Thursday, December 23, 2010

Can A Video Game Save NASCAR?

Stranger things have happened. As NASCAR continues to look for a way to break through to younger folks, there continues to be nothing on TV or the radio targeted for that audience.

Last week, we saw the offerings from SPEED for 2011 and the only NASCAR show listed was the same old tired highlights program. FOX, TNT and ESPN offer nothing. SPEED's Race Hub has Ms. Sprint reading tweets every week, but nothing for the teenage audience.

This February, hopefully well before Daytona, there will be a new official NASCAR video game released. It's not hard to understand that getting the younger demographic actively involved in a top-notch video game creates a nice pathway for leading those players to watch the sport on TV.

It's called NASCAR 2011: The Game. Here are some details:

Players can choose to play as themselves or as one of the sport’s real-world drivers as they battle it out for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship. Each Sprint Cup Series driver behaves in the game as he does in the sport.

Damage is meticulously detailed and multi-car wrecks are the most extreme ever experienced in an officially licensed racing game. From the 22 real world tracks to full pit stop strategy action, NASCAR The Game 2011 captures the real atmosphere, sense of speed and spectacle that embodies NASCAR. Players can even feel the thrill of a win with the interactive celebration mode.

The game also includes in-depth multiplayer modes which allow up to 16 players to battle it out for the win online. In both online and offline races, players earn NASCAR experience points which help unlock rewards such as decal packs or special car designs, as well as career sponsorships and special races throughout career mode. Everything you do on the track counts!

“It was crucial to take a fresh look at what makes the sport so popular," said Ed Martin from game design company Eutechnyx. "We’re working very closely with NASCAR, the drivers, the teams, the tracks and the sponsors to get all the minute details right, and give this game the polish and push the fans deserve.”

A fresh look is exactly what so many tired areas of the sport need. This future release is the buzz on gamer websites worldwide. The creators of NASCAR 2011: The Game are renowned for putting together detailed and exciting video games with driving themes. This one is intended for Xbox 360® video game systems from Microsoft, PlayStation®3 computer entertainment systems, and Wii.

Needless to say, there is a website that has lots to offer. Screenshots, a video trailer and information about the new gaming features and how they were developed is fascinating. The attention to detail from speaking to fans, watching races and having drivers relate how they would act in certain situations is pretty amazing.

Strolling through the 43 car field was an experience. Among the familiar names are some that one would perhaps not expect. Danica Patrick, Michael Waltrip, and Kevin Conway are in the field. So are Ryan Truex, Scott Speed and Todd Bodine. It seems that even when putting together the video game of the sport, NASCAR had a tough time with a full field.

NASCAR 2011: The Game also features pit stops and a Chase for the Championship. I'm not a gamer, but it was interesting to see that the game creators managed to add-in pit stops. Supposedly, the in-car perspective gives players the experience of being inside the car for the stops on pit road complete with full crew working in real time.

Click here for the video game's Facebook fan page that is almost at six thousand members. I would expect that this number is going to swell as we approach February. The developers and NASCAR have done a good job with this project in terms of keeping active players, potential buyers and even us hardcore fans involved in the process.

At a time when FOX, ESPN and SPEED are getting ready to roll-out the standard TV coverage of the three national touring series at Daytona, it might just be a stroke of genius to release a video game with drivers from all three series.

Fans of the game drawn by the speed and racing can be led to the TV and online coverage as Daytona approaches with some coordinated marketing efforts from NASCAR. It should be interesting to see just how well NASCAR'S new Integrated Marketing Communications group based in Charlotte, NC handles this challenge.

If the racing on the actual track matches the antics in the video game, NASCAR might finally get some new young eyeballs on Daytona. What an advantage to get new fans simply because they like how a certain driver handles himself on the track in the game and now want to see how he or she handles themselves in person.

Expect to hear a lot more about this major video game effort after the New Year. NASCAR may have an instant hit on its hands as well as the first new attention-grabber for teens across America. Ultimately, the challenge will be for the drivers to keep the new fans they gained through technology and gaming once the real green flag falls.

We welcome your comments on this topic. To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.


Anonymous said...

I have to say, it makes NASCAR more well-known. I am a teenager, and when EA sports used to make the NASCAR games, lots of kids that weren't even race fans had it. Now that it has been a few years since the last one plus a new company making it, it will create a buzz. I have certainly seen tons of it on various websites, even on People in school have talked bout it too. It's amazing how much it has done.

Anonymous said...

I do not care how good the game is. If fox and espn do not change their ways on broadcasting the race, the ratings are still going to decline. Thank goodness the ratings do not matter! MC

Bobby said...

The irony is this game is being distributed by Activision Blizzard, the successor company to Sierra, which had distributed the Papyrus NASCAR games before they lost the licence and moved to iRacing.

So in a way, it's good to see the NASCAR franchise back at Activision Blizzard.

Anonymous said...

The Start & Park teams were left out for Kevin Conway and Jennifer Jo Cobb. I think this gave them the needed motivation to finish a race in 2011. lol

There hasn't been a quality racing game since Nascar Racing 2003. This looks very promising.

Unknown said...

I don't think this is what is going to help save NASCAR, all the other NASCAR titles were not major success. I think itll be more beneficial in bringing people in, espically that younger demographic, with the hardcore like me, it does not make me want to get it, because its not like the REAL thing, like lets say iRacing... I would not purchase the game.

Anonymous said...

At 22 yrs and a gamer I'll be getting this game after all it was the previous Nascar released games that got me into watching Nascar races on TV. So it could bring new fans to the sport.

Brian said...

To be fair to Eutechnix (I have been following the development of this game closely), they had little say in who would be in the game. The developers asked each team if they wanted to be in the game, and gave them a deadline to have a reply by. If they wanted to be in, they were in. It's not like the game developers decided "Okay, these guys get in, but not them."

Unknown said...

Kids are going to keep playing call of duty and madden... what would make them drop $60 for a video game on a sport they already perceive to be boring such as nascar

Anonymous said...

Back in the early day's,magazines and Wide World of Sports on T.V. did it for me.

Hotdogger said...

Games like these are fine, but if you really want to know how these cars and tracks drive, try iRacing. All the pros do!

Isaiah said...

Aloha JD,

Great site as always. A Nascar game is what the sport has needed. Before the current developer of the game it was the folks at EA that did the Nascar games. The problem with the EA deal was the same as the online deal, it was signed for seven years. Nascar signs long term deals with these guys and then the companies get complacent and don't spark innovation in the game.

The old 2003, 2004 and 2005 version of the EA game had integration with NBC/TNT for graphics and production of the games. Bill Webber was the "host" of the game and did all the voice overs. They were great games and we had a lot of fun with them. Then once the new TV deal came along EA joined forces with ESPN to do the games. Now ESPN is so integrated into each EA Sports game that you can even listen to ESPN radio in some of the games. But as with the TV coverage and the games, as soon as ESPN came on board the games started going down hill.

Now with the new Nascar game coming in February I wonder if any of the current TV partners will join up with it or just kinda ignore it. The way that FOX promotes things this could be a huge boost for the game and the sport if they get on board. Again, love the site and keep up the good work!


Jonathan said...

Dont forget about Nascar being featured in Gran Turismo 5 as well!! Another game that the younger generation loves! Nascar 2011 AND Gran Turismo 5 all in the same year!

GinaV24 said...

ROTFLMHO! it may pull in the people who are gamers, but it doesn't even make a blip on my "who cares" meter. If I want to see toy cars go around the track, I can use trackpass's race view.

I want to see RACING on the track and on TV. To me, Fox and ESPN already broadcast the races like they aren't "real".

MRM4 said...

This looks to be the best game since NASCAR 2003. The EA games were just that - games. Where the Papyrus games were sims. Sadly, it looks like this game is only available for a game system and not for PC.

Anonymous said...

From what I have heard, the developers are really pushing for both a fun "arcade" type game as well as a simulation. They say there will be assists that you can put on or off to make it more realistic to the "intense" gamer or more just like a game for the casual gamer.

Hey, if EA's NASCAR game was considered the number 1 NASCAR franchise, then it is looking good because this game is looking A LOT better.

"Jill's Shootout" said...

Amen @ BuschSeries61. Hasn't been a realistic game since N2K3. However, the cars need to be customizable. The wimpy Nascar drivers need to leave themselves free for licensing (so we can have a full field of REAL Sprint Cup competitors and not Todd Bodine) and it needs to remain free to race online. Then you'll have a winner.

(Jill's Shootout, N2K3 of old)

Anonymous said...

Just watched the trailer. Why do video game wrecks have to involve endo's and fire. Good luck NASCAR. This unrealistic game will make your races look even more boring.

Charlie said...

Wish this game was available for us that have a PC.

I don't believe Nascar video games have a very big following and won't make that much difference in the amount of people watching the real Nascar on Tv or at the track.

JohnP said...

I don't see how this helps at all. I'm a life long gamer from the very first Atari back in the 70's on a 12" black & white TV playing pong, right thru the arcades of the 80's. Currently play Mobsters on MySpace (but I hate mobster movies-despise them). Play Farmville on Facebook (hate farming movies-Yawn). Play YoVille on Facebook (hate decorating shows). Get the picture. It does not cross over from the game to TV. It will cross over from TV Nascar fans to the game. But not from the game to Nascar on TV. It's just a game.

uncredentialed said...

NASCAR video games have always been a tough sell to the mass market. #1 NASCAR's demographics skew much older. #2 When compared to other racing games, the cars and tracks are incredibly boring.

iRacing and other realistic simulations are important though. Even though it's such niche market, it gives teens who can't afford a real racecar an outlet to do some serious racing and keep the (slim) dream of getting noticed alive.

Zetona said...

This and the NASCAR features in Gran Turismo 5 could expose the sport to a lot of younger fans, especially since the style of racing in NASCAR is so different from that of most racing games. I suspect Gran Turismo 5 will have a bigger impact, because it's already sold over six million copies, a number I doubt NASCAR 2011 will reach.

Unknown said...

For it to be a successful sim, there would have to be a version for the PC, that would allow players to paint and/or import their own cars. As it stands right now, for alot of sim racers, the last good Sim for NASCAR is still NASCAR racing 2003. Mostly because it's a good PC title, and also from all the mods that the sim community has produced for it. Granted you have The ARCA Sim, and Iracing, but alot of people still use the NASCAR sim.

trophyguy™ said...

Ah...The good old days of N2K3 that I see a few guys mention.

I think it may end up being a kiddie game like EA's attempts at developing a Nascar Sim were. Think they are going after the XBox, PS3 crowd.

Probably not gonna come close to Mr. Henry and iRacing. After all, he had a love of Nascar Sim racing, plus he's got deep pockets.

Still like to see a picture of a multi millionaire like him sitting behind his steering wheel staring at a monitor like I used to. LOL



Vicky D said...

I guess you will have to be a racing gamer to think this will bring in the teenagers to the sport. As for me, it's a snoozer! I suppose I'll just watch and see what happens.

Roland said...

A game saving a sport? NO.
A game bringing a younger fan base to the sport? Not likely.
Are people going to buy this game? Probably Not.

Would better television coverage, better looking cars, less gimmicky racing, and a new CEO sace our sport? YES
Can Travis Pastrana bring in a younger fan base? YES
Would people buy the game then? YES

Its that simple.

Mïk said...

Yes, EA sports only did a game, not a simulation. AND they excluded the PC market from their customer base. THAT's why the game didn't sell so well and they quit making it.

What's really needed is a simulation based on Sierra's NASCAR 2003 physics engine and yearly expansion packs of the latest cars, tracks, and RULES. Make it for all platforms and have online racing. You'll get the customers. Make it adaptable by outside sources and you'll have a game everyone wants (look at the going price of N2K3!)

I'm still racing Sierra's Nascar 2004 (I bought every other year; guess which one I missed!) against Elliot Sadler in the M&Ms #38 and still ain't up to 100%...

The Mad Man said...

In a word, No.

What happens on the real world track doesn't always translate into gaming. When Badyear delivers a bad batch of tires, it can affect the real world outcome. In a game, the tires are always perfect. In the real world, you get water in the fuel. That doesn't happen in gaming. The gaming doesn't really allow for all the real world situations and variables.You can simulate tire pressure, temps, weather, and even the suspension set-ups but the unpredictable variables like bad tires can't be figured in.

And as Charlie pointed out, folks who use the computer to play these videogames are excluded which I imagine cuts out a good size chunk of the market.

The great thing with the old Sierra N2003 is that series other than NASCAR have been developed by some pretty avid fans of the Sierra game. Busch Series, Truck Series, ARCA, Dirt track, Street Mods, USAR, and others give fans a variety of different series to race and allows for fans to add in their own color schemes for the cars or trucks on their computer system.

Unless the game is expanded into the home computer market and allows for paint scheme modifications and real world variables, it won't last for very long.

JohnP said...

Just a quick follow up to what I said above yesterday. I had the Nascar 2003 game (actually wife had it). Steering wheel and all. It was exciting and very difficult. Took practice to keep from wrecking.

If a non-Nascar gaming fan was playing that game and actually got interested in Nascar itself, here is what would happen. Remember, this is a non-Nascar fan playing a fast action Nascar computer game.

They would turn on Fox or ESPN TV coverage and go "what the heck is this crap? Pfftttt - and go back to the racing game.

To a gamer Not already a Nascar fan, Nascar would be extremely boring on TV

Anonymous said...

The game will probably be better than the real racing!

If caught cheating, will the gamer be required to have a PayPal account?

Appropriate word veri: 'deficin'