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Why NASCAR Needs to BREAK THE MOLD with the Next NASCAR Video Game

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Joshua Lipowski

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NASCAR’s next console video game is still to be determined at this point, and even who will make it is seemingly to be determined. However, the potential dissolution of the partnership between NASCAR and Motorsport Games could make for a major reset with NASCAR gaming. With a reset comes an opportunity to do something that NASCAR should do, break the mold with the next console video game.

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How NASCAR Games Lose A Target Audience

For NASCAR, a video game can mean one of two different things. One, it is a way for NASCAR fans to consume unique NASCAR content, while it also is a unique way to introduce new fans to the sport, particularly the younger demographics.

NASCAR does not have to completely neglect one fan base or another to make their next NASCAR game. However, the way NASCAR games work now is tougher to grasp in the modern gaming industry. Therefore, it is tougher for newer gamers to grasp NASCAR video games.

Some of that is just the nature of the game in general. NASCAR is not a sports game that can as easily be monetized with an ultimate team mode like Madden or FIFA. That’s not a bad thing per se, as there is a decent amount of disdain toward the monetization of video games with modes like Ultimate Team.

However, NASCAR video games are tough to get a hold of for new players. The online modes in NASCAR video games are very old school in their approach without features like a QuickPlay mode online. NASCAR 21: Ignition does not even have private lobbies, and players are forced to sit in public lobbies waiting for races to end.

The single-player portions of older NASCAR games like the NASCAR Thunder or even the later portions of the NASCAR Heat Series are quite deep, but they primarily attract the die-hard NASCAR fan. That’s not inherently a bad thing, as the die-hard fans of NASCAR must be thought of when creating games. However, it is just tough for someone who is not familiar with the source material, and NASCAR has to take that into account.

NASCAR Must Remember Their Place in Gaming/Sports

The reason why Madden NFL sells so well despite the game being panned by many fans year after year is because it is the only simulation video game of the most popular sport in the United States. Just because the NFL is on the game, it is going to sell, and many casual fans will buy the game because it is popular.

NASCAR is not that way anymore. Maybe 20 years ago when NASCAR was at its’ peak it could catch a large casual fan base, but not today. NASCAR has to work very hard to reach that extra demographic to create some new fans.

They cannot just slap NASCAR on it and expect random people to buy the game. NASCAR fans will buy the game, which is great. Again, NASCAR needs to make sure they do not neglect the die-hard fans, but the mold to get them is already there with the examples of prior games.

If all the game has, is features for die-hard fans, then the game is not going to make as many new fans. NASCAR needs to find a way to fuse both, and, no, just slapping the NASCAR license on a game does not count as catering to die-hard NASCAR fans. However, doing the same thing that has been done in the past is not good enough to cater to new fans either.

NASCAR needs to do something different.

What Can NASCAR Do?

As is the title of this article, NASCAR needs to break the mold. Find a way to make this game compelling to a potentially new audience.

They can revamp the online mode to include things like Quick Play, or even make a portion of the game free to play. Maybe they allow a demo online where you can enter limited QuickPlay races per day on limited race tracks to allow people to give it a chance.

Do not change the core gameplay too much, and keep the features that make it a deep and compelling experience for NASCAR fans. If there is a hook for casual fans in the form of a compelling experience that they can have fun with, they may be compelled to buy the full game, or, better yet, start watching races now and again. To reach new people, the same-old, same-old is not enough.

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Picture of Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

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