After a turbulent tenure at the helm of official NASCAR game development, Motorsport Games has sold the rights to competitor iRacing.
The deal encompasses an official NASCAR console game described as ‘simulation-style’, set for a release in 2025 across ‘various platforms’.
“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.”
A new beginning
The deal follows a long and tumultuous history for the NASCAR gaming rights post the Eutechnyx-developed era. It began in 2015, when 704Games (then called Dusenberry Martin Racing) secured a deal to make racing games based on the real-world series, enlisting Monster Games to create NASCAR Heat Evolution.
Following investment in 2018 from Motorsport Network, the owners of Motorsport Games, 704Games secured a deal extension with NASCAR until 2029. Motorsport Games completed its purchase of 704Games in 2021, and therefore ownership of the NASCAR gaming contract. Meanwhile, Monster Games went its own way after releasing 2019’s NASCAR Heat 4 and wound up being purchased by iRacing last year.
During Motorsport Games’ tenure with the franchise following the departure it released NASCAR Heat 5 in 2020, DLC for that title including a Next Gen Car Update add-on, support for NASCAR Heat Mobile for iOS and Android, a 2021 Nintendo Switch NASCAR Heat Ultimate Edition+ spin-off, the ill-fated NASCAR 21: Ignition and a second Switch game, 2022’s NASCAR Rivals.
Motorsport Games now focussed elsewhere
According to NASCAR, Heat 5 and Rivals will continue to be “available and supported by Motorsport Games through 2024” before being removed from sale. It’s not confirmed if iRacing’s deal runs to the same 2029 end date.
“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,” said 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.”
Properties still under the stewardship of Motorsport Games include the 24 Hours of Le Mans and World Endurance Championship (used in the upcoming Le Mans Ultimate simulation developed by Studio 397), IndyCar and the British Touring Car Championship.
“This sale to iRacing, a preferred NASCAR partner, is expected to be beneficial to all parties,” said Hood in a Motorsport Games press statement.
“We believe it will allow us to rebalance our immediate cash needs, reduce our contractual and financial obligations and double down on near-term revenue-generating releases already in advanced development.”
iRacing’s core business, the subscription-based PC-only driving sim, is already an official simulation partner of NASCAR. The new game is expected to be developed for PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch and Steam (PC), plus the deal includes the rights to make some form of mobile game.
NASCAR has the ability to grant licensing deals across gaming sub-genres. Consequently, it recently announced a new ‘standalone’ mobile game in collaboration with Hutch and through GameMill Entertainment and released the kart-like NASCAR Arcade Rush for PC, PlayStation, Xbox and Nintendo Switch earlier this month.
Update – $5m deal
An SEC filing by the Nasdq-listed Motorsport Games revealed that iRacing paid $5,000,000 for the NASCAR gaming rights, with an additional $500,000 due six months from now and a further $500,000 once all existing NASCAR games are removed from sale by 31st December 2024.
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