This past weekend, there was non-stop drama related to One Hub Racing announcing that they will be instituting an entry fee for their leagues next season. When I say non-stop, I mean that every other tweet on my timeline was related to the topic. In short, One Hub Racing’s Season 15 announcement broke the internet.
Before going any further, I need to lay out some simple background. Firstly, who is One Hub Racing? One Hub Racing is a sim racing league dedicated to the F1 brand of videogames. In my opinion, they do a bang-up job.
As a participant in the league, you get to enjoy a 12-race season, media days, fair but competitive racing, the ability to race on stream with commentators, a placement in an appropriate tier for your ability level, and more. Additionally, One Hub Racing offers trophies and prizes for various achievements. What’s even better is they run these seasons three times per year.
Going into One Hub Racing’s 15th season, it was announced that drivers would now be asked to pay a £5 entry fee. This entry fee, according to the announcement, was conceptualized to achieve a few key goals. The first, and in my opinion most important, goal was to incentivize drivers to show up. When there is a monetary investment involved, folks tend to be more committed. If you have ever competed in a free league, I am sure you have experienced how fluid participation can be.
The small entry fee would also allow the league to provide trophies and prizes to more folks as well as generally improve the league. One Hub Racing has been clear that this is meant to improve the league, not be a money-making scheme.
The folks from One Hub Racing were kind enough to chat with me. The league provided the following quote as their general statement on the issue:
“During some of our previous seasons, the team running the league, commentators and fellow drivers became increasingly frustrated by the lack of commitment some drivers made when signing up to the league. None less so than the admin team who struggled with the workloads this brought (graphics, tables, updates, communications, etc.). We don’t blame them because some genuinely had good reasons to leave, and real life always has to come first.
However, we came up with this idea not to make money, not to create prizes and not necessarily to improve racing standards. The whole starting point was to stop drivers signing up who weren’t committed to completing a full season – that was our main objective. Drivers weren’t going to pay the fee unless they were committed to completing the season – and to the best of their ability. We, therefore, believed that could potentially improve racing, but most certainly create higher attendances. We as a league are not here to make money from the community; we do what we do because we love racing. Therefore, all the donation fees are going towards running costs, charity, and prizes to offer drivers a gift for finishing well.
Overall we do believe this was a better option for the leagues long term future in terms of longevity in esports and would provide our drivers a more complete and better experience with us.”
On the One Hub Racing website, the league also posted a quick response blog that can be found here.
Everybody on Twitter had an opinion about this announcement. I have friends who never touched a racing game who texted me asking what all the noise was about. Most of the noise was negative, at least in my feed, but there also seemed to be an almost equal level of support for the league.
One Hub Racing, via their Twitter, was pretty open about expecting some blowback. I wanted to know: was it a level of blowback they were expecting? When I asked the league about this topic, they provided the following:
“It’s been better than we expected and already supports exactly why we’ve implemented this. Most surprisingly is how far this announcement has reached beyond the league’s own racing community. We’ve had a lot of support from a lot of the community with many friendly private messages too which has been really nice. We’d like to thank all those who have shown support.”
But really, how bad was it?
Though One Hub Racing told me things were mostly positive, I could not ignore the evidence in front of my eyes. As I previously mentioned, a lot of what I was seeing was very negative. I wanted to dig deeper. The logical explanation would be that this was a case of the vocal minority drowning out the majority. On that topic, One Hub Racing had this to say:
“It’s been more the vocal few, but of course we value everyone’s opinion. The difficulty has been managing the select few who’s chosen to direct ‘hate’ and use the social media platform to insult our community directly.”
What about the league members?
Not being a member of One Hub Racing’s leagues (due purely to time difference), I only had the perspective of an outsider. The most important opinions, for the league, are those of its members. I asked One Hub Racing how its members felt about the change and received this:
“Like most of the feedback, it’s been taken pretty well, and generally they see the advantages this brings to their own overall experience. We did conduct some research with some of our drivers who have raced with us for multiple seasons behind closed doors, too, during the discussion stage. We’re expecting more drivers to sign up than perhaps initially anticipated, which is great news for all those involved.”
Some Pretty Insane Opinions
While watching everything unfold, I was blown away by how nasty some people were getting. I had to see if One Hub Racing could share the craziest negative responses they received after the announcement. As in most things, the league elected to be all class, providing this quote:
“…giving them the time of day and mentioning them would give them a sense of satisfaction. The most frustrating reactions were those that have never raced with us and experienced the effort we put into running the league to the highest standard and then those who never even bothered to watch the tutorial video explaining it.”
One Hub Racing was very gracious in giving me their time to answer questions for this article. I publicly thank them for that as well as acknowledge that I appreciate how they have handled this entire situation. However, I need to be clear that I have no affiliation with One Hub Racing, nor did they have any hand in suggesting I write this article. The following opinions are my own.
If you want the short and sweet version of my opinion, it is: if you think you are entitled to excellent services for free, jog on.
The more nuanced version of my opinion revolves around understanding.
As a consumer of a product, you should understand the value of what you receive. By all accounts, One Hub Racing provides a spectacular product that the community values. Unfortunately, One Hub Racing has been facing a problem with driver commitment for some time.
When any service provider faces a problem, they must take the time to assess it. If the problem is severe enough, it falls on the service provider to fix it. That is precisely the decision One Hub Racing made. Requesting a few dollars as a sign of commitment while also helping the league offer a better product is not as crazy as some people would make it seem.
I can understand some people being upset by this. Not everyone has the £5 sitting around. Maybe you are living on a very tight budget, and this league is the one thing that brings you joy. I get that. I also understand that some kids may want to participate, but their parents don’t understand what they are spending the money on. These are legitimate concerns I have seen raised.
Luckily for racers with these legitimate concerns, the community is starting to step up. There have been several folks who have stepped up and said they would pay the entry fee for some drivers. Heck, if you are disadvantaged in some way and can’t afford the entry fee, let me know.
Unfortunately, for me, that’s the end of the line for negative people as far as I am concerned. The league is committing to you; don’t be afraid to commit to the league. You are going to get better, more consistent, racing, and an overall higher quality product.
As someone who plays iRacing, where the price of admission is a monthly fee plus paying for content, I assure you that paying for a league will make the racing better. I see, firsthand, the difference between paying a premium for racing versus hopping in for free.
This might be a touch harsh, but in closing: suck it up and stop complaining.
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