NASCAR has gone around the track many times with Electronic Arts, but it appears the wheels may be coming off the partnership. Electronic Arts today confirmed reports from ESPN and Sporting News that it has no plans to release any more NASCAR games this year. Furthermore, the licensing deal between the two is set to expire before 2010.
That means EA's annualized sim series will be taking some time off, as this summer will not see a follow-up to last June's NASCAR 09. According to Sporting News, both parties had begun to question the need for annualized releases in the series, considering that the drivers and tracks didn't change much between years. Additionally, NASCAR licensing managing director Blake Davidson told the site the racing league was also rethinking the need for an exclusive deal with a gaming publisher.
The most recent NASCAR product released by Electronic Arts was NASCAR Kart Racing for the Wii, which arrived in stores earlier this month. Timed to coincide with the start of the season, NASCAR Kart Racing was a lighthearted take on the sport, with a variety of real-world and fictitious tracks and drivers.
Although EA has been making NASCAR games since 1997, it has had exclusive rights to the license only since 2003. Prior to that deal, the field of competing NASCAR publishers also included Sierra and Atari.