iRacing acquires NASCAR’s console video game license from Motorsport Games

iRacing became popular during the pandemic when it was one of the only sports competingiRacing

iRacing has acquired NASCAR’s console video game license from Motorsport Games in the biggest shakeup to the sport’s gaming space in nearly a decade. The agreement, specifically for simulation-style console racing games, will be announced later this morning after being finalized in recent weeks by NASCAR Team Properties, Massachusetts-based iRacing and Miami-based Motorsport Games. The main scope of the deal is that 704Games, a subsidiary of Motorsport Games, will transfer the license to iRacing, the company that has largely up until now been known for simulator style racing products for amateur and professional race car drivers, instead of mass-market video games. iRacing, owned by Fenway Sports Group’s John Henry, intends to put out a new NASCAR console video game in 2025. Much as it tried, 704Games and Motorsport Games seemed to never be able to produce a game that met the expectations of NASCAR fans, with negative reviews of graphics and gameplay being an almost annual theme on social media in the days and weeks after a release. The publicly traded Motorsport Games also controls IndyCar’s console video game license but had to delay the release of IndyCar’s first official game with the company this year after running into undisclosed issues. The company has indicated in recent public filings that it may soon run out of operating income and that it was exploring transferring the license as a result.

FRESH START: The deal with iRacing will provide a fresh start for NASCAR and a chance for iRacing to show its bonafides in the console space. iRacing has been the official simulator racing product of NASCAR since 2010 and helped the sport innovate during the early days of the pandemic when real-world racing was shut down. The company still works with NASCAR on its esports efforts, and iRacing also helped NASCAR develop real-life racetracks like the one for the Busch Light Clash at the L.A. Coliseum as well as the Chicago street circuit. 704Games was formerly known as Dusenberry Martin Racing, the company that in 2015 acquired the console license from Eutechnyx, which had been making games for the sport since 2011. Motorsport Games acquired the majority stake of 704Games in 2018. Prior to 2011, NASCAR worked with EA Sports.

TOO GOOD TO PASS UP: iRacing President Tony Gardner in a statement called this an “opportunity we couldn’t pass up,” because this was the console game franchise that the company had been eyeing. The company’s main revenue driver up to this point has been subscriptions to its simulator racing platform. NASCAR has been working to expand its presence well beyond traditional racing games in recent years to move beyond the console struggles, doing deals with the likes of Roblox and Rocket League while also announcing new mobile smartphone games. NASCAR’s gaming department is led by Managing Director of Esports and Gaming Nick Rend. In a statement, Rend thanked Motorsport Games “for its efforts over the years, and [NASCAR is] ready to work with iRacing to deliver a best-in-class simulation style NASCAR console game.” For Motorsport Games, CEO Stephen Hood in a prepared statement indicated that the sale of the license “is the result of a thorough, strategic review of where we believe our company should be headed over the longer term.”

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