Branding and Likenesses Research:
Real-world racing teams, brands and vehicles do make their way into racing games, especially when the gaming industry continues to evolve at the rapid pace that it does. The evolution of racing games saw the inclusion of real-world vehicles and brands, however, the companies producing these games had to secure licences from the relevant companies before including them. The gaming companies, once the licences have been secured, work closely with the businesses and brands to ensure that they are seen in a good light. Quite a few of the businesses and brands would not charge for the licensing, instead they would take the opportunity for free branding and exposure, especially when it comes to triple A titles and developers that are able to attract large amounts of players.
Not only do game studios and car companies work closely to ensure proper branding, representation and legal rights are ensured and adhered to but they also help with the accuracy of the cars included inside the game. When collaboration with a car manufacturer is not possible, some game studios can skirt the fine line between similar car designs and likeness and copyright issues. Before the popularity and quality of racing video games exploded, opening up the market for collaborations between game studios and car manufacturers, most racing games used likeness in their own designs.
With the inclusion of real world vehicles, the attractiveness of modern racing games has skyrocketed. Gamers are now able to almost realistically experience cars that they are not able to access, such as Formula 1 vehicles and the latest Lamborghinis or Ferraris. Not only are they able to play the games using such vehicles, but these are meticulously modelled and rendered to provide an immersive and realistic experience, essentially acting as an advertisement for the relevant car companies and manufacturers. When playing with these cars, players are essentially test driving them, however, most car companies don’t want players to gain unrealistic and dangerous expectations of their vehicles. This may be the reason most car companies don’t publicly announce their licensing of their vehicles, and likeness thereof, to be used in racing simulation games.
The game companies involved in the creation of realistic racing games need to be aware of the legal constraints and implications that are involved when it comes to creating virtual likenesses of real world vehicles and, if they do not possess the required licensing, need to ensure they do not break any laws or violate any copyrights when producing these games as many car manufacturers do not want their vehicles to be misrepresented, especially without their permission.
Similar concepts apply to the use of racing teams, team sponsorship and their identities. Many high-profile racing games produced by triple A game studios may include real world racing teams, branding or similarities . Again, licensing needs to be obtained if the teams are being directly re-created, otherwise copyright and trademark issues might occur. Examples of games re-creating real world racing teams, brands and vehicles would be the Formula-1 series of games and Gran Turismo 5, where Sony Computer Entertainment and Polyphony Digital have secured licenses to World Rally Championship, NASCAR and Super GT.
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