Slightly Mad Studios, the developer behind the Need for Speed: Shift series, is now working on a game of its own called C.A.R.S. (Community Assisted Racing Sim). Eurogamer reports that C.A.R.S. will be a free-to-play, career-focused racing sim that lets players rise through the ranks of motorsport, from karting to elite championships. That's an ambitious goal in the first place, but the reason it is "Community Assisted" is because SMS is also relying on a crowd-sourced funding system.
SMS calls its funding program World Mass Development, and it will act like a cross between Kickstarter and the stock market, one that offers a variety of ways for fans and investors to support the project. GamesIndustry.biz reports, "Slightly Mad is targeting individuals and fans with shares in the games priced at $5 and $10, $250 options for groups, $1000 for small businesses, and large companies and investors can get involved with contributions of $100,000."
If the game performs as well as SMS hopes, investors will be paid back with a share of the profits. But for fans who contribute to CARS, the real payoff might be a racing game that finally offers a true career mode, something that few have explored in any detail. Codemasters' games have always had a veneer of career development, but none of them have really delved into lower-tier racing, despite the huge role that karting championships and spec series like GP2 play in a driver's career. C.A.R.S. sounds like it will offer something like the "Be a Pro" mode that has been so popular with EA Sports titles.
Of course, the highest forms of motorsport tend to be licensed, and it's not clear whether SMS will really be able to include series like Formula 1. It also promises to be a huge challenge to model the variety of courses and vehicles that a multi-class racing sim would require. However, that same ambition is also what will make the project so appealing to the racing fans who will ultimately fund C.A.R.S.