Real Racing 3

2 March 2013

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It features next-level stunning visuals, dozens of cars, hundreds of events, and authentic tracks backed by its signature refined racing action.

But our hearts tell us that the business decisions made to suck iTunes accounts dry from purchasing in-game currency and wait-busting gold coins should never be advocated. To put in perspective with how ridiculous Real Racing 3’s economics are, there is a $99.99 option to buy five million dollars of in-game currency. Even with that much virtual cash, you could not buy all the cars in the game, much less bypass all the mandatory waiting.

It doesn’t work because Real Racing 3 rewards the user with having to wait1, which means the incentive to win the next race becomes being able to pay more money — an unappealing proposition.

Other freemium games, which have pulled off the time-wasting mechanic more successfully, offer In-App Purchase as a way to skip the “work”. In FarmVille, for instance, payment can be used to speed up the growing of your crops, which is separate from the reward of having a nicer farm.

Applying the Real Racing implementation to a gardening game, the hypothetical game would be to plant and carefully nurture the flowers until they are ready, then have to wait/pay for the plant to move from the greenhouse to the garden so it can appear publicly to your friends. Annoying, huh?

For Real Racing, I think a much better way to use In-App Purchase would be to split the game functionally into campaign and arcade modes. To unlock the campaign, there’s a flat fee (which can be reasonably pricey, between five and ten dollars) but the arcade follows a free-to-play model. In the arcade, the enjoyment comes from unlocking upgrades and new maps to race on — EA monetises by charging for additional cars and skins.2

That seems like a much more realistic method of encouraging users to spend more money than they would if the game cost $5 straight up in the App Store.

1 You are forced to wait for repairs, which happen as a result of earning upgrades for your cars.

2 Real multiplayer, not the time-shifted nonsense Real Racing 3 currently has, could exist in both modes. There would be intrinsic social pressure for both users to own the campaign, further increasing the likelihood of conversion.