Considered to be one of the last bastions of honesty in the video game journalism ring, Austin Ogonoski’s Pretend Race Cars blog was officially shut down on December 7th, 2017 late last year.
This news may have escaped many who weren’t paying close attention to Ogonoski’s social media feeds, or may have fallen out of the loop in keeping up to date with the website, but there was a Twitlonger published on December 7th, 2017 from Ogonoski explaining why he shut down the site.
After waxing poetics about the support from the racing sim community and electronic sports league, Ogonoski explained the real reason behind shutting down Pretend Race Cars, writing…
”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.”
For a little perspective, Ian Bell is the head of Slightly Mad Studios, and he hired in Austin Ogonoski as a consultant for work on projects like Project CARS 2 in early 2017.
Ogonoski had been quite critical of many racing simulators since the start of the blog back in 2015. It gained notoriety and a dedicated community quickly for making poignant observations and criticisms about a variety of racing sims, which caught the ire of various other rival publications and developers alike, including Slightly Mad Studios. Ogonoski was also responsible for outing IGN in the Assetto Corsa review scandal.
However, after Ogonoski was hired by Slightly Mad and participated in an amateur race with a car sponsored by the studio, claims of conflicts of interest began to surface and some members of the racing sim community felt that Pretend Car Racers had become a sellout.
Sim Racing Paddock suspected that perhaps the conflict of interest involving Ogonoski running a blog being critical of competing racing sims while working for Slightly Mad Studios could have put him in a position of legal brinkmanship; and in similar effect, it could have also put Slightly Mad Studios in an equally precarious position if people viewed Ogonoski bad mouthing opponents while working for their studio as a form of corporate espionage.
Even if all of that is patently false, as Ogonoski pointed out in the Twitlonger post, perception is still a strong ally for perceived conflicts of interest, and so it was decided to shut down the blog for good.
If you attempt to visit PretendRaceCars.net you’ll only be met with a message saying the site is protected by the owner and set to private.
Does this mean that maybe the site might come back after Austin finished up his tenure as a constultant with Slightly Mad Studios? We’ll have to wait and find out. But for now, there’s one less honest-to-a-fault gaming blog out there that cuts straight to the point while ging input and feedback on electronic entertainment products in the rawest way possible.