BMW M3 Challenge is a racing game in which players can get behind the wheel of a BMW M3 Coupé and "see just what the V8 high-rev engine is capable of while constantly pushing the boundaries of driving pleasure even further. In short, the main goal of the game is to show off the M3 Coupé and illicit a strong sense of "want" in the player that will hopefully get them to their nearest BMW dealership.
Below is a detailed analysis of this game roughly following Brian Winn's1 Design/Play/Experience framework, including:
Plain and simple, the goal of "BMW M3 Challenge" is to:
1) Convince the player (through a supposed addicting racing adver-game) to buy a BMW M3.
In terms of story and setting, there isn't much. The game takes place on the Nürburgring Grand Prix circuit in Germany where the player is able to race a brand spankin' new M3 Coupé that is customized to their heart's content.
The game is broken up into two different sections. Single-Player and Multiplayer. Within the two sections, there are multiple game modes the player can choose from. In multiplayer, the standard local or online play options are available. It's in the single player section that the different modes of play expand quite a bit. Here, the player can choose from three different modes. These are "Open Practice", "Race Weekend", and "Time Trials". "Open Practice" allows the player to do just that. Practice. "Race Weekend" allows the player to race against other A.I. controlled racers, and "Time Trials" challenges players to try and set records for lap times on various circuts. Picking any one of these options brings the player to the car customization screen. Here they can change the color and the wheel type of their BMW. After that, it's off to the races. In terms of mechanics, the goal of the game is quite simple. Beat the other racers you're competing against. Unless you're playing in Time Trials in which case the goal is to improve your lap times. The actual gameplay experience is quite fun and as a result, it's easy to get riled up when racing or completing time trials. While this may sound like a positive thing, I believe it actual hinders the overall goal of the game which is to convince the player that they should buy a BMW. After playing the game for about 10-15 minutes, I was so engrossed in trying to spin my opponents off the track and winning races that I forgot why I was there in the first place. In a way, the game is TOO fun.
The user interface is clean and slick and in no way interferes with the gameplay or any potential learning at all. Everything a player would normally expect from a racing game is present. The top left corner of the screen displays the position the player is in during the current race, what lap they're on, and how much time is left if there is a time limit. The top right corner displays time trial information such as the time of the best or current lap, as well as split time. The bottom left corner of the screen houses your speedometer and the bottom right contains your RPM indicator. The one small gripe I have comes from the controls. This is more of a personal nitpick than a real issue but I found that trying to control the car with a keyboard was strange. I'm a console gamer first and foremost so playing any kind of game on a PC feels weird to me. That small critique aside, the game includes another control option that really draws the player into the driving experience. If you're lucky enought to own one, you can plug in a racing wheel controller and use that to control your vehicle. This provides a much more engrossing gameplay experience and really amps up the fun. In short, the keyboard controls don't really add or take anything away from the experience but the racing wheel is a big plus.
As stated right on the game's homepage, "The software runs on all standard Windows personal computers." Being an adver-game, the goal is to reach as many potential customers/players as possible. The fact that it runs on a Windows PC allows it to do just that. Microsoft operating systems account for over 85% of the desktop market share so the amount of consumers BMW M3 Challenge can reach is staggering. (2)
Every review I've found has praised the game for a variety of reasons. One review in particular has high praise for the "superb graphics", "helpful control assists", and "customizable race options". This one in particular didn't have any negative things to say about the game. (3) It should be noted that this review was soley a game review in that it didn't look at the job the game did in terms of being an adver-game/serious game. While that game is extremely well-done from a video game perspective, it doesn't do enough as an adver-game. One suggestion that could improve the chances of a potential consumer going to a dealership and purchasing a BMW would be to include a "dealer finder" that takes in the player's location and lists the nearest dealerships to their current location. This would only help the player/customer get to a dealership.
BMW M3 Challenge is a great game. From the slick user interface, to the great graphics, it's a blast to play. Unfortunatley, that's where the praise ends. As a serious/adver-game, I feel like it fails completely. The whole point of an adver-game is to get the consumer to go out and buy your product. BMW M3 Challenge does not illicit that feeling in me at all. As I stated previously, after playing the game for about ten minutes, I completely forgot that I was supposed to be wooed into buying a BMW. I was having too much fun and the game did nothing to try and get me out of my chair and to a dealership. To me, it felt like just another racing game. I play Forza Motorsport and Need For Speed all the time. Those titles are not trying to get you to go out and but a Lambo or Ferrari. They're just meant to be fun. I got the same thrilling gameplay experience from this game as I do from those titles. In a way, the game was too fun. Some suggestions to remedy this include the dealer locator feature I mentione above, as well as inclusion of factoids on the loading screens that explain why the BMW M3 should be the next car you purchase. One of the main points of an adver-game is to diversify the product it's advetising from the competion. The player has to go through the loading screens to get to the gameplay. Seems like a perfect place to put these factoids, no?
- Winn, Brian. The Design, Play and Experience Framework. In R. Ferdig (Ed.), Handbook of Research on Effective Electronic Gaming in Education. Hershey, PA: IGI Global, 2009, pp. 388-401.
- Wikipedia. "Usage Share of Operating Systems." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 20 Feb. 2013. Web. 20 Feb. 2013.
- DeathDude. "BMW M3 Challenge @ Reloaded.org." BMW M3 Challenge @ Reloaded.org. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Feb. 2013.