After being unchallenged in the market for many years, the word around the sim racing community is that Rennsport‘s arrival has ruffled iRacing‘s feathers. What can the Rennsport team do to potentially rival iRacing?
Over the years, iRacing has had the sim racing corner of the market all to itself. Even with the likes of rFactor 2, Assetto Corsa Competizione and more available. None have been able to hold a candle to iRacing.
iRacing‘s concurrent player numbers are hovering around the 10,000-player mark. But with the pricing of the service to subscribe and purchase content, one must wonder how sustainable that is in today’s market.
So now enter a new contender, Rennsport. Is this the sim that will break iRacing‘s stronghold on the sim racing community? What does it have to do in order to achieve this?
iRacing’s Strengths & Weaknesses
With iRacing, there is something to please all kinds of racing fan. Open wheelers, touring cars, sports prototypes, GT, stock cars, rallycross, it’s all in there. That’s something that ACC fails at, with its focus on GT cars and lower number of circuits in comparison to iRacing.
rFactor 2 has plenty of cars and tracks like iRacing, but has had major useability and performance issues for many years. Despite the variety of content and a consensus of its force feedback being infinitely superior to iRacing, player numbers are significantly lower.
As far as other sims go, Assetto Corsa and RaceRoom are both varied but again, not as refined. Even though iRacing pre-dates the majority of market racing sims, it still holds up far better. But we’re in 2023 now, and technology is improving.
One of the things holding iRacing back is its handling. You may be under the impression that iRacing is the most realistic driving sim on the market. Indeed, enough people seemingly repeat that claim. But according to many real world drivers, it isn’t.
Of course by no means is it Mario Kart. But Daniel Morad in his video about iRacing vs. real life claimed: “You can’t hustle the car, you have to really drive it under the limit (versus real life)”.
But whilst a vocal majority of iRacing players claim to be clambering for immersion, many just want to race regardless of how realistic it feels. With its relatively undemanding handling model, it’s no wonder many drivers join the service and compete.
How Rennsport Stands
Of course, Rennsport is, as we all know by now still months out from release. But there are still those who have gotten their hands on it. Many sim racers have done via a selective Closed Beta. Including us!
Yet still for a beta, the in-game content is miniscule. If ACC has too little content, Rennsport is still minuscule in comparison. With five cars and tracks each currently in the beta, it’s hardly a fair comparison of course. But we know it’s going to have a variety of cars and even allow modding.
Plus, it looks amazing. Being developed on Unreal Engine 5, it’s no surprise that it has really nice visuals. Physics wise though, it’s still something to be desired.
When we tried Rennsport, the cars felt overly on rails. We’d throw the car into corners, do everything in our power to upset the car. But it would just stick. On the flipside to iRacing where drivers must remain under the limit, in Rennsport, you’re trying to drive beyond it but can never find it.
A balance must be struck for the handling model to be rewarding to drivers. If the Rennsport team can dial it back, find that sweet spot, iRacing can be concerned. Especially if they do this one thing.
As is well known, subscribing to iRacing costs $13 for a month and $110 for a year. With 19 cars and 25 tracks free on the service, the rest must be purchased as well. With most cars and tracks in the online ranked races costing $12 and $15 respectively.
iRacing has done this for so long because they have no serious challenge. Whenever a service comes along with no market rival keeping them on their toes, they can afford to charge more. Indeed, the userbase doesn’t have a more affordable alternative.
In truth, if we are asking if Rennsport can rival iRacing, it can only be a good thing for the community. If iRacing sees a large amount of its users migrate to another platform, it will be more likely to find ways of incentivising them to stay. Maybe by lowering costs of cars, tracks, or even the subscription?
We still don’t really have a concrete answer as to what Rennsport‘s model will be. But if Rennsport is serious about challenging iRacing, it needs to go against what iRacing does. If it features a subscription model, a fully free car and track list may guarantee an influx of players.
That might be bold, but it may be exactly what it needs to hold a candle to iRacing. It could even charge a bit more for a subscription than iRacing. But in return, for all content to be available, it would almost be too good to be true.
Of course, some people are going to have their loyalties and preferences. But in a future where iRacing has to adapt accordingly and can no longer dictate the market with as much freedom as before, the playerbase will always win.
Do you believe Rennsport can rival iRacing? Tell us on Twitter at @OverTake_gg or in the comments down below!