Inside the Dysfunction at NASCAR 21 Publisher Motorsport Games

A promotional image of Motorsport Games’ upcoming IndyCar game, which is scheduled to release in 2023.

A promotional image of Motorsport Games’ upcoming IndyCar game, which is scheduled to release in 2023.Illustration: Motorsport Games

The video game developer and publisher that owns the rights to NASCAR, IndyCar, the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the British Touring Car Championship lost its board of directors in November. This was weeks after the company was warned it could be delisted from the Nasdaq stock exchange due to a flagging share price, and rumors emerged that NASCAR was desperate to find a way out of its licensing agreement after the dismal launch of NASCAR 21: Ignition. Motorsport Games has had a very difficult 2022, and Insider Gaming has given us a view of what’s going on behind the curtain.

The story is long and multifaceted, covering everything from reports of employees regularly being fired by email, to hopeless deadlines being imposed with virtually zero chance of execution, to requests for additional development personnel being repeatedly shot down by management. One anonymous team member quoted expressed how this culminated in NASCAR 21’s buggy, unplayable state at launch:

“There was a simple refusal to get out ahead of the issues,” another person close to the game’s development said. “Game delays would be known by the dev team, but [CEO] Dmitry [Kozko] would look for a single reason to not delay. As long as there was a non-zero chance of a delay, it wouldn’t get delayed. Instead, it would wait until there was an absolute zero chance of hitting a deadline before being announced.”

Dmitry Kozko, the CEO of Motorsport Games, told Insider Gaming that the company realized it “had to elevate our standards much further and put a lot more checks and balances in place” after NASCAR 21 turned out the way it did. He also reiterated that the 2023 IndyCar title’s development is moving along well — even though only a handful of model viewer-type screenshots have been publicized this far — and that the BTCC game, which was announced in 2020 and “pretty much got canned a while ago” according to one anonymous employee interviewed, remains in production. Of the BTCC game, Kozko said:

“If that was the case, we would have announced it. But that is not the case,” he said. “So I would not pay much attention to such four sources creating rumors around us. We are a public company and any material changes will be publicly disclosed promptly, as per SEC, NASDAQ, and other rules and regulations that we comply with. We are moving full force ahead with all the resources that we have. We are here to make great racing games, period.”

Go visit Insider Gaming for the full story. Motorsport Games has a world of influence in sim racing, having snapped up the aforementioned licenses and acquired plenty of talent and tech over the last several years. If it’s going to weather its present challenges and last beyond 2023, it’ll need to make something of those investments.


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