Gateshead-based game developer Eutechnyx has sold its ownership of the NASCAR computer game franchise to a US company in a multi-million pound deal.
Since 2010, the North East firm has enjoyed huge success with its NASCAR Team Properties-licensed titles, racking up a series of major awards and hitting the top of the US games charts.
As its seeks to focus its efforts elsewhere, however, it has accepted an offer for the exclusive rights from fledging games publisher, DMi Inc, which will also gain access to a library of assets that could be used for future game design.
Eutechnyx chief executive Darren Jobling said he had known DMi owners, industry veterans Ed Martin and Tom Dusenberry, for a number of years and had “huge respect” both for them personally and their ambitions for the franchise.
Over the next 12 months, Eutechnyx would be cutting back its involvement in the titles, but would remain a “resource”, assisting the new owners with their plans.
“We are extremely proud that, back in 2010, Eutechnyx adopted an innovative approach to the NASCAR franchise,” Mr Jobling said.
“We brought new levels of authenticity and previously unseen styles of gameplay, applying our expertise to the hugely involved world of stock car racing.
“We’ve widened the accessibility of NASCAR games to fans worldwide, from console and PC into the emergent world of mobile and tablet gaming.
“We’re confident that in passing the baton to DMi, NASCAR Team Properties has the ideal partner to build on our success and set their platform for continued growth.”
The acronym NASCAR stands for The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing - the sanctioning body for the most popular form of motorsports in the US.
Over the years, the games franchise has been developed and published cross-platform on console, PC and mobile, and has achieved several firsts for the industry, including a so-called realtime telemetry feature, whereby gamers can essentially race head-to-head with the real drivers, as featured each week on Fox Sports.
The titles have played a crucial role in cementing Eutechnyx’s reputation as the world’s leading independent racing games developer.
Now the 28-year-old company, which also has studios in China and the US, will be concentrating its efforts on the development of version 2.0 of its flagship online racing franchise, Auto Club Revolution.
“Selling our interest in the NASCAR franchise will allow us to ‘double down’ our efforts on Auto Club Revolution (ACR) as we approach our impending launch in China this year,” Mr Jobling said.
“ACR if the first officially licensed free-to-play racing game to be released in China, the biggest games market in the world.
“There is nothing in the current market that boasts the same technological advances, is free to play and yet has as many authentic, licensed cars and tracks as ACR does.
“Whilst we’re working closely with our Chinese partners and have associates spread far and wide, we feel incredibly proud to be achieving all of this as an independent studio working from our main offices in Gateshead.”
The company - along with its proprietary software division ZeroLight - is looking to recruit new talent for what promised to be its “most exciting year in terms of the development of our cutting edge games and technology products”, Mr Jopling added.
DMi is an indirectly held subsidiary of HC2 Holdings, Inc, a publicly traded holding company headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, the home of the NASCAR industry.