What is SimCade? Racing game genres explained

What is SimCade? Racing game genres explained

Choosing the perfect racing game for yourself can be quite difficult. There are a lot of games on the market, all focusing on different features and types of racing. While it’s impossible to present all games to you, we want to give you an overview on the main classifications of racing games, and how they’re defined. Here we go:

Reading time: 5 minutes

Arcade racers

Defining arcade racers is actually not as easy as one would think. Of course, you have some clear examples for arcade games: whether you’re throwing a blue shell at your friends in Mario Kart or driving through a looping with 400 km/h in Trackmania. No one would dare to say these games are simulations. But then you’ll also find games like Grid in which you drive real cars on real tracks. Even though this setting is realistic, the game still belongs to the broad genre of arcade.

As you see, arcade games can’t be defined just by their setting. Let’s look at an example: In Need for Speed you’re driving in real cars, racing on the streets. Is this already some form of simulation? A key point of separating simulations from arcade games are their physics. In games like Need for Speed or Burnout Paradise the laws of physics are being ignored in many ways.

Need for Speed or Burnout Paradise
Source: EA

You crashed your car into a wall? Don’t worry, just continue your race. You’re taking a sharp bend at high speed? No problem, your grip is perfect. Arcade games are easy to learn, putting the fun above realism granting you a lot of freedom. So, yes, games like Need for Speed belong very much into the arcade racer section.

However, never underestimate the difficulty of an arcade game. Trackmania is exhibit A for a game that is easy to play but hard to master. It’s focused on perfect driving and very precise controls. You will need hours and hours of hard work to make it to the top in this game.

Another characteristic of arcade racers is that they may add other challenges to the game aside from just driving such as collecting power-ups, driving through special obstacles, or shooting your opponents with shells or other weapons. Also, arcade games often grant you more freedom than SimCades or simulations since many of them are being set in an open world to discover.

Simulations

Simulations are the exact opposite of arcade games. These games want to replicate the handling and feeling of an actual car as much as possible. In contrast to arcade games, physics are the key element of a racing simulation.

For most games, real tracks are laser-scanned by the developers so they can be implemented into the simulation accurately to the millimeter, making you feel every bump on the track.

simulation accurately to the millimeter
Source: iRacing

When it comes to cars, simulations want to emulate the feeling of real vehicles as well. Unlike in arcade games, differences between the cars are very big. Every car has its own physics and clear characteristics the driver has to master. Realistic damage models, wear off of tyres, and weight distribution are some of the factors that influence your driving experience heavily in simulations.

Often, those real cars and their models are trademarked. If a developer can’t afford the license for a certain car, they will try to rebuild it using other models in their game. That means there can be artificial elements in a simulation as well, but the developers still try to make these as realistic as possible, using dummies and data from similar cars to create an almost identical clone of the real licensed car.

There is a reason why a lot of real racing drivers use simulations like iRacing. Simulations try to implement all, and we mean ALL factors that influence your driving. Fans of simulations find their fun in the game not because of obstacles, challenges and items. They play these games because a good simulation makes you feel like you were driving on a racetrack for real.

SimCades

Within the esports racing community, there are ongoing discussions on drawing a line between simulations and “SimCade” games. In general, SimCade stands for games that can neither be considered real simulations nor arcade games.

The discussion often focuses on games like F1, Forza Motorsport, and Gran Turismo. These games often try to find a balance between easy-to-play, fun racers, and simulating reality. Simulation factors like tyre management or weight distribution are part of the games as well, however their impact is not as significant as in simulations.

Simulation factors like tyre management or weight distribution
Source: Codemasters

That is what makes SimCades so enjoyable for a lot of players. You’re always able to lower the level of simulation and drive some fun laps in a realistic environment.

But that does not mean that SimCade games have a low skill cap in general. The accuracy of the simulation in these games is adjustable and you can always increase it if you feel the need for more challenges and realism. SimCades can be played both with a controller or a wheel.

If you want to make your first steps in esports racing or you want to drive some races without having to focus on too many simulation factors, SimCade games are the perfect choice. They deliver a decent level of realism, which you can always adjust to your needs. While SimCades might not be as realistic as simulations, they can be a great choice for your first steps into the world of esports racing.

Teaser Source: EA

Maik Jahn
Born and raised close to the Nürburgring.