Why iRacing is the best hope for a good NASCAR game
Image credit: iRacing.com

NASCAR Licence: Why iRacing is the Best Option


Earlier this month, iRacing and NASCAR announced a new licence partnership to create the next official game. Here’s why this is the best solution.

Throughout the summer and into October, rumours began swirling around the NASCAR licence. At the time, Motorsport Games was in control of the series’ gaming rights, with iRacing holding a technical partnership with the championship organisers.

But after a far from promising Motorsport Games Investor Call, it seemed change was imminent. In fact, MSG would have to generate additional cash in order to remain afloat. Rumours immediately focused on a potential sale of the NASCAR licence. Well, on 5 October, iRacing announced that it had purchased the rights and is already preparing a console game.

With so many developers around, with experience in the sim racing and racing game industry, countless organisations could have taken the job. But it is fair to say that with iRacing, NASCAR has all its pieces in place for a brilliant return to the gaming world. Here are some of the reasons why.

Longstanding Partnership

One reason that surely helped iRacing win the bid to take on the NASCAR licence is the longstanding partnership that exists between the two organisations. In fact, the eNASCAR Cup Series is surely one of the oldest sim racing esports championships still taking place today.

From very early on in iRacing‘s history, the all-American oval racing series has been a proud supporter of the game. The championship’s content has seemingly always featured in the game.

In more recent years, iRacing has become the official technical partner of NASCAR. This means the organisers frequently use the simulation to help put together new rulesets. For example, the new-for 2022 Cup cars were in part developed using the iRacing simulator. From different chassis configurations and aero packages to the drivetrain and tyres, every thing was checked in iRacing before forming the real world concept.

Furthermore, this year saw the series visit the streets of Chicago for its first street circuit. It is said that both the layout and event itself were tested on iRacing prior to becoming official in the real world.

If one wants to look beyond the more recent history of these two companies, they need only cast their mind back to the late-1990’s and early-2000’s. In fact, before forming the iRacing company we know today, its current CEO was the founder of the Papyrus Design Group. This American studio gave us what is potentially still considered the best NASCAR game ever, NASCAR Racing 2003 Season. In fact, scrape down through enough iRacing code and you will see fossil signs of this 20-year-old game.

With the two companies forming quite the history together, it seems both are keen to keep the relationship strong. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that iRacing will now be responsible for publishing the new NASCAR game.

Recent Official Game Portfolio

Whilst it is iRacing that now holds the official NASCAR licence, it is not the team behind the online simulator that will develop the console game. In fact, the overarching iRacing company also owns the console game developer, Monster Games. It is this team that will create the NASCAR title, set for a 2025 release.

The NASCAR Heat series was once developed by Monster Games, the team set to give us the next NASCAR console title
The NASCAR Heat series was once developed by Monster Games, the team set to give us the next NASCAR console title. Image credit: 704Games

This may disappoint some. But before making a judgement, it is important to understand the history of this studio. Monster Games has been pumping out titles since the late-1990’s and is best known for the NASCAR Heat Series. Whilst the final of its name falls under Motorsport Games’ banner, the first quarter released under 704Games publishing, with Monster Games development.

In more recent years, this American company has also given the console world a number of official games for national series. In 2021, SRX: The Game launched to a fair amount of popularity, portraying the all-star short oval series. The following year, World of Outlaws: Dirt Racing was the first Monster Games title to release with iRacing as a publisher.

Despite a very niche focus, this mud-skipping, oval racing game was popular at launch and still proves to attract good numbers today. Clearly then, Monster Games knows how to create fun and engaging racing games. That level of expertise went up a notch after being taken over by iRacing in 2022.

It is this level of expertise that fans can expect in an upcoming official NASCAR game, with a great number of fun mechanics. If history repeats itself, a number of iRacing influences are sure to increase appeal.

Excellent iRacing Features

Upon its release, World of Outlaws: Dirt Racing featured an in-depth AI system that greatly resembled that of iRacing. The same level of adjustability for each individual AI racer gave players fantastic immersion, allowing them to fight real world racers in a realistic way.

With the NASCAR licence under iRacing rule, one can certainly assume that a similar AI system will feature in the 2025 game. The system adjusts a driver’s speed according to their experience, age, aggression and overall talent. This means that certain drivers are more likely to make mistakes whilst others will have slower reactions.

The iRacing AI system is not only fantastic for its immersive qualities. It is also one of the smartest around. When booting up an offline session, one will notice that the AI races players in a very believable way. The racecraft on show outdoes most other titles on the market today.

Elsewhere, iRacing is sure to introduce excellent physics to its NASCAR game. Sure, many racers complain about the game’s tyre model whilst the grass grip issues are far from new. However, one cannot deny that the game nicely portrays what racing a car is like. Whilst this handling model is sure to feature some console accessibility, the underlying physics will no doubt do a good job as a simulator.

Who could do better?

After all that, it is clear that iRacing was the best choice as the next NASCAR game developer. However, there is always room for improvement. As such, there are surely areas where other developers would outperform iRacing, right? Well, as far as we can see, there is only one company that could rival the new dev in a particular aspect; EA with its story telling.

Every EA Sports game from the past few decades has featured impressive detail when it comes to the single player modes. From great scenario-based modes like F1 Replay in the most recent title to Breaking Point, the polarising Netflix-esque feature. In addition, the upcoming WRC game will allow players to build their own rally cars.

This offline playability is certainly something one can imagine EA doing well in a potential NASCAR title. However, this single element does not out-do the great potential on offer from iRacing as the new NASCAR licence holder. Clearly then, the American oval championship is in good gaming hands for the next few years.

What are you most looking forward to in the next NASCAR games? Tell us on Twitter at @OverTake_gg or in the comments down below!

A petrol head and motorsports fan since the early days, sim racing has been a passion of mine for a number of years. The perfect way to immerse myself in my true dream job; racing driver. With lots of experience jotting down words about the car industry, I am happy to share my passion for pretend race cars here on Overtake!