Brief history on the Service: iRacing started out in 2004 by John Henry and Dave Kaemmer. John is a co-owner of Roush-Fenway Racing for those who aren't aware, and so he was able to provide financial backing that has never really been seen before in sim racing. Combine that with the experience of Dave Kaemmer who has competed in the Skip Barber Championship in real life, and is the mastermind behind such sims as GT Legends, and you can expect top notch results. Finally an able developer has virtually all the time and money they need to create the ultimate sim experience. In a period from 2004-2008 iRacing consisted of lots of R&D and closed testing, some early members became part of the testing early on with most early testers joining in 2007 through connections in the sim world. In mid 2008 iRacing was open to the public but through invites only, then released fully to the public later on in the year. The stage was set nicely, a huge amount of hype and community buzz had set iRacing above all other racing sims, before it was even released. Laser scanned tracks, cars being measured, weighed, and scanned for perfect accuracy. From a scientific point of view it was very hard for people to argue with what iRacing was doing, they were miles ahead of everyone else. They also have a 10 year plan, and a $20million investment from John Henry which they boasted through advertising and shameless plugs in the sim community. It was a good move by iRacing to let people know how serious they were early on, if they didn't there is no way they would get away with charging what they do for their service. iRacing has a model that is unique to racing sims, but not unique to the gaming world. To use the service you must be a member, which requires you to purchase one of their monthly or annual membership packages. With the membership you get access to limited content, at first it was only a few cars on the Oval and Road side, with a handful of tracks. If you wanted some of the faster cars or more tracks, those would have to be purchased individually. People were so excited about the sim, they did not care much to argue with the plan, they did not mind that they owned none of the content, and were only purchasing access to them when their membership is in current status. If you stop paying to access their service, you lose all access to the content you have purchased. How do they control this? It is simple, the only way you can use the service is through an internet connection with a compatible browser. There is a large program installed on your PC, however you cannot access it unless you are logged in securely through their website. This helps them to keep control and monitor all things that happen in the sim. This type of service is very controversial, but with the level of professionalism that iRacing was trying to achieve, this was the only way to go for them. By controlling things through an online browser, they prevent people from running modified versions of the game, which could include hacking the physics, or any other type of manipulation. That does not mean iRacing has been free from hackers though, there have been reports of cheats that have been used, patched, with the users who cheated banned, and no refund given. By controlling the sim in such a way, iRacing was able to display itself as a professional service, where people can compete fairly worldwide against their peers, 24 hours a day, with a full time staff of stewards and developers constantly monitoring and updating the service. They ran ads showing professional drivers giving testimonies on how realistic the simulator is, which is nothing new, every simulator out has done this. However with iRacing, people are required to give their real first and last name, so users who are part of the service can literally search their favorite drivers name, and through a statistic screen, monitor the progress and lap times. This made iRacing unique because people can actually see professional drivers using the service. This helped give consumers confidence, not only were they confident that the company was on solid ground having John Henry as the financial backbone, but they also are able to purchase content in confidence knowing that professional drivers have sworn by the accuracy. From 2008-current the service has grown in overall members, but so has the sim. What started out as a few thousand people in 2008, has grown into the tens of thousands. Content has also been expanded, it was just a handful of cars and tracks starting out, but now iRacing boasts a car for everyone on both Oval and Road, with 24 hours 7 days a week series of official sessions. The future of iRacing is still not very clear...how could this be though? With such a strong foundation, and having the largest active community in sim racing, how could they ever fail? Downfalls of the greatest sim available: Even though iRacing has been the dominant name in sim racing since its release in 2008, it still has its downfalls. The sim does not provide a lot of the simple things that other sims have for years. Some of these things include tire build up, dynamic weather, and dynamic track surfaces. You are basically racing in a static environment all of the time, which is obvious to anyone that the real world of motorsports simply cannot be simulated accurately in a static environment. Other downfalls are development times. In the beginning the members were very forgiving over long development times. Cars and Tracks were basically announced, then several months later eventually released, with some projects lasting over a year. As time has progressed and their team grows you would expect development time to go down, but it has not. Members are still finding themselves waiting almost a year for new content to be released. Another downfall of iRacing is the content it provides, a lot of the cars are somewhat unpopular or outdated when compared to race cars in other sims. Instead of Ferrari, BMW, and other big names in racing, we see Pontiac, Kia, and what seems to be at random one car selected from several different series all over the place. So when you see something like Formula 1 advertised you will be sad to find out you only have two F1 cars available, and they are decades apart from each other. If you are a fan of Grand Am racing, the Daytona Prototype available is a Pontiac, and it is already half a decade old. This is the trend with iRacing, they tend to model only one car from a series, then by the next couple years it is already outdated, and then they tell people they have a virtual version of that series even though it is only that one car that is most likely not used in the series anymore. Then there are the tracks, other than Nascar, you will be lucky to find more than a few real world tracks available where your favorite series actually races in real life. This, combined with the random car from a random year, can make you feel as if you are competing in some fantasy series, rather than simulating the real life series. Some are hopeful to one day get a complete series, but with iRacing's super slow pace in their development it seems near impossible for them ever to release a complete series will all the cars and tracks from the same year competition. Some tracks were scanned, and left to be forgotten with excuses given from the staff members that they simply do not have the manpower to complete, leaving a sour taste in the mouths of many members. On top of that, some projects end up getting delayed, like the coveted Lotus 49, it has been promised many times by the staff, but delayed every time. This brings me to my biggest concern with iRacing, its quest for perfection comes at the expense of its members wallets and patience. For iRacing to prepare a release to the public they seem to have very high quality standards and must simulate things accurately through a formula. This sounds great, except they don't always get it right, and when you wait several months for something to be released, you expect it to be good to go when it is released. Several of the iRacing fans will just use the excuse that everything in the sim is a work in progress, and things will always be updated and changed. The problem with that, is it gives iRacing a fail pass, meaning they can release something that is a failure and get a pass from the community because it is a work in progress and will be updated. This is not just limited to iRacing, now that the internet is here to update games, developers across the board are releasing unfinished products and just updating things later on. The problem with this whole situation, is it creates a circle of long development times, and a pass for mediocre content. Some will say they cannot have it both ways, they cannot offer an advertised realistic experience, yet make dramatic changes to the core of the simulation. Things like the tire model and physics have changed dramatically over time, and to this day the tire model still is not right. When individuals question the tire model they are met with some resistance from iRacing staff members who believe things are not as bad as they seem, but are also told there are yet again going to be more dramatic changes to fix bugs such as more grip with cold tires, but like everything at iRacing, even the tire model gets delayed over and over again. Then you have cars that were driven by professionals before their release and have sworn testimonies of being accurate to the real life counterpart, that have since been changed dramatically, so now iRacing has to answer the question,are the cars inaccurate now? Or were their professional spokesman just spewing company lines to promote iRacing early on? One will ask themselves why has iRacing not hired on more experts to help with the physics and tire models, or more professionals to help speed up development time of cars and help with the completion of tracks. Well, as unlimited as their resources may seem, they do not have an endless supply of money. If you think about how much it must cost to run a business like this year round, that $20million will get gobbled up fairly quick over the years, and the membership alone cannot support a super large staff. Even with a small staff they are paying several yearly salaries, sending employees all over the world to scan cars and tracks, not to mention other expenses like the cost of equipment and an office headquarters. They simply cannot afford to stay in business, and also have a super large staff. There is a lot of controversy over the direction of iRacing, with its lack of features, and its ever changing view on how physics and tires work. One can only ask how long can this company keep all its members? Right now iRacing has somewhat of a monopoly on sim racing. They are the only sim offering full time year round organized racing in a professional environment. Everything feels official with iRacing, and anyone can join with ease. This gives iRacing an edge over all other sims which depend on mods and communities to bring people together, which as we have seen before can be very messy, but also very rewarding if done right. Personally, I would love to see iRacing just "get things right", but at the moment with how they do things, it would take years before they ever start releasing complete series or getting cars that are up to date instead of outdated ones that are already retired from their current series. Sooner or later, iRacing will lose its monopoly on this type of service, someone else is bound to come along and offer a similar service. If such a service comes along, and offers things that iRacing still has trouble with, like a correct tire model, or dynamic environments, then iRacing's future may be in trouble. They can only exist in such a state as long as there is no competition to steal their customers away. Eventually when another sim does come along that rivals iRacing, they better be ready to deliver on their promises, or face the reality of having to eventually close their doors after everyone but a few dedicated followers leave for the new kid on the block who offers something bigger and better.