Porsche N-GT and Saleen S7R at Valencia - The importance of liveries in simracing is bigger than you think
Image Credit: Kunos Simulazioni

The Importance of Liveries in Sim Racing

One often forgotten piece of the sim racing content puzzle is liveries. I would argue that they are just as, if not more important than, more traditional content like cars and tracks.

Countless teams and companies dedicate themselves to putting together amazing collections of liveries in sim racing. Yet somehow, many overlook the importance of a good colour scheme on a car far too often.

Automobilista 2, Assetto Corsa, iRacing. As standard, all these simulators feature several car classes with a generic, unrecognisable set of liveries. Sit behind the wheel a Porsche 991.2 GT3 R in either of these simracing games and you’ll sense a disconnect. You won’t feel at one with the car and looking out the window won’t provide the slightest immersion.

Standard RSS Formula Hybrid liveries
This image shows the standard RSS Formula Hybrid liveries. Seeing basic liveries like this on-track is far from the most exciting experience in simracing. Image Credit: Kunos Simulazioni

There’s a reason why ACC does such a great job at immersing the player in a race, and that’s real-world, recognisable liveries. It turns out that liveries are a tremendously important part of simracing for a number of reasons.

Personal Liveries in Sim Racing: Linking Car and Racer

Those that take part in online leagues will attest to the fact that running a personal, unique livery often increases one’s involvement. In fact, racing a car with a livery that reflects a driver’s personality, likes and interests will usually keep them interested in the competition.

This is why many iRacing players spend time putting together the best possible colour combination in the in-game livery editor. Once your car is unique to you, you’ll find yourself coming back for more.

Especially in iRacing where a driver can swap from car to car within the same class throughout a season, a special livery will provide continuity to their season. At the end of the day, most racers would rather drive a car that looks good instead of a machine that might gain them a tenth or two on a specific circuit.

BMW M4 GT4 at Laguna Seca ACC
This is a livery I ran in an ACC league. Using a personal livery made for a much more immersive league experience. Image Credit: Kunos Simulazioni

The emotional bond one gets from running a personal livery is only amplified when one puts the time in to create the skin oneself. If you take a day to learn the ropes of livery design and manage to create something you like, you’ll only want to show your car off more. “Look at what I made everyone!”

However, some of us aren’t quite as artistically minded. Thankfully, several organisations are available to make your simracing livery dreams reality. In most cases, this job is a collaboration merging the customer’s vision and the designer’s skill. But, in other cases, a player may not have much of an idea as to what they want. It’s here that these services really come in handy as designers will help the customer gather an idea of what they want.

Immerse Yourself with a Livery Pack

Liveries don’t only help a driver stand out in the pack and gain emotional attachment to their car. They also provide a great deal of immersion. It’s all well and good driving F1 cars in Assetto Corsa. But, if they feature plain liveries or if Kimi Raikkonen is simultaneously ahead of you, behind you and leading the race, things can get frustrating.

Real life Australian V8 Supercar liveries at Bathurst in Assetto Corsa
Simracing with a pack full of real-world liveries enhances the experience tenfold. Image Credit: Kunos Simulazioni

As such, it’s always a good idea to put together a simracing livery pack. While giving more realism and variety to your races visually, it also means players recognise cars they’re fighting. If you are using a realistic livery set, there’s no better feeling than going toe-to-toe against a virtual Lewis Hamilton or Max Verstappen. But using a fictional pack can also do the trick. You can even invent back stories to each driver giving a new lease of life to your offline gameplay.

In Automobilista 2 and iRacing in particular, there is lots of tweaking one can do to the AI settings. As such, players can make certain cars more aggressive than others. All while giving select AI drivers greater pace at different moments of a race. Once in-game, these changes are only truly evident and predictable once you recognise each car’s livery. After doing that, your immersion and single player experience will dramatically improve.

How important do you think liveries are in simracing? Tell us on Twitter at @OverTake_gg or in the comments down below!

A petrol head and motorsports fan since the early days, sim racing has been a passion of mine for a number of years. The perfect way to immerse myself in my true dream job; racing driver. With lots of experience jotting down words about the car industry, I am happy to share my passion for pretend race cars here on Overtake!