By now, you would’ve known that Real Racing 3 is due to be a freemium game employing a timer-based mechanic. I had my reservations about it, but reading the initial impressions of journalists from established gaming publications regarding the way the timer-system worked, I thought it won’t be so bad after all.
But I was duly proven wrong. Just a few hours ago, Real Racing 3 unexpectedly launched in a few iTunes Appstores as part of a “soft launch”. Wasting no time, I grabbed my iPad 2 and downloaded the game. Right at the beginning, when you are asked to buy a car, you are presented with a 2-minute timer. Either wait for the clock to run down or pay 2 gold coins. Luckily you start with a handful of gold coins, so I just skipped. Or else, that would have been the last I saw of Real Racing 3.
Next, you start racing. Every time you crash, your car performance decreases. After the race, you can repair your car. Depending on the amount of damage you sustain, the wait time grows longer. However, this can be avoided with skill (though I must say the AI is very aggressive here, for some reason). Tracks are also very narrow, increasing the likelihood of you sustaining damage. The wait-times for repairing damages are not too bad – between 5 to 15 minutes.
Then, when you start upgrading, you wait some more. As the upgrade tiers increase, the wait times increase exponentially as well. Starts at around 2 minutes, and increase to half an hour and God knows how much longer. Same story with purchasing new cars. I believe the wait times here will grow longer as well.
However, where EA has simply gone over the top is the wait times associated with “servicing” the cars. No matter how well you drive, you have got to service your car. And this happens frequently. Or else you suffer drastic performance reductions.
Now, take a deep breath. I have played Real Racing 3 for about one and a half hours now, and for the first batch of repairs and service (I decided to do them together), it took me around 2 hours 15 minutes. And a full 2 hours of that time came from servicing the car.
Take an even deeper breath now, please. 30 minutes of playtime or so later, I had to send it in for another round of servicing and repairs. This time, the wait time increased to a whopping 6 hours 30 minutes!!! And again 6 hours of it came from servicing alone, something which you have little control over.
The servicing part shouldn’t need to be in the game at all. There is a clear reason why it is there – to fill the pockets of the guys at EA. Worse still is that you can fast-forward all these with gold coins, but the gold coins are so expensive to purchase it is just not worth it. To skip two minutes, you need 2 gold coins. And you can buy 20 of those for $1.99. 6 hours of wait time meanwhile will require around 20 gold coins ($1.99). Imagine doing this after every few races. You’d grow bankrupt sooner rather than later!
Just as a note, this is not meant to be a review of any sort. Just me venting my frustration at the disgusting way EA has treated its best original mobile game franchise. And not forgetting the fact that they make us look like cash cows.
I was super-excited with Real Racing 3 and the fact it’s going to launch simultaneously on Android, but this abhorrent implementation of wait times to enrich their own pockets at the expense of quality and user experience is appalling at best. The game is solid otherwise, but this incident has simply demoralized me. And to think that other developers will adopt this method if it proves to be successful for EA just makes me sick.