EDIT: The website is officially down, now pulling up a “This blog is private” splash page.
Pretend Race Cars, the “worst site you could possibly visit for Sim Racing news”, will be shutting down December 7th. The website, known for being critical of just about everything, including yours truly, will no longer be able to be accessed after today.
Austin Ogonoski, the founder of the website, posted a status on Twitter, entitled “The End”:
The news has come suddenly, and is quite out of the blue, and this is quite an interesting revelation, bound to possibly arise some suspicions. The question may arise, that possibly the website could have been shut down due to a conflict of interest.
For those of you who don’t know, Austin Ogonoski founded Pretend Race Cars in 2015, and went for a snarky “Tabloid-Esque” angle on the stories. The site ruffled quite a few feathers from multiple companies, including iRacing, Kunos Simulazioni, and most notably, Slightly Mad Studios. After a notably controversial drama-filled saga between Austin and SMS founder Ian Bell, a bombshell announcement dropped that Ian had hired Austin as a consultant for Project CARS 2, and also had sponsored Austin for a full ride in a Late Model race car!
Since then, Austin has had a shift in the focus of how the site worked. Articles seemed to have a little less bite towards Project CARS 2, in favor of preview pieces, showing off the “Transparancy of Development” on the upcoming title. However, any articles criticizing any other title was met with accusations of “conflict of interest”, and saying Austin was under Ian’s thumb.
One portion of the status in particular makes me wonder about what the cause of PRC’s demise is:
“With my current position at SMS, I know a little more about what goes on behind closed doors, both in terms of development, and how the race car game ecosystem works. This includes how other people around the industry feel about things written/showcased PRC.
Obviously, any negative review of another game, no matter how factual or how many others agree with it and report similar findings of their own, comes under intense scrutiny for a multitude of reasons – most notably conflict of interest. And it’s just a massive hassle to continue to argue that “no, your game really isn’t that good, I’m sorry” when these people come knocking.
As Ian Bell suggested, the best approach from here on out is to just kill the blog entirely to prevent these conflicts from arising, and focus 100% on changing the industry from the inside with the tools and connections we have available.
Essentially, this portion of this status is stating that the website was killed because of the idea of conflict of interest. In this situation, with the evidence, it is easy to see the idea of “Guilty until proved innocent”. However, the “when these people come knocking”, raises an interesting question.
Most notably, one of the main controversial elements of Pretend Race Cars is its relationship with iRacing. Around the beginning of Pretend Race Cars’ run, there were some scathing articles written about iRacing, which led to Austin being banned from the online racing service. This year, another article was written, claiming Austin had came to amicable terms with iRacing, and had received an offer to re-join the service, which he had declined, in favor of receiving a refund.
An interesting development is that before this announcement from Austin, is that he has written another highly critical post regarding iRacing, this time, tackling its newly released RallyCross content. With him writing the post, with a video with the headline “iRacing Rallycross Sucks“, it is interesting to see. One interesting thought I had was that, to “research” for this post, Austin likely had to borrow somebody else’s account (likely the reason Austin censored the standings in the video). That is a violation of iRacing’s rules and Terms of Service.What I am wondering is if there was a line of legality that Austin may have crossed, and that could have possibly landed Slightly Mad Studios in hot water. If iRacing were to possibly seek some sort of action against Austin for violating iRacing rules to write a slanderous article about a competitor to Project CARS 2, maybe Slightly Mad Studios didn’t want to risk a legal battle, that could have potentially painted them in light for a “Conflict of Interest”.
Regardless, the bottom line is that after nearly 3 years, Pretend Race Cars will be laid to rest. What do you think of this news? Let us know!