Are you arguing that there’s no overlap between “game” and “story?” You seem to treat them as different creatures. The reason I like HGs and CoGs so much as that many of them blend both “game” AND “story” together so well.
Unless you’re designing a pure sandbox type of game where characters can just run around at their leisure (nothing against those!), you need a narrative. You need a plot.
Plots usually have specific events like exposition/inciting incident, rising action, climax, falling action, resolution. Plots, especially in stories like thrillers, adventures, action, generally have a series of “yes, but” scenes where even if the protagonist does well, it’s only temporary, as the stakes continue to rise.
So yes, if an author is focusing on writing an engaging plot, the author will likely include some scenes that occur no matter what, just to act as tent poles for the narrative structure. And yes, that might include some “forced fails.” In your example, let’s suppose the race scene introduces the antagonist to the MC/reader. Maybe it’s vital that the antagonist win the race, and maybe it creates even stronger emotions from the reader if the reader feels “they were screwed.” Perhaps that would explain a scene being written that way.