A car used to be just a car, at least in video games.
In the earliest days of coin-ops, game creators focused more on making the game fully functional and less on the appearance of your ride. Driving games were less about specific brands and more about making sure the player either stayed on the road, or crashed impressively when they didn’t.
Ah, the Good Old Days
Atari’s Pole Position, for instance, put extra touches into the sounds of engines revving, but didn’t include any particular model of race car – it had four wheels, it went fast, and was noisy, so good enough.
Sega’s Outrun allowed players to customize the music and the type of track, but you were always stuck with a red convertible. Perhaps, as Sega told us, it was a generic but flashy-looking ride known as a TX-1 Formula 1 Racer. Or, as Ferrari maintained in court, it looked too close to a Testarossa to be a coincidence, noted Hardcoregaming101.com.
The game was fun, sure, especially the sit-down version. But with only a “high” and “low” shift, you never quite got the sense you were actually test-driving an actual, um, “TX-1.”
But let’s take a warp zone to present day, when game developers have the technology – and car companies have the money – to include actual auto brands in their games. This makes the game more realistic for players, and builds loyalty for future car shoppers.
Electronic Arts, for instance, went to great lengths to include cars in its latest version of SimCity game. And not just any car, the Nissan Leaf. Even better, the game doesn’t just let your Sim take the Leaf for a spin around town, but you can take it to electrical charging stations.
image of new Nissan Leaf by Peoria Nissan