We asked the RaceRoom Crew about the future of their product.
Photo Credit: RaceRoom
The world of sim racing fans is rather narrow when it comes to the platforms it revolves around. iRacing is often considered the gold standard on the scene. But competitors have picked up the pace. Namely rFactor2 and especially RaceRoom Experience have had a massive influx in numbers ever since they started providing exclusive content and working hand in hand with racing series. We sat down with J-F Chardon (Executive Producer Sector3 Studios) and Robert Wiesenmüller (Esports Manager) to get a full view of how they plan to reach the top spot in the sim racing industry.
OverTake: Hello to you both. First off, what makes RaceRoom different from other simulation games like iRacing or rFactor?
J-F Chardon (Executive Producer Sector3 Studios): Our position on the market is different in three aspects. The first is that RaceRoom is available as a free download. All its game modes and services, such as partner competitions and ranked multiplayer, are immediately available without paying a subscription. You can choose to test drive any car before deciding on a purchase.
Then there is the immense content offering itself: RaceRoom offers hundreds of officially licensed race cars of all types and more than 50 racetracks around the world, including the laser-scanned Nordschleife. Our strengths are also in the sound department, as we are often praised for best sounds in the business. Also, our Adaptive AI learns about your skills within 4 or 5 race sessions and provides good and human-like race craft.
The last important difference to note is our roots: RaceRoom is a sub-company of KW Automotive, the racing suspension manufacturer. Thanks to that, our simulation benefits from access to a goldmine of data that we use to refine our physics models continually, but it also means access to all kinds of race cars for sound recordings and general reference gathering.
OverTake: What is the intention behind providing RaceRoom mostly for free?
J-F Chardon: Our Free2Play position allows us to function as a service rather than a release and forget the title. RaceRoom was originally released in 2013 as a time attack game with only one car and one track, and we built the game modes on top of it over the following years. Being Free to Play also allows us a fast response time to partner demands. We don’t have a complex schedule of planned DLC releases to fit partners in, for example. We are always ready to take on partnerships with manufacturers or series to run their events.
OverTake: What distinguishes the RaceRoom community?
Robert Wiesenmüller(Esports Manager): Because we went from a Free2Play game with one car and one track to a full racing simulation with AI, Multiplayer, and professional tournaments, we have quite a mixed community. People who enjoy the Free2Play aspects, people who are into the competition, racers who like to drive offline only. Also, many communities organize their own races. And that’s great! Overall, the best thing is probably that the community is still really friendly. It never gets too serious.
OverTake: RaceRoom was able to present itself to the sim racing scene, especially during the Corona time, through various tournaments like the WTCR pre-season. How important are such tournaments for establishing the RaceRoom name?
Robert Wiesenmüller: These tournaments are essential for various reasons: first of all, they help to get the name RaceRoom out there. Eurosport broadcasted some virtual WTCR races on linear television. The DTM pushed their esports challenge a lot as well.
It’s also a great thing for the RaceRoom community. For example, on the WTCR, we had over 14,000 participants in the last season. Finally, it’s also part of our business model to host these championships.
OverTake: What is the Esports strategy of RaceRoom in the future? Will, there be more focus on new tournament formats, or will we stay with the real world’s adaptations like the ADAC GT Masters?
Robert Wiesenmüller: I think it’s a natural fit to work together with car manufacturers and real-life racing series. We can provide a strong platform for them and their sponsors where they can host events. It also helps our community massively. The competitive players have a chance to compete for prizes and for titles that relate to real motorsports
OverTake: What were the unique challenges when integrating touring cars into RaceRoom?
J-F Chardon (Executive Producer Sector3 Studios): Touring car racing is essentially in our blood since the RACE series. There, we introduced the FIA WTCC and then later the STCC series. We have accumulated a lot of experience with the simulation of touring car racing over the years. From that heritage, we were well equipped to carry on with our passion for touring cars.
OverTake: How does a cooperation with e.g. DTM work? Do you get feedback from drivers or the organizers on models of the cars, for example?
J-F Chardon (Executive Producer Sector3 Studios): Each series works differently than the others. For customer racing series, the data gathering and the collaboration with teams is relatively easy. We license the cars from the manufacturers, and the specifications of the cars are not a secret, so we quickly build a solid base for a beta version of the car that can be shared with real drivers for their feedback.
When it comes to manufacturer series like DTM, you start by collecting the CAD reference files (outlines of the car). You can already gather crucial data on the car’s dimensions, its suspensions, drag and downforce coefficients, etc. But then you start looking for details, ask about the engine performance, and you quickly hit the wall of secrecy.
In that case, we have to look for onboard footage and telemetry, and we then spend a lot more time with real drivers to fine-tune the car performance.
OverTake: Are further cooperations with race series planned?
J-F Chardon (Executive Producer Sector3 Studios): We regularly keep in touch with various racing series. For something to materialize, however, stars have to align. We need to make sure that we can dedicate our resources on it and focus on delivering the best experience for the players. Our game production team at Sector3 Studios is just four artists, three programmers, one sound engineer, and two physics designers, so it’s hard for us to work on more than one piece of content at a time.
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