A mere three months after it finally hit Steam and (probably more importantly, I admit) nine days after it hit consoles, Ubisoft's live-service Trackmania has hit the 5 million player milestone. Ubisoft celebrated hitting the number in a tweet posted to the company's account yesterday.
5 million vroom 🏎 pic.twitter.com/7s9XmsQTeHMay 24, 2023
Ubisoft didn't say explicitly that it's managed to acquire those players thanks to Trackmania's new presence on consoles and Steam, but it's not exactly a dastardly riddle to figure out. The game originally released as a Ubisoft and Epic Games Store exclusive back in 2020, before sneaking onto Steam last February. Finally, it hit consoles on May 15 (it was meant to hit Stadia too, but, well, we all know how that turned out)
Trackmania is a rare and special thing: It has no licensed cars and relies heavily on user-generated maps—many of which are designed according to a philosophy best described as 'unhinged'—so it's always been a bit of an odd duck in the racing game world. I'm glad to see it do well, though: It's the only racing game series I've ever gotten really attached to.
I spent most of 2012 in Trackmania 2: Canyon. I've never been a racing game die-hard in any sense of the word, except for a brief dalliance with Konami Krazy Racers on my Game Boy Advance SP when I was a child for reasons I don't really remember, but something about Trackmania grabbed me. It was probably the fact it was more of a puzzle game than a racer: Your task was to find the right route through its physics-defying, user-made tracks that let you tackle the whole thing without ever braking or taking your foot off the gas.
This live-service iteration of Trackmania never quite got its hooks in me the same way. For one thing, I'm chronically averse to paying a subscription for anything, but this version of the game also seemed, if anything, a bit too polished for my liking.
To me, Trackmania is about piecing together perfect runs for its many unparseable maps while listening to the awful/beautiful dubstep remix of Robyn's Call Your Girlfriend that was the keystone of my preferred Canyon server's custom soundtrack. I'm sure the wacky stuff is out there but in the time I've spent with Trackmania 2020 most of the maps have seemed fairly sane, and I'm not sure I've found a server that uses any custom soundtrack at all, let alone the heady mix of atrocious dubstep that is, for me, the crux of the Trackmania experience.
Nevertheless, it's good to see the series doing well. Perhaps one of those millions of players will set up a server that meets my very specific needs someday.