A Brief History of MotoGP Games

A Brief History of MotoGP Games

By  Erin McAllister - 11th Apr 2022

The MotoGP videogames have a complex past, and there is no feasible way for me to cover it briefly; forgive me if I miss any major twists and turns in the series’ long history.

A Brief History of MotoGP Games

The MotoGP videogame franchise began, unsurprisingly, with the real-life Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme-sanctioned MotoGP, the longest-running worldwide motorcycle championship, and also the highest class of said Grand Prix. In 2000, the FIM licensed Namco, known at the time for games such as PAC-MAN, to produce a videogame based on the Grand Prix for the PlayStation 2. While the first of these games left the specific season it was taking place in vague, the title featured a variety of famed circuits, including Japan’s infamous Suzuka Circuit and France’s Circuit Paul Ricard. Notably, Namco’s first MotoGP title featured a crossover racer: Klonoa, the hat-wearing rabbit from Namco’s platformer series of the same name. Over the company’s subsequent four titles, even more features, bikes, racers, and circuits were added, ending in 2006 with another title simply named MotoGP, though this time for the PlayStation Portable.

However, even while Namco was still permitted to produce games based on the MotoGP, its licence was limited to PlayStation platforms, leaving the FIM room to licence more MotoGP games on other consoles. Thus, THQ was licensed to produce their MotoGP series for pretty much every other platform under the Sun. From 2002—2007, THQ had the MotoGP: Ultimate Racing Technology series appearing on several handheld devices, Windows computers, the Xbox, and the Xbox 360. From the beginning, this more expansive version of the series boasted intuitive controls, 20 racers on-screen at the same time, and a replay mode. As time passed, THQ’s version of MotoGP seemed to supplant Namco’s, dropping the “Ultimate Racing Technology” subtitle and adopting the standard year-centric naming convention used by sports games today. With the move to the Xbox 360 and their fourth instalment in MotoGP ‘06, THQ used Xbox Live to offer multiplayer races with up to 16 online participants. However, after MotoGP ‘07, the title of publisher would change hands once again. 

The next publisher to take up the MotoGP game series was Capcom, having purchased the rights to make games based on the Grand Prix from Namco in 2007, who produced its first title motorcycle racer — named MotoGP ‘07 — for the PlayStation 2 alongside developer Milestone. Frustratingly, this title competed with the game of the same name (and based on the same season of the Grand Prix) for Windows and Xbox 360 from THQ. The following year, this would be cleared up as Capcom would become the sole rights holder for producing MotoGP videogames, which it continued to do up through 2011, ending with MotoGP 10/11. Over time, this new series spread to even more consoles, including Windows, the PlayStation 3, the Xbox 360, and the Wii. Capcom’s tenure was notable for many improvements, including the return of 125cc and 250cc classes and the usage of motion controls on the Wii, both of which occurred in MotoGP ‘08, the last game that Milestone worked on in Capcom’s run. 

With such great advancements, it was no wonder that Milestone would then become the next official publisher for MotoGP, taking over developer responsibilities once more as well — the first company to perform both roles on their major MotoGP titles since Namco. From 2013 through to the present day with their upcoming MotoGP 22, Milestone has been going strong, always updating each instalment with new features and improvements. With impressively realistic driving technology, 3D scanning of riders’ faces, pixel-perfect accuracy on the circuits, and a dedication to not rest on laurels, Milestone has delivered quality motorcycle racing games time and again. And the company has had no qualms with going for unique experiences, such as designing its entire 2016 title around a sponsorship from Valentino Rossi, including a special mode where players can explore the living legend’s ranch. MotoGP has come so far as a gaming franchise and it seems it’ll continue on for a long time yet.

MotoGP 22 will be available to buy on Fanatical on April 21st 2022

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