Castrol Edge and EA have partnered up for a really, really bonkers experiment in sponsored content for Need for Speed Payback. Essentially, both companies tried to answer that age-old question: who is better at driving, pro racing drivers or gamers?
The contest pitted one of the world's top drift racers against a top gamer in a desert race with specially modified Ford Mustangs, which were kitted out to replicate the feel of driving in a video game.
The Titanium Gamer challenge marked the launch of the Castrol Edge 'Titanium Trials' in game. The new missions were designed by studio Ghost with support from Castrol.
Because Need for Speed players use a third-person, above-car viewing angle to drive in-game, the Mustangs used in the challenge had blacked out windscreens, and so both drivers used monitors rigged to external cameras to drive. The race pitted Monster drift driver Luke Woodham and Need for Speed influencer Theo Thomas against one another in a closed desert course.
We got a chance to talk with Woodham at PAX East last weekend about what it was like to race a car with only a camera for guidance, against a gamer no less. Woodham was pretty complimentary of his competitor, given the situation. "I wouldn't say he was better than I expected but he was more fearless than I thought," Woodham commented. Apparently Thomas was driving much like you would in a game behind the wheel of the modded Mustang. "Its a real car, mate. There's no reset."
Despite his initial fears about lag, Woodham was enthusiastic about the possibility of doing a similar race somewhere down the line. "There was no lag, I'd turn and so would [the car] on screen… I could see the camera being real useful when trying to park." Though he did terrify some of the camera crew by throwing the car into reverse a few times. So while he's got a pretty hectic schedule in the coming months — Woodham wasn't even on the ground in Boston for a full day — he wouldn't say no to another Titanium Gamer race.
However, he did feel he had to win or he'd "never hear the end of it" for losing to a professional gamer.
You can check out the race below.