What Sim Racing Esports Can Learn From Rocket League

17
Canada
Canada
Sim racing will never take off as an eSport.

Auto racing isn't popular. NASCAR's TV ratings are falling off a cliff. Blancpain, WEC, and IndyCar race to mostly empty stands, though IndyCar is improving. F1 is doing okay, but that's because they're F1. Point I'm trying to make is nobody cares about real world racing.

Racing simulators are then a niche on top of a niche - even when we talk about bigger games like Gran Turismo/Forza. You need to be both an avid gamer AND a hardcore motorsports enthusiast to even consider purchasing the game or caring about its existence in the first place, and the chances of running across someone who is BOTH in 2018 are pretty slim as outlined above.

Then you need a decent PC, a wheel, pedals, and hours upon hours of practice to actually get to a point where you're having fun with the game. So at best, we're talking about a couple of thousand people WORLDWIDE who would care about any large sim racing competition. Then factor in the fanboy wars (iRacing people won't watch AC tournaments, AC fans wont watch PC2 tournaments), and your audience for ANY game is practically zero.

Rocket League is different in that anyone and their girlfriend can pick it up and generally have a good time, so there's a greater potential to suck more people into the competitive side of things, whether it be as a spectator or participant. Also, there's ONE Rocket League. There isn't EA Sports Car Soccer, Activision Car Footy, 2K Four-Wheel Pitch, etc, to dilute the userbase - which is exactly what happens in sim racing. Forza, GT Sport, R3E, AC, AMS, pC2, iRacing, F1 2017, DiRT 4, WRC 7... TEN freaking games, and remember all the fans hate each other and wont tune in to a rival title's broadcast.

iRacing has been trying to be top-dog at this eSports thing since 2008. In ten years, their biggest events (the Peak Anti-Freeze Series) amass just a few hundred viewers. This is the equivalent to playing in a rock band for almost a decade and claiming your "big break" is just around the corner, when you've been playing nothing but empty bars at 1:30am since graduating high school.

Any event that claims to boast more, the figures are usually inflated by spamming the link on some official Facebook page, where every random schmuck scrolling past counts as a view. Jump into the comments on social media platforms whenever you see sim racing streams linked, and response isn't exactly positive - real world motorsports fans DON'T want to watch this. I took in a few laps of the F1 eSports league at China out of curiosity - maybe it was two or three days ago? Most of the twitch chat was just people spamming memes, making fun of bugs, and calling the drivers nerds.

Yep, totally going to explode as an eSport in 2018.

And as the article points out, the drivers ARE for the most part completely emotionless computer nerds, and it's hard to watch or become invested in the event. There is no sim racing equivalent of Daniel Ricciardo or Max Verstappen or Sebastien Vettel that you'd want to cheer for or against. Imagine a Formula One race with 22 Kimis. They don't smile, they're apathetic to being on camera, they don't seem excited to win or lose, and they just look dorky in their pristine mock-firesuits or team shirts created just for said event. That's horrible, I don't want to watch that.

And judging by the audience numbers, nobody else does either.
 

Brend

Premium
11,770
Scotland
Scotland
GTSophy-Lapos
ClassicBrend
Sim racing will never take off as an eSport.

Auto racing isn't popular. NASCAR's TV ratings are falling off a cliff. Blancpain, WEC, and IndyCar race to mostly empty stands, though IndyCar is improving. F1 is doing okay, but that's because they're F1. Point I'm trying to make is nobody cares about real world racing.

Racing simulators are then a niche on top of a niche - even when we talk about bigger games like Gran Turismo/Forza. You need to be both an avid gamer AND a hardcore motorsports enthusiast to even consider purchasing the game or caring about its existence in the first place, and the chances of running across someone who is BOTH in 2018 are pretty slim as outlined above.

Then you need a decent PC, a wheel, pedals, and hours upon hours of practice to actually get to a point where you're having fun with the game. So at best, we're talking about a couple of thousand people WORLDWIDE who would care about any large sim racing competition. Then factor in the fanboy wars (iRacing people won't watch AC tournaments, AC fans wont watch PC2 tournaments), and your audience for ANY game is practically zero.

Rocket League is different in that anyone and their girlfriend can pick it up and generally have a good time, so there's a greater potential to suck more people into the competitive side of things, whether it be as a spectator or participant. Also, there's ONE Rocket League. There isn't EA Sports Car Soccer, Activision Car Footy, 2K Four-Wheel Pitch, etc, to dilute the userbase - which is exactly what happens in sim racing. Forza, GT Sport, R3E, AC, AMS, pC2, iRacing, F1 2017, DiRT 4, WRC 7... TEN freaking games, and remember all the fans hate each other and wont tune in to a rival title's broadcast.

iRacing has been trying to be top-dog at this eSports thing since 2008. In ten years, their biggest events (the Peak Anti-Freeze Series) amass just a few hundred viewers. This is the equivalent to playing in a rock band for almost a decade and claiming your "big break" is just around the corner, when you've been playing nothing but empty bars at 1:30am since graduating high school.

Any event that claims to boast more, the figures are usually inflated by spamming the link on some official Facebook page, where every random schmuck scrolling past counts as a view. Jump into the comments on social media platforms whenever you see sim racing streams linked, and response isn't exactly positive - real world motorsports fans DON'T want to watch this. I took in a few laps of the F1 eSports league at China out of curiosity - maybe it was two or three days ago? Most of the twitch chat was just people spamming memes, making fun of bugs, and calling the drivers nerds.

Yep, totally going to explode as an eSport in 2018.

And as the article points out, the drivers ARE for the most part completely emotionless computer nerds, and it's hard to watch or become invested in the event. There is no sim racing equivalent of Daniel Ricciardo or Max Verstappen or Sebastien Vettel that you'd want to cheer for or against. Imagine a Formula One race with 22 Kimis. They don't smile, they're apathetic to being on camera, they don't seem excited to win or lose, and they just look dorky in their pristine mock-firesuits or team shirts created just for said event. That's horrible, I don't want to watch that.

And judging by the audience numbers, nobody else does either.
Personally, I don't see a scenario where sim racing becomes a big Esport for most of the points you've said but I still think that it can grow at least if it doesn't keep trying to ape the real thing and starts to entice viewers to give it a go.

Truth of the matter is, a mainstream audience doesn't want to see 60 laps, no damage and no personality at Spa. That's why I made a comparison to BTCC. It's hardly a huge Motorsport but the format makes it extremely exciting when people do get the chance to give it a watch.
 

Christian_C

Premium
1,499
United Kingdom
Stoke, UK
GTP_Christian_C
Nail -> Head.

The excitement and drama is what makes any event and largely the big failings in the racing genre come from the fact the commentary is really reluctant to actually build on this or worse, is extremely fake.

iRacing has numerous examples of this in their WC events where the most mundane of passes has the most OTT screaming commentary applied and rather than being exciting just comes across as extremely cringe inducing. Conversely, when there's actual drama between two drivers it seems to get buried or completely misunderstood, sometimes it feels like the commentators have literally no idea about the series, race strategy or driver rivalries and that obviously hinders their ability to make the commentary anything more than just background noise.

Whilst I do think that the events should remain grounded in reality for the most part I don't think we should be afraid to highlight the differences between 'sim racing' and the real world. People like to brush over funny incidents where cars go flying into the air because they expose physics errors, I think this is wrong. These events ARE FUNNY, have a sole and laugh at them because the audience is going to anyway. Likewise we should be running cars at tracks or configurations that we can't do in real life for safety or other reasons, it makes it a little different and also can be used as a hook to draw people in.

I've not really much to say in response to PizzaSubCombo (Pretend Race Cars/Ogonoski/etc) because you exposed your true colors when you sold out to SMS and then got swindled into closing down your site.
 

Brend

Premium
11,770
Scotland
Scotland
GTSophy-Lapos
ClassicBrend
Nail -> Head.

The excitement and drama is what makes any event and largely the big failings in the racing genre come from the fact the commentary is really reluctant to actually build on this or worse, is extremely fake.

iRacing has numerous examples of this in their WC events where the most mundane of passes has the most OTT screaming commentary applied and rather than being exciting just comes across as extremely cringe inducing. Conversely, when there's actual drama between two drivers it seems to get buried or completely misunderstood, sometimes it feels like the commentators have literally no idea about the series, race strategy or driver rivalries and that obviously hinders their ability to make the commentary anything more than just background noise.

Whilst I do think that the events should remain grounded in reality for the most part I don't think we should be afraid to highlight the differences between 'sim racing' and the real world. People like to brush over funny incidents where cars go flying into the air because they expose physics errors, I think this is wrong. These events ARE FUNNY, have a sole and laugh at them because the audience is going to anyway. Likewise we should be running cars at tracks or configurations that we can't do in real life for safety or other reasons, it makes it a little different and also can be used as a hook to draw people in.

I've not really much to say in response to PizzaSubCombo (Pretend Race Cars/Ogonoski/etc) because you exposed your true colors when you sold out to SMS and then got swindled into closing down your site.
Agreed. Embracing the 'game' aspect of racers is almost discouraged in favour of keeping a poe-faced seriousness at all times.

For example, I pretty much rolled my eyes when I seen the first FIA Championship event is taking place at the Nurburgring 24 hours because it's just another example of an eSport trying to 'legitimise' itself by holding the cup in a highly exclusive event rather than a more publicly available arena.

These types of opportunity are fantastic for the competitors but it pretty much kills interest for anyone else.
 
4
Russian Federation
Russian Federation
You need to remove "sim" from simracing to make it serious. To make a racing game into an esport it needs to be a good video game, gameplay-wise. If the point of the game is to be as realistic as possible I don't think it will make good esport, just a cool playground. After all, what the point when there are real motorsports?
I really wish there were a huge esports video game but it needs to be different. Most fun I had watching racing game tournaments were Trackmania. And this game is far from perfect, it has no collisions and braking are minimal.
In case of Gran Turismo, crazy fantasy tracks and ridiculous Vision GT concepts are the way to go in this regard.