Ford’s Video Game History


Ford must be one of the first car manufacturers that officially took part in developing car and racing video games. They started out with the Colin McRae raly game by Codemasters in 1998, a partnership that has lasted to date as the eighth version of the game call Dirt 3 is about to hit the stores.

In Dirt 3 which is the most advanced and realistic rally game ever, you get to play with the 2011 Ford Fiesta RS WRC, based on Ford’s successful Fiesta road car, as well as the Gymkhana Fiesta of Ken Block and take on the competition in Gymkhana battle.

More than 40 Ford models have starred in over 20 video games since 1998, with the Focus and Mustang featured most often. Mustangs have always been a great features in car games about tuning or street racing, while the Focus was more of a rally star each time.

2 Dirt3 Fiesta Fords Video Game History

Ford itself has tried a couple of times to make their own titles like Ford Racing or Ford Off Road Racing, but the Codemasters series have always been the most successful.

Here’s a brief history of Ford and video games:

YouTube sensation Ken Block’s hot Ford Fiesta RS WRC 2011 devours tarmac, gravel and ice in the hotly anticipated new video game DiRT 3 by Codemasters.

The modified Fiesta rally car is the latest in a long line of fast Fords that have starred in the most popular racing video games for more than a decade.

The tradition started in earnest in 1998 when gamers had a chance to ‘drive’ the Ford Escort WRC 4WD in the first chapter of Codemasters’ racing title, Colin McRae Rally, named after the late WRC star.

One year later, the powerful Ford Focus RS WRC graced the cover of the 2.0 version of the game. The car was a virtual version of the vehicle McRae drove in the 1999 WRC championship.

“Video games have become so realistic,” says Mark Bentley, licensing manager, Ford Global Brand Licensing. “They provide Ford with a golden opportunity to leave a lasting impression about our performance cars and racing heritage.

“Ford works closely with video game developers to ensure accuracy and authenticity of Ford vehicles in games. We are involved from start to finish during the development process and provide publishers with key assets such as vehicle designs, detailed exterior and interior photos, vehicle specifications and recordings of engine sounds. The more we support a video game project, the better the end result will be.”

While Ford models have been featured in a variety of the most popular video games in history, Ford has always enjoyed a special relationship with Codemasters, makers of best-selling rallying games. WRC versions of Focus and Fiesta have often played leading roles in Codemasters’ titles, but there is also room for historical legends like the Sierra RS Cosworth, Group B RS200 and Puma Super 1600 Rally.  Even the Ford Transit commercial van and F-150 pickup made cameo appearances in Colin McRae Rally ‘04.

The Ford Mustang, the all-American muscle car, has been a fixture in video games such as Microsoft’s Midtown Madness (1999). The GT, Boss, Cobra and Shelby Mustangs also appear in Forza Motorsport for Xbox 360, Playstation’s Gran Turismo titles and the Need for Speed racing series. In these games, the Ford GT supercar and the Taurus also have recurring roles.

“In racing games, cars are the stars,” Bentley said. “Cars like the Mustang, Focus RS and Ford GT create additional buzz for video game developers. Gamers may not be able to afford a Ford GT in real life but they can become a professional Ford GT driver in a game.”

Ford also gave its name to the five video games of the Ford Racing series for Playstation, PC, Xbox and Nintendo DS, published from 2001 to 2008. The games featured a wide range of Ford vehicles – such as the Mustang, Ford GT, RS200, and the F-150 – and also a selection of classic and historic Ford cars from the near and far past: Capri, Gran Torino, Thunderbird, Puma, Sierra, Escort, and even a Model T.

Today’s gamers don’t want to drive just exotic cars – they also like to drive on screen the same car they drive in real life, but in fantastic scenarios.  Many recent games, like the Forza Motorsport and Gran Turismo series, satisfy this desire with the rich details and the amazing graphics of high-definition gaming. In these games, it’s possible to get behind the wheel of many versions of the Ford Focus (including the RS and ST). In Gran Turismo, classics such as the Ford RS200, Taurus, Puma or Cougar, are joined by Ford on-road staples like the Ford Mondeo and Ka.

The most recent arrival on gamers’ screens is the Fiesta RS WRC 2011, the muscular four-wheeled star of DiRT 3. The Ford Fiesta RS WRC is based on Ford’s successful Fiesta road car, and has been developed by Ford partner M-Sport together with Ford of Europe.

Such is the technical accuracy of DiRT 3 that designers learnt about the technology used in the development of the Fiesta RS WRC, so all aspects could be assimilated into the game.  This makes driving the awesome Fiesta RS WRC in DiRT 3 almost as fun and challenging as the real thing.

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