What is esports racing, which games are popular and who are the most important participants in the scene?
Photo credit: iRacing Twitter
Virtual racing is the bridge between the realms of motorsports and esports, connecting drivers from both worlds in an epic competition. While more and more real-world racers recently started venturing into and practicing in the digital space, many esports racers have made it from their rigs at home to actual cockpits. But what exactly is esports racing?
The three genres of esports racing
Esports racing is not only one game, but an umbrella term for many. There are games for the current Formula 1 season, rallycross, fun-racers and more. In each discipline, you can find professional tournaments and races. If you take the competitive scenes of all racing games together you get the general term esports racing. All of these games can be assigned to three genres: simulations, arcades and simcades. Disclaimer: as there is a nearly endless amount of racing games available on the market, these are only rough categories.
Simulations: These are games that try to create an experience that comes as close as possible to real-world racing. They have a focus on realism, especially in physics. Therefore, simulations implement real, licensed cars from various racing car manufacturers. Some actual drivers also use simulations to practice, as the titles even feature laser-scanned tracks. Good examples are iRacing, Assetto Corsa and rFactor 2.
Arcade: The opposite to simulations: games with a focus on unrealistic, fun or fantasy settings. Another key point of separating simulations from arcade games is their physics. A classic example would be Mario Kart. Need for Speed belongs to this genre as well. Although the cars might look realistic, the driving style is not, with cars jumping and crashing with barely any consequences.
Simcade: A mix between simulations and arcade games are simcades. They take place in a real-world setting, have realistic driving mechanics, but they don’t try to incorporate every detail like simulations. They still attempt to be easy to play while also employing challenging factors like tire management, although these don’t have as much impact as in simulations. Overall, simcade games blur the lines between genres, like for example F1 2020, Forza Motorsport and Gran Turismo.
If you want more information on the most popular esports racing games, check out our article that you can find here.
How is esports racing being played?
There are many platforms for esports racing. Even competitions for mobile games get hosted. However, the majority of the scene consists of games played on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, or on PC. There are already upcoming racing titles in the pipline for the next-generation consoles, the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X.
The equipment is probably the most fascinating part. Proper sim racing rigs boast a set of pedals, a steering wheel, a seat that looks like it was taken from a sports car, several monitors and a high-tech PC. Therefore, esports racing can range from budget-friendly platforms to professional sim rigs worth thousands of euros.
Who is involved in esports racing?
Digital racing can be a great and budget-friendly way for motorsports enthusiasts to race on their favorite circuits themselves or go for a digital test drive with expensive sports cars. But not just casual fans take their speedster out of their virtual garage and conclude a few rounds on the track. The scene has been established for years and features a plethora of well-known participants.
Motorsports brands: Prestigious car manufacturers, such as Aston Martin Red Bull, Porsche, McLaren or Ferrari have their own esports squad, and sometimes organize tournaments themselves. Some of their pros even get the chance to make it as test-drivers for their real-world racing team.
Esports racing organisations: There are also organizations that solely focus on esports and established themselves as experts in that area, such as VRS Coanda Simsport, Euronics Gaming or G2 Esports. The teams search for the most talented racers out there and give them the opportunity to focus on esports racing.
Celebrities: Not only are major motorsports brands invested in the scene, but also some of their racing drivers have a strong passion for virtual racing. Formula 1 star Lando Norris counts as one of the biggest faces promoting esports racing, GT driver Laurens Vanthoor loves iRacing and Formula 1 legend Rubens Barrichello is an avid fan and competitor in the virtual scene as well.
Esports racing influencers: But esports racing also spawned their own celebrities, as content creators were able to gather huge followings. Influencers such as Jimmy Broadbent or Dave Gaming became real stars in the scene, be it by entertaining their viewers with fun racing or by sharing their deep knowledge about hardware and games.
The scene is constantly expanding and offers a range of games, tournaments and events for everyone, so join the virtual tracks and get ready to overtake.