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Why I think offering Real Racing 3 for free is a bad omen

Sections: Features, Genres, Handhelds, iPhone & iPod Touch & iPad, Opinions, Smartphones

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If I could see into an alternate future, I would do a search for Real Racing 3 reviews. I believe those reviews would read in very similar ways. “Real Racing 3 is a gorgeous game and is one of the best mobile racing games ever created,” one review reads. “Firemonkeys has raised the bar in the mobile racing genre,” reads another.  I like this alternate future. It’s a future where good games are sold at a reasonable price and everyone is happy. Unfortunately, this isn’t the future I foresee happening. Instead of constant praise, I fear the reviews will contain words such as greed, grind and premium currency. Why do I feel this way? I feel this way because EA is making Real Racing 3 a free-to-play game.

In a perfect world, this would be a great thing. Instead of paying $5 for a game, EA graciously offers a quality title for free, and only asks for reasonable fees to unlock certain cosmetic changes to vehicles. But that’s not what we tend to get from EA these days. EA has formed a nasty habit of adding microtransactions in places they don’t belong. There is no reason for games like Need for Speed Most Wanted (iOS, Android), Dead Space 3 and Mass Effect 3 to include microtransactions. There’s no reason to introduce a grind in any of these games because we already paid for them. When it comes to EA’s real free-to-play games such as The Simpsons: Tapped Out and Theme Park, EA’s monetary ambitions get even worse. The Simpsons: Tapped Out is one of the most unnecessarily expensive and time consuming mobile games I have ever played. Far too often, your choices in that game are to either wait several hours to complete a single task, or spend real money for premium currency that will satisfy your needs for about a minute. Worse still, there’s no reason for EA to change its ways because The Simpsons: Tapped Out made over $23 million in a single quarter.

EA doesn’t care about being reasonable with these games. It only cares about making enough money to make its shareholders happy. EA isn’t interested in doing what we consider to be the right thing when it comes to pricing games. It wants to do the thing that’s going to make them the most money. Charging $4.99 for Real Racing 3 is nothing to EA compared to the $10, $50 or $100 in-game purchases EA could throw at us.

I’m crossing my fingers the in-game market for Real Racing 3 doesn’t work against the actual game. Still, I fear that’s exactly what’s going to happen.

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