There’s a bit of a story developing on the iRacing forums today, and it’s one that you most likely won’t see covered on any of the major sim racing outlets, as it makes the team behind iRacing look extremely incompetent and lazy; willing to throw around thousands of dollars in licensing fees without anything actually coming of them. Today’s Reader Submission comes from a user by the name of Shannon and Nim are Ruining iRacing, though despite the obviously biased name, the entry is anything but – iRacing have teased the Formula Renault 3.5 for many months as a sister car for a vehicle already on the service – the Formula Renault 2.0 single-seater – but many have wondered why this car has not materialized in the same manner as the open-wheel ride pictured above.
We’ve now found out why, and it should make any iRacing member willing to spend hundreds of dollars on the service in the hopes of receiving a bunch of new content, question where their money is being put towards. In some cases, it’s merely being squandered.
Picture the scene. You’re running one of the biggest racing simulator services on the planet, and you acquire the rights to the Formula Renault 2.0 and 3.5. Excellent, a real coup that’ll bring in European racers in droves, which is good because that’s the market you’re weakest in. Finally, a proper ladder for the European road series. So you contact teams, and in true iRacing fashion, you find that you can’t get the data required to replicate the car.
Or do you even contact them in the first place?
In recent years, it has become quite commonplace for iRacing to announce something, only to never deliver. Long Beach is the oft-cited classic example, but we also have the Honda BTCC cars, an array of British motor racing circuits, the Silverstone update, various oval re-scans, and the list goes on. The tracks, perhaps, understandably got bumped, after all the Nordschleife and Le Mans were a lot of work, but what of the cars? Why don’t we have the Honda’s, the other three Aston Martin’s announced, the other BMW’s, and the Formula Renault 3.5? Even the Ferrari is seeming somewhat uncertain at this point.
Today, we have the answer, and it comes, like most information about iRacing, in the form of a post on the members-only message board. Way back, when people first began questioning the failure of the Formula Renault 3.5 to appear, a chap by the name of Diederik Kinds offered to introduce iRacing to a team he worked with, after iRacing had said they were unable to get any of the 3.5 teams to work with them. Now, that’s quite some stroke of luck. Sadly, the thread I’m sourcing has since been deleted for very obvious reasons, but thankfully I have taken enough screenshots to ensure everyone at PRC can understand the overall premise; those waiting for the FR 3.5 have come to know Diederik as the best possible route to getting this car in the game.
So the exchange starts with Tony Gardner himself:
Although we have no shortage of car production projects, it is our intention to build the 3.5 car. We are finally making some progress thanks to member Diederik Kinds who hooked us up with a good contact with a team this week who seems willing to work us. That was what we needed. Good job Diederik!
Diederik last posted on the topic in October of 2016, and we all thought that progress was being made, cars being lined up to scan, that sort of thing. Now it seems sensible that iRacing would be quite keen to work on this, after all they’ve spent money on licenses, and a license unused is money down the drain. None of us like to throw money away, and when running a business that is especially true, considering the number of loyal iRacing customers who will buy almost anything they produce, even if they never plan on driving it. The car would obviously have sold well, as evidenced by the enormous popularity of the Formula Renault 2.0.
Fast-forward to March of 2017, in a lengthy thread where someone asked if there was any news on the Formula Renault, eventually Steve Myers (the executive vice president and executive producer) eventually chimed in:
Sorry, nothing has changed here. I don’t own a 3.5 car and I haven’t found anyone that does that is willing to work with us.
He then quickly threw a distraction in there, saying fourteen cars would receive tire improvements. Initially the thread focused on the tire model changes, but eventually people started pointing out that there was a guy who said he’d work with them, and wondered what had happened with that. One chap wondered if iRacing just weren’t interested in making the car, given that the Formula Renault series isn’t anywhere near Formula One in terms of secrecy, so there wouldn’t be an obligation for teams to hide data from iRacing and refuse to work with them. Steve Myers did not take that observation very well.
If there is one thing I really don’t appreciate it is someone implying I am lying. I think anyone that knows me would vouch for the fact that almost to a fault I tell people how it is. If you can’t look at the roster of cars that we have built and figured out that we build what we get data for than that is your problem. We will happily build the car if someone can put me in touch with a team that actually will work with us and not disappear when they find out all the data we need to build it.
Now let’s go back again to how the deal was made. iRacing obviously spent money on licenses for the FR3.5 (and the Honda’s, the BMW’s and the Aston Martin’s). In many of those cases, they claim they couldn’t get a car to work with. Let’s think about that for a moment, just imagine how easy that is to take advantage of: “Yes Mr. Myers, feel free to pay me thousands for this license, now I’ll allow you to use our car in your game” is a pretty easy thing to say during a licensing deal if you know none of the teams running your car are going to let them do it. Money for nothing, right? And yet what business would actually operate that way?
So with all that out of the way, we finally receive the bombshell which exposes exactly how iRacing works. From Diederik Kinds himself, the chap with the contacts to help get iRacing the car if they really wanted it:
Just chew on that for a moment. It exposes a staggering lack of professionalism in iRacing’s approach. It leads to some big questions. Do iRacing really want the car? Do they rub team owners up the wrong way? Is there a communication problem? One has to wonder if, when one is bankrolled by a billionaire, one starts to get a bit lackadaisical about spending money on licenses that don’t get used. Perhaps when hiring friends, one doesn’t acquire the best negotiators. Is this what happened with the Honda’s, the Aston Martin’s and the BMW’s?
All of this money, all of these resources, all of these licenses, they send one Email, and then lie to the customers about teams being unwilling to work with them. iRacing haven’t even tried to get the Formula Renault 3.5 into the service, they basically sent an introductory Email and left it at that, but yet they’re paying for the license, and they’re doing so with the money iRacers have provided them with. You’re giving them money to acquire cars they don’t even put the effort into creating in the first place.
So just think, how many other times has this happened?
What am I supposed to do, act surprised? Everyone knows iRacing is a small team full of hobbyists and left-over Papyrus staff members that have been given a literal mountain of money to run their operation with, so it’s certainly not all that much of a revelation to learn a lot of bone-headed decisions are made behind the scenes, and the company on occasion will intentionally mislead or outright lie to their customers – like telling users a server outage is due to DDoS attacks, when it’s actually just the result of iRacers constantly mashing F5.
The most we can do is just continue to make people aware of it, and hopefully sim racers will either make smarter decisions in the future and not give a company like this their money, or simply continue to ask so many questions on the official iRacing forums, the staff can’t possibly delete every last thread on the topic without looking like they’re censoring criticism.
Which, of course, we know for a fact they do.
However, all is not lost. Because of the discussion surrounding the existence of the Formula Renault 3.5, as well as some of Diederik’s exact suggestions, Steve Myers has confirmed that they will now be looking into contacting another Formula Renault 3.5 team in an effort to finish the car for the European iRacing audience.
Unfortunately, this now raises more questions than answers. There have been several pieces of content announced by iRacing, only to vanish into thin air, and it took months of customers begging for information, passive aggressive answers from Steve Myers bitching about a team “disappearing” on them, and the guy who organized it all to start asking basic questions, just for one future car to get back on track. Will this process need to be repeated every single a time an upcoming piece of content vaporizes?