What is arguably the most pivotal mobile racing game to be released so far has just become even more irrestistable. EA has announced that Real Racing 3 will be released on a 'freemium' business model – in non EA PR speak, this means that it will be free-to-play with the option to purchase additional content via micro transactions.
It's a strategy we've seen implemented into high profile PC racing games such as F1 Online, Auto Club Revolution and R3E lately, but the fact this is being applied to a mobile game is a testament to EA's confidence in the brand and reinforces the rise of mobile gaming as a serious gaming platform. By comparison, both Real Racing and Real Racing 2 were sold for $9.99 each.
Like F1 Online, micro transactions will predominately be available as an optional method to speed up time and in-game progress. In Real Racing 3, this can be applied to repairing vehicle damage, for example.
Smash one of the 46 licensed cars in Real Racing 3, and the realistic damage won't just be cosmetic. Dishing out damage will have an adverse effect on the car's top speed and other handling characteristics, too, which is then repaired via in-game coins, i.e. points earned by winning races. Players then have to wait for these repairs to be applied, which vary depending on the severity of the damage and the parts that are being replaced. Alternatively, players can use buy virtual coins with your own cold hard cash to bypass the wait time altogether.
Real Racing 3's sudden detour into the freemium market has subsequently sparked significant backlash from the community on the official FireMonkey forum. While it's a testament to the level of fandom towards the series, I don't think the venomous reactions have been entirely justified, in all honesty.
From some hands-on reports that are floating around online, the freemium model isn't as obtrusive as it may seem. For example, a full repair job can apparently take around 20 minutes if you don't pay up. While this could, admittedly, be slightly irksome during the early stages of the game when content is sparse, it surely won't be an issue once you progress and unlock additional cars that you can jump into whilst you wait for another to be repaired.
Also, the final game will be released with 46 licensed cars and, staggeringly, over 900 events. Surely that's enough content to keepus occupied?
Our advise: wait until the final game before making any misguided judgements. Which, incidentally, won't be long, as a final release date has also since been confirmed following the recent delay. Real Racing 3 will now be released on February 28th for iOS and Android – just two weeks away.