Just a few months ago, in June 2016, Audi America sponsored and hosted an interesting online challenge: a 24-hour Virtual Endurance Race streamed via Twitch. The race made use of Forza Motorsport 6, the latest iteration of the critically acclaimed racing simulation game developed by Turn 10 Studios. Hosted by Audi in Downtown San Francisco, the game’s realistic design and wet-weather elements put Audi’s finest models to the test.
During the virtual race, a total of 12 teams of professional gamers faced off on the world’s first virtual race of its kind. As a motorsport, endurance racing has been around for over a century, but as digital simulation technology and gaming realism has evolved, it’s created a brand new avenue for digital testing of real-world cars.
If you’re not familiar with it, Twitch is an online social platform especially for gamers to livestream as they play. Introduced in 2011, its popularity has exploded in recent years, with millions of users worldwide. It was actually acquired by Amazon in 2014 for an impressive $970 million dollars. Its popularity and widespread appeal made it an excellent global platform for a digital race.
The entire 24-hour virtual endurance race was available for real-time livestreaming, drawing a considerable global audience from both the world of gamers, and the world of car enthusiasts.
This marketing event from the Audi team proved an excellent way to introduce the massive US gaming audience to the exciting world of endurance racing, creating new fans and generating new interest in the process. The simulated standoff served as an interesting lead-in to its real-world equivalent, this year’s upcoming Lone Star Le Mans race.
This organized social media livestream event was the first of its kind, with little precedent. The game used, Forza Motorsport 6, is impressive in its general realism. This iteration of the Motorsport series is the first to introduce wet weather racing, with carefully designed and realistic physics to reflect how slick surfaces impact a car’s motion. This critically acclaimed racing game is known for is emphasis on realistic physics and mechanics, making it essentially a driving simulator. The gaming experience was impressively loyal to the actual experience of Audi endurance racing, a feat made possible by the game’s remarkable realism and attention to detail.
The grand prize for the winning team was a trip to Sonoma, California, and the opportunity to participate in the real-world Audi racing experience. The second place team received a trip to Austin for September’s upcoming 2016 Lone Star Le Mans race.
Audi has always been an innovative and forward-thinking brand, and it’s not surprising that they’ve been the first to leverage Twitch streaming as a fun, engaging marketing strategy to win new fans. As gaming has evolved, it’s moved past its roots as a toy for children, becoming a hobby for countless adults throughout the world. Recognizing the size of Twitch’s audiences, Audi did something no brand has ever done before. Their willingness to experiment with social media paid off, drawing newfound attention to the brand and winning brand new fans for endurance racing as a sport.