How big is the sim racing community?

April 4th, 2022

Personally, I hate hobbies that are not popular. Practicing them seems pointless to me, because then I have no one to talk to about it, and, more importantly, I have no one to compete with.

Fortunately, sim racing is a relatively popular hobby, and most importantly, it seems to be growing year by year.
Sim Racing in Google Trends

As you can clearly see, interest in sim racing has almost tripled in the last five years! At least in Google search.

Personally, I think Sim Racing will continue to grow for two simple reasons:

  • Motorsport is becoming more and more popular. Formula 1, for example, seems to be opening up more and more to huge markets like the ones in the US and China. A lot of movies have been made about it recently, as well as the extremely popular Netflix series Drive To Survive. Not to mention, we have currently very exciting rivalry between many teams and drivers, so the series should continue to grow its popularity.
  • Sim racing equipment is more affordable. There are many brands nowadays, and we have some good equipment that is relatively cheap. Thanks to its popularity, it is also easy to buy used equipment, so you can make your simulator for a few hundred dollars. It’s easier to start today than it was a few years ago.

How popular is Sim Racing?

It’s always hard to measure the popularity, but we can refer to at least a few stats:

1. Some of the largest channels about Sim Racing on YouTube have hundreds of thousands of subscribers. For example, look at Jimmy Broadbent or Super GT.

2. Sim Racing games usually have tens of thousands of players logged in at the same time. Some of them are very high on game popularity lists as high as well-known games such as Borderlands 3, BeamNG.drive, SMITE, and much more.

Assetto Corsa popularity
F1 Popularity

Source: Steam Charts

3. r/simracing has more than 230 000 members on Reddit. It’s more than, for example, r/motogp (119 k members), r/indycar (145k), r/surfing (130k), r/mmorpg (200k), and many more!

4. According to TwitchTracker sim racing games are quite popular on Twitch as well. At the time of writing this post, iRacing is #127, Assetto Corsa is #306, and F1 is #54 in their popularity rank. It’s not bad!

5. According to Esportsearings, iRacing alone is #48 on the “Top Games Awarding Prize Money” list with $2,473,814.43 in awards. There are also more sim racing games such as rFactor 2 and Assetto Corsa in the top 100.

Is sim racing competitive?

It’s extremely competitive. I’ve been playing sim racing for a few years, and I’m still, I’d say – average.

Sim Racing is one of the most competitive video game genres. Of course, as long as we assume these simulators are still video games.

There is no single best sim racer or even a top few that dominate all the tournaments. This shows how competitive it is and how small the differences are at the highest level.

Many professional racing drivers also play sim racing. Some of them admit that the amount of pro players in racing sims is very high. Although Max Verstappen and Lando Norris are considered to be one of the best racing drivers in the world, they have a lot of success in Sim Racing, but also do not win everything they can. This also shows that Sim Racing is at a really high level, and it could be challenging for everyone.