I played a free-to-play game to completion.
I’m quite surprised by this. The game in question is CSR Racing on iOS, and let me qualify my initial statement by adding that there are still extra races I could do, but I’ve beaten all the “bosses,” as well as each ladder series in all 5 tiers of the game.
Although it does indeed include a lot of possible in-app purchases — like you’d expect from a free-to-play game — I still managed to play through it without spending a dime. Sure, there was a bit of grinding involved — and it got rather annoying towards the end, where improvements to my car cost a small fortune — but it felt manageable, for the most part.
I think the key to the game is that it was perfect for my daily commute — which includes about 20-25 minutes on subway/train. I would have just enough “gas” — the energy unit in the game, that refills with time (or of course, through a purchase) — to keep me playing on my ride “to” and “from” work, and it usually felt like I was advancing at a steady pace. But I should add that the fact that your “save” is done in the cloud and that the app is universal meant I could play on my iPhone when out and about, and then play some more on my iPad when at home (which I did). The developers did a great job with this.
The gameplay itself is rather simple — it’s not a racing game where you actually drive on a track, but rather you just need to shift gears at the right time to max your acceleration, in order to win a straight line drag race. But that shifting mechanic was fun, and mixed with a really nice graphic package and real world cars, I was hooked for the entire game.
It is a shame that the last update to the game introduces very annoying ads that pop up before or after a race — luckily this only happened to me as I was nearing completion, but I think if it would have been like that from the start, I would have stopped playing.
Now I need to find something to fill that CSR Racing void — let’s see how far I get into Galaxy on Fire 2 HD (currently on sale for a buck).