A new generation of console hardware is required to save the ailing racing genre, according to Sumo Digital.
Speaking to OXM following yesterday's announcement of Sonic & Allstars Racing Transformed, developer Sumo Digital's chief game designer Gareth Wilson said that, while Sega's light-hearted, family-friendly racer was well-positioned to succeed, the unusually long hardware cycle was holding back traditional racing games.
"We need a new console," Wilson said. "Racing games always do well when a new console comes out, and you do a new physics engine and improved graphics. Towards the end of a console cycle it's always quite hard to push racing games, I think.
"If you've got Dirt 1, do you need Dirt 3? If you've got PGR3 do you need PGR4? I'm not so sure. It really relies on technology, the racing genre. Maybe more than other genres."
Wilson is well-positioned to comment: he joined Sumo last February shortly after Activision closed down Bizarre Creations, the Liverpool-based developer of the Project Gotham Racing series on which he was lead designer. Wilson went on to recall the reaction of the assembled press when Xbox 360 launch title PGR3 was first shown off.
"I remember when we did the PGR3 launch, we invited all you journalist guys and we were playing it," he said. "We said, 'and now we're going to an in-car view,' and it was a fully-modelled Ferrari dashboard and there was an intake of breath from all these cynical journalists. That would've been impossible on the previous hardware."
Bizarre was closed down after the commercial failure of weapons-based racer Blur. Last year, Disney Interactive closed down Black Rock, the Brighton-based developer of high-octane racer Split/Second. Wilson argues that both games, as well as the PlayStation exclusive Motorstorm series, were "probably just a bit too niche for the modern market" that might have fared better had they been released on the download services. Despite that, Wilson is confident that Sumo's newly announced, Sonic-starring game is poised for success.
"I think our game's got more of a future because it'll appeal to kids and families," he said of All-Stars Transformed, which takes the 2010 original's template and expands it, with vehicles able to travel over sea and air as well as land. "Parents are desperate to find games that aren't about blowing people up."