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Real Racing 3 sparks debate over micropayment gameplay

Joel Mathis | March 13, 2013
The recent launch of Real Racing 3 has spawned a discussion on the use of micropayments in games. Is it a fad or the future we're destined for?

Another success? "Ironically [Real Racing 2] offered a good balance of initial purchase cost, the ability to play through the game or upgrade through virtual currency as desired," Michael Gartenberg, an industry analyst for Gartner, told us via email. That game is still available for $5, with micropayment options ranging from $4 to $12.

Real Racing 3, by contrast, has mechanics "that cause delays in play [you're actually penalized for playing] and fairly steep commitments of either time or money in order to make progress in the game," Gartenberg said.

EA's Earl, however, contested that notion, saying that Real Racing 3 players can participate in up to 950 racing events and choose from dozens of cars for free.

"You absolutely can spend a tremendous amount of time without spending anything," Earl said, adding that being smart about what cars one picks can reduce the amount of time waiting for that car's post-race repairs. "If you're going to be haphazard, [gameplay] might be disjointed."

Earl said he believes the game adheres to the best practices of micropayment gameplay.

"We believe you should be able to get through the entire game without spending [money]. There are games in the Top 10 you can't go any further unless you spend money," Earl said.

Real Racing 3, he said, lets free players get all the way through. "If you choose to spend," he said, "you're enhancing your experience and you're saving some time.

"By no means is it perfect, and we're going to work daily to understand what consumers like and don't like about the game," he said. "We're taking the long-term view of this [game], the mobile business, and this [pricing] model."

 

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