EA's NASCAR exclusivity in question, sim series 'on hold'

Throw up your caution flags if you've got 'em, folks. Word from the NASCAR News Wire is that EA's annual racing sim is "on hold," according to SportsBusiness Journal reporter Michael Smith. Backing up this claim, EA product marketing manager Randy Chase referred to the NASCAR sim series as "the old game" while describing the "lighthearted" appeal of the new Kart version of the franchise, which was released for Wii earlier this month.

Additionally, Blake Davidson, managing director of NASCAR's licensed products, has suggested that the company is currently considering the "best model" to tap into its gaming demographic, which may include licensing its rights to multiple publishers (EA has held exclusivity since 1997 -- correction: 2003; those rights expire this year). "Do we continue with an exclusive model or go nonexclusive? Do we need annual releases? This is a very important category for us," said Davidson of NASCAR games, which rank in the top five revenue-generating licenses for the business.

Update: "NASCAR Kart Racing on the Wii is the only NASCAR-licensed video game that will ship this year from EA Sports. Due to the family-friendly atmosphere of NASCAR, we felt that a title developed exclusively for the Wii platform was the best scenario for the NASCAR racing video game franchise and fans of racing alike," a representative from EA Tiburon, the NASCAR franchise developer, confirmed with Joystiq. Read how EA Tiburon answered a few ancillary questions about exclusivity after the break.

[Via FirstCuts -- thanks Chris! Image credit: tequilamike]
How does EA feel about the possibility of losing exclusivity?

We maintain a strong relationship with NASCAR and will continue discussions regarding future NASCAR racing titles.

What can EA do to stay competitive in the NASCAR games genre, if other companies are making NASCAR-branded games?

Continue to do what we always do -- put our resources against developing the best possible sports experiences tailored for the platform we release our titles on. NASCAR Kart Racing is a perfect example. We developed a NASCAR title from the ground up, specifically for the Wii console that would appeal to fans of the sport. The response by NASCAR fans has been extremely positive.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.