Reader Submission #134 – The Honeymoon Phase is Over

ken-blockistanIt appears a single half-decent car on the iRacing service hasn’t been enough to convince users that the eight year old simulation is making a tangible leap forward to justify the increased cost. Released with no prior build-up to iRacing members about a week ago, the 2017 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup was the first car on the service to implement everything the team have learned from their time spent trying to accurately produce dirt oval racing, and at first, reception to the vehicle was overwhelmingly positive. While most cars available in the online-only simulator at a price of $15 per-vehicle exhibit strange handling behavior at the limit of adhesion, even iRacing’s toughest critics were convinced that the 911 GT3 Cup was an incredible step in the right direction.

Unfortunately, today’s Reader Submission from Charles H. notes that while the car itself is indeed fairly enjoyable, the rest of the platform still has some catching up to do.

seb-loebHey PRC, I’m just writing to you as a way to share my experiences with the new Porsche Cup car. I’m honestly feeling a bit retarded at my decision to re-subscribe after hearing such glowing feedback on the first day rather than waiting it out for more critical, well-rounded pieces to surface.

A bit about myself: I quit iRacing back in 2014 (God, I make it sound like an addiction) because of the tire model woes, service issues, and the price needed to advance my B license. So many users claim iRacing is a worthwhile substitute for a real racing career, but it cracks open your wallet as frequently as a real career does. This week, I decided I would re-subscribe and at least try out the new Porsche GT3 Cup car.

I was first greeted by a small price increase of $13 per month instead of $12. No big deal, I thought after shelling my shekels for the Porsche and the Nurburgring circuit. And after some practice, I decided to partake in an Industriefahrten Fun race, since I could at least bust out consistent 6:43’s in the Mercedes AMG GT3 at the ring and hold my own in an online race. Well, I ended up beating second place by a solid minute or so in my first race back, without too much effort – leading to what I thought would be a free increase in iRating and Safety Rating.

But after an hour and a half of waiting, the race results still weren’t in. I assumed the race was affected by some bug that made it not count, so I signed up for another hoping they’d eventually appear on the website – which as of this submission they still haven’t.

When this next race started, I encountered the extremely common “Starting the Sim” bug, where the simulator hangs on the loading screen and eventually crashes. After a restart of my PC, I was finally able to get into the race, but I had to start from pit lane as is the case with all late entries. I was already pretty bummed at this point, but figured if I can win by a minute, I would be able to catch up the ten seconds or so that I’d lost with a less than ideal starting position.

The first few corners were fine, but then as I exited the first sector, iRacing suddenly decided to fuck up the calibration of my controls, or at least my brakes. I put more pressure into my T3PA pro pedals than I’ve ever put in before, and only registered about 50% input. I was unable to stop the car because of a software calibration bug and binned the car into the barriers. A ten minute tow pretty quickly established the fact that this race was a write-off.

A race doesn’t count, a common and still unfixed bug ruins my race start, and a sudden calibration error ended it four corners after I took the green flag. On top of that, the tire model on cars other than this divine entity with the Porsche logo is still trash to put it bluntly. The real kicker is that as of this Email hitting your inbox, it has been about three hours since I’ve completed the first race, the results still aren’t in, and probably never will be. I posted a condensed version of this submission within the complaints department in the forums. Whether you give a shit or not, I’ll let you know if I’m banned for it.

I’m a sucker for paying $13 per month for this.

1This is why it’s very important for iRacers to be as vocal as they can possibly be about gremlins in the software. New content for an aging simulator doesn’t mean jack shit if there are underlying software issues that are being swept under the rug by a userbase who are more than happy to hold hands with staff members on the forum and sing kumbaya in unison. iRacing will sit in a stagnant position without a mass of voices demanding the quality of the product to live up to the amount they’ve invested into it. Of course, there are people who are fine with what iRacing offers as a racing simulator in January of 2017, but as you’ve written above, sometimes these problems get in the way of actually enjoying what the game does do well. A loss of wheel calibration and failing to register statistics in a piece of software all about tracking statistics is like, basic software functionality far more important than tire heating patterns or which licenses they’ve acquired this month.

The approach you’ve taken to reporting the problem is the correct action. Yes, it’s fun to come to PRC and blow off steam in our comments section; either shitting on the developers or arguing with brainwashed fanboys, but when you want to get shit done, bombard the forums with error reports. Make developers very aware that their product isn’t up to snuff. They’re not your friends, they’re not your co-workers, and they’re not your family members – they’re a company who sold you a product. It’s your duty to tell them when it’s broken, not make excuses for them and apologize for their mistakes.

It’s indeed disappointing that iRacing suffers from such widespread technical problems despite almost a decade in operation and obsessed fanboys throwing hundreds of dollars at them, but that’s what you get when there’s a cult-like mentality infecting the official forums and people are treating it more like an elite social club than an overpriced video game constructed from the ashes of an obscure NASCAR simulator. If you’re a developer and the majority of your audience shower you with praise as some sort of revolutionary figure in what’s admittedly a niche genre, what incentive do you have to listen to any sort of criticism, even if it’s valid?


Reader Submission #133 – Corrupted Save Files in Xbox One Edition of Assetto Corsa

asseBy now, we’re all well aware of the fact that Assetto Corsa on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 simply isn’t anywhere close to resembling the product which originally landed on the PC in the fall of 2013. From neutered menus to a complete lack of certain options found within the version of origin, Assetto Corsa for current generation consoles is certainly a shadow of its already sketchy former self – and while there are indeed a number of users completely satisfied by the core driving experience, there are an equal amount of console-based sim racers wondering what in the hell all the fuss surrounding this game is about.

And that’s before we address what we’ve been notified about in today’s Reader Submission. Coming to us from Vernon C., there’s a fairly crippling bug in the Xbox One version of Assetto Corsa preventing even the most apologetic of Kunos Simulazioni supporters from progressing through the game in a meaningful manner. Assetto Corsa’s save data frequently corrupts itself, and neither 505 Games nor Kunos Simulazioni have outright stated they’re looking to rectify the situation. In fact, the issue hasn’t even been addressed in their high-profile monthly blogs, with the team continuing to push out DLC packages that they can’t even get right the first time – as special events that were intended to come with one of the several Porsche bundles are still “being worked on.”

For a game centered primarily around building and refining car setups thanks to a rather dull single player campaign mode, Xbox One owners are pretty pissed off that this data is occasionally being wiped, there’s nothing they can do to stop it, and Kunos are basically ignoring their concerns.

24138837879_bdfc3a4b8a_oHey PRC. First I’d like to say that I’m a silent admirer of your work, and have been monitoring this place for quite some time. I have never written to any gaming journalist previously, and have never really had a reason to do so before now.

I know that you guys are primarily PC gamers, and that’s where the majority of your focus lies, but I feel that maybe by bringing up the issue here, you might be able to shed some light on something that Kunos are attempting to sweep under the rug and continuously sell us DLC, all while failing to address a pretty substantial issue.

As you may or may not be aware, the Xbox One version of Assetto Corsa has a very nasty bug within the game – it basically doesn’t support save data. Games like Assetto Corsa heavily rely on the ability to save a setup or even save your progress after completing events in single player. Again, I know the Xbox One may not hold much significance to you, but there is a large community of us, and even though we aren’t hardcore PC simulator nerds, we still read PRC and support you guys for the work you do. We feel like we do not have a voice on the official forums to let people know about the game save issue that is plaguing Assetto Corsa.

help-usThe community manager, otherwise known as AC_505, consistently tells us to submit support tickets whenever we encounter the save game corruption issue. We’ve been doing this every single day since the game was first released back in August. Instead, we’ve been told to sit down, shut up, and just be happy with what we have. It’s things like this that take the steam away from the love of sim racing.

I’m not very good at doing this, but can you PLEASE help us out? We are simple gamers/sim racers who are really hoping you’ll hear us out – even though we’re from a “lesser platform” – and create an article or do something to bring attention to this issue. Obviously, the developers are not listening to us on the channels that they are advising us to let them know these problems exist in the first place.

To display what I mean, here are just a few of the Forum topics discussing the issue (the one’s that haven’t been deleted):

Please help us.

Here, let’s drop a bit of a harsh reality on everybody.

Not all Kunos Simulazioni staff members were on-board for a console version of the game in the first place; it was merely a venture to “establish the brand” and see if console owners would welcome a new, hardcore alternative to established franchises such as Gran Turismo or Forza Motorsport. Obviously Kunos Simulazioni aren’t going to explicitly come out and say this was their cunning plan of sorts, but actions speak much louder than words ever could – hence why your variant of the game isn’t up to snuff. You and I both know that the console version of Assetto Corsa is inferior to what’s available on the PC, to the point where users openly state in their AC forum signatures that they don’t take kindly to the console crowd. And the developers themselves echo this mentality.

get-a-pcI’m not trying to make excuses for Kunos Simulazioni, just confirming that your assumptions about the developers not caring for the console version and any of its unique problems are largely correct.

I can’t personally snap my fingers and rectify the save data problems you guys on the Xbox One are experiencing, but I can indeed at least put the information out there, so those on the fence about purchasing Assetto Corsa for the Xbox One can be at least a little bit more informed than they were previously. It’s very shitty that this is the approach Kunos have taken with the console version of Assetto Corsa, and maybe it’ll make people think twice about supporting a company who seem to willingly shaft an entire portion of their audience for merely playing on the “wrong” platform.

Reader Submission #132 – Vaporware Cars in Asphalt 8

maxresdefaultI don’t think it’s appropriate to sit here and pretend as if we care about mobile phone games such as Asphalt 8: Airborne here at, but today’s Reader Submission brings up a fairly interesting topic regarding some of the fastest cars in what’s becoming a very popular franchise among casual gamers. The Asphalt series is more or less a low-quality knock-off version of Criterion’s old Burnout franchise from an entire decade ago, though there’s an increased emphasis on micro-transactions and other modern bullshit designed to reel in a userbase who maybe don’t possess the memories of superior arcade racers on the PlayStation 2 – ones which didn’t intrude your wallet.

FMecha has taken a break from running our unofficial but totally hilarious Twitter page to let us know of an interesting situation regarding Asphalt 8’s extensive car roster. Elaborate licensing deals have seen various vaporware supercars establish themselves as some of the best vehicles available in the game, despite some of these cars being little more than a hyperbolic art project for a ragtag team who couldn’t possibly build a car to the specifications they’ve claimed. And diehard Asphalt players – yes, they exist, and there’s a lot of them – are growing tired of what’s essentially product placement for cars created by middle eastern sheiks. I mean, everyone knows Asphalt 8 is simcade and has no simulation value – that’s the whole point of an arcade racer – but even the most simple-minded gamers can see what’s happening.

screenshot_20160206-153104Hey James, I’m here with a Reader Submission about a game that most of the readers at PRC probably won’t care for, but I think it’s a unique topic. I’m here to talk about Asphalt 8: Airborne.

Seeing it’s a mobile game, I’ll chose not to talk about the pay-to-win shenanigans, since complaining about that is like living in Chicago and complaining about heavy snowfall – it’s just part of the deal. Instead, I want to discuss something plaguing the game’s car lineup: vaporware cars by no-name startup car makers. Some of those car makers brak about being a “boutique” car maker, and may (or may not) produce their car in very limited numbers. They also like to make outlandish claims that may rev up automotive journalists’ bullshit meters, and may also end up only as a render – without any real, functioning car scooting around in real life. Sorry, engine-less shells don’t count.

I’d like to draw attention to an article from CheatSheet that partially inspires what I’ve written today.

csThis article basically highlights those no-name supercar companies going for a horsepower (and technology) arms race with promises of four-digit horsepower numbers (after what Bugatti did with the Veyron), and tells it is foolish for those startups to create over-ambitious cars, warning that they may reek of scams, as well. Out of the cars mentioned as “never going to happen” in the article, the Trion Nemesis (a top-tier car in Asphalt 8), Falcon F7, and Devel Sixteen Prototype (the devilish 5000+ horsepower car that seriously revved up the bullshit meters of automotive journalists, although it’s engine builder did manage to actually build one example of Devel’s engine) are in Asphalt 8. The Lykan Hypersport is also mentioned, as in Asphalt, as well as Project CARS, but I don’t list it here since they apparently have sold three out of the seven they’ve built, including one variant to Abu Dhabi’s police force.

asphalt_8_airborne_25_10_2015_20_21_29Some other suspected vaporware cars in Asphalt 8 include the Kepler Motion (a hybrid supercar limited to 50 models that was supposed to begin delivery in 2014), the Lucra L148 (from the makers of the Lucra L470 kit car that does indeed exist), and the Weber Faster One (widely ridiculed as an ugly car).

maxresdefaultThe nanoFlowcell electric cars in the game – Quantino and Quant FE – the latter widely ridiculed by Asphalt 8 players as “The Boat” due to how bad the car handles in-game, is something so big I have to separate them from the list above. The nanoFlowcell cars rode on the alternative power sources bandwagon by utilizing new technologies; salt water battery and flow cell system that leads to an outlandish claim – not large horsepower, but rather large amounts of efficiency and electrical range. This also leads to inevitable skepticism by not only car journalists, but also scientists. Of note, Nunzio Laveccia, the supposed technology founder, is apparently a musician without any experience in engineering, either.

vector-w12_w8lm-editionIt really bugs me about how and why those questionable cars made it into the game. Looking long-term, those questionable cars can create a legal problem; for instance, the Vector cars, also widely labeled as a vaporware car maker, are the big blockade that prevents any re-release of Gran Turismo 2 (in fact, the description for the Vector M12 in the game says that Vector’s company history would make a good movie plot. Well, at least Gameloft didn’t bother adding the highly questionable Lyons Motor Car LM2 Streamliner.

asphalt8_rev_02I agree that the influx of vaporware cars in modern arcade racers is a bit silly, especially when their appearance in Asphalt 8 establishes them as some sort of marquee vehicle at the top of its class. People are eventually going to find out the real thing is literally just a giant full-scale model that doesn’t exist as a functioning vehicle, thus leading to a situation where both the developer of the game, as well as the car maker, look quite stupid in the end. Now, it’s one thing to have preposterous cars like these as an end-of-game reward – Electronic Arts and Bizarre Creations had these sorts of vehicles locked away in older Need for Speed & Project Gotham Racing titles for the player to earn – but Asphalt 8 are going a step further and not just charging a premium for them; they’re the best cars in the game. That’s shitty.

Let me explain why.

506As you explored Project Gotham Racing 3 and naturally acquired certain Kudos point milestones just by progressing through the game, you were rewarded with a whole bunch of these vaporware concepts – and from what I remember, about half of them were from Ford. What Bizarre Creations did right, unlike GameLoft with Asphalt 8, is that they were not essential pieces of your car collection that you absolutely needed to have. The Ford Indigo and GT90 were awesome looking remnants of the nineties, but when you went online, they weren’t the be-all, end-all leaderboard cars you were required to unlock before you even stood a chance online. And not only that, the overall attributes of cars such as the GT90 weren’t space-age figures that left everything else in the dust; they fit right in with the other twenty or so cars in their respective classes. Rolling up to the grid with a GT90 was more of a way to get everyone reminiscing about the good ol’ days of Windows 95-era Need for Speed rather than an indication you were about to stomp everybody.

That’s good game design.

maxresdefaultElectronic Arts took things a step further with Need for Speed II, but there was a method to the madness. EA openly acknowledged the theme of the vehicle roster was primarily homologation specials mixed with 90’s hypercars and one-off concepts, with entries such as the Indigo and GT90 establishing themselves as natural additions to a list populated by vehicles such as the McLaren F1 and Elise GT1 rather than being absurdly over-powered bullshit cars that guaranteed an easy victory. In fact, part of what makes Need for Speed 2 so special was the atmosphere EA had created – the elaborate art projects from Ford and other design firms were treated as “just another vehicle” with their own sets of strengths and weaknesses, giving a sense of legitimacy to their inclusion. Again, good game design.

At the end of the day, however, we’re discussing Asphalt 8: Airborne, a game primarily built to make money off of idiot kids who have been given unrestricted access to mom’s credit card. Unlike classic Need for Speed titles, or the amazing yet short-lived Project Gotham Racing series, this isn’t a game that has been built with any sort of passion or cohesive direction. What you’re looking at with cars such as the Devel Sixteen appearing in Asphalt 8 is nothing more than product placement that puts some $$$ in GameLoft’s bank account.


Reader Submission #131 – Illumimoblilsta

ams-2017-01-18-19-49-34-30Picking up a product from Reiza Studios is almost seen as a rite of passage within the greater sim racing community. Offering an all-around fantastic driving model that stretches the tried and true isiMotor engine to its absolute limit, both Automobilistaas well as its older brother Stock Car Extreme – provide a rock solid, no-nonsense sim racing experience free from many of the pitfalls currently affecting the genre. There aren’t any power tripping developers attacking their customers, overzealous fanboys defending the product at any cost, or delusional community members passing out fictional hero cards in Reiza’s neck of the woods; Reiza products are typically satisfactory racing simulators whose biggest flaws center around the fact that the technology powering them is tad bit outdated.

However, taking the plunge into what Automobilista has to offer isn’t for every sim racer. Though Reiza have made an admirable effort to flesh out the selection of content within their flagship racing simulator to appeal to international enthusiasts, the team have ensured the core focus of their software is essentially a love letter to the history of auto racing in Brazil. For every unlicensed Formula One machine that just barely skirts around copyright rules, or popular Grand Prix circuit operating under a fictional moniker, there’s an entire Brazilian series full of cars you’ve most likely never heard of, and every single obscure track on the schedule to go along with it. Yes, you can take an off-brand Holden Commodore around well-known locations such as Suzuka or Montreal, but a large portion of Automobilista’s content is intended to satisfy Brazilian motorsports fans first and foremost. Reiza took aim at a very specific niche market within an already niche genre, and merely allowed the game to speak for itself when curious international sim racers caught wind of it. Reiza didn’t necessarily care if people outside of Brazil liked the game, much in the same way EA Sports didn’t care if Europeans were gobbling up copies of the NASCAR Thunder series – it wasn’t built for them, anyway.

But has this approach paid off? Though Reiza have created an impressive racing simulator primarily for South American auto racing geeks – with a bone finally thrown to overseas hobbyists – today’s Reader Submission from Daniel Miquelluti paints a drastically different picture. Though Automobilista was created by a Brazilian developer and loaded with Brazilian content catering specifically to their fellow countrymen, in reality Brazilian sim racers are largely apathetic towards the title. Oops.

ams-2017-01-18-19-48-40-80Hey James (as well of the rest of PRC), greetings from Brazil! I want to talk for a little bit about the sim racing culture down here in South America, as I’ve noticed something that goes against what a lot of people probably assume about us. Here in Brazil, when some local YouTube personalities say they’re making the jump to a more serious simulator from either Forza Motorsport or Gran Turismo, many of them go out and choose either Assetto Corsa or Project CARS. Automobilista, the simulator a lot of you probably expect to be popular down here, has almost never seen the light of day in Brazilian YouTube.

In Brazil, a simple wheel like the Logitech G27 costs upwards of $190 USD used, to $313 USD as a brand new package. Minimum wage, again converting to American currency so your readers have a better understanding, is $281 USD per paycheck. That should make things pretty clear as to why sim racing in Brazil isn’t the most popular activity – a steering wheel is not even on the radar for many people. Just to be clear, more than half of our population earns less than minimum wage. So, if you’re lucky enough to have money to buy a PC, Xbox One , or PlayStation 4 ($470) along with a compatible wheel, only then are you entitled to enter the sim racing world.

Now, let’s enter the problem of how much each title costs. A regular AAA game costs between $30 USD and $59 USD on Steam. At the moment, purchasing Automobilista with the complete season pass converts to $43 USD. By comparison, Assetto Corsa and Project CARS routinely go on sale for much less, to the point where I’ve seen Assetto Corsa retail as low as $17 USD – a very good price that obviously attracts a lot of people, because most Brazilians are forced to shop smart when purchasing entertainment. It’s not financially feasible for us to buy a game which supposedly embraces our national pride and appeals to us directly, because Reiza have priced Automobilista out of reach of their own target audience. So aside from the hardcore guys, which every country has their own small group of, Automobilista hasn’t actually caught on with us. We then factor in the stereotypical sub-par Brazilian workmanship we’re known for – don’t worry, we’re not blind to our own shortcomings – so a lot of sim racers here see a Brazilian simulator on the market and immediately ignore it, because the general consensus is that products from North America, Europe, Asia, or Oceania are far more competent, because that’s usually the truth.

This should explain why Automobilista is not the most popular title by any means in its home country. The sim racers who do play the game absolutely love it, which can be seen in Brazilian reviews of the game from the avid fans, but according to Steam, Automobilista has only sold 5,000 copies here. By comparison so we have some proper metrics, Project CARS sold 13,500 on the PC alone – and that’s with a failing economy, where most can barely afford a nice PC or game console. So to summarize, very rarely can Brazilians afford a fancy wheel, Automobilista isn’t all that affordable compared to other racing games, and most of us believe international goods to be of a higher quality than what we ourselves can produce. Yes, I’m aware there are a few good private Brazilian communities. But by and large, Automobilista is nowhere near as popular down here as sim racers think.

czbfzbnuoaeiv8l-jpg-largeI’d also like to address another topic that I’ve seen brought up on PRC – the cultural problem, to be specific. Each new generation has an increasingly bigger problem with manners than the one before it. Some of the “rich kids” who can afford to sim race think they can do whatever they want, and when they go on the internet, it’s nothing more than an elaborate toy for them. It’s the perfect place for them to go wild and laugh at the expense of others. Sadly, a part of our online community is actually proud of the HUEHUEBRBR reputation, and play up on it for comedic effect – which doesn’t work well in sim racing, because most of these games require a base level of sportsmanship that our countrymen don’t always possess. In fact, the impunity culture seems ingrained within the country as a whole; you can rob or kill anyone and leave jail almost instantly in some situations.Yes, there are nice parts of Brazil, but the bad parts are very bad.  It’s why many people understandably protested our Olympic games this past summer.

Though I will say, if you get to know some of the hardcore guys, you’ll find some great people just trying to race clean and respect others drivers.

Thanks for giving me this platform to speak today.

superv8_automobilista_1Thanks for writing to us, Daniel. I’m very intrigued to see you’ve actually confirmed something I’ve written about in the past – the lack of any sort of tangible userbase for Reiza’s products. Automobilista’s Steam numbers are absolutely horrid given how many contributed to the crowdfunding campaign in 2015, and the abundance of people claiming to sink countless hours into the simulator on Reddit’s sim racing section.

amsWhen I’ve pointed this out in previous articles spanning PRC’s two-year history, some of our readers claimed there was this hidden group of Reiza supporters that simply hadn’t redeemed their copy of any Reiza game on Steam, but were rather operating on a traditional DVD they placed inside their disc drive – meaning they weren’t counted in the metrics – to the point where I began joking that sim racers were intentionally disconnecting from the internet and treating their love of Stock Car Extreme as some Illuminati-like club nobody was allowed to know about. It’s fantastic to know, straight from someone that’s involved in the Brazilian sim racing community, that I wasn’t missing out on top secret Illumimoblilsta meetings – even Brazilians by and large don’t care much for a game built specifically for them. Sure, there are private leagues like you said, but a group of fifty guys from one website all traveling from simulator to simulator over the years is just that – fifty guys.

Which is really shitty, because now we’ve had an additional level of confirmation stating a developer invested a solid chunk of their money and time into helping improve the state of sim racing, only for it to basically go to waste. Call me salty all you want, but I will never forget the absolute frenzy sim racers went into after Reiza unveiled the Holden Commodore V8 Supercar for Stock Car Extreme, only for three consecutive online leagues (two on Race2Play, one on RaceDepartment) to fold because nobody actually wanted to play Stock Car Extreme, and those who did could barely keep the vehicle under control. Throwing money at Reiza during their crowdfunding campaign was like this extreme hipster status icon in the sim racing community, because it turns out nobody’s actually playing their game in the end.

grab_158I also appreciate the explanation behind why Brazilian online culture as a whole has become so toxic. If the internet is only a toy for rich kids and wealthy families, I can understand how it’s essentially become a virtual high class suburb instead of a means of communication everybody uses for work and/or play. There simply aren’t enough people “logging on” (to bust out a term from the 90’s) for others to wise up and say “being a jackass is only funny in moderation, stop spamming HUEHUEHUE BRBRBR in the chat you fucktard.”

Though I will say, however, some of you motherfuckers are fast. It’s just shitty that an equal number of you wind up in EmptyBox videos as comedic relief.

Reader Submission #130 – And So the Censorship Begins…

maxresdefaultThough discussions of this story have remained primarily within private communities and message boards the average sim racer can’t access without an active iRacing subscription, the biggest online racing simulator currently in business has caused a bit of a stir as of late. Introduced only a few short days ago as an “oh yeah, before we forget” update, iRacing members not residing in the United States of America are now forced to pay a VAT tax on any pieces of content or subscription packages they purchase for iRacing. For almost an entire decade, iRacing have been able to cover the cost of these overseas taxes themselves – to the point where very few international iRacers were actually aware of what VAT taxes were to begin with – but the line in the sand has now been drawn, and it’s making several European members extremely uncomfortable. iRacing is already priced in a manner that requires acquiring each new piece of content to be a meticulously calculated purchase, and the surprise implementation of hefty taxes on virtual cars and tracks is creating a scenario where those otherwise satisfied with the service are starting to question its direction.

What was once deemed to be a quality service priced at a premium, is now slightly out of reach for several hobbyists, and it’s changing how they feel about the game itself.

To explain why several are choked about this, most iRacers purchase pieces of content on the service in bundles of three or six, as the simulation offers a discount on bundles as opposed to single cars or tracks. For residents living outside of America, these already pricey packages – thanks to currency conversion – have now been slapped with roughly an additional $20 USD in taxes, promptly sending the cost of running just four weeks in any official series skyrocketing. Essentially, iRacing members subjected to VAT rules are now paying the cost of two additional cars or tracks in taxes, along with the cost of their original order of content – which can vary depending on world currency. After conversion, a single month of iRacing for those living in the United Kingdom is now 20 GBP or $32 CDNdownright unreasonable for anyone who has browsed the Steam marketplace out of boredom in search of other racing simulators. As one user on Reddit writes, iRacing became around 25% more expensive for the rest of the planet overnight, and it was already expensive to begin with. It’s not good.

But it’s the way iRacing have handled the backlash which caused iRacing member Daniel Fletcher to send in a Reader Submission about this today. Now that the service is slowly becoming difficult to afford for the average sim racer thanks to these sudden changes in the purchasing process, those who once defended iRacing as an elite club of hardcore hobbyists are a bit disappointed to see the service isn’t progressing in a manner that justifies the enormous cost.

1Hi PRC, I have something for you guys that you may or may not find intriguing. As you’re probably aware of by now, iRacing recently started to charge a tax on top of the base subscription and content costs for international sim racers. This made me take a real hard look about what was going on behind the scenes and the direction iRacing is taking, because obviously if you’re asking a bit more for the product, the quality of the product should justify the increased costs. Currently, the focus is on pushing out content, while the tire model is still a work in progress project, and there are some pieces of content which receive announcements yet have still failed to materialize after many years.

vat-thread-postI first made a post in the VAT thread, stating my displeasure with the emphasis on content rather than quality, and it seemed I was not alone. So rather than the post getting buried in a debate about the VAT, I started a new thread in the general off-topic discussion section. Within 30 or 40 minutes, the thread vanished.

img_0030I then made another thread asking why my original thread was locked, as I could see no justifiable reason for it. As you can imagine, it was met with the usual crap of silly memes and people claiming I was ripping iRacing to pieces, which was totally false. After a comment from Steve Moore stating iRacing doesn’t like the truth, that thread was locked as well. Receiving private messages asking what my original thread contained and requests to start another one, I went ahead, this time keeping screenshots as proof. I couldn’t remember exactly how I worded the first, but the new thread was basically a mirror of the first one. Again, the usual forum idiots had their say, and it too was met with a lock. Five minutes later, iRacing unlocked it.

img_0046As the day went on, other people started to voice their concerns. it was a reasonable debate. I tried answering everybody, one by one. I never insulted anyone, or broke any rules that I was aware of.

img_0076After getting accused of trolling for the crime of answering too quickly, staff member Shannon Whitmore arrived to say I was just arguing with people, and that the thread was locked. My post history is clear for all to see. I don’t insult people. I hardly ever use the forums for that matter. But instead of starting again, I just voiced my opinions in other threads, on topic of course, which were threads about issues anyway.

img_0086This morning, it appears I’ve been banned from the iRacing member forums. I can’t see where I’ve broken rules, I just raised issues that many people have within the service. Maybe I’m just being butthurt, which is what people are telling me… but silencing the critics seems to be a real issue on the forums. Maybe this is just pointless… I’m not sure, but I thought I’d send it in regardless.

tumblr_odq83smsp61rdfljoo1_1280Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I’m sure a large pack of iRacers will quickly make you out to be delusional or mentally ill for using PRC as a platform to voice your concerns – or even contacting us to begin with – but I have to make it very clear that you’re not wrong. The service (God I hate calling it that, it’s a fucking online racing game) isn’t where it should be after eight years in operation, and the staff indeed hand out suspensions and bans like Halloween candy. It’s important to note that most of iRacing’s forum administrators were merely handed the job thanks to their role in the NASCAR Racing 2003 Season ecosystem many moons ago, so the emotional hemophilia and rash decisions you see leading to speedy bans are the result of semi-retired guys with little patience being paid to monitor the forums all day, but it’s not an excuse for how they operate. Just an explanation. When they have to deal with Lance Gomez Jr. shitting up the forums with Reddit-tier memes, I can understand from their point of view why they keep the majority of members on a short leash.

But I’ve dug through what you’ve sent me, and I honestly can’t see any problems with what you or others have written in the threads that were locked and eventually deleted. iRacing is getting old, they’re prioritizing content releases over improving physical elements of the simulator, and in your case, the prices have now been jacked up exponentially overnight. You have every right to question what you’re receiving for your money, especially since promotional material paints the service out to be this be-all, end-all solution for online racing when it clearly has some flaws that need to be ironed out. As I said about a week ago, it’s like iRacing intentionally went and created a country club-like atmosphere where members are encouraged to join with the mindset that it’s somehow not a video game, but instead avirtual online career – as if this somehow prevents it from being criticized like a video game. You’re not wrong, they need to get their shit together when it comes to certain elements.

I also definitely get a kick out of the big spenders trying to brag about how much cheaper it is to sign up for iRacing, than to go racing in real life. Sim dads who can barely work a computer aside from navigating to the iRacing member page have no right to try and say the ludicrous four-figure cost is somehow reasonable compared to something like Project CARS, just because a set of tires for their weekend warrior is $600; especially when most of iRacing’s competitors retail for $50 and provide roughly the same on-track experience in terms of driving model competence. As a member of the younger generation of sim racers – people who have been steadily hitting up Best Buy or Steam for new video games – we know that $750+ USD is simply not reasonable for a piece of software unless you’re offering a phenomenal service, which iRacing doesn’t.

So as I said, you’re not wrong to question what you’re getting for the money you’re putting down. Don’t let the sim dads shout tire costs at you. At the end of the day, it’s pretend racing on a computer monitor, and we should compare it to other video games that allow us to drive race cars on the computer monitor.

maxresdefaultNow, in terms of censorship, I’m going to open a mammoth can of worms here. iRacing indeed censors people, or at least makes the lives of sim racers who criticize the service difficult. In late 2016, I published a relatively awkward piece on telling our readers about a private phone conversation I was able to have with iRacing’s Tony Gardner, and implied a line of communication had been opened between us here at PRC, and the boys over at Basically, I dropped hints indicating  a few iRacing staff members had been monitoring our neck of the woods given the specific sim racing personalities that had come out in support of us, and they were taking the concerns brought up in our interviews with real world late model drivers quite seriously. Some of you were pretty happy to hear this information.

I would like to take a moment to apologize to our readers for posting a dishonest article – that’s not what we discussed. During the brief ten minute phone conversation, it was heavily implied I had indeed been removed from the service outright, and then ignored for eighteen months by iRacing’s customer support staff members, solely for publishing what they believed to be “unfair articles” about the simulator. It’s very important to note Tony personally apologized for this behavior on the part of iRacing as a company and did everything he could to rectify the situation in a manner that was satisfactory – so don’t pile on him and call him an asshole or anything – but it left me very unhappy that in a simulator boasting over 60,000 user, staff members will absolutely point to a single individual in the userbase and say “fuck that guy.” So I’m not surprised that for “lesser offenses”, guys are receiving the ban hammer just for talking about the direction of the software after a price hike.

untitled-3It really draws the credibility of every YouTube personality and sim racing journalist who covers iRacing into question; do they genuinely enjoy iRacing, or is there a metaphorical gun placed against their head, with personalities knowing full well the consequences of negative social media postings about iRacing? Sure, in my specific situation, I was able to get things resolved in just under two years, but it was an arduous two years full of iTard fanboys screeching that I’m mentally ill and supposedly harboring an irrational vendetta against the service. That’s the cost of speaking your mind about iRacing, so I’m not exactly surprised that other users are now starting to report censorship issues as well for doing the same, just on a smaller level

What I’m more concerned about, however, is who turns into the next Austin Ogonoski. Does Joe Nathan start his own website in 2019 after a successful string of YouTube videos, and become public enemy number one and wake up one morning to find out he’s locked out of his account, and support emails go unanswered? Does Daniel Fletcher randomly receive a two month ban for a petty infraction, only to be piled on by the community and unable to post on the message board when he returns?

Only time will tell, because as you’ve seen above, some users are already approaching that horizon.