Why aren't there many free-to-play driving games?

Here on the Mighty Robot blog, we've talked a fair bit about how we want to drive gaming forward – and, more specifically, how we will use the driving games genre to do that. A major part of our plan for ushering in a new era of the genre relates to the concepts of free-to-play and free-to-win.

With free-to-play, there is no barrier to entry for gamers new and old to discover our games. Moreover, we've gone in-depth on why driving games consistently resonate with players across various generations. So why aren't there more free-to-play driving games on the market right now?

When you think of the biggest and most popular free-to-play titles, your mind will naturally gravitate towards the juggernauts in the industry – games like Fortnite, Call of Duty: Warzone, League of Legends, etc. While these games all have distinctive styles and even belong to different genres, vehicles and driving aren't considered core to the experience – Warzone and Fortnite may have vehicles in them, but if you took them out, they'd still be the same games. The only free-to-play game based around driving that has managed to break into the mainstream like these aforementioned hits is Rocket League, which first took off in July 2015 thanks to being released for free as part of the monthly PlayStation Plus offering. Later, the game went fully free-to-play, which attracted a new audience once the initial hype had died down.

The majority of free-to-play driving games focus solely on racing – games like Forza Street and the Asphalt series are mainly focused on the thrill of driving licensed cars, simulating a glamorous street-racing or sports racing vibe. Even the more outlandish games which focus on other elements, such as Trackmania's emphasis on solo time trials and building your own circuits, usually end up with players simply racing one another.

So why exactly is this? There could be a few factors at play here. For starters, driving games have come to be known as showpieces for high-end graphics – Forza and Gran Turismo fulfil this role on each major home console respectively. Free-to-play games are often made by smaller teams within limited timeframes, and are generally aimed at attracting the widest audience possible and not just those who can afford top-end gaming rigs, so aren't as focused on competing on a technical level with these flagship titles.

On that note, many free-to-play titles are released for mobile devices, so their ability to simulate high-speed driving scenarios are limited by hardware – though mobile technology is always getting better. Only one of the three games Mighty Robot has in development is a mobile game, while the other two are coming to consoles and PC, fully utilising the technology available on these platforms. Blinkfire, on the other hand, has been designed from the ground up to run on mobile devices, utilising a graphical style inspired by MOBAs to make the game accessible to all mobile gamers.

Furthermore, our games are perfectly positioned to thrive in the free-to-play space. When it comes to monetization, there are several avenues driving games can go down to get players spending. Cosmetics are a key way for free-to-play games to monetize and it goes without saying that racing games offer almost endless possibilities for customization. But the majority of driving games, due to their focus on licensed cars, are limited in what customisation they can offer due to agreements with manufacturers on how their cars are seen in-game. In Mighty Robot's games, players will not only be able to customize their vehicles with unique parts, paint jobs, and modifications, but they will also be able to put their own spin on their player characters, customizing them with outfits, tattoos, and more. And these purchases won't be for just one game – our goal with our Mighty Verse is to make our games part of the same ecosystem, opening up countless possibilities that we will be disclosing as time goes on.

Mighty Robot's library looks to unify players looking for a thrilling combat experience with those that just want to put the pedal to the metal. Like Rocket League, our games mix in elements of other genres to elevate their appeal for a wide audience beyond existing driving gamers. With a clear gap in the market for free-to-play driving games, we believe our three-pronged approach will help us attract a new audience to the genre and serve players already invested.

With the inherent pull that driving games have already well-established, we believe the time is now ripe for a driving game franchise to capitalise on the hunger for high-quality free games.

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