Sports games have long known the value of the superstar tie-in. It's big news when the cover athletes for Madden and FIFA games are revealed each year, and even smaller games are getting in on the act; Bruno Senna, the rising star of the GP2 Series, is closely associated with Ferrari Challenge.
However, when it comes to the high-octane racing of World Superbikes, Troy Bayliss is the one who's riding high. Already a world champion twice over, he currently leads the points table for the 2008 season. Bayliss has lent his expertise to Milestone and Koch Media, who are releasing SBK-08 Superbike World Championship on the PC, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PSP in late June. We raced down to the starting grid to ask Bayliss a few questions about the upcoming game and the current Superbike World Championship season.
GameSpot UK: Explain your involvement with the developers of SBK-08. Do they look at you for advice about real-world racing, and do you have any opinions about how the game should play?
Troy Bayliss: I had a certain level of input as I was asked to give the guys some info about how the bike behaves and the way in which I ride it. The developers of the game are all experts, though, and probably worked on the last edition of the game too, so they know what they're doing!
GSUK: Before last year's SBK-07, there hadn't been a game in the series for many years. How important do you think it is for a major sport to have a video game tie-in?
TB: It's a nice idea. A lot of the SBK audience are young people who also play video games, so being able to play the sport that they follow as a game is bound to be pretty popular, I guess. Just like all the football fans play those games, this is a great game for the bike fan.
GSUK: We hear that a lot of football players play FIFA and Pro Evolution Soccer during their time off. Is that the case with this game, and SBK riders?
TB: Well, I don't know about a lot of them--I couldn't say--but yeah, I know some of the guys play it, and when you're going to a new track, for example, it can be pretty useful too!
GSUK: What do you think is the most important feature of an SBK game? Do you want it to be realistic, or fun to play?
TB: Combination of both. Personally speaking, I want it to be realistic too, but for the fans it's got to be fun for sure.
GSUK: Your season has started very strongly--do you feel confident about retaking the Superbike World Championship this year?
TB: Well, we've made a strong start and I am happy with the points advantage that I have at the moment, but things can change and it'll be a tough year--we've only done five rounds, so there's still a long way to go!
GSUK: New riders/drivers such as MotoGP's Jorge Lorenzo and Formula One's Lewis Hamilton are getting motorsport back into the headlines. Who do you think are the new stars of Superbikes?
TB: Well, Neukirchner is obviously the young guy who's going strong at the moment--he's the one who stands out so far this year.
GSUK: Can a game ever re-create the buzz of the speed and adrenalin experienced during real-life racing?
TB: Well, no, it will never be exactly the same, but as most people will never race in real life, it's the next best thing!
GSUK: What's your favourite circuit in the game? Is it the same in real life?
TB: Yeah. I'd say Monza and Phillip Island--tracks I like in real life too.
GSUK: Thanks for your time.