Fans have been calling for a reboot of the classic TOCA Touring Cars video game series
The TOCA racing video game series rose to prominence in the late 1990s with the release of TOCA Touring Car Championship and TOCA 2 Touring Cars, allowing fans to play as BTCC legends in the heyday of the Super Touring era.
The games, developed and published by Codemasters, were a huge hit but there have since been no further releases incorporating the full championship despite vocal support among the BTCC community.
Cammish is one of several current drivers who have pushed for a reboot of the iconic series, with the Halfords Yuasa Racing star directly contacting Codemasters in the hope of kickstarting the project again over 20 years later.
Speaking exclusively to Express Sport during at the latest round of the BTCC at Snetterton, Cammish said: “I asked the question to Codemasters – I contacted them about a week or so ago and said ‘Look, I feel there is an opportunity here and now. This series is as big as it’s ever been, and if there was a market back then there has got to be one now’.
“Considering how much work they have done on the F1 side, I’m sure they could get their heads round it and pretty quickly adapt that to touring cars.
“The response that I got was that it’s not completely ruled out in the future, but it’s not in our immediate future to make a re-make. I think that’s a shame as I think there is fundamentally something here now.
“This paddock is full of good brands, big sponsors, the fans love it, eight hours of TV. I do think there is the potential for a game and lots of people want to see it return.”
The BTCC is the UK’s premier motorsport series and is hugely popular among the gaming community
Codemasters have been responsible for the official F1 games since 2009 and have also developed the Dirt rally series while the forthcoming Grid release is the latest instalment of what was the original TOCA franchise.
However, the BTCC has not featured as a fully-licensed championship since TOCA Race Driver in 2002, with fans instead forced to create custom liveries and download modifications on games such as Gran Turismo Sport, Project Cars or Forza in order to play as their modern day heroes.
A number of the tracks which feature on the current BTCC calendar are also available across these releases, but Cammish feels there is a growing demand for the championship to be faithfully replicated in an authentic, dedicated title.
“I stuck my head up above the parapet and said that, then got a lot of comments and mentions about it,” revealed Cammish.
“The big thing for me is that the TOCA games brought touring cars to a completely different group. All my friends had that game, even if they weren’t touring car fans as such.
Dan Cammish is one of several current drivers campaigning for a new video game
“Loads of people remember playing as Jason Plato or Matt Neal on the Playstation that weren’t maybe watching it all the time. I’m sure that would be increased tenfold if the game was to be released now, with how we can get it across social media and how the world has changed.
“I dare say it might happen one day, but I’ll certainly keep trying to voice my opinion and see if we can get Codemasters to at least acknowledge it. I’m sure someone must have come down on a weekend to have a look at what’s going on.
“Why wouldn’t they? They’re in the business of making games, eSports is huge and it’s only going more that way.”
Express Sport understands that, contrary to paddock rumours, securing the appropriate licencing for the game is not an issue and several developers have expressed an interest in taking the project on in recent years.
Instead, the development time and cost involved in accurately modelling all 30 entries on the grid, potentially in addition to the rest of the TOCA package, is the main stumbling block preventing a comprehensive stand-alone release from Codemasters.
Cammish currently drives a Honda Civic Type R (FK8) for Halfords Yuasa Racing
Therefore it is much more feasible that a scaled-down pack of select manufacturer entries could be made available within an alternative racing title, with the opportunity for further downloadable content at a later date to build out that initial offering.
However, BTCC Series Director and Administrator Gow – who oversaw the Championship’s rise through the Super Touring era and then returned to rebuild the series in 2003 after it floundered under new ownership – has ruled out such a proposal.
Speaking exclusively to Express Sport, the 64-year-old revealed that there have been ongoing talks with Codemasters but the BTCC will not consider sanctioning the development of just a select portion of the grid while the finances involved in replicating all 30 entrants are prohibitive.
BTCC Series Director Alan Gow has ruled out a scaled-down relaunch
“Our take is very simple – We’ve always been in contact with Codemasters and I’ve had a relationship going back with them into the 90’s,” said Gow.
“At the moment there is no business case for a game because producing a game nowadays is much more expensive than it ever has been. Back when we produced the [original] TOCA Touring Car game I think they had three young developers in front of a computer, they spent about six months doing it and that’s it. Now it is much more complex so it is a much more expensive proposition, and the business model has totally changed.
“We’re always in contact with Codemasters and with other game producers too about one day producing a game but at the moment it doesn’t work for us financially.
“I appreciate Dan’s enthusiasm for ringing them up, but if he’d have rung us up we would have saved him a phone call. Just because the game doesn’t exist, it’s not for our lack of enthusiasm or wanting it to happen.
The TOCA video game franchise is considered a classic by many supporters
“It’s all or nothing. For us to have one or two of our cars within another game, then that’s not a BTCC game. That’s just a couple of cars with BTCC liveries in a ‘made up’ environment. It just doesn’t do it for us, or tick any of our boxes because it would not be a game about the BTCC, it doesn’t involve BTCC tracks or the competitors.”
For now, fans will have to be content with modified packs on simulators such as rFactor and RaceRoom or nostalgia-fueled legends content on Grid and Project Cars until the resources are available to accurately recreate the BTCC field in its entirety.
Despite this gloomy outlook, Cammish is determined to continue championing the idea as interest in the series and demand for a game grows.
Indeed, television viewing figures have increased by an average of 14 per cent since last season as the BTCC makes the most of F1’s move behind the paywall while drivers and teams continue to connect with a new generation of fans through social media.
“I think social media is really important – obviously [it has] ups and downs, its bad sides, and you’ve got to be careful not to say the wrong thing, but ultimately it’s only ever been pretty good for me,” explained Cammish.
“I’m still new to touring cars and still new to walking down the paddock and people knowing who I am, wanting a picture, wanting an autograph. For me it is still quite humbling, because I’m in a very privileged position to be able to do this and be successful at it.
The BTCC field currently consists of 30 drivers racing 13 different model of cars
“If you’ve been doing it forever, that wears off. Right now, I still find it flattering that people want to queue for my autograph so I obviously give them time and attention, just like I do on Twitter.
“I will happily be in a conversation, reply and try and involve people because this is their hobby and they would give their left arm to be where I am. I try not to lose sight of that.”
Dan Cammish currently drives a Honda Civic Type R (FK8) in the British Touring Car Championship. The series continues with Rounds 19, 20 and 21 at Thruxton on August 18.
It has developed a reputation as one of the most exciting motorsport series in the world