Nadeo: racing games don’t make good esports because of the “loneliness when you practice”


TrackMania developers Nadeo will be putting all their weight behind ShootMania and hope that their forthcoming build-your-own-battlefield shooter will bring FPS games back to prominence in esports. Speaking to designer Florent Castelnerac about his hopes for the game, and the audience of 12 million TrackMania 2 players that Nadeo can already lay claim to, I asked why the developer didn’t try to push TrackMania itself more as an esport. There is a “loneliness when you practice” racing games, he said.

“The issue is that it’s a good esport to watch, but it’s not necessarily a good esport to practice,” Castelnerac explained, saying that practicing with a team in a game like Dota or Counter-Strike, or even against other players in a free-for-all, was much more engaging than trying to repeatedly improve your lap time.”It’s more fun to practice with somebody and improve your performance alongside them, it’s more engaging.”

Castelnerac compared the process of practicing a racing game to practicing in athletics, giving the example of a long jumper repeatedly having to time their running and their leaping to achieve the best possible result, over and over and usually on their own. “I have to run, jump and start again until I get better, but it’s not a game, there’s less fun in it,” he said.

And, of course, practice makes perfect, so the quality of and dedication among FPS and MOBA players is much higher. Still, Castelnerac conceded, racing is still a major spectator sport and it could break into the esports scene. “[For] a spectator, racing is key. It’s key to the Olympics, and you can have all kinds, like skiing, cycling or Formula 1,” he said. “We need a big userbase who practice the sport regularly, like League of Legends. But, maybe one day, TrackMaia will be a really popular esport.”

Possibly, but I think he’s right. I play games competitively online because I want to play with other people. I’m not dedicated enough that I want to practicemy driving, my aiming, my jumping or any of my other skills by myself for hours on end.