EA accelerates shift to freemium with 'Real Racing 3' for iOS, Android

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Electronic Arts will shift its marquee mobile racing franchise Real Racing from premium to freemium with the Feb. 28 launch of the series' third installment, available for Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS and Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android.

Real Racing 2

The Real Racing games let users race officially licensed cars.

While EA continues to charge consumers $4.99 for its Real Racing 2, the forthcoming Real Racing 3 will be available as a free download incorporating premium in-app purchases to boost gameplay and drive revenues. EA is making the switch to appeal to a wider audience of casual gamers said Nick Earl, general manager of the publisher's All Play label, which includes mobile and social titles.

"We looked at it closely, and the market was demanding games with this model," Earl told CNet. "It's an opportunity to get it in front of far more people."

Earl said freemium is now EA's "default model," citing the success of The Simpsons: Tapped Out, the freemium iOS title it introduced in early 2012. The game generated more than $23 million in revenues during the final three months of last year, according to EA's most recent earnings report.

Real Racing 3 will feature roughly 900 different events and spans about 600 hours of total gameplay, Earl told Bloomberg. The title also brings new features like Time-Shifted Multiplayer: Gamers may upload their completed races to EA's servers and challenge their social media contacts to compete against them, squaring off against a "ghost car" that runs the same route and time as the first player.

EA's mobile games and services, including handhelds, generated approximately $100 million in revenue during its third fiscal quarter ending Dec. 31, an 18 percent year-over-year increase that helped the firm offset ongoing declines in its console business. "The major portion of [mobile] revenue was driven by smartphones and tablets, which accounted for $79 million, growing 36 percent year-over-year," Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President Blake Jorgensen said during EA's earnings call.

For more:
- read this CNet article
- read this Bloomberg article

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