With iRacing buying the NASCAR video game license, Monster Games, a subsidiary of iRacing, may have a hand in the next NASCAR video game. The exact extent of their involvement, if any at all, has not been found in any public statement, but, we do know from a recent Matt Weaver Sportsnaut article that the code used to make the NASCAR Heat games on the Unity Engine will not be used. With that in mind, from the full legacy of Monster Games’ involvement in NASCAR gaming, what could they bring to the table?
Their Legacy: The Good
Monster Games has a lot to be proud of when it comes to its history in NASCAR gaming. They first made an appearance in 2000, developing NASCAR Heat with Hasbro Interactive publishing. While the first two games of the series were fine, NASCAR Dirt to Daytona was their breakout game.
For the first time in the history of NASCAR gaming, there was a true rise through the ranks of driver career mode. Players started out as humble dirt track drivers in old race cars, then they worked their way into the Modifieds, into the Truck Series, and, finally, into the Cup Series. It was a revolutionary career mode concept that is still beloved to this day, and the game remains one of the legendary NASCAR video games.
After EA Sports took over the exclusive NASCAR license, Monster Games stepped away from NASCAR gaming until 2016 when 704 Games acquired the license with Monster Games to develop the new NASCAR Heat series. While NASCAR Heat Evolution was an absolute misfire, more on that later, the games gradually got better over time.
Some beloved features including a Dirt to Daytona style career mode paired with an owner mode, along with the return of the lower series to the game were welcome additions. The games also received numerous graphical improvements as time went on, which made for a solid game series overall. Although, it was far from perfect
Their Legacy: The Bad and the Ugly
Now, Monster Games’ legacy is far from a perfect one. Before NASCAR Dirt to Daytona, the NASCAR Heat games never quite lived up to the EA Sports titles, and part of that can be down to the size of Monster Games versus EA Sports. However, the most recent NASCAR Heat franchise is the most important here.
NASCAR Heat Evolution was an unmitigated disaster, and it was considered by many as the worst NASCAR video game before NASCAR 21: Ignition came in and had its say. Heat Evolution was bare bones in terms of features with a watered-down career mode and a bad online mode, and the graphics were pretty bad as well. However, the biggest issue with the game was the driving model and the physics, which made the game incredibly frustrating to play.
While some of the issues of NASCAR Heat Evolution were gradually fixed over time, some issues persisted. The driving model was panned by everyone for pretty much every entry in the series, and basic features like a track map took way too long to be implemented. Again, it got better as time went on, but, it never quite reached the same level of quality that the EA Sports games did.
The usage of the Unity Engine played a large role in that, especially in the early games. It was just not powerful enough to get the game over the hump, and, even though it did get some major upgrades later in the series, it did not work. It is most apparent in the graphics of the early NASCAR Heat games. While Monster Games did some good things, it was far from perfect.
What Do They Bring to the Table at iRacing?
It’s interesting how iRacing and Monster Games bring such vastly different things to the table. While iRacing brings knowledge of how to develop a great driving model, they’ve done very little else. Monster Games understands how to create fun game modes for casual audiences on a console, such as the career mode on NASCAR Dirt to Daytona.
The weakness of iRacing is they haven’t done much in the department of creating these types of game modes. Monster Games’ main weakness is the driving model and the usage of the Unity Engine.
Monster Games has already partnered with iRacing on World of Outlaws, which has generally been received favorably by audiences. Monster Games does bring some positives to the table, and they complement some of the places where iRacing may have some deficiencies.
However, will Monster push the game over the top? Maybe not by themselves, but if they work with iRacing, then they may be able to help iRacing with the experience Monster Games has in creating console games. However, Monster Games has some things that they have struggles with.
It will be interesting to see whether or not Monster Games has some say over how this NASCAR game gets developed. Will they be able to bring some things to the table?