The NASCAR Exit Interview
Recently, Eutechnyx sold the licensing rights for NASCAR, transferring them to DMi Games – a new company with veteran blood regarding NASCAR video games. We talked to Eutechnyx CEO Darren Jobling about the company's exit from NASCAR development, what happened, and what future titles need to do to take the video game sport to the next level.
Did Eutechnyx give up the rights because the contract with NASCAR was up? Was it sold in the middle of the contract terms? Did NASCAR decide to take the contract elsewhere?
Darren Jobling: The NASCAR license was current, mid-cycle if you like. We have always worked as a team with NASCAR and the decision to sell was done with their blessing, but it was our decision to approach them with the DMi option.
You mentioned that Eutechnyx had previous offers for the license. Why didn't you take those offers, and were you going to renew the license if the DMi deal did not work out?
When you own the exclusive rights to the world's largest motorsport license, this is bound to generate interest. However, the previous offers were not as interesting to us as the whole DMi pitch, which was impressive. Up until this point, we were continuing to work our long-term business plan for NASCAR games – this plan continued past the current license term, so we were highly likely to seek a renewal.
As part of the deal with DMi for assets, will you help them in development at all in future games? Do you anticipate DMi will retain some of the features and structure of previous Eutechnyx NASCAR games?
We have known both Ed and Tom at DMi for a number of years, and have huge respect for the guys and their ambitions for NASCAR. We'll continue to be a resource that they can call on and we'll do all that we can to assist them in their plans. The Eutechnyx library of assets has been made available for use by DMi – leaving them open to use as many or as little as would be needed by future game design.
You've mentioned that you think the franchise will benefit from being based now in the U.S. Can you give an example where you thought that Eutechnyx's location in England negatively affected the development of the game?
We were NASCAR fans long before we acquired the license and consider ourselves to be very fortunate over the last five years to be welcomed into the NASCAR family. We also had Ed, who is based in Charlotte, right in the heartland of the NASCAR world looking after the teams, drivers, and NASCAR themselves. However, the only downside with being UK-based is that we couldn't get to as many races as we'd have liked!
What is Eutechnyx's legacy with NASCAR video games? What do you think needs to be the next step to make a NASCAR game on par with the FIFAs and Forzas of the world?
When Eutechnyx acquired the exclusive license the NASCAR computer rights were in a state of flux post the EA-era. I believe that NASCAR were incredibly forward-thinking in dealing directly with a developer, and as the rights holder, NASCAR having a greater influence in the whole development & publishing strategy was a master stroke. Eutechnyx has brought some great publishing partners to the table, such as Activision & Square Enix, and I'd like to thank them both for their efforts to do something different with the sport.
Personally, the legacy I am most proud of during the Eutechnyx reign was the real-time telemetry feature, where video gamers can race head-to-head with the real drivers featured every week on Fox Sports – a racing-game industry first.
I'm leaving the next step for NASCAR in the capable hands of DMi. However, greater involvement with the NASCAR fanbase will be key to success.