Veteran driving game developer Eutechnyx (Supercar Challenge) has received a major investment: £6 million ($9.25 million) in cash from Dutch VC firm Prime Technology Ventures, an injection it hopes will fuel its next wave of racing titles currently in development.
Among these is Auto Club Revolution, a PC massively multiplayer world centered around not only racing, but car culture; Eutechnyx North America director Todd Eckert tells Gamasutra it's aiming to create "a driving-centered community."
Through partnerships with some of the world's major car brands, the company hopes to be able to offer car enthusiasts the opportunity to engage on a deeper and more realistic level with their hobby, while remaining accessible to anyone who might like racing play.
"It's much more a more mainstream audience -- most people have some affinity or some association with cars, but find driving games or car-oriented games to be a little bit frightening, a little bit off-putting," Eckert explains.
"This is actually aimed at them, because the idea is you can immerse yourself not only in the ability to go 200 miles per hour around whatever race track, but also to talk about the history of a company and the stuff that's coming next."
It's a "collaboration" between Eutechnyx and the vehicle brands that will appear in the game, and neither side sees it as advertising. "If you had a music-themed game that gave the kind of information that we're giving about cars... if you really care about music it's not advertising, because it's interesting; it's insight," Eckert suggests.
Auto Club Revolution will work on a free-to-play model supported by microtransactions -- "Even the starter cars are licensed cars," Eckert says. "And if you want to kind of move your way up... and buy bigger more involved cars they cost you on a per-car basis."
The aim, though, is to make the game true free-to-play, and offer users ways to earn evolving experiences without spending money if they so choose. "We've scheduled a fairly long beta for ourselves to make sure we get the economy right, because that's hard," he says.
Also hard? Breaking through and grabbing consumer attention in the world of free to play MMOs, which are getting more sophisticated and more prevalent all the time. "I think for games that are providing realism and licensed assets... I feel like they're somewhat less 'in there'," Eckert says.
Nonetheless: "If Eutechnyx didnt have the history of making kind of car games and have relationships with the car companies that we have, even envisioning something like this as the next step in games would have been really tough."
But the company develops all its games using a single multiplatform tool, so building out into this arena came a little bit more easily. "A lot of it just started off listening to eople who play driving games," he said. "If they could add anything they wanted to the experience, they would have the coolest newest cars all the time."
Take that a step further, reasons Eckert, and build out a persistent universe with meaningful periphery and immersive, recognizable elements.
It's this vision to which investor PTV responded: "When we saw what Eutechnyx was working on, we knew we had to be involved, particularly given Eutechnyx’s track record, design heritage and jaw-dropping technology," said PTV general partner Monish Suri in a statement alongside today's official investment announcement.
"We’re incredibly excited to be able to play a role in the creation of projects that will drive the future of video games," Suri adds.