Motorsport Games made their name during this pandemic, after hosting several notable esports races on behalf of the big racing championships, including NASCAR, Le Mans, and FIA. However, they have recently been going through a rough patch, after a string of allegations of mismanagement at the company. CEO Dmitry Kozko addressed these issues in a new interview.
First off, who are Motorsport Games? While their most recent retail game release, NASCAR 21: Ignition, received poor critical reception, most players won’t recognize that title, or even be familiar with the company behind it.
Motorsport Games is a game developer and publisher, based in Miami Florida and founded relatively recently in 2018. When they purchased 53.5 % equity in 704Games, they took over the title of official developer and publisher for NASCAR video games. Motorsport then started new working agreement with Automobile Club de l’Ouest, the organizers of the 24 Hours of Le Mans racing championship.
Motorsport also acquired Studio 397 in 2021, picking up rFactor 2. The rFactor sim racing engine is the same real life racing simulator used by the Formula One organizers FIA, as well as NASCAR.
With all these relationships fostered with different racing organizations, Motorsport Games was in the strange position of organizing esports events for NASCAR, Le Mans, and Formula One, while pandemic measures kept the real life racers away during the racing season.
In particular, the 2020 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual Race on rFactor 2 was their most successful such esports racing event. This race was watched by 14.2 million TV viewers, and reached 8.6 million views.
Unfortunately, Motorsport Games was unable to parlay that success in esports to game development. NASCAR 21 Ignition, built partly on rFactor 2 alongside Unreal 4, launched in 2021 with many bugs and received the corresponding critical reception for it. In the following year, Motorsport revealed they had no new games and would only release DLC for NASCAR 21 Ignition.
Kozko had this to say about the poor launch state of NASCAR 21 Ignition:
“We know we messed up on Ignition and ever since we have been trying to make things better by showing that we are sorry and that our mistakes were not intentional by any means and we are paying the heavy price for them every day since.”
For the sake of brevity, we will run down the issues Kozko addressed in this interview in relation to games that were made or in development.
In regards to NASCAR 21 Ignition development, Kozko denies that there was any cost cutting for time or resources, as some former employees have alleged.
The choice to only release NASCAR 21 Ignition DLC for this year, as well as release NASCAR Rivals on the Switch using the older NASCAR Heat engine, was a consequence of the company going through restructuring.
On other licensed racing games in development, IndyCar‘s game is scheduled for 2023, and is already in a playable state, including a functioning photo mode. The British Touring Car Championship game is alleged to be cancelled, but Kozko claims it is still slated for 2024.
Kozko further points out that they have legal obligations to publicly disclose any planned delays or other such issues, based on rules set by SEC, NASDAQ, and other regulators.
While Kozko has reasonable answers for most questions, it doesn’t address many other concerns about the company. Motorsport Games had reportedly almost run out of funding several times in the past few months. Rumors paint a picture from former employees of mistrust of management.
At the moment, it seems there are enough people who still believe in Motorsport Games, including employees under Kozko and investors, for the company to keep going. Hopefully they can deliver on their promises for future licensed racing games.
Source: Insider Gaming