Feature

DMi Games' Vision For NASCAR

by Matthew Kato on Feb 02, 2015 at 11:07 AM

At the beginning of the year NASCAR video gamers were looking forward to a new season and a new game when news came out that Eutechnyx had transferred its licensing rights to the newly formed DMi Games. The company may have seemingly sprung from nowhere, but the pair at its heart – president Ed Martin and CEO Tom Dusenberry – have been involved in NASCAR video games for many years. We recently talked with Ed Martin about DMi Games and what it hopes to achieve with the license this season and beyond.

What kinds of games is DMi going to deliver?
Martin's motto to us on this topic was, "right game, right fan, right platform." DMi is planning multiple titles on different platforms, and it wants to try and capture the many NASCAR fans who haven't historically bought a game before – whether that's because it wasn't the right kind of mobile experience or because the sim-based titles up until now haven't spoken to them.

"I think there's this huge market that hasn't found what they're looking for at all," he says, "and they're voting with their wallet, but almost silently because they're not buying what has been put out before. That's not to say that a million units of a NASCAR game is bad – it's a wonderful thing – but there's gotta be a broader audience out there that we can attract with different types of products."

On the timing of DMi's first games:
"We're going to take our time. We're not going to have our next-gen sim game out until 2016, and it's not going to be February of 2016. We can't get it done in that amount of time to do the type of game we want to do. What can we do different that can make the sim game better? What can we do different that's going to appeal and broaden the audience on the mobile platforms? So, there's not going to be a rush to market on a lot of products."

Martin says that the company's first product will be a mobile title, with at least one more out this year.

Who exactly is going to be making these games?
"The plan is to do as much as we can internal, but we have no delusions that we can be all things to all people and even get it all done ourselves. So, we're absolutely looking to talk to creative developers out there – particularly in the mobile space – that have some great ideas that can be something unique and different for the NASCAR license."

Martin also mentioned NASCAR Heat developer Monster Games potentially being involved, although he said that DMi's sim game would be done internally (with the possibility that some parts of it could be handed to outside developers), as would the "vast majority" of its titles. DMi owns assets from Eutechnyx, which Martin says will save DMi lots of time and money, but that the company is going to wait until the development team is in place before it decides exactly what it's going to use or not use.

While DMi's exact vision for the sim game is still taking shape, Martin did mention that he's always been a fan of using telemetry from the real-races in video games – like NASCAR 14 does. 

On exclusivity:
DMi has the exclusive NASCAR rights for "anything that replicates real NASCAR-style racing," says Martin. "So, if you got the real tracks, the real cars, the real drivers...that's us across really any interactive platform you can come up with." He notes that fantasy-type products like a Mario Kart-style title are not included, and existing products like iRacing are safe.

DMi's deal runs through NASCAR's TV rights. In 2013 the stock car racing association signed an agreement with NBC and Fox through the 2024 season.

As to whether exclusivity has a negative impact on the games themselves, Martin doesn't think so. "I don't think it hinders creativity. These days, unless you're Call of Duty, Madden, FIFA or something like that, making a triple-A video game is a very expensive and very risky proposition. And unless you know that you're going to be the guy on the market that's able to control that market, you are not going to make that investment. I hate to call it a necessary evil, but for people that think exclusivity is evil, they need to understand that it's almost a necessary evil, because if there were multiple people that had the rights to do the NASCAR games, nobody could afford to do them. There's just too much risk. And honestly, if you didn't already have a head start with all the assets that we were able to acquire from Eutechnyx, the initial investment to go out and start a NASCAR game would be really tough to justify."

What exactly is NASCAR 15?
"The 15 game is basically going to be updated graphics, updated cars, schedule – all of that stuff. Basically a season update to what was NASCAR 14, and then a bunch of bug fixes. I think you'll see us pricing it accordingly." Martin added that the 15 update wouldn't be under the DMi brand, but under another name.

For more on the shifting NASCAR landscape, here is our recent interview with Eutechnyx CEO Darren Jobling.