11 January 2010

Bringing IndyCar to the Masses, Part V

For Christmas, I received a new addition to the stable of Nintendo Wii games at the house - Indianapolis 500 Legends.  While the game opened to mixed reviews, I will try not to touch on those too much, especially as it came out in December of 2007. 

My quick take - I like the game, especially as it helps a younger generation learn about the history of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  Though having to hold down the '2' button for more than 10 laps just about kills whatever hand muscle is between my thumb and index finger.

Still, getting to race authentic IndyCars - from Jack Brabham's 1961 entry to the early 70's model cars that Foyt and Unser dueled in - is a treat for anyone who appreciates the history of IMS and is a solid foundation on which to begin an IndyCar-related racing series.

Which has me thinking, "When will the IZOD IndyCar Series put out a moden IndyCar racing game?"
As a member of that highly soughtafter 18-30 male demographic, I think I can relate to the appeal of today's video games and their operating systems.  While I don't spend countless hours yelling at a 13-year old in Fresno while playing Tiger Woods Golf or MarioKart, I can understand the appeal of connecting your PlayStation 3 or XBox 360 or Wii to the Internet and competing against people around the globe.

Increasingly, we are becoming a sedentary society, and video games, for better (Wii Fit) or worse are playing a role in this.  And if people are becoming more accustomed to coming home from school or work and firing up the Wii for a quick round of golf or to turn a few laps on a track, the IndyCar Series needs to be a part of this trend.

Today, you can buy a sports-themed game for almost any sport - football, soccer, basketball, baseball, rugby (seriously), etc., but you're limited to historic IndyCar games because of licensing issues. Those issues expire this year, however.  This would allow Destineer, who has created the Indianapolis 500 Legends games for the Wii and XBox 360, to step in and work on the game.

We know the technology exists to create a strong IndyCar game along three platforms, allowing users with an XBox, PS3 or a Wii to play.  IRacing.com already has a partnership with the IndyCar Series and has a strong database of the country's tracks.  Could their database by used in partnership with Destineer to quickly create the 17-track landscape currently used by the series?  I think so.  Would it be out of the question to add some additional tracks too, based on historical precedent?  If fees were paid, I think that would work, too.

Imagine a new IndyCar game with the following features:
  • Allowing the user to create a car (chassis, engine, livery, etc.)
    • Think of IndianapolisMotorSpeedway.com, which encourages visitors to create their own car.  The user could create the livery for your car on your compute and then upload it to the game and then race it, adding another cool dimension to the game.
  • Allow the user to create their own, unique profile (a staple of any sport-related video game today)
  • Control of helmet design (create on your PC and upload)
  • Acquiring various sponsors based on success (current IndyCar sponsors would be a part of this)
  • Compare your lap times to real-time lap times from the IndyCar season (something Tiger Woods Golf, among other games, allows you to do now)
  • Recreate historic moments from the CART/IndyCar series (1989 - Fittipaldi vs. Unser, etc.)
  • Make users climb the ladder on the "Road to Indy" (lack of sponsorship/lack of IndyCar Series ride when successful in Lights does not apply here)
Call me an optimist, but I think this game would be wildly popular.  And as the Izod IndyCar Series continues to grow and try and court the young, male population, an up-to-date video game must be in the plans for the near future.


  1. First time poster, but I think I can help here. Codemasters, maker of the other IRL based video games, owns the production rights through 2010. They got these rights in 2000 when the league signed a stupid 10 year contract (Where else have they done this?*Cough*Versus). Until the contract ends, the IRL is stuck. IMS gets away with selling there legends game because they are a seperate business entity from IRL LLC. I can't sight the article I read this in a year ago but I do remember the sight was 16thandgeorgetown.com. Hope this helps explain things. - Daniel INDYCAR34

  2. I have the Codemasters game. It was pretty good graphics-wise, but the gameplay left a little to be desired. I'd like it if we got an updated version of IndyCar Racing II. That game was awesome (I still play it from time to time on compatibility mode on my pc). I'd like the flexibility in the game to be able to create or download tracks (Ovals would be cool, but creating a streetcourse on whatever city you want could be pretty neat). Also, I'd like to be able to drive historical cars as well. Hopefully someone is already working on this for when Codemasters' contract is up.

  3. So Codemasters has the licensing rights through 2010. Seems only natural to be pushing the series to be creating a game to roll out in conjunction with the beginning of the 2011 season.

  4. I think that Destineer (developers of the Indy 500 Legends Game) also released an Xbox version that has other classic tracks like Langhorne, and Milwaukee.

    My 9 year old son and I like to duel each other on this Wii game. It has taught us both a lot about Indy History. As you complete missions, and win races, you unlock videos, pictures, and other stuff that tells the history of the 60's at the speedway. Great stuff. Sure, it's not a racing sim, it's more of an arcade game, but if you like the history of the 500, I highly recommend it. I know of one 9 year old boy that is in awe of the skill and guts required to handle a Novi because of this game. Somewhere Jim Hurtubise is smiling.

  5. I have the perfect name: "Road to Indy - The Real Game". You can find more ideas for it by searching that title in your favourite search engine.