NaturalMotion's CSR Racingwas one of the standout games of 2012.
During 2013, the company didn't release a sequel, however. Instead it released a game that's perhaps better described as a standalone mission pack - CSR Classics.
As the name suggests, it's virtually the same game, only with the cars involved being of the 'classic' variety, rather than contemporary vehicles.
Following the 'if it's not broken, don't fix it' philosophy, it's proved to be a smart decision from developer Boss Alien (owned by NaturalMotion).
Players who enjoyed the simple rhythm-action gameplay of CSR Racing, which has you tapping on the screen at the right time to shift gears, get exactly the same experience in CSR Classics.
And, because they are likely to be petrolheads, the opportunity to race a different set of cars means that NaturalMotion isn't cannabalising its audience. There's no reason you can't play CSR Racing and CSR Classics concurrently.
Perhaps the only disappointment is that the opportunity to introduce new gameplay such as the drift mode in Kabam's rival Fast & Furious 6: The Game hasn't been taken. We assume such things will arrive in NaturalMotion's new racing games due in 2014.
Tweaking the currency ratio
In terms of its IAP economy, CSR Classics is almost the same as CSR Racing.
Unfashionably now, there are two hard currencies - Cash (the softer of the two) and Gold.
Both are used for buying new cars and upgrading parts, with Cash more generally used for common-or-garden gameplay and Gold used to buy the more exclusive cars and to upgrade parts immediately (i.e. without waiting).
Looking at the ratios of real cash to the virtual currencies, both games use the same 6-band IAP transaction system for Cash and Gold.
In the case of Cash, exactly the same ratio is used, with the maximum transaction being 1 million Cash for $99.99.
Interestingly, though, when it comes to Gold, in CSR Classics you get ten times more Gold for each IAP transaction compared to CSR Racing.
Gold purchases in CSR Classics
For example, in CSR Classics, the maximum $99.99 (£69.99.) IAP gives you 16,500 Gold, whereas in CSR Racing, $99.99 buys you 1,650 Gold.
Gold purchases in CSR Racing
Of course, this doesn't mean you're getting 'more' Gold in CSR Classics as the price of everything in the game is ten times higher, but it does demonstrate the important of psychology pricing when it comes to considering hard currency conversion ratios
In CSR Racing, you get 16.5 Gold for each $1 spent in the maximum IAP, whereas for CSR Classics you get 165 Gold for each $1 spent.
As previously discussed in an earlier Monetizer, many games are now adopting a hard currency ratio of around 100 to 150 units per dollar spent; it's also used in games such as Clash of Clans and all games on DeNA's Mobage platform.
Loving the classic car
In terms of other aspects of CSR Classics' monetisation system, again, these are almost the same as in CSR Racing.
There's a fuel system which limits how many times you can race without spending currency or logging off, while you can buy your car a boost (or tune up) to improve your performance in races. Otherwise, it's a case of buying a car and slowly upgrading the various components, potentially also waiting for those upgrade parts to be fitted.
Of course, you also earn Cash and Gold as you progress through the game so you can happily grind away if you don't want to spend any money.
CSR Classics does have a couple of additional monetisation techniques, however.
One is interstitial advertising, while another is a mode which can only be raced if you buy the Jaguar E-Type vehicle (cost 600 Gold: 550 Gold is $4.99).
The most significant, however, is the Loved/Unloved car mechanic.
This comes into play when you buy a new car. You can spend more currency - typically Gold - to buy a semi-upgraded version of the car (Loved), or a cheaper but totally beat-up (Unloved) version.
Unloved (top) and Loved (below) versions of the Dart Swinger
It's a neat technique and one that fits into the game's narrative.
Looking more deeply into the numbers, we can see that both CSR Classics and CSR Racing have a Discounted Currency ratio of 2 for Cash and 1.7 for Gold. These ratios are typical of mobile F2P games, as is the option to more heavily discount the softer of the currencies.
As previously stated, both games used a 6-band IAP transaction system for both currencies with an average IAP transaction of $31.32 for Cash and $32.99 for Gold. This is because both games use an non-standard price point of $59.99 for the second most expensive IAP transaction for Gold as opposed to the standard $49.99 transaction price for Cash.
In terms of our Success ranking, CSR Racing ranks at the maximum value of 1, while CSR Classics ranks at 0.08.
The main reason for the difference between the two games is that CSR Classics 'only' peaked at #9 in the US top grossing charts for iPhone, mostly likely because of additional competition in the genre (Fast & Furious 6, Real Racing 3 etc), not to mention its mission pack status.
Still, we take 0.01 as the measure for commercial success so there's no doubt the game has been very successful for NaturalMotion.
In terms of our Monetizer ranking, CSR Classics has a score of 180. We treat any game with a score of more than 100 as being highly monetised.
Conclusion: CSR Classics
Success ratio (iPhone) = 0.08
Success ratio (iPad) = 0.02
Success ratio (Android) = N/A
Currency Discount ratio = 1.7 (Gold), 2.0 (Cash)
Average IAP cost (6 bands) = $31.31 (Cash), $32.99 (Gold)
Monetizer score = 180