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NASCAR Ditches Motorsport Games, iRacing Acquires Video Game License

iRacing and NASCAR on Thursday announced that the license to produce a “simulation-style console racing game,” had been purchased from Motorsport Games by iRacing, with the sale approved by NASCAR. The result will be a game released in 2025, developed by iRacing, and playable across the Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo Switch, and the PC via Steam. The rights for a mobile game will also be controlled by iRacing. 

Opening my inbox this morning revealed the result of a saga that seemed destined to conclude precisely how it did. The license to produce video games based on NASCAR-sanctioned series was moving away from the troubled and often entirely dysfunctional Motorsport Games to the developer who has carried the NASCAR banner responsibly and successfully for over a decade. 

iRacing has been preparing for this moment for many months if not years. In January of 2022, iRacing purchased Monster Games, the studio that developed the NASCAR Heat games, Tony Stewart’s Sprint Car Racing, SRX: The Game, and what is often regarded as one of the best NASCAR video games of all time, 2002’s NASCAR: Dirt to Daytona.   

Later that year, iRacing and Monster Games released World of Outlaws Dirt Racing, a console game centered on the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series and the World of Outlaws Late Model Series. 

As iRacing strengthened its war chest, Motorsport Games floundered. The company replaced its Chief Executive Officer, saw the entirety of its Board of Directors resign, issued dire financial statements in its reports, received threats from employees to leak internal code over unpaid wages, and failed to produce a NASCAR video game for the Xbox or PlayStation since 2021’s NASCAR 21: Ignition.  

Motorsport Games instead began to gobble up licenses. Even after Thursday’s announcement, the battered company still controls the fate of video games based on the NTT IndyCar Series, the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the World Endurance Championship, and the British Touring Car Championship. 

Unable to produce a video game as release dates for IndyCar and BTCC titles continued to be pushed back, it seemed the Motorsport Games ship was destined to sink, with the licenses on board serving as the goal of those who came to salvage its wreck.  

Does the sale of the NASCAR license to iRacing give the company the cash injection it needs to bring either an IndyCar, BTCC, or World Endurance Championship game to the market, further stabilizing the beleaguered company? Or is the sale of NASCAR the signaling that the yard sale has begun and those interested can come knocking? 

The best thing that Motorsport Games has going for it is that Le Mans Ultimate, the upcoming World Endurance Championship game, will be based on the bedrock of rFactor 2, the successful driving simulator from Studio 397 that Motorsport Games purchased in 2021. With a physics engine being translated from an already-completed road racing game, Le Mans Ultimate has been given a head start, potentially shortening the development timeline.  

But a solid development and release timeline has not mixed well with Motorsport Games in the past. While the company has shown off impressive-looking screenshots of Le Mans Ultimate, skeptics remain, and they remain with plenty of reason to.  

For NASCAR, this is an excellent move. They will have to wait until 2025 for their game but iRacing and Monster Games have proven to be able to deliver. NASCAR trusts iRacing, it’s why they continue to support the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series, and it’s why the simulation company has been involved in the development of the Chicago Street Course, the LA Coliseum track, and the potential redevelopment of Auto Club Speedway.  

For IndyCar, BTCC, and the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (which controls the World Endurance Championship and the 24 Hours of Le Mans), a significant member of the party has just left the dinner table. Does that mean that Motorsport Games will have the bandwidth to feed the others? Or does that mean there won’t be any more food on the horizon? Only time will tell. 

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