EA & Codemasters could revolutionise racing together

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The deal is finally done. After months of waiting the $1.2bn takeover of Codemasters by EA has been wrapped up and announced.

It's a momentus occasion for Codemasters, a company that turns 35 this year and is a cornerstone of the British gaming industry.

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From Colin McRae rally to the current F1 games, Codies has been shaping the racing game world for years. Now with the resources of EA behind the iconic studio are we about to see a whole new era for racing games?

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Racing ahead

The Formula 1 series has been with Codemasters since 2010, and while the early years were a little rocky the recent titles have been nothing short of amazing.

F1 2020 is easily the best release yet with refined gameplay, impressive AI, and engrossing game modes.

While not "sim" enough for some, Codemasters has perfectly walked the line between accessible and challenging. With assists and a gamepad it is easy for beginners and young players to pick up and play, while if you want a challenge in your sim rig then F1 2020 will give it to you.

f1 2020 hamilton
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TAKE THE CROWN: Beating Lewis Hamilton on the hardest difficulty is something even the very best can struggle with

That balance is already at the core of other EA games like FIFA and Madden. Easy to start, hard to master is one of the best ways games can be created, and love them or loath them EA has been doing it for years.

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So in that sense, things might not change too much for fans. This seems to be what they want as "Don't mess with the Codemasters philosophy" is the prevailing sentiment on social media. However, is EA really going to buy Codemasters and not change anything?

Speaking to GamesIndustry.Biz, executive vice president of strategic growth Matt Bilbey was clear about wanting to "expand the reach and potential of Codemasters' amazing games." but does that mean a dilution at the top end of their games?

Revolutionising rallying

For many gamers, Codemasters introduced them to rallying. Off-road racing has been their bread-and-butter for years now, with DiRT Rally 2.0 and DIRT 5 representing their hardcore sim and arcade off-road racers.

With the WRC lisence coming to Codemasters in 2023 planning is surely already underway to take the genre to the next level. Now with EA's backing they can.

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SLIDE ON IN: Even sim racing masters struggle on the dirt & gravel

Whether this comes in added accessibility, rally games are notoriously hard for even experienced racers to get to grips with, or with more game modes and a melding of sim & arcade in the same title we'll have to wait and see.

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It is certainly the most logical place for EA & Codemasters to revolutionise things.

Or will they go a slightly more expansive route?

Open world racing

We've talked about this before, but open world racers are a few and far between.

While the Forza Horizon series has been a real winner and obviously Need For Speed makes an open world claim they still box you in to a relatively small map without any reference to the outside world.

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MAP WORLD: There is plenty to explore, but nothing exists outside of the map

What is missing is a blending of open world and circuit racing. Forza Horizon & NFS races happen on the streets of the map, while your Gran Turismo's have you load into the circuit without any sense that there are roads not surrounded by Armco barriers.

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If EA really wants to revolutionise the world of racing games this is the place to start. Something that can combine the street racing of Need For Speed (also an EA property) and the circuit style that Codemasters has honed in F1 titles would be a truly unique experience, and also give an opportunity to blend arcade and sim styles.

Racing is global, and happens everywhere on every sort of surface. Embracing that fully is daunting for a game, but one that a combination of EA and Codemasters is better placed to tackle than anyone else.

The likely outcome

Of course, all this could just be wishful thinking.

EA and innovation haven't exactly gone hand in hand for a while, and memories of loot boxes and microtransactions are far more readily available for gamers.

F1 2020 Classic Cars
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CLASSIC: More of F1's history could be included in an Ultimate Team mode

The obvious place for change is the introduction of Ultimate Team to the F1 franchise. This is a mode that has split fanbases in other games but also created huge revenue streams for EA.

It's not really enough to call it a revolution, but it's probably enough for EA to start with. After that, it's anyone's guess.