and pedals, and a VR or 3-Screen-Setup. Sure, you can race on a single screen, with a gamepad or with a Logitech Driving Force GT (which still will set you back $100 or something) and you can stay clear of iRacing. Most of the enthusiasts won’t though. It limits the potential playerbase from the get-go. Because, and I can’t cite any polls, I think it’s widely known that *most* of the twitch viewers, let’s play audience and 95% of the eSport contenders are kids and teens. Once in your twenties, you tend to be a) worse at playing eSports yourself because of time constraints in adult life (it’s talent to a point, but really it’s playing the game 8 hours a day that gives you the edge) and also declining reaction time; b) will watch fewer esports / let’s plays and engage in discussions about it because of maturity and time constraints. So as we all can likely agree, “sim dads” and all, the sim racing audience tends to be older, due to cost of entry, the roots of the genre way back in the early 90s and the niche character. So there are fewer and older players not in the general “I’m watching eSports” age group. Lastly, there are like 10 more or less servicable sim racing games, whose differences are not at all that apparent (it’s cars on tracks, in all of them, driving). So the small community is split up between those, and of that base a likely high percentage only plays Singleplayer vs AI races, taking them out of the eSport player / viewer equation entirely. Also, consider the plague that is loot boxes / cosmetic random content. I hate it. But players are peacocks, and if it’s hard to get a certain skin to show off only, they will grind or pay for it. This creates a bond with the game, like it or not (sunk cost fallacy, time invested/money invested; to a extent this is also true for iRacing at least). In Sim Racing, because it’s oldschool, you just mod all the shit you want in (which is great, but still). But modding in cars, for example, also dilludes the game even more; if you think of a racing series as a “game mode”, such as CTF, FFA or TD, then adding more and more car classes to a racing game is the same of having 30+ game modes per game.

    Contrast all of this with the current big eSports titles. Most of them are Free 2 Play (League of Legends, Dota2 – it’s easy to reach 100k views on your stream if your game is downloaded 10 million times because of no apparent cost of entry – this is only a 1% conversion rate of overall players to actual viewers; and I doubt this conversion rate is in the double digits for *any* game yet, rising it may be) or they are reasonably cheap (Counterstrike GO, Rocket League), or just an exception to the rule (Overwatch – still: only $40, has the Blizzard bonus, is reasonably different from other FPS and has great art design… and butts). Still, F2P – and I hate F2P – is for most games the requirement to even have a fighting chance of being recognized as an viable eSport. They don’t require special hardware like wheels or triple monitors to play, any mouse and keyboard will suffice. Most of them will run on older computers quite well. They are all online only, no dicking around in offline mode. No modding. Only 1-2 viable game modes. All are team based, 5on5 at the most. So you can be a fan of a team or of a star player within that team. Cosmetic loot box / skin shenanigans to skinner box it’s audience. The genres they are in aren’t niche, their audience is kids and teens, and lots of them.

    And last but not least, they all have gameplay that *doesn’t* replicate a real world counterpart.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have always felt that the replication of a real world counterpart is why sim racing will never reach true esports status. The fact that it is also expensive to have a quality experience, and that races take a lengthy period of time to complete also hold it back, much moreso than the reasons that Supreme Leader James states

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    1. I do like this comment, because it’s true.

      BUT, I’ve done some rallying in lowest classes IRL. And while sim-rallying is most of the time not as intense experience, and you can memorise the tracks to smallest detail in current games, is driving groupB monsters even remotely close to the limits of the car quite thrilling. Nothing compared to the real deal for sure, quite good for virtual thing.

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      1. I agree, it’s tremendous fun to do it yourself (sim racing). But here we’re talking about *watching someone else* do it.

        Not nearly as much fun. And without the vicarious thrill of danger, it’s very boring.

        One thing I will say. I watched the finals of that Street Fighter V tournament recently and just about pissed myself it was so nail-biting. Yeah, it was just virtual fighting but it was still really fun to watch. It just doesn’t work with sim racing for some reason.

        Maybe racing itself (the real kind) isn’t that great a spectator sport to begin with?

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        1. I was somehow able to write totally off point… What I meant to say was: Watching rallying (from the drivers POV) is much more enjoyable than circuit racing, because at best you see the driver attacking the road and finding time for whole length of the stage. And watching sim-rallying works better for me for the same reason.

          I agree about racing in general not being a great spectator sport, but events like 24 Hours of Nürburgring and Neste Oil Rally Finland are great, because of the atmosphere, something simulators don’t and likely won’t convey for some time.
          But the actual racing, not very interesting most of the time. Rallycross and other sprint type fast, close range “combat” type of events do work best irl and possibly as esports too

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          1. I agree that watching onboard cams is pretty awesome and I can do that literally for hours on end, much to the annoyance of my wife.

            Check out “Nismo TV” on YT – they’ve got some great stuff.

            Also search for: “On-board: The Most Amazing Intensive Race – Super GT / Suzuka”.

            If that doesn’t make you wanna fire up rF2 just to drive that GT-R GT500 car, nothing will 😉

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  9. Look at the viewers from real motorsport-events and you will noticed, that even 24h Le Mans or 12h Bathurst have less than 5k viewers at once in average around the world. Even popular Youtubers driving virtual championship can have more views than the real races (not live), so it´s not that bad for sim-racing comparing to real racing, but certainly they have to say something interesting during the race or it´s just to boring to watch.

    Watching good shooter-players is probably much more interesting, because you see the skills, but you can´t see a visual difference in people with a faster pace than yours without seeing the lap times. The real fast laps are even looking less spectacular onboard than from guys breaking to late and sliding around the corners.

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    1. This is why I love rallying and watching incars from real life rallies, because you as a driver can’t be certain of where the true limit is, the track can vary a lot from first run to second in the afternoon, especially on loose gravel and snow. And when pushing for the top time, even the most consistent make mistakes. Circuit racing is boring(ish) if the weather doesn’t come to play.

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    2. “Watching good shooter-players is probably much more interesting, because you see the skills, but you can´t see a visual difference in people with a faster pace than yours without seeing the lap times. The real fast laps are even looking less spectacular onboard than from guys breaking to late and sliding around the corners”.

      This is a very important point to make. And explains why its often more entertaining to watch some car fightings midfield than watching the boring non-error “computerdriving” up front.

      Like

    3. Nice try pulling numbers out of your ass. Le mans had more than 215k live viewers on a national TV station here in the Netherlands alone. Let alone eurosport going to play the full wec this year on live TV

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      1. 215k live viewers in average or just added over 24 hours? Huge difference i think and 24h Le Mans is so boring to watch. Very overrated from a spectator-view. To easy to drive this track. 12h Bathurst is way better, but always less than 5k viewers when i was watching it for hours.

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  10. bring interactive broadcasts where the audience can choose who to follow in onboard view during the race, bring us vehicle damage and most important bring explosions we need action you need quotes

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  11. The biggest issue for sim racing becoming big eSports is that the rather small community is split up over too many titles. All major eSports games are only one or two per genre if they have the numbers of players.

    Once Rallycross comes into sim racing it could become big, because it offers fast paced action packed in short segments.

    Like

  12. Another issue with sim racing not drawing many spectators is that it’s replicating modern racing, in both tracks and cars. Surely the only way to attact spectators is to show races on tracks and with cars that aren’t used anymore, due to being too dangerous to do for real. One of the attractions to sim racing is the chance to revive things that have been deemed too dangerous in our modern world, so why isn’t that advantage being used more in sim racing?

    Liked by 1 person

  13. At the present we have some game/ engines /developers running nice physics that seem to please most of us in one way or another .

    We have circuits from around the globe that are pretty nice and in some case beautifully constructed and laser scanned .

    In very rare cases we have working flags / rules and pit stops (f1 2016).

    Even rarer is damage, I’m not at all a fan of how assetto implements this (that’s just me ).

    I myself I don’t believe it will hit any highs unless a physical based damage system is implemented (visually & physically ) and working flag rules are the norm , to take the games to the next step we have to be punished for messing up on track all be it your fault or not.

    E.g running into tyre walls and just bouncing off like a rubber ball doesn’t do much for the visual side of things.

    Look I know there is the ongoing answer that I have seen from many developers that the manufacturer will not allow us to do visual damage . Codies seem to lead the way in this department all be in a baked type of way f1 with wing and wheels falling off and dirt you can give your car a hammering if you hit a tree 10 times , how does codemasters manage this when most cant?

    Surely a refined damage systems is the next logical step ? Beam NG anyone. I watch more of these than sim racing videos .

    Myself if physically a couple of people mess up and crash and a car should physical roll , that’s what I want to see . It adds excitement . Flat out was a fun example of physical based damage .

    Its a pipe dream 😦 And I can only think that Esports would hold these type of things back also.

    Call of duty is copping a wooping at the moment for the same old shit every year and we in sim racing are in the same situation at the moment.

    Like

    1. “Myself if physically a couple of people mess up and crash and a car should physical roll , that’s what I want to see . It adds excitement .”

      Eventhough Im not a fanboy then iRacing simulate both visual damage and change the car physics according to this.
      In a lot of races you can see more less wrecked cars on the track lap after lap because the drivers dont want to loose that much ratings that is lost if you just ESC out of a race.

      Like

  14. This is rather “simple” actually.

    Esports works in other game titles because of LAN tournaments streamed (in a broadcast form) not because of online leagues or because of individuals streaming their own gameplay. Twitch streamers and its channel views mean basically nothing of whether an esport scene can develop. What matters is having LAN tournaments (usually backed up by sponsors + prizes for winners or participants) that have nice viewing experience for spectators (usually features that come with the game + overlays on screen produced by the broadcasting crew) and capable casters.

    Sim racing has the potential for an esports scene because the audience comes from the whole of sim racing not just from the players of that game. See the Formula E sim racing event that gathered spectators from all games yet the event was run on rfactor2. The result was a viewers number bigger than the capabilities of that one sim racing game.

    Now, esports in sim racing will have to follow almost the same style of other esports game. One needs to do streamed LAN event that takes the competitors to a “race weekend” that can take 1-3 days. The final race of the best qualified is played on the last day.
    See examples of how LAN tournaments are organized in other titles and adapt them to sim racing. But it needs to be LAN not online, so that we can see the real people behind the wheel (other esports games stream the gameplay but also switch the camera to see the real life players and stage spectators if there’s a local audience watching on site).

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    1. “Now, esports in sim racing will have to follow almost the same style of other esports game. One needs to do streamed LAN event that takes the competitors to a “race weekend” that can take 1-3 days. The final race of the best qualified is played on the last day.
      – But it needs to be LAN not online, so that we can see the real people behind the wheel -”

      Actually there is real data that support this.
      The danish GTR24H have succeded in gathering a lot of both North European drivers and spectators to their 24 hours LAN events that is arranged about 4-5 times a year for at least the last 8 years.
      I have often been a streaming “spectator” to these events and can highly recommend it.
      But its even more fun to watch some of the LAN action “in re”(=on the actual location).
      http://gtr24h.org/

      Like

  15. When it becomes difficult to point out a specific cause for something, it very likely has to do with the fact that the visible effect has in fact multiple causes. I don’t think that the multitude of leagues streaming their own events are the culprit of fractioning the community. That is like saying that we see no major corporation of chinese food restaurants a la McDonalds or Domino’s Pizza just because all chinese insist in opening their own one. So there are in fact multiple reasons, and you get a big list of them by compiling the previous comments. I’ll add another one: Simracing is a niche, but then you also have subniches inside it, depending on wether people prefer one sim or another, the style of racing (road, oval, rally) and even the era (classic cars vs modern ones). As a result, most people just identify and are interested in their own little part of the simracing scene, and unlikely to watch any stream of something else. When you couple all those causes together you start seeing the picture.

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    1. I think True Racer is one of the more charismatic dudes doing the YouTube thing, Shawn Cole’s enthusiasm for the hobby is infectious but the rest of them come across as sterile, to me anyway

      Like

  16. No one watches Sim Racing streams because it’s not a healthy alternative to actually racing personally, or dare I say, communicating with the outside world and meeting people. It’s a hobby, not a fucking career path or sport.
    Secondly, F1 crowd numbers are dwindling because it’s stupidly expensive, so far up its own arse it can’t even see it’s own feet, and contested by vacuous poster boys who’d only last a season racing proper tin tops, mainly due to the fact they wouldn’t get paid enough to subsidise the massive diamond watches they’re accustomed to getting for free.

    Like

  17. “What you need is one killer championship”. Absolutely.

    I have an answer to solve this problem but getting the people with the money and power to hear it, see it, and believe in it would be almost impossible. Someone(like dave kaemmer and his billion dollar backer up their in Boston) could go to brian france of nascar or bernie eccelstone of formula one and get them to offer a free real world ride in their series for a whole year to the overall winner in some sort of virtual simulation iroc series in iracing. IM SERIOUS. The angle to brian france or bernie eccelstone would be the publicity of an unknown without any big family money getting a shot at fame and fortune. The public could get behind this movement and it would benefit the ratings the following year on tv and attendance. It would be like bringing in a new Dale Earnhardt Sr. or something. It would memic something like the rocky movie. An unknown getting a shot at the title.

    Brian France and Bernie Eccelstone are worth billions. They could personally fund a 10 million dollar ride out of their pocket and it wouldn’t effect them at all. Im sure someone like VISA would step up and fund that project anyway. They could pay an existing multicar team the money to add this virtual champion on to the roster. They have the money and the pull. Each year the new virtual champion gets the real world ride the following year. What a story it would be. I bet a million people+ would sign up for iracing or whatever platform was hosting this series.

    TV ratings would go up in real life for this kind of personality. The reason real world racing is suffering is because of the drivers. They aren’t drivers. They are kids that were born into billion dollar families that have bought their way into racing for the fame. Look at them. Listen to them. The gig is up. When bobby allison and cale yarborough, dale earnhardt, aj foyt ect came up they were poor and drove their way to fame. It was like any other sport. Their was a draft system like the NFL or NBA. Not anymore. If your dad is worth 400 million you just go to Rick Hendrick or Roger Penske who has 4 drivers each. Lets say the lowest driver on the totem pole has a dad that is paying Rick Hendrick 15 million a year for his son to drive. You just declare that next year you will give him 20 million and instantly the 15 million dollar kid is “aced” out of his ride. You call this a real sport based on talent? We let this go on? The public see’s it now for what it is and they are leaving in droves. It would be like if the billionaire that owns the New England Patriots canned Brady out of the starting quarterback job and put his grandson on the field. This is whats happened to racing! Its nepitism gone amuck. The days of Bobby Allison eating peaches out of the back of a pickup truck and still making it to the big time are over. You want to “race” i mean “drive the car” in the big time? You either have to be BORN into hundreds of millions, MARRY into millions, or win the POWERBALL. You call this a sport where the best don’t play(drive)? And you support that? How do you fix that? No one talks about this aspect of the sport on tv because of political correctness. No one wants to say anything because they might lose their job. But they know those aren’t the greatest drivers in the world. They are the drivers with the richest family’s. Fan’s are leaving the sport because of this make on mistake. I don’t watch it anymore at all.

    Anyway. My idea at the top is at least legit. One virtual driver would at least “EARN” his way against 1 million other virtual drivers and get a shot. The public could get behind a ROCKY story like that and it would benefit iracing and real racing. Everyone would win.

    If you look at all these games since medal of honor 20 odd years ago every game that is popular is a killing game. You are killing with a gun, knife, hand grenade, sword, casting a death bolt, ect. Its the history of man. Everyone wants to kill. More would kill if it weren’t for going to prison. Look how many wars are always going on or someone on the news getting shot. In the world of online gaming no sports game is going to compare to killing games. The only way to counteract any of this is to offer a huge prize.

    Lastly the best thing going in all of online racing is the iracing v8 supercars. Its to bad it doesn’t get the attention it deserves. Its the hardest car to drive with all that horsepower and no downforce. Also no traction control or anti lock brakes. If i had the power and money to do the above its the car i would use to see who’s best. It takes more talent to drive that car than all the other cars combined. Comments welcome

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