Expos are excibitions where companies and experts present the newest and best products in the market for a set group of industries. I have visited many expos in the past, although they have been unrelated to sim racing. The ones I have visited were mainly in Germany, Denmark and New York. Most of them were professional exhibitions of products and services to companies. Some of them would open up to the public during the last day but what they all had in common was, that they were huge. I had never been to one that you could go through in a single day. Not without missing out on too much valuable information, news or knowledge. This was the expectation I went into my first visit to the ADAC Sim Expo 2021.
I had been slightly involved with a sim retailer and we thought it would be a great idea to visit SIM EXPO to get in touch with new manufacturers, distributors and put faces on old ones. Based on my previous experiences and expectations we set out to be there already on Friday, which was the first out of 3 full days that the expo would run. The expo is held at Nürnburg Ring in Germany, which although is a neighbouring country, still required us to drive over 1000km to get there. We opted to set off on Thursday, drive for as long as we wanted, find a random place to sleep and then continue the day after to be there when the doors opened. We chose not to be picky when picking a place to spend the night. You can get surprised in many ways when doing this but personally I felt it was not bad (although a bit different than expected).
Before I start explaining about the SIM expo, I feel that I need to explain my approach to sim racing to you. I am a critical consumer, and won’t often admit to needing something before realising that I do. I’ve made a few posts about this, called “Do you really need it?” as well as “5 Steps to Sim Shop Smarter“. It’s not that I don’t buy anything, or that I am reluctant to spend the money, but after working 15 years in retail, I know that most of it is about creating a need that often is not there. That set, let’s get on with it!
The actual EXPO
We managed to be there at about 1pm which was when the doors opened. There were already a lot of people there, but most of them seemed to be affiliated or directly linked to the booths in the show. On paper, the show closed already 3 hours later, but it turned out they didn’t really start kicking people out. If not shocked, I was mostly surprised at how little the show was. I hall, with 5 isles and a few booths outside that hall. That was it. I didn’t actually count, but i don’t think there were more than 50 exhibitors present. Some of them shared booths though, so it was hard to tell but I had expected a much larger show and a much wider range of products and services.
After getting over the initial shock of realising the size of the expo, you start noticing that much of the expo actually goes on outside the booths. Many of the famous influencers, representatives and experts don’t sit in booths waiting to be talked to. Many of them are not even exhibitors. This is one of the key factors of visiting expos like this. It’s not only about the actual expo. It’s about networking, getting to know new people and connecting to and with new possibilities.
If you’re into sim racing, as you probably are, you’d love the actual booths. Depending on your own hardware you will very quickly either be shocked or at least extremely impressed by all the pricey hardware you’ll see all around everywhere. Seeing so many of the wheels, rigs, seats and screens that you’ve only ever seen on fancy Instagram posts, becomes overwhelming but also common in a way. It definitely is the place to find the best of the best hardware available, but this might in reality be the worst part of an expo like this. It is very almost irrelevant for most of us and often even for the actual pros.
My point with this is, that although its the place where the newest and best hardware is around even corner, very few of us will ever need it, let alone be able to use it to its full extend. Many of the setups were so extreme that even the fastest drivers out there would not use them. Wheels that cost €5.000 or setups worth €36.000 with triple 55″ 4K screens and €5.500 worth of pedals are irrelevant for most of us, and to be fair also unnecessary. I actually had a talk with a Simtag guy about why anyone would want a setup with 3 x 55″ screens and they said “why not”. I understand that if money is not a factor, one would have no reason why not to spend it.
Still, think that a Samsung G9 ultra wide curved screen would be a better choice, even ignoring the fact that it would cost 1/10 of the price they are asking for their screens. Actually that exact same screen was very common in the show and somehow its novelty faded quickly once you got to see it in action and try it out. It is still a very valid alternative to triple screens though, and one that i would seriously consider when upgrading or choosing screens for a rig.
Over-development, over-complication and over-price was in my opinion the case with many of the products displayed and demonstrated in the expo. Many of the products seemed to have been developed by people or companies who just wanted, or could develop a product for a market that clearly is exploding in size, without considering if there is a need for it. Everyone wants a bite of a cake that seems to be bigger and bigger every time you look at it. This is what sim expo really is about. Manufacturers trying to get a bigger bite off you, by telling you that you need their product. But do you?
We managed to go through the whole expo a few times already on Friday. The day after we were there early, but there were many more people and to be honest, we already had talked with most of the people we needed to talk, and see most of the products several times. Even though we had planned to stay until at least Sunday noon, we decided to head back home already Saturday midday, as there really was nothing much left to see and the sheer amount of people made it hard to do anything anyway
The eye opener
For me, the expo showed me a whole lot of things that I didn’t need. Manufacturers and developers wanted to convince me that I needed it but in the end, most of what I saw at the expo, convinced me that I didn’t need it. It did show me what I did need though, and that was not at the expo at all!
It showed me that what I thought was a sprint, really is a marathon. There will always be better hardware than the hardware you have and you need to define your own finish line if you don’t want to keep running towards a goal that isn’t really there. On top of that, the better the hardware gets, the less of a difference there is. I, like many of you, have upgraded my products slowly, and experienced the huge improvement from a G27 to a Fanatec Club Sport base. You won’t experience this level of improvement when upgrading from a Club Sport base to a SimuCube. Let alone if you upgrade from a SimuCube Pro to the Ultimate. My point is, that the more you upgrade, the less improvement you’ll get. You decide if its worth it! The SIM Expo confirmed to me, that for me, it is not.
The true perspective
What the SIM expo offered me, was perspective. It made it clear that sim harware can get too good, too expensive and too much. Personally I found out that I probably don’t need a direct drive base as I thought I did. I tried it briefly and it wansn’t the eye opener thatI experienced when i upgraded from a Logitech to a Fanatec product. My upgrade goal is now to get a better PC, and maybe better screens. My pedals could need changing too, but not to something too fancy. I saw pedals that cost €5.500 and noticed development on way more pedals than any other hardware, but honestly, almost all of them were way too complicated and too good for me to notice. I do have ladcell pedals and if Fanatec hadn’t messed up their development and placed the loadcell on the actual pedal, I would be very happy with them! And I still am. It is just not ideal when pressing on the side of the pedal.
If you consider visiting the EXPO, do it. I guess it is not very unsimmilar to what they say space travel does to you. It reveals the perspective of how small your rig really is, how terrible your hardware apparently is and how good you non the less still think it is.
Did you visit the SIM EXPO or have you ever visited it before? I’d love to hear your thoughts about it, and how you experienced it. Get in touch in the comments bellow or send me a message on Instagram!