iRacing Interview

iRacing and Steam: An Interview with Kevin Bobbitt

Its no secret that here at Greenlit Gaming, we’re racing fans. Stephen and I have spent many hours competing in time trials in a number of games, fighting to shave tenths of a second off of each other’s lap times. If you are reading this article, you’ve likely done the same. You can imagine how excited I was when I was browsing Steam Greenlight a few moons ago and came across iRacing. I was so excited I immediately got myself signed up and on the testing circuits. After spending some time behind the wheel and taking my first ever iRacing podium finish, I couldn’t help but get in touch with Kevin Bobbitt from the iRacing team to ask a few questions about iRacing and it’s potential integration into Steam.

Kevin Bobbitt in an Indy Car. Just another day at the office!.
iRacing’s Kevin Bobbitt.

Thanks for joining us Kevin! I’d actually like to start by asking you about yourself. How long have you been sim racing for? Word on the street is that you’re not too shabby!

Kevin: I have played and enjoyed racing games all of my life. Same goes for watching real world motorsports. I have a car I take to the track and autocrosses as well so racing is a big part of my life. I didn’t get into real sim racing until I joined the team here at iRacing back in 2007 before we launched the service. If you have heard I am not too shabby someone is spreading nasty rumors. I am not very fast but I do enjoy the racing. I have given out my share of “iLetYouWin” awards for sure! (Members earn these when they finish in ahead of a staff member in an official race)

iRacing hit Greenlight a few months back and it has been received with some mixed emotions. Newcomers to sim racing are concerned over the potential costs related to getting started with iRacing. Could you go through what someone would need to purchase in order to start their iRacing career?

Kevin: It’s really easy to join iRacing, especially if you are already a sim racer. You need a PC or a Mac, an Internet connection and some sort of controller to drive the cars. Most members use a wheel and pedal set but you can use a gamepad or even touch control if you want. A One month membership is only $12 and it gets less expensive per month if you sign up for longer periods. All of the content (cars and tracks) you need to race in the rookie series are included in your membership so you don’t need to spend anything else unless you want to.

Once you get promoted out of Rookie class you can continue your iRacing career. Choose from multiple career options, whatever interests you the most. You will likely need to purchase some additional content but you only need to purchase what you want, certainly not everything!

Do you mind expanding on how drivers progress through license classes, and what the costs are in relation to moving into different series?

Kevin: We have a license systems that rewards good driving. Stay out of trouble, keep it on the track and don’t run into other cars and you can progress pretty quickly. You start as a rookie and can progress all the way to a World Championship license if you want to. Rookie through A (R, D,C,B,A) don’t even take into account where you are finishing your races – it’s all about participating and keeping it clean. Pro and WC licenses do factor in how well you race as theses are limited to the best of the best. There is no direct cost to get another license. You do need to participate in additional series though and that may require you to purchase some cars or tracks. You don’t need to purchase everything and we offer all kinds of discounts for members who purchase content in bulk.

I think it goes without saying that I support iRacing getting on Steam as I think it would do wonders for the sim racing community. However, as an iRacer myself, I do acknowledge some of the concerns other members of the iRacing community have brought forth in relation to iRacing being on Steam. As such, I’m hoping you could address a few of these concerns.

My first question is simple. How would the integration with Steam affect existing iRacers? Would they be forced to use Steam?

Kevin: First, thanks for the support. When we are available on Steam there should be no impact on existing iRacers, other than there will be more people to race against! More members is good for everyone, right? More races will be filled up, more races will split so you will be racing against people of similar skills and we (iRacing) will be able to continue to develop the simulation. Our model has always included constant development. We are not a boxed product that gets released and then we move on to the next title. We release scheduled updates to the software four times per year and these are included in your membership. You don’t have to buy the latest software patch or version.

Mt Panorama (aka Bathurst)
Here’s a track shot of Mt Panorama (aka Bathurst), a track that is currently in development in iRacing.

Many iRacers are concerned that introducing a large number of new iRacers through Steam may negatively impact their own experience. How would the influx of new players be handled from a service standpoint?

Kevin: Just like any new members, these new Steam members would start as rookies. Let’s face it, we were all rookies at some point so I don’t really see this as a problem or a negative. Many will quickly progress out of the rookie series and blend right in with the rest of the members.

Career progression in iRacing is all about Safety Rating. What steps are being taken to ensure that current iRacers’ Safety Ratings are not intentionally crushed by a new wave of inexperienced racers?

Kevin: The regular systems were designed to handle many, many, many, more members so the infrastructure is already in place. New members that can’t gain a good SR would not get promoted out of rookie and would not be in the vast majority of races our members run. We also have a sporting code and protest system in place that would handle anyone that slips through or is abusing the system. Sure there will be some new people that try iRacing and didn’t understand we are different than a typical race game. Once they figure that out they will either adapt their driving because they like what iRacing has to offer or they will not renew their memberships. It’s hard to imagine many people actually paying a subscriptions just so they could wreck other members – but if they do they will be quickly dealt with! Existing members really have nothing to worry about unless they are afraid of getting beat in races by some new competitors 🙂

For iRacers who are Steam users, will iRacing offer any Steam-specific features such as Achievements, Trading Cards, Big Picture Mode, ect?

Kevin: We actually haven’t gotten that far in the process with Steam so I don’t know the answer to that at this time.

The NASCAR Nationwide Ford Mustang
The NASCAR Nationwide Ford Mustang. Currently in development at iRacing!

How would getting greenlit improve the iRacing experience?

Kevin: More members means better racing and more development – I think these are the two most important things to our members so it would be a win-win. The iRacing service was designed and built to support tens of thousands of users. In fact, our proprietary iRating system (driver rating) will work even better with more members. What I mean by that is that if a lot more people register for any given race session, there will be a lot more ‘splits’ of that session. This will likely mean you will be in a split that more closely matches your iRating which in turn means the racing will be even more competitive. The sporting code, iRating and Safety Rating will all still be in effect so members shouldn’t be worried that the service will suddenly turn into the wild west.

Where can people learn more about the game, and how can they support iRacing?

Kevin: Check us out at Vote for us on Greenlight and hopefully you will see us available there soon.

Thank you for taking the time to chat with us!

Kevin: Thanks for chatting with me and I’ll see you on the virtual track!

  1. This doesn’t sound any good as I’m happy with quality of current iRacing service and I know how bad the Steam support team is

    Kevin said

    “Let’s face it, we were all rookies at some point so I don’t really see this as a problem or a negative.”

    Are you really serious ? What about times & efforts spent over months and months ? Do you realise, for instance, how long it takes to get to class B for ordinary users ? That’s just an absolute ignoranc, it’s like you want to do a business and you don’t give a damn about existing users.

    Hey why don’t you provide free service for first year then ? What about providing all tracks for free to the transferring users ? A lot of games do that as a promotion in the beginning. How about that 😀

    1. Your post doesn’t make any sense. How does more users change the length of time it takes to get to class B?

  2. Min i think you misunderstand. Existing members do not have to start over when iRacing gets launched on Steam, you most likely wont even notice when it happens

    No one has to transfer from iRacing to Steam. This is just a new way to advertise/sell the game itself

  3. min park, u make no sense, u can go from rookie too A class in no time, fast track is in place, 4 races or time trials with safety rating 4.0 or more to move up a class, tho you must use a car in the class you now in to get to the next class up etc ect

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