First NASCAR Heat 2 Details Surface

Though oval racing certainly isn’t everyone’s cup of tea around these parts, and the previous NASCAR Heat game was nothing short of a dumpster fire that spat in the face of every fan who had already suffered through countless years of mediocrity, details have began to float to the surface regarding NASCAR Heat 2 over the past couple of days. With the leading company changing names yet again – now operating under the moniker of 704 Games rather than Dusenberry-Martin Interactive – and promises of proper development cycle culminating in a September launch window instead of the rushed process that undoubtedly caused last year’s game to nosedive in quality, NASCAR Heat 2 will once again release on a trio of modern gaming platforms near the end of the actual NASCAR season. A lot of you may rightly assume it’s a bit counter-intuitive for 704 Games to ship a product so late in the year, but this is the exact launch schedule EA Sports would use during their time in possession of the exclusive NASCAR license, so at least there’s a partial effort to retain that same tradition.

Aside from the sketchy name change, which raised red flags when we reported on it a few months back here at PRC, details have remained pretty sparse in regards to what the actual gameplay experience will contain when NASCAR Heat 2 drops this September. With Heat Evolution generating such a negative reaction from fans, not a lot of people are actively seeking out teaser shots or inside information, resulting in a situation where all we know is that the cover athlete will be either Martin Truex Jr. or 2015 Sprint Cup Series champion Kyle Busch – decided upon during segment two of the all-star race at Charlotte this weekend, with the cover position going to the higher finishing driver of the two.

However, to my surprise there exists a core group of dedicated NASCAR Heat fans who have actually busted their asses to find out as much as possible about the new game despite the company’s previous releases not warranting any sort of fanbase, and though the major sim racing sites haven’t picked up on it, information is starting to leak. So to the NASCAR Heat YouTube and Twitter community, thank you so much for your dedication.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Brandon Brown heavily implied in a short Twitter video clip that all three major NASCAR national series – trucks, muscle cars, and sedans for those who can’t be assed with looking up sponsor names – will be included in NASCAR Heat 2. This is a major revelation, as once Electronic Arts and Monster Games began implementing several different NASCAR-sanctioned series into their games during the PlayStation 2 era, any developer who failed to include these support series were automatically at a disadvantage and blasted by NASCAR fans for having less content than games released a decade earlier. It’s exciting to know the lower-tier trucks and muscle cars will make a return to officially licensed NASCAR games, as it immediately indicates career mode will be exponentially more expansive than Heat Evolution and the Eutechnyx games were, presumably allowing you to climb the NASCAR ladder as an aspiring professional race car driver would.

This also indicates that all three series will have near-complete fields of real-world drivers if journeymen like Brandon Brown are talking about being in the upcoming NASCAR game, which is a major step in the right direction. Previous NASCAR titles by Eutechnyx and 704 Games – and Electronic Arts as well, though it wasn’t as big of a problem – routinely failed to acquire rights to all active drivers on the grid due to sponsorship or contract issues, leading to situations where feeder series drivers were placed in semi-fictional cars that never actually competed to ensure the 43-car fields would be populated entirely by real drivers. It was like if Codemasters could not get the rights to the Toro Rosso F1 team, so they shoehorned some random GP2 organization in it’s place – which pissed off fans who were hoping for the authenticity advertised on the box to actually be present in the software.

We’ve also learned a bit more about 704 Games, as what we originally speculated to be a questionable name change to get away from the nasty reputation the team once acquired appears to have warranted something much more beneficial – and we kind of wish we knew about this sooner, because it totally changes the atmosphere surrounding NASCAR Heat 2.

Fox 46 Charlotte have reported that the group are now located in the actual NASCAR office building residing in Charlotte, North Carolina, allowing team members in charge of licensing deals and miscellaneous authenticity quips to merely take a brief elevator ride directly to NASCAR representatives, in order to receive the green light for features, licensing approvals, and any creative freedom questions that may arise. Considering how much of the genuine NASCAR experience relies on correctly placed advertisement decals, unique car liveries, up-to-date track renovations, rule changes, and the other fine details of a racing series that many people correctly imply is this weird hybrid of professional wrestling and auto racing, it’s comforting to know that the resources to make a great game are literally two floors above them.

But it also means there’s no excuse if they fuck it all up.

It’s certainly not hard proof that NASCAR Heat 2 will be an overwhelmingly positive improvement compared to its predecessor, but so far it appears 704 Games have the tools in place to get the job done, and signs point to the return of additional series that fans have long requested to be implemented after years of being omitted despite their inclusion on inferior hardware. The key thing I’m looking at here is that on the outset, NASCAR Heat 2 will be enough of a change from the previous game to warrant a purchase and subsequent shakedown on launch day.

But if 704 Games once again release a product that is buggy, unfinished, and suffers from performance issues, their fall from grace will be even more tarnishing to the team, and most likely prompt yet another exclusivity swap. With the Eutechnyx series, at the end of the day you could blame the obvious lack of quality on a group of European game developers who obviously didn’t care about NASCAR and were pushing out a minimum viable product to generate a profit from loyal NASCAR fans. However, now that 704 Games are literally in the same building as NASCAR themselves, and have been graced with a full development cycle, there’s no excuse to ship a sub-par product. The classic Heat games of yesteryear were fantastic, with Dirt to Daytona still actively enjoyed by hardcore sim racers going through hell and back just to get Dolphin or PCSX2 running smoothly. If you can’t recapture this experience with modern technology and the full support of NASCAR, it’s a sign that more than a name change is needed.

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New Company Name, Same Horrid NASCAR Game

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.

Is the NASCAR License Set to Change Hands?

16722707_681491298691178_504163733342424240_oNot everyone who reads PRC.net is a hardcore NASCAR fan, so I’ll try to make this introduction as brief as I possibly can. After years of the license to America’s most popular racing series bouncing from Electronic Arts to the lowly makers of Ride to Hell: Retribution in Eutechnyx, NASCAR finally found a home with Monster Games – the same developer who had created a killer officially licensed title for the Nintendo GameCube and Sony PlayStation 2 during a time when exclusivity deals simply didn’t happen. Unfortunately, the prodigal return of the license to a veteran stock car racing developer after almost a decade spent in a metaphorical hell was anything but a celebration, as the many years Monster Games had spent working on titles such as ExciteTruck and Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze, along with the allegedly unusable assets inherited from the Eutechnyx franchise, meant the product Monster Games shipped in September of 2016 was pretty horrifying – nothing like the return to form most were expecting.

While many fans – including myself – lashed out at the clearly rushed package and penned lengthy odysseys detailing every last flaw and shortcoming with NASCAR Heat: Evolution, a vocal minority begged for the immense criticism to subside, pulling the age-old excuse “it’s their first try in X amount of years at a major NASCAR release, show them support with your wallet and maybe the next game will be a lot better.”

Unfortunately, there might not be another game from these guys to begin with.

nascar-heat-evolution-10_13_2016-10_09_25-am-768x480Away from the hyper-critical confines of PRC.net, NASCAR Heat: Evolution has been universally panned by major gaming websites, as well as practically any NASCAR fan with a modern internet connection. Aside from Polygon’s glowing score of 75 – highly questionable due to their previous demonstrated incompetence when playing skill based video games – other established outlets noted Heat was a decidedly average experience with no shinning moments, whereas NASCAR fans themselves were significantly harsher when it came to dishing out user scores. Obviously, a combined average score of 4.1 speaks volumes about NASCAR Heat’s quality.

Developers make bad games; this is something that happens all the time and is almost unavoidable now thanks to how technology has progressed, as well as the current state of the industry valuing profits and schedules above the artistic aspect of game development. However, the entire reason for Heat’s existence in the first place was to move on from the previous string of bad officially licensed NASCAR titles dating back all the way back to early 2011, and obviously it didn’t play out the way they wanted it to. It’s hard to believe a sanctioning body so sensitive to how they’re portrayed on store shelves like NASCAR is wouldn’t put their foot down in this situation. Pure speculation, sure, but as I said, Heat was created to try and break this chain of bad games. It didn’t happen. You bet your ass DMi and Monster Games were on an infinitely short leash from the beginning, and it’s not hard to see where this might be heading.

nascar ratings.jpgWhen plans to resurrect the Heat tagline were first announced by DMi Games, the product that eventually became NASCAR Heat: Evolution was never  explicitly implied to be the first entry in a multi-year franchise as we typically see with mass-market sports games, but instead a one-off project. Though the initial press release stated Dusenberry-Martin had obtained the rights to create NASCAR games until 2020, Heat Evolution was treated as just that – Heat Evolution. So I’m under the impression there was a clause in the contract allowing NASCAR to bail early if the product wasn’t up to snuff.

Circumstantial evidence of this can be seen in the $10 USD 2017 Monster Energy Cup Series DLC that recently came out, which adds the 2017 NASCAR season to Heat Evolution in a very limited fashion,  suspiciously not allowing you to race the new season of cars online against your friends – which is something basically anyone who bought the package would obviously want to do. Even with the nicest of developers fueling the project, most yearly sports games don’t do major season updates like these – you’re forced to wait until next years’ game for the updated list of drivers and circuits – so the act of pushing out a severely limited season update package like this raises a red flag or two.

sloppyThe execution of the package is also quite sloppy for what it offers, with contingencies and windshield banners varying across all 40 vehicles – as if the DLC was just sort of slapped together at the last minute, with nobody at Monster Games giving enough of a shit to check for consistency across all liveries. The Joe Gibbs Racing stable of vehicles feature the Monster Energy Cup Series logo across the windshield, while the Hendrick Motorsports cars still rock the abbreviated driver names from last season, and entries such as Matt DiBenedetto’s #32 Fusion don’t feature any driver name over the window or series decal under the A-pillar at all. These kinds of sloppy mistakes are something you’d expect from an amateur painter over at NNRacing.com posting work-in-progress shots of his own free carset on the forums, not a developer with the official NASCAR license selling you a 2017 season update on Steam.

With a hastily released 2017 Season package that can’t even get the official series decals appearing on all of the cars, and won’t allow you to race against your friends with the new update, I’m under the impression something is happening behind the scenes we’re not aware of. This kind of shoddy workmanship and strange restrictions usually indicates a studio is in the process of backing away entirely from their project.

untitled-2When NASCAR fans have inquired about a sequel to NASCAR Heat Evolution, obviously hoping their purchase last September was not made in vain, DMR Games have responded by saying there is “no news yet on a future iteration of NASCAR Heat: Evolution.” Copy/pasted responses are commonplace on the game’s official Facebook page, with elaborate suggestions written by passionate NASCAR fans given an almost automated response by the lone PR staff member in charge of the account, saying they will take the ideas into consideration – highly unlikely to happen if the next game were to come out later this year. The complete lack of excitement from these responses makes it hard to believe something brand new, or even a basic announcement about when we’ll learn about the next game in the franchise, is around the corner.

And that wouldn’t be surprising.

nascarNASCAR as a racing series is dying a slow, painful death. With dwindling TV ratings, non-traditional race formats driving away fans, and support series races on Friday and Saturday that are completely unwatchable due to the abundance of wrecks, the brand’s reputation is at an all-time low. Most auto racing fans have chalked up NASCAR events to be a form of motorized wrestling – an assumption occasionally vocalized by the drivers themselves. As a result, they are now in survival mode. They cannot be complacent with how their brand is represented in the public eye if they want to stop bleeding viewers every weekend, and I would not be surprised if their notoriously shitty licensed video games – in this instance, NASCAR Heat – will be on the chopping block in some fashion.

 

Embarrassing Beyond Reason: The 2017 Update for NASCAR Heat Evolution

c4ghvcowyaalply-jpg-largeWith a HANS device on the shelf behind me, a collection of trophies sporting the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series emblem within arms reach, and two very different stock cars to bear my name above the driver’s side window in 2017, I feel I’m qualified to talk about the disaster that was DMR’s NASCAR Heat Evolution for the PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One, as well as the upcoming 2017 Roster Update that will soon launch on the appropriate online marketplaces for $9.99 USD. Regardless of whether you enjoy the sport of stock car racing or simply love to jump head first into each comments section just to pick fights with stereotypical inbred redneck NASCAR fans, it’s not cool when a video game company makes such absurdly poor decisions that result in customers receiving a product drastically inferior to what they could purchase over a decade ago.

After years spent suffering through no less than five officially licensed NASCAR shovelware titles from a European company known as Eutechnyx – who were rumored to have been treating the titles as a complete joke and openly mocking the subject matter during developmentMonster Games, the team heralded by NASCAR fans across North America as the masterminds behind the 2002 cult classic, NASCAR: Dirt to Daytona, re-acquired the license to America’s largest auto racing series for a nostalgia trip of sorts. Tasked with re-igniting some of the passion that saw NASCAR titles of the early 2000’s shoot to the top of the charts with both stellar critical ratings and sales numbers, DMR and Monster Games promised that with the help of Penske Racing drivers Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano, NASCAR fans would have a compelling product to call their own in September of 2016.

nascarheatevolution-2016-09-12-17-43-55-86The end result was a complete and utter disaster, which you can read about in our full review of NASCAR Heat Evolution from last fall. Plagued by performance issues on both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 versions of the title, which despite being locked at 30 frames-per-second would routinely dip into the mid-teen’s during frantic periods of on-track activity, Heat Evolution was clearly a rush job in every sense of the word. As someone who owns all previous NASCAR Heat titles released by Monster Games, and can also fire them up at a moments notice thanks to a backwards compatible PlayStation 3 sitting at my feet, beyond the ridiculously slow artificial intelligence and crude career mode liveries that appear to have been designed in five minutes by someone’s teenage nephew trying out Photoshop for the first time, it appeared as if Monster Games merely injected new car models and high fidelity tracks onto a base game yanked straight from the year 2000, without changing anything at all under the hood despite advertising a somewhat authentic 2016 NASCAR experience. The cars exhibited basic performance attributes such as top speed,  overall grip, and setup adjustments consistent with those of a Winston Cup car circa 2000 found in the very first NASCAR Heat, while the overall sound quality was unanimously panned for being identical to the first game in the series, released for Windows 98 operating systems.

It was like if Image Space Incorporated were to snatch away the rights to Formula One from the almighty Codemasters and release F1 Challenge 2014 – 2016 after months of anticipation, but upon booting up the application, fans discovered Nico Rosberg’s 2016 Mercedes only had seven gears and drove inconspicuously like Michael Schumacher’s 2002 Ferrari.

Oh, and it used the same sound effects, too.

While the online netcode was surprisingly competent, Heat Evolution failed to include flag rules or even support for custom setups in online racing, meaning wheel users could not race online against each other, as steering lock was considered part of the car’s setup, and by default was configured for gamepad users. DMR and Monster Games then hastily recruited iRacing YouTube personality Jeff Favignano to demonstrate the game to a broader audience, who spent most of his livestreams dedicated to the game calling those with valid complaints “haters” who “just wanted to ruin other people’s fun.”

DMR and Monster Games believed the best way to address the situation was to push out almost $75 CDN worth of downloadable content – most of it being additional liveries and alternate audio packs for your in-car crew chief that do nothing to improve the very lackluster on-track product Heat Evolution offered loyal NASCAR fans, who had already sat through five years of shovelware from an European company who didn’t give a shit.

dlcHeat Evolution has been seen as a gigantic mess by loyal NASCAR fans who have religiously purchased anything bearing the NASCAR logo, though on the game’s official subreddit – as well as within select social media outlets – there are still some who believe the title has been a step in the right direction, continuing to call other NASCAR fans “haters for daring to question why DMR and Monster Games pushed out such an incomprehensibly bad product despite their critically acclaimed NASCAR titles .

hatersThese individuals might be re-thinking their stance after today’s announcement. For an additional $9.99 USD, Monster Games have revealed the 2017 Season Update for NASCAR Heat Evolution. The gentlemen at Game Informer note you will not be able to use the new cars online against your friends, meaning there’s barely any incentive to purchase this DLC in the first place, as most Heat Evolution owners agree the AI is atrocious. There will also be no additional single player challenge scenarios to take part in. There are no plans to insert rule changes that will split each race into segments, as NASCAR will be doing in 2017 for all points-scoring events. And the drastic shake up of the points system NASCAR and Monster revealed only a few short weeks ago? Nope, nothing. All of the changes NASCAR has introduced for the 2017 season and would obviously be welcome in some sort of paid 2017 season update for the software, are instead completely absent, save for the liveries themselves.

giIt’s yet another piece of downloadable content for a modern video game that desperately still needs to get the fundamentals correct, and that’s appalling with just how much Heat Evolution got wrong on launch day, and still remains unattended to by Monster Games. Yes, some of you reading PRC may hate NASCAR, and that’s okay, it certainly isn’t for everyone, and I’ve indeed turned off a few races prematurely because the guys in Daytona Beach calling the shots seriously need to figure out if they want a legitimate auto racing championship, or are merely trying to create a circle track version of Vince McMahon’s WWE.

However, at the end of the day, this is a racing game that shipped in a very poor state for $60, and rather than address all of the problems that bored modders have almost entirely fixed with the original NASCAR Heat, DMR and Monster Games have given their customers a giant middle finger and have resorted to churning out paid livery packs en mass, while cuckolded middle-aged men trained to feel excitement over the removal of a chastity belt act like we should just be happy we got to sniff our mistresses toes any game at all.

The whole thing is just embarrassing for NASCAR, as NBC Sports embarked on a very heavy advertisement campaign for Heat Evolution in the weeks leading up to its release, only for NASCAR fans to be subjected to a very incomplete and disappointing product that happily regurgitated software elements from when Bill Clinton was the leader of the free world.

Brutal Ownership Figures Reflect the Abysmal State of NASCAR Heat Evolution

14567416_617516225088686_2514342258468770841_oVirtual NASCAR fans have been subjected to a special kind of hell over the past decade. A once-brilliant line of EA Sports titles descended into mediocrity thanks to a restructuring of the core staff at Tiburon Studios, before NASCAR themselves awarded the exclusive license to little-known European developer Eutechnyx. Five years of shovelware-caliber releases gave way to what was supposed to be a triumphant return to form for Monster Games – a team who had once worked on the phenomenal PlayStation 2 offering NASCAR: Dirt to Daytona – yet in execution we were blessed this September with one of the worst racing games ever to hit store shelves in the past five years. American Stock Car Racing games have not achieved an acceptable level of quality since Metallica was actively promoting their atrocious St. Anger album, and for an auto racing series that actively competes with the National Football League of all entities for TV ratings during the final portion of their season, it’s nothing short of pathetic to see something akin to a cheap Chinese knock-off product represent the NASCAR brand on modern video game consoles.

There’s just no way around it; NASCAR Heat Evolution sucked, and you are a brainwashed loser if you’re desperately searching for positives in order to kiss up to the developers on Facebook, Twitter, or Reddit. The game struggled to hold 30 frames-per-second and exhibited a horrifying Vaseline smear-like visual effect on both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, with the raw on-track experience clearly indicating Monster Games had simply slapped updated car models and a new user interface on a game they had originally released for the Microsoft Windows 98 operating system in the fall of 2000. I would love to say that deep down, the underlying basic act of driving a car at speed around the track among thirty-nine other Sprint Cup opponents can be quite enjoyable, but NASCAR Heat Evolution simply never functions well enough to get to that point. There are always multiple problems with application stability, questionable authenticity in regards to car physics, transponder glitches, and other miscellaneous technical issues which in some cases surpass what you can on display in notable driving game failures such as Assetto Corsa and Project CARS.

And that’s before we talk about the complete lack of online racing features, such as yellow flags or car setups.

The full extent of the damage these issues have done has now been realized. While DMR and Monster Games have pledged their commitment to saving NASCAR Heat Evolution from the pit of despair with a continuous string of upgrades taken from community suggestionswhich really shouldn’t have been necessary in the first place – NASCAR Heat Evolution is dead. Completely dead. The game has not even been on the marketplace long enough to warrant a price drop – still retailing for the full $66 CDN – and yet there are more people covering a shift at your local Wal-Mart than playing NASCAR Heat Evolution for the PC.

heat-playersEmbarrassing? Nah, this is only the beginning. Steamcharts really only tracks the users who have currently booted up the NASCAR Heat Evolution application, and the number really isn’t surprising. First, NASCAR is a series primarily followed by users in the Western Hemisphere, so it’s fairly obvious that there will be an extremely specific group of users playing this game all at once at a very particular time, as evidenced by the valleys in the above chart occurring when most of said users would either be at work or asleep. Second, despite being an infinitely more serious offering that requires weeks of dedication for the average sim racer, iRacing has taken a stranglehold of the PC oval racing market, and basically monopolized NASCAR gaming on the Windows platform. It would have taken an incredibly competent product to put any sort of dent into iRacing’s popularity, especially with how many sportsman cars are modeled alongside the three premiere NASCAR series, but that isn’t to say oval racing fans weren’t actively looking for a replacement.

In fact, on September 28th, 2016, over 2,000 people owned NASCAR Heat Evolution for the PC – indicating there certainly was a sizable group of sim racers that were interested in something a little less serious compared to iRacing. However, by October 3rd – only a week or so later – that number had dropped to just over 650.

nascar-ownersWithin a span of about a week, nearly 70% of all PC users who owned NASCAR Heat Evolution had requested a full refund through Steam’s support services. Not only is NASCAR Heat Evolution the worst-selling major PC driving game release of all time at a pathetic 2,000 copies – surpassed even by the lowly WRC 5 from last October – it is also the most-refunded PC racing game of all time.

While sales figures have climbed back to 1,458 as of October 10th, these do not indicate the quality of the game has improved; the overall number of owners merely grows after NBC Sports awkwardly push the game on viewers during NASCAR broadcasts each weekend. As a kid, I used to enjoy the segments where the late Benny Parsons, Wally Dallenbach, and Allen Bestwick would use the EA Sports NASCAR Thunder series to demonstrate a technical element of stock car racing to the viewerpartially because the game I could throw into my Xbox was every bit as good as the TV personalities made it seem – but these segments now come across as dishonest and forced considering how laughably poor the new NASCAR Heat product is as a $60 purchase.

nbc_nas_downforceanimation_160708So we’ve established the fact that NASCAR Heat Evolution is the worst way to represent the NASCAR brand in an electronic entertainment format, but as some of you may be quick to point out, NASCAR racing as a whole is a very unique sport that only a handful of gamers are interested in to begin with. Sales figures this absurdly small aren’t something to get my panties in a twist over, right?

Wrong. Sales figures for the EA Sports Golden Age of NASCAR Games have been released over on The Magic Box. On one platform alone, Electronic Arts managed to get nearly half a million units of NASCAR Thunder per year out to the general public on just one console. Monster Games were sitting at just under seven hundred a few short weeks ago, with a 70% return rate.

thunder-salesApples to oranges? Possibly. I am comparing PC sales figures from Steam to mass market games published by the biggest sports gaming company in the industry during the height of their popularity. However, if Heat Evolution was a satisfactory product, it would most certainly sell more than 1,458 copies, and not exhibit a 70% return rate only days after a spike in sales. Quite simply, NASCAR needs to take drastic action. You can’t let Monster Games make another officially licensed Stock Car product, nor can you continue to let them nickel and dime the remaining user base with an abundance of downloadable content that other users are already producing for free over at RaceDepartment.

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