Codemasters have snagged an exclusive rights to the FIA World Rally Championship, giving the Dirt developer a major new license to play with alongside their long-running DiRT series of rallying games. However, we won’t see a WRC game from them any time soon, with the five year license only set to start in 2023, at which point they will start releasing annual WRC games.
The WRC series is currently handled by publisher Nacon (formerly Bigben Interactive) and developer Kylotonn Games, who have WRC 9 in development for later this year with eyes set on a cross-generational release.
Nacon took the unusual step in March of announcing not just this year’s WRC 9, but also WRC 10 and 11, while confirming that the game would release first on current gen platforms in September with next-gen versions for PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X coming later. That would take them up to 2022, so Nacon’s announcement perhaps came as a prelude to Codies’ licensing deal.
Codemasters’ Dirt Rally spin-off series has been the gold standard for sim rallying over the past five years – our review of WRC 8 says that Kylotonn still have some work to do on that front – but they’ve never had the official WRC license, instead featuring the WRX RallyCross license for head to head racing.
The Dirt franchise currently has a two-pronged approach, with the Dirt Rally team at the company’s original home in Southam, and the revived Evolution Studios team at Codemasters Cheshire handling the more mainstream Dirt 5 which was announced last month. So where will the WRC team come from?
Well, it seems that it will be the Dirt Rally team shifting over to focus on the franchise, as the company said in a statement to GI.biz that “The Dirt Rally team is already working on their next project ahead of the WRC agreement in 2023.”
It certainly sounds like a match made in heaven, with the sim rallying of Dirt Rally married to the real world tournament’s cars and locations. They’ll be bringing the games to consoles, PC and mobile platforms, while also running esports tournaments throughout.