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Sim Racing on the way to Demise?

Sim Racing on the way to Demise?

It is, according to the some people in the business. Well, not actually the sim racing business – the racing game business rather. In this interview, the makers of racing games share their opinion on why racing games are falling behind FPS shooters and RPG games in terms of popularity.

Mind you, the people involved in the interview have created hardcore simulations such as Motorstorm, Colin McRae DIRT or Project Gotham Racing. This seem to be the end of their horizon as one of them classifies Race Driver and Gran Turismo as simulations in opposition to Need for Speed or Motorstorm. The few real simulations on the market seem to be beyond these people.

During the interview, they come to the conclusion that racing games should always attract the most possible players and that challenging physics scare potential buyers away. With that thinking in mind, who’s wondering why racing games are on the way to demise?

  • 2point8

    I can understand how they might say that the physics scare people off. I got a G25 for my b’day last week, and once I got it setup my friends (who do not play sims but are all car fans) and I spent the whole night on rFactor. Even giving them all of the aids possible, most of them still got frustrated at how easily the car would spin or under-steer. (I know that can depend on the mod, we did Radicals, GSMF 911, and FBMW)

    I think the tough thing with racing sims is that you will never be able to experience the same feelings that you do in a car. I have driven my own car and ridden in full-on race cars and nothing can come close to the sensory overload that takes place under acceleration, braking and cornering. You can feel the oversteer and understeer through your whole body. In the sim, you are forced to do most if not all of this visually. I can feel the back end come loose through the ff on the wheel, and I can see it happen on the screen, but you do not feel it through your body. The sim models what would happen in real life, but the human sitting at the sim has to change the way their brain processes the same actions, leading to a steep learning curve and frustrations.

    The extreme example is drifting. I have only ridden in a drift car on a track, but you absolutely have to rely on all of your senses (except maybe smell) to control the car and anticipate what will happen next. I can drift reasonably well in rFactor, but again I have to rely on my sense of sight and the only feel I get is through the FF on the wheel.

    With the G25 and other wheels with a clutch, you have to rely soley on visuals in getting the car rolling. In real life, you fell the change in acceleration as you release the clutch, and you also feel the vibrations if you goof it up. You also get a feel for where the release point is on a real car’s clutch. In rFactor, you just have to watch the car start rolling.

    Just my $0.02

  • Montoya

    Good contribution 2point8 🙂

    What was irritating for me was that no real sims where even mentioned in the article which tells me that these people probably don’t even know them. Which makes it somewhat like blind guys talking about colour…

    What I dont get is that players who play racing games expect instant success where they woulnd’t expect it anywhere else. In every RPG you have to learn how the classes, inventory and whatnot works… But nobody seems to be willing to spent atleast some time to get used to an advanced racing game.

  • Paul Kelly


    All good points. But what makes racing sim’s lack of sensory feel any different than team sports sims? You’re not getting hit while playing Madden 08, launching a jump shot while playing NBA 2K8 or curling a penalty kick into the upper corner when playing PES 2007.

    I don’t understand why racing sims are held to a different standard by the gaming community. If anything, you’re closer to reality in racing sims than in other sports games, especially if you’re playing a game with a quality wheel and pedals, such as the G25 or DFP, with good force feedback.

    PC sim racing is still alive and vibrant, especially with the mod community and online racing community keeping so many great games fresh, such Grand Prix Legends, NASCAR Racing 2003 Season, rFactor, GTR 2 and Richard Burns Rally.

    There are four factors that I think seriously hurt console sim racing this decade. In no particular order:

    1. EA getting the NASCAR license. NASCAR is the most popular form of motorsport in the U.S., by far, so NASCAR video games also will be the most popular licensed racing games in the States, too. At the dawn of this decade, gamers could choose between Hasbro’s NASCAR Heat and EA’s NASCAR Thunder series for consoles. NASCAR Heat was a very, very good console sim, while Thunder was horrible. Then EA bought exclusive NASCAR rights, shutting out NASCAR Heat.

    EA had a promising start with NASCAR 2005, as the driving model was decent, and the addition of the career ladder with Modifieds, Trucks and the Busch Series was a very welcome addition. But EA has done nothing with the driving and racing models for its NASCAR franchise since NASCAR 2005, instead adding stupid features like Total Team Control. The series is atrophying severely.

    2. The popularity and financial success of the Burnout series. Make no mistake: Burnout is a really fun series, even if EA is running out of ideas on how to sustain it with each subsequent sequel. But Burnout is pure arcade racing, and the gaming industry is full of imitators. So when Burnout almost single-handedly revived arcade racing when the Ridge Racer and Need For Speed series were in the doldrums at the turn of this decade, other developers jumped back on the arcade racing bandwagon.

    3. The “Fast and the Furious” factor. “The Fast and the Furious” exposed the world to the growing tuner/drifting culture and its popularity in the coveted 18-34 male demographic. Gaming companies weren’t blind to that phenomenon, either. Nearly every gaming company developed and released some sort of arcadish racing game that put more of an emphasis on car customization and street racing with tuner cars instead of licensed race cars on real tracks, whether it was Midnight Club, Need For Speed Underground or other games.

    4. The continued, inexplicable success of the Gran Turismo series. The original Gran Turismo is one of the greatest racing games ever, as it revolutionized what gamers could expect from a console racing game. Excellent physics, great graphics, a ton of mechanical customization and a huge stable of cars. But the game hasn’t progressed one iota since its release in 1998. It still has brain-dead AI, horrible racing and an overemphasis on car tuning and setup instead of racing. Yet the game still sells like condoms to sailors on shore leave, and gamers still drool over every upcoming GT release.

    Again, gaming developers and publishers are lemmings. So other major players started to march in lockstep and developed GT-clone racing games, such as Sega GT and Forza. These games at least had licensed cars and licensed tracks, but they put more of an emphasis on car collecting and tuning instead of balls-out racing, just like the patriarch they all strove to emulate, the Gran Turismo series.

  • 2point8

    @ Paul Kelly

    I realized after I hit submit the comparison to Madden/NBA/MLB/etc would come up. Those are simulations in that you play as the team or the player, but you do not have to do the motion of shooting the ball, swinging the bat, etc (And as fun as Wii is, it’s not reality) Racing sims require you to have or learn many of the same skills that it takes to do the same thing in real life.

    Another point is that anyone can go to a park and play basketball, or play football with some friends, but it takes a lot more money and resources to go out and participate in motorsports short of going to the local kart track. As popular as NASCAR is in the US, most people just watch it. Sports that are popular in sims are sports that people can easily go out and do themselves, like football. Motorsports is just less accessible to people, so it is watched vs participated in.

  • ethereal

    It’s just the end of marketing. Some people are aware that there are car sims but they are afraid they have to invest into a big PC with a big videocard and an expensive set of pedals and wheel. 2000 dollars is a psychological step they can’t afford. 500 used to be the right price to make them believe they are great drivers but it’s still expensive.

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