Rocket League this week will roll out a new collaboration with NASCAR that will see nine teams have their sponsored cars included in the game, providing a partnership that is more focused on reaching younger consumers than generating direct revenue for the sport.
The game, which features cars playing soccer, has struck a similar deal with Formula One that will make its debut later.
Starting on Thursday, and running through the following Wednesday, the NASCAR 2021 fan pack will be available to players to purchase. It will come with nine cars across all three of NASCAR’s manufacturers. The pack comes with nine digital NASCAR team decals and player banners, a NASCAR/Rocket League decal and Goodyear tires. Players buy packs using credits they purchase that begin around $4.99 USD.
Rocket League is striking more unique partnerships with car-related companies, including a recent one with Lamborghini, to digitally incorporate them into the game. But the sides say this will be the first time that actual corporate sponsors will be included in the game of Rocket League, which was allowed because game developer Psyonix Studios recognized how sponsors are part of a NASCAR race car’s typical look.
This is part of Rocket League’s Season 3 update, and the San Diego-based Psyonix said it struck the deals with NASCAR and F1 “to properly celebrate the art of auto racing.”
The deals were set up in part by sports marketing executive Steve Lauletta, the president of Pigeon Sports Marketing who consults for Epic Games. Epic, the maker of Fortnite, owns Psyonix. The Race Team Alliance was involved on the NASCAR team side.
The teams involved are Roush Fenway Racing, Stewart Haas Racing, Team Penske, Chip Ganassi Racing, Richard Childress Racing, 23XI Racing, Hendrick Motorsports, Richard Petty Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing. The sides said that not having more teams involved was simply a matter of constraints within the game, but that they will discuss potential additions in the future.
Sources say teams will not be getting revenue from the venture at first, but that it’s a multiyear partnership and that could change. The teams believe the marketing exposure to younger demographics from this venture will make it worthwhile even without direct income at the start.
NASCAR has been exploring ways to get involved with non-racing games that involve cars, as it deepens its involvement with esports and the broader video game world.
“This is one we’ve had circled from the very beginning of when we wanted to get into this space,” said Tim Clark, NASCAR’s senior vice president and chief digital officer. “There’s no game that is more of an obvious choice of where there’s some degree of organic integration for the NASCAR brand into a game, so this was one we had at the top of our list. To see it come together has been huge.”
F1’s cars will be released at a later date, according to Phil Piliero, Psyonix’s vice president and co-studio head. NASCAR and F1 have collaborated on the project, including their social media accounts interacting, which is an important part of this project because the two series have rarely worked together.
While NASCAR teams aren’t getting directly paid for their involvement, Clark pointed out that the sponsors who are involved will now have an unexpected value-add to their deals, which is always welcomed by teams who are looking to retain and renew their partners.
For Rocket League executives, the deals let them attach their game’s brand to the two biggest racing series in the world.
“For us, we’ve got some fast rocket-powered cars in our game, and NASCAR has a couple of fast cars out there on the track, so we’re always looking to bring in new partners and with them being the No. 1 motorsport in the U.S., it was just a natural fit to collaborate with them,” Piliero said. “The real advantage for this one is letting fans of NASCAR and Rocket League celebrate and enjoy their favorite teams inside the game, and also introducing the huge fan base that’s in NASCAR to the game and the sport of Rocket League.”
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