iRacing enters the console market with World of Outlaws game

iRacing enters the console market with World of Outlaws game

Esports

iRacing enters the console market with World of Outlaws game

By

When iRacing announced its acquisition of Monster Games at the beginning of 2022, it touted the prospects of furthering its reach in the sim racing and gaming spaces. Eight months after the partnership was unveiled the first product has now hit the market, marking a significant milestone for the company behind one of the premier racing simulators.

For Monster Games, ‘World of Outlaws: Dirt Racing’ is another release in its history of producing console-based racing games, but for iRacing, it’s the brand’s first foray into the console market.

Monster Games had already been developing the product for eight months when it was acquired by iRacing in December of last year. This left about half of the game’s production to be completed under the iRacing umbrella, leading to what Steve Myers, iRacing’s executive vice president, called a “hybrid project.”

Myers told RACER that while he is excited for this game to be released, he is just as enthusiastic about future prospects and titles that could be on the horizon once iRacing finds its footing in the console gaming market.

“I’m excited to see how the game does but I think in a lot of ways this was very much a trial by fire,” Myers said, explaining that iRacing wanted to learn as much as possible about Monster Games’ process of developing a console game while adding its own improvements to prepare for future releases.

What those future releases are remains to be seen, but Myers mentioned that a NASCAR title is one that the company is exploring. Monster Games produced the NASCAR Heat series before the NASCAR license moved to a different studio after 2019.

“I think it’s still a little too early to say,” Myers said of the next title. “I think we’ve started to kind of kick around ideas. Obviously, our customers have been pounding us about doing a NASCAR title, and that’s something that we’re certainly exploring. But I don’t think we’ve made any kind of definitive decisions yet on what we want to do with (Monster Games).”

One of the more hotly debated topics in the world of virtual racing is what is classified as a ‘simulator’ and what is classified as a ‘game’. While the difference may seem pedantic, determining what category you want to fit into is one of the first steps in the development of a product, Myers explains.

“I think it should be very clear that iRacing and these console products that we do are separate,” Myers said. “We understand that these studios are making a different product, we understand that 95% of the people that will play these games will play with a gamepad.”

All of the development of driving characteristics for the World of Outlaws: Dirt Racing was done using a traditional hand-held, controller.

“You can’t create a simulation where 95% of the customers are going to be using a gamepad, that’s just not realistic,” Myers said. “I think anyone in the console space that tries to say that they make a ‘sim’ is not being completely truthful, because you just can’t do the same things building a product around a gamepad as you can when you’re building a product around a steering wheel and pedals.

“With Orontes (another gaming studio acquired by iRacing in 2021) and Monster we can make a product that is absolutely geared towards the racing enthusiast, but it’s much more accessible and it’s something that you could play with your kids. It’s something that hopefully people that might not even be super-big into racing might try out these games and be exposed to something that they find great enjoyment in.”

One of the new challenges iRacing had to face with the release of the game was creating a working relationship with Microsoft and Sony, whose consoles the game will be available on. Myers explained that iRacing had, in a sense, spoiled itself with the ability to quickly push updates to its own independent products.

The game was submitted to Microsoft and Sony one month before the scheduled release date so it could be approved for sale in the companies’ stores. Any post-release updates to the game also have to be submitted to the two before they become available.

“I’m still very much new and learning kind of how the space works but as I understand it, after you’ve gone through the initial release and whatever your day-one patch is, you get moved into a spot where the product is now deemed stable,” he said.

“Apparently, there’s a quicker process to get patches out but it’s not it’s not nearly as quickly as we can do at iRacing obviously.”

Monster Games has been leading that part of the game’s rollout.

One area where iRacing was able to help was through its relationship with the World of Outlaws, which has not had a dedicated video game since ‘World of Outlaws: Sprint Cars’ in 2010.

The World of Outlaws series visits over 50 tracks across the nation, many of them independently-owned, making the task of acquiring licenses difficult. iRacing and Monster were able to acquire the license to 14 of them, all but two of which are currently available in iRacing.

Game review: World of Outlaws – Dirt racing

The result of iRacing and Monster’s collaboration is a game that feels well-suited for the market it seeks to attract. Driving is challenging enough to keep experienced players satisfied while a plethora of difficulty sliders allow newer players to come to grips with the game on their own terms.

The career mode is lengthy and allows drivers to progress the ranks of dirt racing, improve their car’s performance, attract sponsors, and customize their car’s design. Events feature a practice session, a qualifying run, heats, B-mains, and a main event which all give substance to the weekend.

For a game that was half developed by Monster and half developed by Monster/iRacing, World of Outlaws: Dirt Racing accomplishes what it set out to do. It doesn’t reach the level of polish that games like F1 22 achieve, but for the first product of a new relationship, with a much smaller market, it’s a more than respectable rendition of the dirt racing world.

I’ll happily play World of Outlaws: Dirt Racing, but like Steve Myers, I’m eager to see what other projects are on the horizon as Monster Games and iRacing brings its unique areas of expertise to the gaming consoles of racing fans in the future.

EPARTRADE | RIW 2022 | FREE TO REGISTER

More RACER