Ubisoft's struggles to cook up a live service game that anyone cares about are very well documented, so it's easy to overlook the fact that it's actually had one on the go for years now: The high-flying arcade racing game Trackmania. And now, three years after it launched as an exclusive for the Ubisoft and Epic stores, it's finally on its way to Steam (opens in new tab).
Here's a summary of the longrunning franchise and where this game fits in:
- The original Trackmania debuted in 2003 as a stunt-racing game with a built-in track editor
- Trackmania Nations in 2006 gave us the game as we know it now: Open-wheel cars racing inside massive stadiums
- Trackmania United brought the previous games together in a single package
- Trackmania 2 was more akin to the original when it arrived in 2011 but the Nations-style gameplay returned a couple years later with the Stadium update
- Trackmania, coming to Steam next month, is actually a Nations reboot.
It's all a bit complicated, but the relevant point is that Trackmania is niche (a racing game with unlicensed cars and a big focus on user-generated maps) but popular enough to be durable, and Ubisoft is apparently now looking to expand that popularity by unshackling the game from its Ubisoft/Epic exclusivity.
Ubisoft hasn't said if, or now, the Steam release will be changed from the version that's available from Ubisoft: The Steam page says only that it will offer singleplayer and multiplayer racing with seasonal campaigns, trophies, regional and worldwide rankings, player-made tracks in the Arcade Channel, and weekly Nations League competition.
One thing I find interesting about the Steam release of Trackmania is that it comes right around the time that it was supposed to launch on Stadia. Ubisoft announced the Stadia plan in September 2022—sadly, less than three weeks before Google pulled the plug on Stadia forever. As you can see in the image clipped from the Trackmania console and cloud announcement trailer, it was slated to arrive on pretty much every platform except Steam—but now here it is.
As for why Ubisoft would bring Trackmania to Steam just a few months after essentially stating that it was not, my guess is that the move was prompted at least in part by the company's recent financial struggles (opens in new tab). As we said at the end of 2022, they really all came crawlin' back to Steam (opens in new tab), and for good reason: Epic has made inroads but Steam remains far and away the dominant PC digital storefront. Dropping Trackmania there isn't likely to reverse Guillemot's fortunes, but it can't hurt.
Trackmania is set to go live on Steam on February 2. And yes, it will still require a Ubisoft account, in order to facilitate its cross-platform multiplayer racing.