NASCAR’s 2025 Game – Unreal Engine, PC and Mobile Being ‘Evaluated’ By iRacing

NASCAR’s 2025 Game – Unreal Engine, PC and Mobile Being ‘Evaluated’ By iRacing RD.jpg
Work has begun on Monster Games’ 2025 NASCAR release under the stewardship of iRacing – Steve Myers explains why it will use Unreal Engine and why which platforms it will release on are still being considered.

Quick note: All present-day NASCAR images are taken within iRacing and are not representative of the upcoming 2025 NASCAR game. They are used for illustration purposes only.

5th October 2023 was a big day for both iRacing and Motorsport Games. After lengthy discussions, the two competing parties came to a pivotal agreement.

The licence to create NASCAR video games across multiple platforms was sold from its now former custodian to the simulation service in a deal that kicks off in 2025.

The landmark deal now means iRacing has the exclusive rights to make both simulation and ‘simulation-style’ gaming products for the pinnacle of stock car racing.

World of Outlaws Dirt Racing by Monster Games
World of Outlaws: Dirt Racing was by Monster Games under iRacing’s ownership.

The Massachusetts-based platform purchased Monster Games just over two years ago, which independently released two Tony Stewart-branded driving games and an SRX title in the two years prior. It worked with a Unity code base similar to what it had previously used to create NASCAR Heat games under the stewardship of Dusenberry Martin Racing and 704Games.

Following the 2022 World of Outlaws: Dirt Racing product which incorporated some iRacing technology, Monster Games’ next task will be to create the upcoming NASCAR game set for a 2025 launch – retuning to the franchise after a five-year break since 2019’s NASCAR Heat 4.

However, it is now working with technology that neither it nor iRacing has worked with before: Unreal Engine.

Next NASCAR Game Set to Use Unreal Engine for Visuals​

“The World of Outlaws: Dirt Racing code base by Monster Games will eventually morph into the NASCAR code base as the starting point,” explains Executive Vice President at iRacing, Steve Myers, to OverTake.

“That studio is going through a little bit of a research and development phase right now, because, as you know, they were on Unity for the World of Outlaws game, and we are going away from that.

“Right now, they are evaluating the Unreal Engine to use for the graphics. It’s not like we’re starting from scratch, but it is a big project to evaluate Unreal and put it into that codebase.”

To be clear, then, the next dedicated NASCAR racing game will not use Epic Games’ engine for the physics, but the Monster Games ‘secret sauce’ from its recent releases instead. This will then be merged with Unreal for the visuals. It is a move that is not necessarily guaranteed for the duration of the initial licencing deal, either.

World of Outlaws Dirt Racing DLC
World of Outlaws: Dirt Racing will lend its physics, mixed with Unreal for the graphics, for the next NASCAR game.

“We let them evaluate the different paths themselves,” Myres tells us.

“They had an established code base, a way they interacted with Unity that made it easier for them to just say ‘Okay, you know, we can just unplug this and plug this back in’, which isn’t the same as iRacing.

“I think where they were in terms of the lifecycle of their code base, and what they were trying to do for the next projects, [Unreal] was a good place to start.”

PC Release Still to be Determined​

Circling back to World of Outlaws: Dirt Racing (the first title Monster Games created with input from iRacing) alongside its expansive career mode, it was also notable for not releasing on PC and being ported to Nintendo Switch.

The NASCAR licencing deal that has been acquired provides the ability to create games for PC, PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch and Mobile.

“We’re still trying to cross that bridge and figure that out,” theorises Myers when asked if there is a plan to release the upcoming game on PC as well as PlayStation and Xbox.

“It’s tricky because we expose ourselves in a lot of ways by having a PC product out there and I think not necessarily for the reasons people would believe. Let’s just say that there are other platforms out there that like to take advantage of other people’s work.

“It’s a tricky question and I don’t know if we’ve really come up with the answer to that yet.”

NASCAR 2024 season within iRacing
iRacing will continue to offer sim racers NASCAR content, sitting alongside a ‘simulation-style’ game.

In much the same way, if Nintendo Switch and mobile devices will be utilised is still very much to be decided according to the iRacing executive:

“I think we learned some things from World of Outlaws on Switch. It’s a tougher market. Simulation-type games, probably not the best place to live [for them is] on the Switch, but that is my own personal opinion.

“I think the Switch is more geared towards a casual and mass-market type product. But NASCAR is different in the sense that it’s a bigger brand, it’s something that people might make more impulse buys on. I think it’s still up in the air.”

“The tough thing with mobile is [determining] what kind of game do you want to make. Do you want to make just something that checks a box as a companion app to iRacing? Or do you want to have something that’s a fully-featured game with career modes and everything else?

“So, I think we’re still evaluating that. It’s something that is in our agreement that we can do, and I think we probably will do something at some point. I just don’t know if we know what that would be yet.”

Yearly Cadence​

While it is too early to talk specifics about the next in a long line of NASCAR driving video games – we expect to learn out about single-player modes, multiplayer support and features over the coming months – Myers did provide some insight into development priorities and release cadence.

“We very much believe that when you are creating a driving game, your top priority should be the driving experience.

“For these console products, we are developing the physics models to be fun with a gamepad, then driving with a steering wheel as a bonus.

“That’s where we start, and I think we will have a progression with any franchises that we have and NASCAR will be no different. It will start out in a certain place with core functionality and features that people expect, and I think the driving is going to be terrific.

“Then, through the years, we will layer on more features, more content, whatever it may be, but we’re going to start from a base game that does the core features well, and then we will build upon them.

“I think we will have a yearly release of some sort, whether it be a full-blown new release or a season update, but I anticipate that there will be a new release every year.”

NASCAR Heat 4 Monster Games
NASCAR Heat 4 was the last NASCAR game by Monster Games.

While the main iRacing service will continue to deliver a simulation NASCAR experience (one that helped William Byron to win the recent Daytona 500), those looking for a dedicated NASCAR video game have been waiting a long time for something that aligns with the series.

It is perhaps befitting then that the mantle of delivering such an experience now sits with the team (Monster Games) that created NASCAR: Dirt to Daytona. In turn, it is now owned by a company (iRacing) founded by those responsible for Papyrus Design Group’s venerated NASCAR Racing 2003 Season.

Time will tell if they manage to pull it off…
About author
Thomas Harrison-Lord
A sim racing, motorsport and automotive journalist. Credits include Autosport Magazine, Motorsport.com, RaceDepartment, Overtake, Traxion and TheSixthAxis.

Comments

Interesting engine choice, I wonder if it will carry over to iRacing?

The following was said by Greg Hill near the end of the Mid season Dev report released a few weeks back.

"Thanks for your patience in working through this lengthy update. Really, I could go on for a great deal longer, and I haven’t even touched on some major things (our Graphics and Rendering team and the future iRacing rendering engine, for one!).
 
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This is true, I will say though, that I think WoO Dirt Racing with iRacing's stewardship was a notable step forward over NASCAR Heat.

Might be. I've actually stayed away from the Tony Stewart games (including the SRX one) - and as my newest console is an xBox 360, World of Outlaws isn't something I've touched.
Which is weird, because I tend to at least try out "every" game that is based on real series. Even the MX games from Milestone. But I felt like there was extremely little progress in the NASCAR games from Monster, they lacked so much that was needed to be fun :(
 
I have a serious amount of time in the SRX game; combining SRX, Dirt Late Models, and Asphalt Late Models under one roof was a genius choice. Tons of tracks, good livery customization options, and very racey AI.

The problem is, it's very obviously still Viper Racing under the hood. The cars are way too fast and have way too much lateral grip. They need to take a lot of grip away for this to be successful.
 
"In turn, it is now owned by a company (iRacing) founded by those responsible for Papyrus Design Group’s venerated NASCAR Racing 2003 Season." If its roots go back to the 2003 Season it should be OK, but thats a big IF.
 
Damn, I've got a console but I'm not super interested in another nascar game on a controller. World of Outlaws is awesome but it would be so much more fun on a wheel in my opinion. A lot of people had mentioned iRacing and this new game having a conflict of interest if both were on PC and now I'm wondering if that's coming to fruition.
 
I’d be very happy if they just took NASCAR from iracing, same engine and AI. Create a separate game with new tracks. They can do the track research while they make the console tracks. Also 40 price on it (I’d pay more)

So very little resource cost.
 
I’d be very happy if they just took NASCAR from iracing, same engine and AI. Create a separate game with new tracks. They can do the track research while they make the console tracks. Also 40 price on it (I’d pay more)

So very little resource cost.
I think that's the reason why a PC version may not happen. NASCAR must be a big cash cow for iRacing, so why would they create a sim that can compete with it and lose potential subscribers?
 
I think that's the reason why a PC version may not happen. NASCAR must be a big cash cow for iRacing, so why would they create a sim that can compete with it and lose potential subscribers?
Because it is a totally different market.

I did not buy World of Outlaws on console because it is only on console, i bought it because it is the type of game i want, and would buy it if it was on PC too. I have no interest in paying for that type of game on iRacing because it is only focused on online, while i play WoO exclusively for the career mode.

For me the same would be with the NR game - no interest in iRacing, and if the NR game is going to be good i will buy it primarly on PC because my rig fits there much better, but if it will only be on console then i will just buy it there.

So it is a lost sale if i had no interest in paying for iRacing in the first place ? No, the only sale they lost was on the game that could have come out on more platforms.
 
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Damn, I've got a console but I'm not super interested in another nascar game on a controller. World of Outlaws is awesome but it would be so much more fun on a wheel in my opinion. A lot of people had mentioned iRacing and this new game having a conflict of interest if both were on PC and now I'm wondering if that's coming to fruition.
I actually play WoO on my T300RS and it feels super good on it ! Sometimes i play with a gamepad if i just want to chill but when i want to go for 200% races and higher difficulty i whip out my rig to my TV and go at it with the wheel, the throttle and steering control is MUCH better that way.
 
I think that's the reason why a PC version may not happen. NASCAR must be a big cash cow for iRacing, so why would they create a sim that can compete with it and lose potential subscribers?
The Monster Games aren't competing with Iracing, the physics are more forgiving, they aim to give the players the possibility to run races really fastly. I enjoyed Nascar Heat 4, 5, All American racing, SRX and I would have liked to be able to play the WoO game on PC.

These are more casual games, maybe lacking in some aspects, but globally fun with a solid AI. If you are not willing to subscribe to Iracing, these are the only options available to get the full oval experience with full series

I can't imagine an Iracing subscriber cancelling his subscribtion because this new game (or WoW) would be a good replacement. On the contrary he could add this game to his library for the career.

And I can't imagine someone who has never been interested in iracing subscribing to it because the new game would be available only on consoles. As a PC player, there are the Nascar Heat series for almost nothing regularly on sales, or the venerable NR2003.

There is no canibalism there.

I suspect iracing gave more than one year to Monster Games for a development under UE5 to take time to do the things riight and evaluate a future graphics update to iracing, which will have to happen one time or another.

That's fair as MG's proprietary engine has been fully working for some years now and as they are authotized to use iracing assets (it has been communicated few weeks ago). They can use a lot of time to work on that UE5 integration.

I don't play Iracing but that company has been making mostly clever moves for many years. WoO not on PC wasn't clever though. :D
 
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“We’re still trying to cross that bridge and figure that out,” theorises Myers when asked if there is a plan to release the upcoming game on PC as well as PlayStation and Xbox.

“It’s tricky because we expose ourselves in a lot of ways by having a PC product out there and I think not necessarily for the reasons people would believe. Let’s just say that there are other platforms out there that like to take advantage of other people’s work.

“It’s a tricky question and I don’t know if we’ve really come up with the answer to that yet.”
Hm.

Reading between the lines here, this really sounds like iRacing is worried that a PC release of this game will potentially allow people to expose iRacing's data through hacking. Which implies that iRacing's data, such as laser scans or even car performance data, is in this game.

I don't think a PC release is likely, knowing that. iRacing is extremely serious about keeping their stuff away from prying eyes hence the sims' ridiculously strong encryption on all its files.
 
What an odd mix of tripe...

Can't say I'm excited for this title at all after reading this...
 

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