Monday, March 4, 2024

iRacing acquires NASCAR simulation console game licence

NASCAR fans are finally free from the tumultuous era of Motorsport Games‘ hold on the exclusive licence. On Thursday, Motorsport Games announced it has sold the licence to iRacing, who plans to develop a simulation-based console NASCAR game by 2025.

iRacing has long been touted as the top sim racer for NASCAR. Founded by former developers who worked on the acclaimed NASCAR Racing series at Papyrus Design Group, the subscription-based PC game has evolved into NASCAR’s prime choice for esports and has partnerships with a multitude of disciplines including sprint cars, open-wheel racing, sports cars, and even rallycross and short course off-road.

Since 2010, NASCAR has overseen the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series while also sanctioning the university-based College iRacing Series. When the COVID-19 pandemic froze the 2020 season, real-life drivers got together to run the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series, which set television rating records for esports during its two-year run.

“When we were approached with the option to acquire the license for the simulation-style NASCAR console game, which was the console game and franchise that we were dreaming about doing, it was an opportunity we couldn’t pass up,” said iRacing president Tony Gardner. “Having the ability to build a NASCAR console game is a privilege we promise to execute with the utmost care. We look forward to working diligently with NASCAR industry stakeholders to deliver a product that provides an amazing experience for the gaming community and NASCAR fans worldwide.”

The arrival of iRacing is a more than welcome sight for fans who have been desperate for stability and solid installments on the console side, which many feel has not been achieved since EA Sports’ beloved NASCAR Thunder series in the early 2000s. Since EA surrendered the exclusive licence after 2008, NASCAR console games have struggled to gain traction with Eutechnyx’s series drawing mixed reviews. 704Games took over in 2016 with help from Monster Games to revive the NASCAR Heat brand, another popular series at the turn of the millennium, only for bugs and other issues to plague its lifespan.

Motorsport Games acquired the NASCAR licence in 2018 after purchasing a stake in 704Games. Although the company has been ambitious in expanding its footprint by later partnering with the NTT IndyCar Series and the British Touring Car Championship to develop licenced games as well as buying the rFactor 2 platform, MSG has been plagued by financial struggles further beset by poor reception to the Heat games.

Despite the chaos, MSG will continue supporting its current titles NASCAR Heat 5 and NASCAR Rivals through 2024.

“The sale of the NASCAR license is the result of a thorough, strategic review of where we believe our company should be headed over the longer-term,” commented Motorsport Games CEO Stephen Hood. “In our exploration of the sale, we gave due consideration to those companies we believed could develop a great NASCAR game. Both NASCAR and iRacing have been receptive to our proposed change, working with us to architect a positive transition post-sale and we thank them for their support. We will now concentrate our efforts towards delivering around other IP already in advanced development.”