Is Real Racing 3 the huge hit EA claims? Not yet, but it certainly could be soon
Our dismissal of Real Racing 3‘s monetizatiion strategy was somewhat controversial in the comments, as many people claimed to like the game, and they found ways to keep from waiting on repairs, upgrades, and to play for longer periods of time without paying into the system. I hope they continue to enjoy the game. EA has gone on the offensive to claim that the game is a success, despite rumblings from critics like myself and some fans.
“The vocal minority lashed out at freemium,” Nick Earl, Vice President of the company’s mobile and social studios said, as quoted by CNET. “We respect them and understand, but the market has spoken. That’s just where things are going.” That article contains a number of impressive-sounding stats, and in fact EA has released an infographic to show Real Racing 3‘s dominance in the world of racing games. I’ll embed it so you can take a look, and let me know if you notice the same thing I did.
This is why I hate trying to figure out whether or not these games are doing well, and EA has no real reason to release the true numbers. I have no doubt a ton of people are downloading and playing the game, but the important number is how many people are paying for the game, and how much they’re spending. It’s very possible the game is going to do well in terms of numbers of players and amount of time played, but if players don’t spend money on the game, everything is lost.
And the truth there is that things may be going well, but it may not be as rosy as EA would have you believe.
What people are paying
“When it comes to the grossing charts, though, Real Racing 3 hasn’t soared quite as high,” a recent PocketGamer post stated. “One reason for this, however, is that the top ten positions of the iOS grossing chart are becoming harder and harder to penetrate at launch, as the likes of Supercell and King.com are generating such huge sums from their existing audiences of engaged gamers.”
According to that article, the game peaked at the number 7 spot of highest grossing games, and at the time of writing it rests at the number 15 slot. Those are some impressive stats, and things will begin to look better if EA can stay near the top 20 highest-grossing games, especially if the game is a hit in multiple regions, but it’s not quite the slam dunk that the company would have you believe. PocketGamer reported that, according to Distimo estimates, the game generated $315,000 in revenue in the US from the 28th of February to March 4.
As of this writing, in the United States, Real Racing 3 is number 16 in the top grossing apps on the iPad in the US, and is number 22 in the top grossing list for the iPhone. These aren’t bad numbers at all, and if EA can keep that pace up, and they can always tweak the economy to boost sales, they’re going to have a monstrous hit on their hands.
This is a marathon, not a sprint, and the rewards are great. EA’s The Simpsons game is in the top ten top grossing apps on both the iPhone and iPad, and that game earned $23 million in the company’s last quarter. It’s often highlighted as one of the few bright spots in EA’s current roster of games in terms of profits brought into the company. EA has stated that there are no plans for a sequel to Real Racing 3, and it’s likely the game will be continuously supported with new content and tweaks in the coming months, and possibly years.
So what’s the takeaway?
It’s hard to get a feel for how well or poorly free-to-play games are doing, especially when we’re dealing with relative numbers and often third-hand information. EA is only going to highlight things that make the launch look spectacular, so expect an emphasis on numbers of downloads and time playing.
That being said, the game is not doing poorly, and is in an enviable place to stake a claim in the world of iOS freemium racing that could pay off for a very long time. The game isn’t quite there yet, and there’s always the danger that gamers will lose interest, or be frustrated by the economy, and the game will soon begin to slip from the charts. Or it could gain support from word of mouth and happy racers, and begin to climb.
The truth is that EA doesn’t really care about reviews, or your happiness, or whether free-to-play leads to a better game. As Earl said above, the market has spoken. And that is the voice that will be followed.