Real Racing 3 is a game of two halves. On the one hand, it's a game about burning rubber around Silverstone in a specced-out Porsche. On the other, it's a game about waiting around for an oil change.

As such, it has become one of the most polarising mobile games of the last few years.

Some welcome the chance to get a high-end racing game like this for free, and will wait without complaint. Others would have gladly paid for the game upfront to do away with the wait timers.

Our Peter gave Real Racing 3 a Gold Award in our review - and we stand by his opinion. But now that (almost) the whole team has given the game a go, everyone wanted to chip in on the Real Racing 3 F2P debate.

Does the free-to-play model work? Has anyone spent cash on the game yet? Is it a game suited to the mobile format? Listen in to the (not-so-) private Skype chat of the Pocket Gamer office to find out...


Pocket Gamer avatar Mark Brown:
So. Real Racing 3. How are you guys getting on with the game?
Pocket Gamer avatar Mike Rose:
I haven't bothered downloading it. All the talk about micro-transactions has put me right off. From what I've read, Real Racing 3 will just make me hate the Real Racing series. So, it's probably best I stick to number 2.
Pocket Gamer avatar Harry Slater:
I've put a couple of hours into Real Racing 3, I guess. To be honest, even without the IAP, I've found it pretty underwhelming. There's no point where I can just drive around and have fun. I don't get to learn the tracks; I'm just dumped into a race where if I crash, it's going to cost me.
Pocket Gamer avatar James Gilmour:
And it's difficult not to scrape other cars when the AI is so wooden. It's like the other racers are completely unaware of your existence.
Pocket Gamer avatar Rob Hearn:
I'm not crazy about the racing, but that's a personal thing. I'd rather play that sort of thing on a console. The freemium stuff did bother me, though. It's great if you feel strongly about not spending any money, but I can't see how being presented with a wait timer every few minutes can do anything other than detract from the experience. It's something you can either tolerate or not tolerate, but it certainly doesn't make things better in gaming terms.
Pocket Gamer avatar Harry Slater:
There's also the fact it seems so antiseptic... all shiny and perfect. It pushes you into driving in a specific clean way, and that's not much fun.
Pocket Gamer avatar Mark Brown:
Yeah, I'm a very aggressive racer. I'll go over the grass and use other racers as bumpers around corners. So, I'm particularly screwed over by the wait timers.
Pocket Gamer avatar Mike Rose:
Something worth noting, however: Real Racing 3 has between 100,000 and 500,000 downloads on Android, compared to the 10-50,000 that Real Racing 2 had. For EA, then, this is most likely a huge win really, regardless of the bad press.
Pocket Gamer avatar Rob Hearn:
I'm sure it will be.
Pocket Gamer avatar Mark Brown:
Well, it's more about the Top Grossing chart than downloads with free-to-play games.
Pocket Gamer avatar Mike Rose:
True. I can't even find it in the Top Grossing charts. Having said that, I'm not sure how often they update those charts.
Pocket Gamer avatar Mark Brown:
On my iPad, it's #5 on the Top Grossing chart. In reality, I don't think there was ever any doubt that this game would do enormously well for EA.
Pocket Gamer avatar Mike Rose:
As long as a small portion of players are paying out ridiculous amounts for these horrible in-app purchases, EA won't care less what the other 90 percent of players think.
Pocket Gamer avatar Mark Brown:
Though I do think EA's way of implementing the free-to-play is a little odd. Unlike most of these games, it puts the paywalls up really soon. Then once you've played the game a bit and got a few cars, it gets a lot more manageable. There's a real hump to getting into the game, I felt. For the first half hour, I felt like I was being punched in the balls over and over. Has anyone here actually spent any money on the game? Peter, perhaps?
Pocket Gamer avatar Peter Willington:
Nope, I haven't spent a dime.
Pocket Gamer avatar Harry Slater:
I haven't, but I don't think I've quite got far enough in to need to do that.
Pocket Gamer avatar James Gilmour:
I've found playing the game a strange experience. Rather than focusing on my driving and getting excited about vehicle upgrades, I'm worrying about when the game is going to kick me out.
Pocket Gamer avatar Mark Brown:
Yeah, it's not a particularly comfortable experience, I've found.
Pocket Gamer avatar James Gilmour:
Between the timers and the IAPs, I feel like I'm having to game the game just to keep it running.
Pocket Gamer avatar Mark Brown:
I think these free-to-play games are messing with my brain. I was playing Ridiculous Fishing over the weekend, and it's a paid game with no IAPs. But I kept being frugal with the amount of fuel I was using, as I was thinking I was going to have to pay for more. These games put you in a very different psychological state from the one games you buy upfront put you in, I've found.
Pocket Gamer avatar James Gilmour:
Yeah. I'm never quite sure where I stand in these F2P games.
Pocket Gamer avatar Harry Slater:
The other thing that annoys me about the Real Racing 3 experience is there's no real consideration as to how the IAPs are done. You could work in a really clever system of hiring pit crews to fit your car, needing money to pay them, that sort of thing. Instead, there's CAR BROKE FIX NOW. That and the fact that your wing mirrors falling off slows you down.
Pocket Gamer avatar Mark Brown:
Probably something to do with air resistance.
Pocket Gamer avatar James Gilmour:
Objects without wing mirrors may appear slower than they are.
Pocket Gamer avatar Mark Brown:
Peter! This is your chance to tell us we're a bunch of whining babies! Why does Real Racing 3 NOT suck, hmmm?
Pocket Gamer avatar Peter Willington:
I go into detail in the review - and even further in the latest podcast - but basically: it's first and foremost a superb racing game. Also, the IAPs don't get in the way at all, and the social aspects make for highly competitive racing. The biggest downside is the absence of a true multiplayer mode.
Pocket Gamer avatar Mark Brown:
They do get in the way, though. That's the whole point. To annoy you into spending money, right?
Pocket Gamer avatar Peter Willington:
If you spend £4.50 on the right IAPs - which is less than the cost of Real Racing 2 - you'll never need to worry about them. Unless you plan on playing for more than an hour in one go. In which case, maybe.
Pocket Gamer avatar Mark Brown:
That's quite insane to me. That sounds like you're renting the game.
Pocket Gamer avatar Peter Willington:
Mark: £4.50 gets you the two cheapest packs. By doing that, you get two cars, which will drastically increase the amount of time you can play for without waiting.
Pocket Gamer avatar Mark Brown:
Personally, I can't do that. £4.50 is essentially the price of a premium iOS game, so to pay that and still have wait timers and stuff? I can't do it.
Pocket Gamer avatar Rob Hearn:
So, either that bothers you or it doesn't. It seems to bother a lot of people. But does anybody think it improves the experience?
Pocket Gamer avatar Peter Willington:
Rob: Yes, because all my friends who wouldn't have bought it are now playing it.
Pocket Gamer avatar Rob Hearn:
That's a fair point about it reaching a wider audience, but it doesn't improve the game - that's a non sequitur.
Pocket Gamer avatar Mark Brown:
It'll reach a wider audience, sure, but without true multiplayer you just have these AI cars with your friends gamerpics on them, and the promise that the Time Shifted Multiplayer ghosts are something to do with your friends' racing times. To me, it means diddly-squat that more people are playing.
Pocket Gamer avatar Harry Slater:
I'll admit, it was more interesting when I was using Rich as a brake instead of Mr Generic AI Man.
Pocket Gamer avatar Mark Brown:
Harry: you need to set a picture. You're just a generic blue helmet. I want to smash your face.
Pocket Gamer avatar Harry Slater:
I like to be enigmatic.
Pocket Gamer avatar Keith Andrew:
I've been playing it. No issue with the F2P element so far. I don't know whether I play racers differently, but I've been re-racing tracks to try and beat Will's and Rich's times. I haven't actually spent any money yet. My bigger issue, as I hinted at in the podcast, is that it doesn't feel like a mobile game to me. Racing is quite an intense type of game, really. I want to be doing that on my console, as I did with Project Gotham Racing and the like.
Pocket Gamer avatar Mark Brown:
So, was this the best way to do F2P, do you think? With the timers? Or are there other avenues Firemonkeys could have gone down?
Pocket Gamer avatar Keith Andrew:
Well, if anything, that is the one part that is mobile. At least there's a method there to break play up into more manageable, mobile lengths.
Pocket Gamer avatar Rob Hearn:
I think the timers are too intrusive. If you could buy tracks, competitions, and cars, that would be fine. You could either grind to earn the money or pay. But having your actual sessions interupted is a kick in the teeth if you're not well disposed to that sort of thing.
Pocket Gamer avatar Keith Andrew:
I've always suspected that I wouldn't really enjoy the Real Racing series. And because it had a £4.99 price tag, I never wanted to risk a fiver to find out if I was right or not. Going free means, if nothing else, I downloaded it.
Pocket Gamer avatar Mark Brown:
Yeah, I don't think an upfront price tag would be the way to go for a game like this any more. But I would have liked to have seen you get the crappy Ford Focus and those cars for free, and then maybe fork out a few quid for each new tier - or a set price for the lot.
Pocket Gamer avatar Keith Andrew:
Crappy Ford Focus?! That's the only car I EVER want in racing games. Fricking gorgeous. :)
Pocket Gamer avatar Mark Brown:
It's soo slooow. I want a Bugatti Veyron! Or a Koenigsegg Agera R! And, you know, I might have paid for one. But as it stands, I don't want to pay for a car that I need to wait for every time it needs new oil. That seems insane to me.
Pocket Gamer avatar Anthony Usher:
Charging a few quid to unlock a pack of new cars and tracks would have been a better approach.
Pocket Gamer avatar Rob Hearn:
The current structure forces you to think about your balance and the condition of your car constantly. That's great if you don't mind that sort of thing, but poisonous if you just want to race.
Pocket Gamer avatar Mark Brown:
And I'm not paying £70 for a car.
Pocket Gamer avatar James Gilmour:
The timer system actually puts me off spending money. Why should I put £5 or £10 into a game that's still going to lock me out when the meter runs dry? I'd rather just put that £5 into Real Racing 2 and race to my heart's content.
Pocket Gamer avatar Mark Brown:
Unfortunatately, I think EA would rather have a system where you can pay infinite money, rather than a £5 limit.
Pocket Gamer avatar James Gilmour:
Yes. They're 'whaling'.
Pocket Gamer avatar Keith Andrew:
Ultimately, though, we have to accept that this is an experiment by EA. Most folk still don't know what they're doing with F2P, so it is a case of feeling around in the dark to see what consumers react to. The real talking point will come when the follow-ups emerge.
Pocket Gamer avatar Mark Brown:
You know, I'd really love to see a first-person shooter with a similar system. You pay for bullets between levels, so it forces you to have good aim. Could be fun. Or horrible. Who knows.