Sim Racing Hardware Collaborations are So Hot Right Now

Updated: Mar 20

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This weeks announcements involving sim racing hardware partnerships were interesting, to say the least. The not-so-surprising news of Fanatec becoming the official provider to Redbull eSports was followed up by the really surprising news that Next Level Racing has teamed up with iRacing to make a branded cockpit. The Fanatec deal makes sense and it's not the first time or team they have partnered up with but the iRacing collaboration has us scratching our heads and we really don’t know what to make of it.

We have a few theories of our own and they mostly have to do with the economy surrounding eSports. A few months ago at we posted a piece about how sim racing could be doing more for eSports in terms of helping it become a profitable industry (as of right now it isn’t exactly a moneymaker). The cliff notes of the article are that the eSports market has had over $10 billion in investments in the last few years and has only returned about $2 billion in the same amount of time all while boasting less than $1 billion per year in total revenue. Let’s just say eSports isn’t carrying its own weight in the overall gaming industry. But what does all this have to do with the two biggest names in sim racing engaging in separate partnership agreements? Well in the grand scheme of things not much, but it does show that they are committed to the betterment of both the sim racing and eSports market by lending their names to complimentary products.

Let’s start with the Fanatec deal. It’s a good one, to say the least, and if it is successful, we might even see some Fanatec sponsored Redbull events down the road. We did think for a hot second that maybe we would see some co-branded hardware from Fanatec and Redbull, but then we remembered that Redbull really doesn’t offer public merchandise (outside of limited race apparel) so that it is highly unlikely that we will see any Redbull themed wheels or peripherals. Sorry got sidetracked, this is a good partnership though. While Redbull’s eSports program and their sim racing program for that matter aren’t new, they are a company that keeps things fresh and has a track record of making lengthy investments in up-and-coming industries. If any company out there can turn sim racing eSports into a spectacle it's Redbull.

Now let's move on to the Next Level Racing and iRacing deal. iRacing is by far the popular simulator in the industry. Maybe not by player count due to its high costs but it’s the only software on the market that people who have never even been to their website can recall off of the top to their head (this is mostly due to its similarity to Apple products). Anyway, we don’t think that this collaboration makes much sense in its current state, we need more details. In the past, Assetto Corsa and rSeat teamed up to have a special edition seat, but we’re not so sure how many of those sold (not dragging the product, we’ve just never seen one in the wild). So this partnership with Next Level Racing and iRacing has precedence but still lacks substance. Despite this, we have two ideas about what this new cockpit might be all about.

  1. Attracting new users to sim racing

  2. A compliment to an upcoming eSports series

Attracting New Users to Sim Racing

Typically, when you have someone that wants to join a new hobby or engage in a new sport they typically associate popular name brands with quality equipment (we are not saying that this cockpit won’t be good). When you google sim racing, the very first (at least at the time of typing this) iRacing is the first result to pop up so naturally, anyone who is looking to get into sim racing is going to click to see what it is all about. Once they have done that they have effectively established iRacing as a significant entity in the industry and anytime they see the logo or name alongside something else it will subliminally be associated with significance. If the play is to drive sales towards new users this is a great way to get a piece of the pie in two areas as well as increasing the sales for someone else in the industry. As for the cockpit itself, the teaser looks like it may be an 80/20 setup which means it will likely be highly customizable for those that are already involved in sim racing or simple enough for those that are just looking to embark on the journey.

A Compliment to an Upcoming eSports Series

If you asked us what we hoped collaboration was about we would tell you that our fingers are crossed for a large-scale in-person eSport league. If you look at any sports league in the world whether it be football or baseball, nearly every piece of equipment carries the organizer's name or logo on it, so why should sim racing be any different? Spoiler alert it’s not, Playseat and F1 eSports do just this. Could you imagine if iRacing were to get something going that would rival the F1 eSports Pro Series in terms of an in-person spectacle? If you haven’t seen the Formula One eSports Pro Series stage/arena settings do yourself a favor and go check it out it is actually really cool. The best part is they already have the perfect pro series to introduce an in-person format for, eNASCAR. While it would create a significant increase in costs for the teams, it could solve iRacing’s woes in terms of connection issues, and let's be fair, it would be pretty damn cool to see an actual simulator have an in-person event of this magnitude.

Both of these partnerships should excite everyone, it's a progression for our industry and can open a lot of doors in a lot of different subsects of sim racing.

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