Updated: Sep 5, 2020
After nearly 20 years away from the gaming scene. Is it time to see the return of the BTCC to our consoles?
During the 1990’s the British Touring Car Championship was at a peak it had never seen before. The Super Touring era saw manufactures flock to the series with star studded line ups and eye watering budgets.
There was a constant development race as designers fine tuned their cars, maximising what was legal at all times. Huge crowds attended the races each weekend to watch drivers such as Alain Menu, Rikard Rydell and Frank Biela compete for top honours on Britain’s best circuits.
It was a fantastic time for the series, where the adage “win on Sunday, sell on Monday” rung truest. Not only was this true for the car salesmen on forecourts up and down the country, but also retailers as at the time, gaming was giving us some fantastic BTCC games to play at home.
In November 1997 TOCA Touring Car Championship was released on the Playstation 1 and PC, the first BTCC game and featured the 1997 season, allowing gamers to play as their idols for the first time. It took 18 months to develop the game prior to its release and was a huge success, selling 600,000 copies around Europe. Despite being over twenty years old, the game is still a huge hit with gamers around the country.
A year later in December 1998, TOCA 2 Touring Cars was released on the PS1 and PC, which for the first time included support series’ Formula Ford and the Ford Fiesta Championship. Extra, fictional but realistic, tracks were added to the game and for the first time, damage was enabled on the game, something no other car game had at the time making it hugely popular for its realism. As well as damage, gamers were able to choose their paint scheme on the Ford Fiesta’s and it was only one of four Playstation 1 games to have four player multiplayer, using two Playstation 1 consoles. Again the game was a huge success and sold in huge quantities around Europe. Like its predecessor it is still a hugely popular game, and its career mode, based on performance kept gamers fixed as they attempted to become BTCC
Despite the success of the first two TOCA games it was three years before the BTCC featured on a game again. TOCA Race Driver was released in August 2002 and featured the 2001 BTCC season and revolved around fictional driver Ryan McKane as he tried to make a name for himself in a multitude of championships and come out of his older brother’s shadow.
It was a new direction for the TOCA series and the BTCC, as it was a part of a game rather than being a standalone series. Although a very good game, with brilliant graphics for the time, it does not have the same cult following of the first two games.
This proved to be the last time the BTCC featured on a game, which makes me, and many others around the country, sad. With the championship in one of the best positions it has been in for years, I feel it is time for a new BTCC game which truly brings the series back to its gaming peak.
With the help of Facebook group “British Touring Car Talk”, if you love the BTCC as much as I do, give them a follow they’re fantastic, we came up with a game which would be both appealing to the fans and those who are new to the gaming scene. I have also added a few of my own personal requests.
The first question is where to start? The first aspect which everyone felt was vital was to have officially licensed championships, rather than having fictional drivers, liveries and circuits. This part of the game must be as authentic as possible.
This would include the entire BTCC grid of 30 cars, all the circuits and for me I would like to see driver profiles included as well. As well as the BTCC, many people mentioned that it would be fantastic to have the entire TOCA support package on the game as well, including the Ginetta Juniors and GT4 Supercup, Renault Clio’s, Formula 4 and the Porsche Carrera Cup GB.
It would be fantastic to see all of these championships included however it would have to be for a reason, I would love to see at least the Ginetta’s, Renault Clio’s and possibly Porches’ included, however Formula 4, may be pushing it a bit far from a game engine point of view, unless it was expanded, which is my next point.
Another feature that kept on popping up during the conversations on the group was to include not just the TOCA tour but also championships from around the world, similar I suppose to TOCA Race Driver 3 and more modern games such as GT Sport and Project Cars 2.
This would bring in a whole new dimension to the game and make it a lot more marketable around Europe and indeed the World. It is not just the BTCC which is struggling for a licensed game as championships such as the World Touring Car Cup, DTM, Virgin Australia Supercars and DTM do not have a place on gaming platforms. Putting all these fantastic and very competitive championships together in one place may be the best way to sell the game around the globe. Other championships which could also have a place are all the regional TCR series’ as well and maybe even the Porsche Supercup and other tin top categories. The last time which some of these championships appeared on a game was TOCA Race Driver 3 in 2005, so it is definitely overdue.
With all these Championships included, it would be great to include a proper career mode however this is where the often restrictive licenses would have to be negotiated.
The restrictions are something which would have to be lifted to avoid one of the most frustrating scenarios I find when playing any racing game where a championship is licensed.
For example, on the F1 game, if you join Mercedes as Number 1 driver, Lewis Hamilton disappears, as if his career was over as he was unable to find another drive. I know it’s only a small point however I do not see why it is an issue for drivers to swap teams. Look at FIFA for example, there is nothing to stop me from buying Cristiano Ronaldo for my beloved Crawley Town (if I could ever afford him!) so why do drivers have to be stuck at the teams they are currently employed at?
This is something which for me will have to change to ensure the career mode is as exciting as possible. If all the championships were indeed on board, I would love to see the game’s career mode incorporate the best features from racing games both past and present.
While talking to those in British Touring Car Talk, a feature many wanted to see was starting from the bottom and working up, similar to Project Cars where you begin in go karts eventually being able to progress into the World Endurance Championship. I would like to see a new Touring Car game have a similar setup, maybe not in go karts, or if they did have proper kart tracks rather than fictional locations.
However for me I would start at Ginetta Junior’s with the aim of working up. During this time, you are working your way up the motorsport ranks alongside other drivers at your level, while at the top, drivers in the BTCC, WTCC and TCR championships move about, similar to how we’ve recently seen Gordon Shedden switch from British to World Touring Cars.
I feel this would bring a whole new dimension into the game and make it much more realistic.
Using the BTCC as an example, there were sixteen driver changes ahead of the 2019 season, which included five drivers joining the series from feeder categories. This shows that the idea of drivers moving to the top from the bottom would work. In addition to this, at the top, cars will be realistic however drivers may switch teams at the top. We might see a similar situation to what we have now where Jason Plato and Rob Collard have moved to Vauxhall, away from Subaru and BMW respectively.
To make it a bit more realistic, I would like to see snippets or other games which I have liked included in a new game. Going way back in the motorsport gaming timeline was a game called V Rally 3, some of you may have played it, and when you wanted to sign for a new team, you had to do a test stage where each specific team sent you. On this test you had to beat the time which was set, if you passed, you were offered the seat on the team, if you failed, you would have to look elsewhere. I would love to see something like this incorporated into a career mode.
Other games I would pinch ideas off would be the FIFA series and how major transfers are announced in a news section on the main screen of the career mode, showing the player in question holding up the kit of his new team. Obviously this would not be necessary but it would be superb if each driver had their own profile so that if a driver did make a big switch, it was well documented with a picture and a small generic news feature.
A career mode could progress in the same way as FIFA in that you have a calendar which you moves along as each race passes, allowing you to see how far you are in a year. This would also help with the announcements regarding driver changes.
Alternatively, the gamer will have the option to start their career from whichever point they choose such as the BTCC, and move series and team as they desire from there.
Another idea which was discussed was the option to be able to create your own team with a car, livery and sponsors of the gamers’ choice. I feel this would be an excellent addition, and would allow the gamer to start from the bottom and work their way up in a different way, something which is rarely seen in Motorsport games. Having the option of having two alternative career modes in the same game is also something totally unique for a racing game however once again I cannot are why this cannot be done, when you look at FIFA which has three different career modes in one.
As an example of how this option would work, the gamer could start at the bottom of the British Touring Car Championship but only have enough money for an older car (such as a Toyota Avensis or Audi A4) and potentially an inexperienced teammate and work their way up through the ranks. If results are strong then more sponsorship opportunities will arise, giving the gamer more money to either invest in a new car, development parts for their current car, or a new teammate.
As the game continues the aim would be to win with your team. It would also be good to see this feature enabled not just in the BTCC but also in championships such as the DTM, WTCC and Australian Supercars, as all have space to expand and there are plenty of cars/ drivers who could be used.
As well as Career mode options, the game should also be suited for online and it would be
fantastic to see the BTCC promote itself on the eRacing scene, similar to games such as Forza Motorsport, Project Cars and GT Sport. If the game did have various championships on it from around the world, the series could run in a similar way, with drivers contesting in their respective classes.
Online would be similar to other racing games currently available however this simplicity is still a very good selling point and it would be unnecessary to change this winning formula.
While taking to those on the British Touring Car Talk page, many other fans of the BTCC would like to see a new game pay homage to the Super Touring era and have cars and championships available from this brilliant time.
I agree and it would be fantastic to be able to play as Alain Menu in a Renault Laguna or dominant in Rikard Rydell’s Volvo S40 during the mid nineties. As mentioned this was a fantastic era for the BTCC and it would be nice to see the original TOCA Race Driver games given a new lease of life. The developers of the game could create each season of the Super Touring era from 1990 to 2000 however it may be something the gamer would have to purchase as downloadable content.
Although I am not the greatest fan on “DLC” I do feel it would be a way to please both the gamers and the developers who would be able to put this income into other areas of the game. This could be done for other championships around the world if the demand is there for them.
If made, with all of these suggestions and I am sure many more, I certain the game would not only be a huge hit, but also profitable from a business perspective. It would be fascinating to see if it does indeed ever happen.
I hope you have enjoyed this little article and if you have any ideas that you would like to include in a new BTCC game please feel free to get in touch, my work is always open to be changed and I am always more than happy to add to pieces and put your idea on paper.
Images: www.autosport.com, www.carthrottle.com