The Changing Landscape of Simulation News

There’s traditional summer vacation periods, and then there’s what’s happening – or the distinct lack thereof – on VirtualR.net as of late. Once known as the definitive blog to visit for automotive simulation news, always making readers aware of brand new community mods or upcoming releases from full-time developers, day-to-day operations have seen a pretty drastic shift over the past couple of months. No longer allowed to discuss non-official Formula One content, and staying far away from controversy despite the website breaking some genuinely interesting stories in the past when deviating from the standard strand of news, the popular website recently turned into a metaphorical dumping ground of generic press releases before embarking on an extended period of silence that still has yet to end. For three straight weeks, sim racing’s most trusted publication has remained oddly silent with not so much as a peep to inform loyal readers as to what’s happened, a sign of the changing landscape in simulation news at the very least.

Though we’re technically co-workers, I don’t actually know what’s going on at VirtualR; speculation the only option at this point, placing me in the same boat as the average sim racer – questioning how a website that’s fairly important to our hobby could just turn into a ghost town unannounced – but at the same time, I understand. Sim racing as a genre is a very strange minefield to navigate, and those who refuse to dive into opinionated topics and ruffle feathers will often find themselves out of subjects to write about for days on end because things simply don’t progress as fast as other, significantly more popular video games. In this situation, prolonged breaks from any type of coverage whatsoever are pretty understandable; unless you’re willing to voice an opinion on something that’s come to mind, there’s just not a lot to talk about.

However, what I do know, is that everyone in this hobby involved in the content creation side of things – or mostly everyone – do so on their own free time, and sometimes life gets in the way. Though I do my best to post a new piece every couple of days, there are races to attend, cars to haul, promo girls to take out to dinner, parts to buy, and other miscellaneous gatherings to show up at. While it’s obviously intriguing as to why there’s been no new content on VirtualR for three weeks, it’s perfectly reasonable at the same time: people have lives, and sometimes pretend race cars can wait.

Yet at the same time, VirtualR’s complete stoppage in activity points to a larger overarching theme: there has indeed been a change in how sim racers are consuming media surrounding their favorite hobby, and maybe it’s okay if VirtualR is indeed in the process of shutting down, as sim racers no longer resonate with this kind of coverage. Take a quick look around the community, and it’s easy to see that things certainly aren’t how they used to be – and maybe there isn’t much of a use for a traditional, politically correct news wire anymore.

The first evidence of this, would be in none other than Jimmy Broadbent’s streams. Now I know a lot of you guys reading PRC aren’t big fans of him, but here we have a pretty prominent sim racing personality reeling in hundreds upon hundreds of viewers – in some cases more live viewers than iRacing’s own eSports World Championship events, featuring the best sim racers on the planet – to either climb aboard for a nostalgia trip, or check out a new piece of content in one of the many modern simulators. I can’t say I agree with the copious donations to watch someone else play racing simulators while simultaneously complaining the cost of iRacing is too high – these guys are making it statistically accurate to call sim racers a bunch of paying cucks – but this isn’t entirely Jimmy’s fault; this has been considered customary for a while on live streams, and the sheer numbers have spoken – sim racers dig this sort of thing, and want more of it.

RaceDepartment have also climbed aboard the audience participation bandwagon, with many news stories no longer being news stories at all, but instead little blurbs to generate discussion among active members. Sure, there are the traditional announcements of new simulation content, but they are now far outnumbered by screenshot competitions, “Have Your Say” segments, posts openly asking for opinions, and real-world motor racing stories to fill otherwise days or weeks of relatively little activity. Again, the front page of RaceDepartment once acted as a traditional news wire very much in the same manner as VirtualR did, but the staff have now realized sim racers by and large no longer resonate with this way of presenting information, and they’ve now changed things up to compensate.

Professional-appearing outlets with proper anchors have also become a thing of the past, as InsideSimRacing’s own Darin Gangi has given up ownership of the company he started to pursue other ventures; the brand itself no longer the powerhouse in the genre it once was despite an objective, tangible improvement in the content ISR produces. Though Gangi’s fall from grace has been aided in part by antics displayed in the above screenshot – in which he can be seen belittling another sim racing personality from California by referring to him as an “ungrateful piece of fat shit” – the exchange highlights how working to maintain a professional on-camera persona can actually backfire given the abundance of childish shit-slinging that occurs within the community on a daily basis. It’s seemingly far easier in the long run to be open about your issues (a la Jimmy Broadbent) and willingly partake in the traditional message board debauchery as a goofy YouTube personality, than to pretend you’re some kind of semi-official ambassador for the community and be forced to exhibit impressive levels of damage control when your behavior behind closed doors is made public.

Obviously these are just three examples I was able to pull from the general public, but the way sim racers consume information about their hobby is certainly changing, and VirtualR’s sudden hiatus may not just be a prolonged personal matter Rob has to attend to, but a subtle hint that maybe the days of traditional news outlets are behind us. It will obviously be disappointing if VirtualR returns with a message that states the website will be winding down until its eventual closure, considering how much time many of us have spent there over the years, but at this point, it would be a very natural progression.

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74 thoughts on “The Changing Landscape of Simulation News

  1. The first evidence of this, would be in none other than Jimmy Broadbent’s streams, Now I know a lot of you guys reading PRC aren’t big fans of him”

    Which one of you miserable cunts dont like Jimmy?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Which one is Jimmy?

      This comment brought to you by some bs pedals, esports glasses, dx sucker chairs, and simracergirl. Double discounts today on the pizza sub combos!

      Like

  2. Bet that Montoya retard and his pet dog F1racer are too busy collecting all the pCARS 2 shill articles to they can spam that crap for the coming 2 weeks.

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    1. When you threaten to ban people every day, people stop giving a shit. This is why PRC is the best racing website with the most conversational value.

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  3. It’s a shame to see Darin go. Watching him overreact at the slightest provocation was always entertaining; all you really had to do to get under his skin was call him old in the chat.

    John and Billy are too nice to keep the spirit of the old ISR alive. Maybe they should think about hiring some trashy bimbos to spice things up.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Unless someone is actually reviewing something, I honestly don’t “get” how people have time to sit there and passively watch some other guy sim-race.

    I think I watched Broadbent once and it was a Nissan Primera BTCC race. There was zero instructional value. Watched for maybe 30 secs and decided I liked how that car sounded, got the mod and was disappointed to find out it had a V3 tire model (since updated).

    There is absolutely no way I would waste 30 minutes of spare time watching someone else (presumably) having fun just playing a game.

    I *have* watched videos of people (who are experts) playing complex wargames and flight sims like Graviteam’s “Mius Front” or DCS A-10 as a learning aid. But I don’t keep coming back to watch these things for intrinsic entertainment value.

    Then again, I guess people do watch sports. Sim Racing (like IRL racing) requires skill, practice, time and hardware investment. Perhaps I shouldn’t be too surprised that many would rather sit back and watch.

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    1. I don’t get that either. Only explanation I can find is that these streams nowadays are like the big chat rooms of the past.
      Except for most of the girls streams… those are still whore cams but showing less because they show more only when you pay for their patreon xD

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hah. Yeah, the Patreon thing is rapidly approaching oversaturation.

        I’m guessing the “YouTube Bubble” will soon pop and there will suddenly be a lot fewer people left actually making a living from their channel.

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    2. Fun fact: Austin Ogonoski’s YouTube does not generate much interest at all. 310 subscribers and only a handful of views of his real life racing videos.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. If i remember correct there was a similar long period of hiatus on VirtualR before Montoya finally announce that he passes the moderation to F1racer, everything after that has been a downhill for the site, mostly for the strict moderator, the lack of timely updates and the general feeling that the whole site was pretty much on un-maintained Autopilot.

    I’d say fuck em.

    Liked by 1 person

        1. In real life the car coming from behind gets upwards momentum. Think about the direction the tires rotate for a sec and check yourself before you rekk yourself.

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          1. It gets upwards momentum ONLY IF both cars have a similar speed, in the above video the front yellow car is clearly slowing down (to a halt) as it enters the Paddock hill bend while the car from behind is speeding.

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            1. That’s not how science works.

              The car taking off is always the one behind. The speed difference is irrelevant. If anything, the car behind should have had an even more “violent reaction” considering how fast it was approaching. The car in front should’ve, at most, spun out of control, not take off like a space shuttle.

              Liked by 3 people

                1. That car didn’t flip because of the touching tires, it slipped from the impact of the collsion and because its left rear tucked in between rim and road while the momentum from the impact rolled it over.

                  That was possible because them impact was quite severe, alot more so than the little touch that inexplicably sent the AI into the moon in the video. It’s not like SMS have a track record of pretend race cars rocketing stright into the sky, right?

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                  1. It was called “The Landmine bug” and yes they have a long record with similar bugs, this doesn’t mean the collision on PCARS video were a “little touch” nor that it was “inexplicably”, one car was speeding the other was slowing down, nothing strange here.

                    as for the f1 collision, watch it again it clearly shows that first hits the rear right tire and then the front car starts to flip.

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  6. I love how the only AC track mod he posted for months was some obscure piece of shit ripped Laguna Seca, when the great Nemuno Ziedas, Thompson Road, NJMP Lightning, Misano, and Jerez mods all came out in the same period. He got it from RD, so he would have had to skip over all of them to pick it out.

    The Mustang Boss 302, Diablo Jota, and S800 all by A3DR? Nah, here’s five articles about DRM Revival screenshots.

    Watkins Glen, Charade, Barber, Lime Rock Park, Augusta, NJMP Thunderbolt, and Goodwood Circuit are all coming to AC as free laser scanned mods, but that’s nothing compared to a bunch of conversions with good material settings, right? AC has a “good, not great” modding community after all.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Instead you get pCARS 2 shit articles about every fart they produce. With the same PR sales talk at the end of every article you never see in articles about any other sim.

      “Project CARS 2 is now available for pre-order.

      The title will bring 180+ cars and 60 tracks to the PC, Playstation 4 & Xbox One, starting September 22.

      Powered by the studios’ Live Track 3.0 technology that allows dynamic surface conditions and the title’s comprehensive dynamic weather engine, Project CARS 2 is able to simulate racing in any weather & season, including heavy winter weather & snow.

      Aside from graphics & sound improvements, Project CARS 2 comes with refined physics featuring the title’s cutting-edge tire model and improved AI as well as brand-new gamepad controls & FFB improvements. The new version comes with robust eSports & online capabilities including Online Championship mode, driver rating as well as race directing & broadcast controls”

      And whenever you mention the slightest thing about it, that pet dog F1Racer comes in and threatenes with a ban….

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It was the same thing with pCARS 1. Montoya said the flood of articles would stop when the game came out, responding to the effect of “of course I’m posting so many articles, because the game isn’t out yet, I would do the same for any other pre-release content of other games. And it kind of ease off for a while, until he started with all this, more than a year after release and well after the game stopped getting updated:

        “Try And Beat One Of Project CARS Fastest Drivers At Cadwell Park”
        “Can You Beat One of Project CARS’ Fastest Drivers?”
        “Can You Beat Nic Hamilton On Mount Panorama?”
        “Can You Beat Nic Hamilton In The DW12 Indycar?”
        “Can You Beat Nicolas Hamilton in A Turbo-Powered F1 Car?”
        “Can You Beat Nicolas Hamilton At Laguna Seca?”
        “Project CARS – Challenge Nic Hamilton at Spa”
        “Project CARS Weekend Challenge: Beat Nic Hamilton At Le Mans”
        “Project CARS Challenge: Beat Nic Hamilton”
        “Project CARS – Are You Quicker Than Ben Collins?”
        “Project CARS – Are You Quicker Than Nic Hamilton?”

        Liked by 2 people

  7. “than to pretend you’re some kind of semi-official ambassador for the community”

    Didn’t this delusion start with you and your blog, James? Or were you just trying to steal it away from Gangi?

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  8. Making racing news more sensationalist to grab attention. You’d think they got the idea from the real news or something.

    I’m much more sceptical about the YouTubers. These new pop up channels with big sub growth look a lot like disguised advertising to me. I’m certain most have a hidden sponsor or allegiance in the background. The video style is almost always friendly and like your mate telling you about the game. It’s all meant to seem like just another gamer sharing thoughts but is it really? Lots of top spec kit costing 1000s, all sorts of cameras, recording and mixing gear then begging for a few euros on YouTube I just don’t buy it. They also cross promote each other’s videos.

    Race Department is good for the organised drop in racing. The rest of the site/forum is full of secs and testers marketing and selling their messages without disclosing who they really are. RD is a second home for the ego driven Assetto Corsa secs and fanboys. Many of the articles read like marketing too. At least they don’t silence dissenting voices – yet.

    In many ways though both PRC and the YouTubers in particular have opened my eyes to the excessive disguised marketing, people with vested interests pretending to be just another player. As with everything on the net beware of the interest driving the message. The big players know we’ve heard all the racing driver endorsements and overt messages before so they’ve switched to a new more subtle tactic. This very blog being one of those but at least it is declared as such, and can be read with that in mind, unlike many others.

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      1. That’s what I like about these discussions, another name I can now look out for with a hidden agenda. I’m sure they are there for each game I’m only aware of the few I’ve come in to contact with.

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  9. I dig Jimmy Broadbent, he’s just your average British weirdo, which is great in my opinion. He’s not Ayrton Senna, he’s not gods gift to racing sims, but he can drive somewhat and also knows how to kick back and still have fun. He’s also able to talk and drive at the same time which keeps his streamers interested.
    Yeah the guys a little bit fucked up, but.. Well,so am I. So, good on him for being open about it.

    As for the article as a whole, I agree, SimRacing discussion, and general PC gaming and hardware discussion is moving away from super serious reporting to “clickbait” titles and a more laid back approach, because thats currently what the readers seem to want.

    And for everyone in here bitching about Pcars2.. Bait for Wenchmarks.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Depression, extreme anxiety issues.. It’s essentially a PTSD and leaves you pretty unable to “human” most days.

        Horrible brain fog, body feels numb/heavy, human contact makes you stress out and it can often end up in hospital visits from severe anxiety attacks.

        Basically it just leaves you unreliable and that makes you pretty unhireable.

        Thats why he’s so thankful for the money he currently gets from Youtube, as it means he currently doesn’t have to find “real work”.

        Some people see that as a cop out and they should just “grow up and get a real job” but, fuck them.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Correct name for it is Borderline Personality Disorder, which essentially mirrors PTSD-like symptoms.

          Used to be involved with a girl who suffered from it, wouldn’t wish it on anybody.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Yup. I’m a fucked up concoction of similar problems with a helping dose of autism. You just got to get on the best way you can, i’m glad some people can make it work and make money doing what they want to do.

            Doesn’t make me any slower on track though.

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        2. cool, thanks for the info. IMO it seems he’s got a real job – self-employed as an online simracing personality. seems like a good gig, I’d much rather do that for a living than kick around an office 9-5 like I actually do. that said I myself don’t understand people who watch that stuff or donate, but if there’s a market and he’s tapping into it there’s not really much to criticise. cool.

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    1. You are meant to think he’s normal if a bit odd. It’s the same marketing trick pulled by Tupperware parties – I’m just like you so you can trust me never mind the huge corporation behind me.

      I’m not certain about Jimmy he seems like a decent lad but it would not surprise me at all to find SMS and or the direct drive wheel people funding his little venture.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Is it really any different here? Technically we can’t trust any opinions or reviews on other games since you are owned by Ian Bell…

    The other sites may be floundering but the best site imo is no longer reliable because of a major ethics violation.

    I’ve played the new builds of pcars2 and what I’ve seen doesn’t match up with coverage at all. No mention of all the major bugs, most of which are carried over from pcars and then some new ones on top

    Liked by 2 people

  11. lol.. Surprised it took you that long to get your dig in on me. Two sides to every story and William Marsh is just another copy cat that took advantage of my trust and kindness.. – Darin

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    1. Given your history, it’s clear that your just a fucking manchild who tried to take advantage of someone you perceived as weak and vulnerable. Thank god you’re gone from ISRTV.

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  12. Meanwhile at VirtualR comments get deleted as we speak, but still no news. That site is becoming more histerical by the day :’)

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  13. Can someone explain what Darrin is going about in the last screenshot. Is he having another one of his autistic man-child fits?

    Also, what’s John like these days, I haven’t watched a video of theirs in months and from what I understand Darrin has left. John was very green when I was a subscriber, hopefully he’s improved.

    Like

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