Electronic Arts’ wildly popular Real Racing 3 app has been downloaded more than 180 million times on phones and tablets worldwide.
The game, so established that it’s included in the “Essentials” section of the App Store, is a worldwide hit featuring a variety of different forms of racing. But users have never been able to experience NASCAR as part of Real Racing 3 – until now.
On Monday, EA unveiled a NASCAR-themed update to the app, which has a variety of star drivers’ stock cars for users to unlock over a six-week period. The update centers around the Sept. 12 Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway, which serves as NASCAR’s final regular season race.
“We really believe this is going to be one of the best updates we’ve ever had in Real Racing,” the game’s senior producer, Luis Gigliotti, told USA TODAY Sports by phone from Australia. “Our lead designer is doing backflips. He’s fallen in love with it, actually. We’re really excited to bring it out to the fans and the players.”.
The game, a free download, starts with players putting themselves in the seat of an up-and-coming driver trying to break into the Sprint Cup Series. After graduating from the NASCAR Academy (a tutorial), players must complete a series of levels before gaining access to the Richmond race, where they can compete in a full 43-car field.
VIDEO: Preview of NASCAR update.
Though the NASCAR update will live for only a short time, any cars unlocked by users in the six-week period can be used for the rest of the game.
That’s big exposure for NASCAR, which will suddenly be spotlighted for players from Europe to Asia and everywhere in between. In addition, it should provide the sport a boost in its ongoing efforts to connect with the millennial audience.
“We looked at North America and said, ‘What’s the most popular form of racing in North America?’ Obviously, NASCAR jumps to the front of that,” Gigliotti said. “We’re hoping it helps expose the different types of motor sports that aren’t as popular in different types of regions. We’re really happy to be able to show some of our players in China and different parts of the world how much fun and engaging the NASCAR experience is.”.
Real Racing 3’s users spend an average of 35 minutes on the game per day, and there are 11 million races completed every day. Since the game has been around since 2013, the developers have chosen to try and evolve the user experience by implementing real events from around the world.
A recent update let users race the 24 Hours of Le Mans course, for example.
“One of the goals we have is to evolve the franchise from not just a game with awesome cars you win, but to seek out the pinnacle of every genre of motor sport globally,” Gigliotti said. “The idea is to kind of keep bringing in the most popular forms of motor sport into the game by picking key events and working really hard to recreate that experience as much as possible.”.
For Richmond, Gigliotti flew to the track and mounted a GoPro on top of a car to capture the exact feel of the 0.75-mile venue. He’s been playing a test version of the NASCAR update every day in anticipation of the launch, excitedly sending screenshots around the office when he puts someone in the wall.
“It’s an experience we’ve never had in Real Racing,” he said. “Having a little fun and being able to rub up against some cars — we’re really looking forward to seeing how all the players and fans out there react to it.”.
Follow Gluck on Twitter @jeff_gluck.