General Manager of EA Mobile Tony Lay on Real Racing 3, freemium and Time Shifted Multiplayer




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Game Info

GAME NAME: Real Racing 3

DEVELOPER(S): FireMonkeys

PUBLISHER(S): EA

PLATFORM(S): iOS, Android

GENRE(S): Racing

RELEASE DATE(S): 14 Feburary 2013 (iOS), 28 February (Android)

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At the recent launch event for Real Racing 3, Stevivor got the chance to sit down with Tony Lay, the General Manager of EA Mobile (pictured above left, with Rob Murray of Firemonkeys).

Lay was able to shed some light on the game including the newly adopted freemium model, Time Shifted Multiplayer and the thrill of including local tracks in the game.

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Stevivor:  Just wanted to say first of all that the game looks amazing, I can’t believe it’s running on a mobile, like iPhone and iPad, so congratulations. How difficult is it to achieve those kinds of graphics on mobile devices?

Lay: It is always reliant on the guys behind it and their passion and their commitment to always try and push the boundaries of what these devices can do. It's difficult in that regard, but in terms of technical skill it’s always up to the guys and I have to give them kudos for being able to do that.

Stevivor: This is the third game in the Real Racing series and the first two were paid apps and this one has gone with the “free-to-play” model, how early in the design of that game was that decision made?

Lay: Very early. We’ve been in the mobile industry for over 10 years and you can see the trends and where that was going. So there was no question when we looked at Real Racing and we were deciding the scope of it and what it is we wanted to achieve. The next step was “How do we get it in as many hands as possible?” and I always see it purely from a craftsman perspective. If you make beautiful art you want everyone to see it, lowering the barrier to entry with it going free is one of those things. I can’t wait until everyone sees it.

Stevivor: Staying with the free-to-play model, could you elaborate on how that will work within the game and what we can expect to see?

Lay: Sure. There’s a whole bunch of game in there you can play without paying anything.  Where you could pay is to speed up your repairs or get some cars that you don’t have the patience to grind for and that’s basically it. It’s not really different from a lot of other freemium games and where the difference is, is just pure quality and sheer size of what we do give away.

RR3_LaunchScreenshots_iPhone5_suzukaStevivor: To me it looked like a console game.

Lay: Yeah, that’s where we’re trying to blur the lines. You know, I still geek out when I look at the TV screen and go “Wow that’s amazing!” and then I see that it’s connected to this little thing, this iPhone.

Stevivor: Well personally it looks like Grand Tursimo 4 on PlayStation 2, something in that region and sometimes even better than that. We’ve seen that there’s a track based on Melbourne and the Mt. Panorama track, is that a special kind of feeling getting to work on and create those “home town” tracks?

Lay: Absolutely. I mean they’re the ones that I’m personally most proud of as well, especially the Melbourne track because I’ve not had that experience where you drive around a track you’re familiar with, like streets that you walk or icons that you see.

Stevivor: It was really cool to drive past Flinders Street and the Arts Centre Spire.

Lay: So you’re from Melbourne? Yeah exactly, that feeling I think you only get if you’re a local, that, I guess, other people would have experienced before with basing tracks around their cities that we’ve never had and it’s something the team really wanted to do.

Stevivor: Into the future of the game is there going to be DLC support and will we see more local based tracks?

Lay: What we always do now is focus on games as a service and a live development. What that means is the features that you see today are only on launch and we plan to keep this alive for as long as our consumers want. So you’ll see more tracks and way more content coming through.

RR3_LaunchScreenshots_iPhone5_secaStevivor: With it being a universal app, are there any challenges in keeping it an identical experience between iPhone and iPad in regards to controls or graphical fidelity?

Lay: We always have that problem with mobile and that’s one of the challenges, even across to Android, there are many tiers, but the guys are really clever, they know how to tier the game in the right direction, so yeah it’s just a technical challenge more than anything else.

Stevivor: We’ve heard a lot about the new “Time Shifted Multiplayer” and how it’s going to make it so you’re able to play however you like with your friends no matter when they played. Can you give us some more detail on how that works?

Lay: You’ve sort of summed it up really well. What it does is, if you play the game today, I can pick it up and play it tomorrow and race against you. One of the main reasons why “Time Shifted Multiplayer” is so important is that it allows us to have a multiplayer experience without us having to sit down together, call each other, pick the track and a lot of the times that just never happens, so this allows a lot more people to experience multiplayer. What we’ve done is not like a ghost, it’s different to a ghost in that it doesn’t save your game and you see this half shaded out car driving around and you just try to match it for time. What it does is the A.I. tries to mimic your driving style and your skill level and it replicates that in my game. When I load up and you’ve posted a score, I’ll see you in there and the AI will replicate your racing style. This means I can interact with your car and it’s not ghosted out. You’ll be actually racing in my race and through all 900 events your face will be there if you beat me. It’s really competitive and we know it works well from experience. In the office it’s caused a lot of heated debate. [Laughs].

RR3_LaunchScreenshots_iPhone5_silverstoneStevivor: Is there anything in Real Racing 3 that you or your team are particularly proud of that we may have missed or anything to add?

Lay: For me, as a General Manager, I’m extremely proud of the quality that guys have achieved. The commitment to getting the game looking as good as it does, playing the way it does is phenomenal and that’s the thing that I always highlight. The people behind it are brilliant and it shows in the product. It’s the biggest game that you will find on mobile for free and when you download it I think you’ll see the depth of it and you’ll play for hours. There’s hundreds of hours worth of gameplay there for you.

Stevivor: Playing before I was honestly just blown away every time that I was playing on an iPhone or an iPad not on a Vita or a PlayStation 3, it’s pretty crazy.

Lay: Exactly! I know that a few people were worried because it had gone free, but just download the game and you’ll soon forget the fact that it’s free, for one because you just download it and two just look at the  title and look at the quality and the breadth of game that you get. I hope everyone enjoys it and I hope as many people play it with their friends as possible.

Stevivor: I think they will. Thanks for your time.

Lay: Thank you, thanks a lot.

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Thanks again to EA, FireMonkeys and most of all Tony Lay for his time.

About the Author
Leo Stevenson

I've been playing games for the past 25 years and have been writing for almost as long. Combining two passions in the way I'm able is a true privilege. I'm mostly drawn to single player, story driven games and couch co-op, but will occasionally delve into multiplayer.



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