I divide all popular computer games into two groups: it is the implementation of new progressive technologies (read: better graphics, more realistic scenes etc.) behind the popularity of the first group and it is pure idea behind the popularity of the second one.
The development process of the technology-based game is quiet transparent and predictable. Graphics becomes better, requirements become higher. When it comes to a mind-blowing idea, the development process is an absolute mystery. You can spend days and weeks procrastinating and fail all the milestones, and then all of a sudden you get an insight into what you are going to offer to your customer.
Therefore, as I see it, big companies focus on technology-based games and idea-based games are usually avoided as risky or sometimes get a status of a spin-off and a budget of several hundred bucks. At the same time, idea-based games are developed by a handful of enthusiasts with or without strict documentation, timeline, budget and overall strategic planning.
But it is not always like this. At first sight, Real Racing 3 seems to be just another brick in the wall of detailed realistic racing games, which appear here and there every couple of months and more or less demonstrate the possibilities of the newest hardware. Actually, it is beautifully designed and currently seems to be the best iOS racing game ever. At this point developers could have said “That’s it, boys and girls!” – but they didn’t. In fact, they invented the whole new way of playing a game in a multiplayer mode being offline, and it is called Time Shifted Multiplayer (TSM). In a nutshell, TSM downloads other player’s lap times (and, perhaps, their specific paths) while you’re online, and after that you compete with real people being on- or offline. Well, we can’t say these are real people – these are their shadows. But it is still an amazing compromise between multiplayer mode, which requires good Internet access, and single player mode, which is boring as hell.
What I want to point out is that RR3 is a game with both brilliant graphics and a unique idea behind it. It is something out of line. It is something awesome. You shouldn’t blame Firemonkeys for their monetization strategy. You should enjoy.