How 'Need For Speed' Became the World's Biggest Racing Game
‘The market was full of simple racing games, unsophisticated stuff paying little mind to how real cars behaved. Hanno Lemke, the producer behind The Need For Speed, wanted to make a driving game that immersed you in the perfect drive, that gave you a window into what the best road cars could actually do, and how.’
“We wanted you to smell the leather, hear the gated shifter and all the unique sounds of the engines,” Lemke said. “We wanted the experience to be what it might be like for the player to have the keys to that car for a day.”
Not satisfied with making supercars feel accessible to players, Need For Speed set out to prove that the car you already owned could be a hero. It was a statement that the love of cars didn’t require six-figure investments or private racetracks. All it took was a willing driver and a place where they could drive fast, consequence-free.
Every aspect of the series is centered around building and maintaining that connection. Expressive soundtracks of new music became a staple of the series. EA ditched blended-in background music—a hallmark of games like Forza and Gran Turismo—in favor of stuff you’d actually listen to while driving. Hip-hop, hard rock, and metal tracks from real artists brought life to the world, with EA even bringing in big-name artists like Jamiroquai to promote the game. The music, far from being a mere afterthought, was central to the experience. ‘