So the NASCAR license did change hands. Sort of.
The downfall of NASCAR games started with an European shovelware publisher known as Eutechnyx acquiring the right’s to America’s most prominent auto racing series, a bizarre decision considering the team’s lack of any reasonable proximity to the reference material, as well as NASCAR’s non-existent popularity across the Atlantic ocean. After a predictable string of horrible releases that quite frankly embarrassed both casual and hardcore NASCAR fans alike, key staff members jumped ship from the eternal dumpster fire responsible for Ride to Hell: Retribution and Auto Club Revolution, promptly rebranded themselves as Dusenberry-Martin Interactive, promised a substantial increase in the overall quality of future products, yet slapped NASCAR fans in the face by re-releasing NASCAR ’14 with an updated driver roster, calling it NASCAR ’15, and still crediting development of the game to Eutechnyx, at least according to Wikipedia.
With critical reception consistently falling below 50% with each yearly release, Dusenberry-Martin Interactive then hastily went out and recruited Monster Games, developers of the critically acclaimed NASCAR: Dirt to Daytona over a decade ago on significantly different hardware – supposedly giving them just six months to slap a game together. The result was a complete disaster; NASCAR Heat Evolution used engine sounds and car performance attributes from 2000, did not feature caution flags in online play, and in the end was a product so horribly unfinished, you’re unable to crash out and retire from a race. I have been sent over the catchfence at Daytona, only to head into the pits and regain the lead eighteen laps later. I’ve tried several times to enjoy Heat Evolution for what it is – a lighthearted NASCAR games with authentic liveries and tracks – and it’s just not possible. I always find myself heading back to the EA Sports offerings of the early 2000’s.
Unfortunately, what I’m about to write is not a poor April Fool’s joke. Once again, key staff members have jumped ship from the eternal dumpster fire responsible for NASCAR The Game: 2013 and NASCAR Heat Evolution, and rebranded themselves as 704 Games. Under the new moniker, a sequel to NASCAR Heat Evolution will be released this fall – the sequel to a game where the car is sent barrel-rolling if you do so much as brush the wall.
Seething rage does not begin to describe how I feel about this announcement; what appears to be largely the same group of individuals responsible for the officially licensed NASCAR abominations dating back to 2011 have basically taken to re-naming their company every couple of years to continue churning out garbage NASCAR products under the guise of “next year’s game will be different, we promise, see, we have a new company name and a totally different mentality”, a line of games no fans have ever been satisfied with and openly blast on the game’s official subreddit by comparing it to games released a decade ago – which has sinced moved to a new subreddit to reflect the change in the company’s name.
There is no long-winded rant to follow this news. This is silly, and it needs to stop. The NASCAR license needed to change hands, and this wasn’t the way to do it. Obviously I can’t sit here and label these guys as scam artists or anything, but as a consumer, what I’m seeing is the same company changing their name every few years to retain the license through what I assume must be some sort of loophole, only to push out horrid video games that upset fans and tarnish the image of the brand. NASCAR console games used to be absolutely awesome time-killers with compelling on-track action and an insane amount of shit to do after the festivities in victory lane – unfortunately, this is now no longer the case. Don’t give these guys your money for the sequel to Heat Evolution, and maybe NASCAR will figure it out for themselves that shit needs to change.
It used to be so much better; there’s really no reason for NASCAR games to go backwards despite extreme advances in technology.