It's fair to say we were absolutely spoiled with racing games in 2017, in what was a landmark year for the genre. In the space of just one month, we witnessed three contenders from major franchises jostle for position in a spectacular race to the finish line. After a long four year wait, Gran Turismo made its belated debut on PS4 with the release of the online eSports-focused Gran Turismo Sport, but it faced stiff competition from its Xbox rival franchise. Forza Motorsport 7 boasted the most comprehensive car selection of any racing game released this generation, as well as crisp 4K graphics and a new, more engrossing career mode.
Taking on these two racing game goliaths was Slightly Mad Studios’ racing simulation Project CARS 2. As the least established IP, Project CARS 2 was the ambitious underdog with huge potential, promising to be most authentic racing simulation ever made with a diverse variety of racing disciplines, an innovative dynamic weather system, and an unrivalled track selection. Annual licensed games such as MXGP 3, MotoGP 17, WRC 7, and F1 2017 also all saw significant improvements that elevated them above typical incremental updates, while futuristic racing fans were treated to the long-awaited comeback of the WipEout series with the release of WipEout: Omega Collection.
You can view the full list of nominations for the Team VVV Racing Game of the Year Awards 2018 here.
Best Automotive Esport
This year sees the introduction of the Best Automotive Esport Award, recognising progress in expanding Esports and developing the genre. This award takes three main aspects into account. Structure: in terms of the transparency of entry and the range of options to enter. Exposure: the amount and style of exposure within its remit. Media: this is a core aspect that relates directly to Team VVV and other gaming publications being able to cover the event without restriction and with the access necessary for transparent coverage. And Execution: how the event was displayed and presented to the audience.
Entry options were also quite limited as press releases were not made available, so we were not able to keep up and inform during the qualifying rounds. The event was fun to watch, but the presenters lacked chemistry: it all felt a bit awkward and the final was ultimately confusing to follow. The game also lacked replay cameras and overall coverage. The potential was there but it didn’t quite come together coherently. Next year promises lots of improvements and we expect both the ESL and WRC to take note.
If you were in the right F1 community, you’d be in the know, but outside of that exposure of the qualifying events could have been clearer. Media access was virtually non-existent, offering zero access and transparency to any games industry publication. Certainly, this was our experience from Gfinity, Codemasters and F1, and we hope to see this improve.
The final event weekend was very exciting. However, the commentary was too forced and over-emphasising, thus devaluing the gameplay – a common trait when commentating video games that harks back to the ‘shoutcaster’ style. Also, like WRC, the combination of guest presenters was like chalk and cheese with two completely different era’s clashing. All finalists were also able to use any viewpoint during the race, which doesn't seem suitable for competitive Esports racing. Overall, there is certainly, room for improvement in all areas.
McLaren’s Worlds Fastest Gamer
Introducing organiser Ideas and Cars run by Darren Cox of GT Academy fame, McLaren had a slow start to the year. The initial launch event proved somewhat aimless previewing the direction of the event. It promised a lot, but the first half of the competition failed to deliver. More transparency and options for entry would have solved this.
However, as the competition progressed, it found its stride and brought through a range of top-class racing talent and easily the most consistent bunch of racing gaming stars in any racing Esport event. The finals culminated in a range of tasks that tested the abilities of these sim racers to the limit and ultimately delivered in triumphant style. Media access was good too. The event was delivered in a transparent fashion and the finals gave a feeling of real motorsport that the other events failed to deliver in quite the same way.
Winner: McLaren’s Worlds Fastest Gamer
The media access was open and transparent throughout, and kinks in the early part of the year will no doubt see better organisation following the appointment of Director of Esport: Ben Payne. There is still room for improvement in terms of organisation and coverage, but credit where it's due. McLaren is not only the first automotive company outside of the core competitions to invest in Esport on this scale, they also made it a worthwhile goal with truly universal appeal across the different entry formats. All of this makes McLaren’s Worlds Fastest Gamer our winner of Best Automotive Esport in this year’s Team VVV Awards.
Do you agree with our winner? Let us know in the comments below. Check back soon for more Team VVV Awards 2018 coverage on the website and YouTube channel throughout March.