Real Soccer 2013 Review: Less soccer, more reaching for your wallet

The first Real Soccer for Windows Phone was less than an exemplary game. Announced back in 2010 as a launch title, it didn’t show up until well into 2012. The Real Soccer we eventually got falsely advertised the inclusion of two modes (‘Enter the Legend’ and ‘Club Master’) that weren’t even in the game. And one of the Achievements (‘Man of the Match’) was tied to the absent Enter the Legend mode, making it impossible to unlock – by design! Gameloft’s otherwise solid Windows Phone port of Let’s Golf 2 also suffered from an impossible-by-design Achievement.

Yes, Gameloft and the Xbox Live certification team were awfully negligent in those days. We brought these issues up to Microsoft, but neither game was ever fixed and Real Soccer still has the same blatantly incorrect store description it launched with.

In 2013, Gameloft has made a huge turnaround in quality control, releasing the phenomenal Asphalt 7 and very good The Amazing Spider-Man for Windows Phone 8. Their third new release, Real Soccer 2013, also impresses at first glance. However, its Achievements are not without issue. This time, one of them costs real money to unlock - just one symptom of a troubled sports game.

Out with the old features, in with nothing new

If you look around the web, it’s difficult to find any positive reviews of Real Soccer 2013 for other platforms. The 2013 version switched to a freemium model – not a bad thing in and of itself. But instead of designing a fun game in which players can opt to spend real money in order to skip ahead a little faster (like Asphalt 7 and Amazing Spider-Man), Gameloft instead created that tried to siphon player’s wallets at every opportunity, with fun factor more of a byproduct than anything else.

A typical soccer game, whether on consoles or mobile will consist of at least two modes: single match and league play. Most would also offer multiplayer, but the Real Soccer series has always eschewed multiplayer for reasons unknown. Still, past installments at least provided those two bare minimum modes, and on iOS they offered nice extra modes like the aforementioned Enter the Legend and Club Master. The Windows Phone 7 game might have left those out, but it still had six modes to keep players busy.

Real Soccer 2013 trims those offerings down to just one mode: League Play. Players choose a team at the outset and can never change it again, embarking on an endless series of games against rival teams. Between games, players can acquire new players, hire new staff like doctors and masseuses, and upgrade the team’s facilities. The absence of a way to play single games without consequences is suspect, but a really strong league mode still could have made 2013 a worthwhile game.

Freemium gone wrong

Frustratingly, 2013 isn’t built around just playing as much as you want and maybe spending a little real money along the way to get some perks. Instead, it’s more a ‘pay to play’ structure. See, each player on your team (all FIFPro licensed, BTW) has both health and injury stats. Full health isn’t required to participate in a match, but it affects performance. When a player’s health gets low, he is likely to get injured. To restore a player’s health, you need to send him off to a masseur. If the player gets injured, send him off to the doctor.

Here’s the problem: you don’t get those players back right away. They take anywhere from a few hours to a whopping 20 hours to return, though upgrading your doctors and masseuses can reduce the wait. Still, this creates a dynamic in which all of your players eventually become unusable after about 5-9 games.  Games last about 6 minutes, so we’re talking about a soccer game that only allows you to play it for 30-60 minutes in one sitting. Then you’re forced to either stop playing for the day or buy some premium currency with real money.

Getting back onto the field

Here are the costs for instantly restoring a single-player to readiness. See the image above for premium cash prices.

  • Spa (refill health) = 1 premium cash. Normal wait time for a level 3 Masseur with -10% time bonus takes about 5.5 hours
  • Injury = 5 premium cash. Normal wait time for level 4 Doctor with -15% time bonus takes about 20 hours
  • Training = 3 premium cash. Normal wait time for level 2 Trainer with -5% time bonus takes about 11.5 hours

Each facility can only treat a certain number of players at a time, so you’ll likely have players waiting around for a spot to even become available. Upgrading a facility allows it to treat two additional players, so you’ll want to put some of the non-premium money earned from winning games into upgrades.

On the field

With all the time you spend worrying about scrounging enough healthy players together to participate in a match, the match itself almost becomes an afterthought. But Real Soccer 2013 does pack a decent soccer simulation beneath its unwanted freemium trappings. Moving around the field with the virtual stick is fairly intuitive, and the buttons are clearly labeled with their functions, unlike the PES games. Learning some of the finer mechanics like how to tackle without conceding a penalty takes practice - something that’s too hard to come by without a training or single game mode.

The graphics range from decent to impressive, depending on what’s happening. Close-up shots (like when a player receives a penalty) use high detail player models to good effect, but during actual gameplay the models are fairly simplistic. Even then, it still looks worlds better than the first Real Soccer. The audio fares okay once you turn the crowd sound down a few notches. By default, it positively drowns out the stereotypical British announcer.


It will cost 300 premium cash to get those silver and gold cards. $30!

Real Soccer 2013 doesn’t seem to have any impossible Achievements like its predecessor, though there are some tough ones that nobody has unlocked just yet. Of those, ‘Legendary Player’ requires you to win every other Achievement, PLUS unlock the separate in-game Trophies… An awfully steep requirement, but it’s even steeper than it sounds.

Two of the in-game Trophies needed for ‘Legendary Player’ involve getting a certain number of silver and gold player cards. But the game only gives away bronze player cards for free. The silver and gold ones cost real money. By my estimate, it will take $30 of actual currency to get the premium money needed to buy those silver and gold player cards. This is a game that you’d need to play for an hour a day for months just to unlock all the other Achievements, and we’re supposed to spend an absurd amount of money on top of that to complete those two Trophies and get the last Achievement?

Overall Impression

I understand that the freemium and free-to-play payment models are still relatively new, or they’re at least new to some companies. And there are bound to be growing pains as a company dips its toes into those waters. But Real Soccer 2013 is a perfect example of how not to monetize a game. Gameloft took a game design that worked in the past, selling for about three bucks a pop, and transformed it into a hideous cash vacuum.

Does the prospect of paying more than $30 in real money to play a stripped-down soccer game sound good to you? Had this been a seven dollar title that we could play for as long as we wanted, I could at least recommend it to big spenders. Instead, the copious waiting to restore players to health makes for a game that isn’t worth devoting your time to, let alone actual money.

Real Soccer 2013 requires a Windows Phone 8 device with at least 1 GB of RAM. Store links: Real Soccer 2013 (US and Canada) Real Football 2013 (the rest of the world). File size: 809 MB (requires approximately 4 GB of space to install)

QR: Real Soccer 2013

Paul Acevedo is the Games Editor at Windows Central. A lifelong gamer, he has written about videogames for over 15 years and reviewed over 350 games for our site. Follow him on Twitter @PaulRAcevedo. Don’t hate. Appreciate!

  • The title of this article sums up this game perfectly. I would rather have paid full price and be done with it.
  • Totally agree. I don't like in game purchase but I normally understand in business sense. However this game goes too much.
  • +1
  • Totally annoyed by this game. I hate this freemium style game, I would rather pay £5 for the game and be done with it. The gameplay is good, the buying crap is annoying
  • No new game from Gameloft this week??
  • I rather pay $5 for the game and play as long as I want. That waiting shit when you have to cure, train or make a player relax is crazy, it makes the game unplayable after 1-2 matches.
  • He kicks the ball, please deposit .50 to continue. . . He passes to the forward, please deposit .50 to continue. . . He shoots, please deposit .50 to continue. . . Doesn't get more fun than this folks. Why don't you just stick a gun to my head and demand my money. I would have more respect for you.
  • This ^
  • Unfortunately uninstalled. The actual gameplay is quite good but the pay for everything model just ruined the experience.
  • Yeah that's so true
  • +1
    Its more of a strategy game than a sport simulation. Plus forcing gamers to spend money at every step is annoying. Switching back to Real Soccer 2012.
  • I hope nova 3 isn't like this because I can't wait for that game I don't want to be disappointed
  • I really don't care for the freemium model mainly because so many companies have completely borked up the implementation - this game is a perfect example. Instead of a game being $3, all too often you end up having to shell out unrealistic amounts of money to just play. I have a game on my Kindle Fire tablet that, in order to unlock all parts of the game, you've either got to play for a nearly a year (not joking) or, spend... wait for it... $100 in real hard cash.
    If someone is going to push a freemium model, then the total cash outlay you have to put forth really shouldn't be more than 2x-3x the cost of what it would have cost to buy the game to begin with.
  • I've been trying to play this game since it came out, and enjoyed it at least a little bit.  It is annoying that after 2-3 games you have to stop playing due to player fatigue or injury, but considering that my phone's processor feels like its going supernova I would have stopped regardless.  Seriously did anyone else have an issue with this game overheating their phone or draining the battery at an alarming rate? (Lumia 920)
    In regards to the unattainable achievement without real money, I just wish they would have allowed earned coins from matches to be used as well kind of like FIFA ultimate team.
  • Yeah, this game heats up my phone like a vocano , and the battery drains really fast, plus this freemium bullshit is ridiculous.. People should pass on this game.
  • yes, i have supernova too :D
  • Why do you guys keep praising Spider-Man? The WP8 version is utter shit. The frame rate is awful and controlling a 3D character with touch controls results in a frustrating experience.
  • I'm currently addicted. I spent five dollars (because that is what it is worth) to buy a piggy bank full'o cash. I enjoy the sim aspect of the game. I wish some of the upgrades made more of a difference in wait times for things like healing. It is obvious they are feeding on the impatient. I can play a couple matches a day and then open the app several other times to manage the team. The most frustrating part is that I have a real hard time winning matches when I do finally get to play. And you have to win to get money to train your players. It seems as though as your level increases the opponent difficulty increases. The catch is your level increases because you manage your team, not because you win matches. So each day I can get enough cash to try and train players...but it UPS their stats in such a small increment that it will take weeks before I'll feel like I have a dominant team for the current league. Then I suspect it will repeat with the next league. Personally I think an update with some tweaks on how much money is made or what things cost, or lowering how long you have to wait for resting players would make this game much more attractive.
  • I just want to play football, i dont want be a manager i dont want to deal with stats and crap, I just want to play football!
    I used to love PES with its simple approach to "just playing football" but this awful effort is just a cash draining mix of a football and football manager game, totally gutted with it
    I just want to play football (are we getting it yet gameloft?)
  • The trouble as well is its not even that great a football game,would of paid £1:99 tops for it. Deleted mine quicker then it took me to install it. Would love ea to bring fifa to wp 8. Also do we ever get any price drops or deals on this ios? Terrible compared to others out there...
  • Originally gave this game 5 stars. Now down to 3. SO annoying having to wait to play a match! Unless you want to pay to play almost every game. I'd rather have paid $6.99 upfront and not have to wait to play. So stupid. Hopefully. EA will bring FIFA to WP8.
  • I am already regretting starting this game. It is such a hassle...they got to be joking? Hopefully Microsoft sees the achievement you have to pay money for and removes it from the marketplace. And when it returns the game gives you that many gold and silver players. Or something else to stop dicking the consumer over.
  • Hey Paul, did you happen to win any of the cups in the game? I thought maybe you would get a cash reward for that. Didn't win any myself though the game is too unforgiving for me to go on 5 game winning streaks...
  • I managed to win quite a few cups. Never got any cash reward, only coins. Was hoping for that as well but so far...NO
  • I'm sure Paul would reply but I think he direct this to me, you'd have to ask him why. I have over 40+ wins now in the last week. 0 premium love, No issues with coins though average about 1300-2000 each win now that's with big scoring bonuses, like 3 goal with 1 player, no goals against, win streaks, etc.. unless it's an away game & that still don't help very much at all! I can only imagine how this affects the people that have a tuff time even scoring a single goal. The biggest tip try not to use the D pad, only use to chage direction then remove your left thumb, it's hard to break a habit but when you finally get it right you will know the difference it's a whole lot better, I have been able to receive freekicks more often easier to steal the ball, 2nd tip never use the tackle buttun it's completely usless. (Penalty Everytime)  only reason I have so many wins already Is I spent all my coin winning's on the massuer & dr not much of anything else. except sponsor & stadium's cause there fairly cheap. Those are the most important just to beable to start a game.  I couldn't be more happy with Paul than today! He went above and beyond to work with me to get this published so everyone knows what's inside the real game not just what's on the cover of it! I'll talk to him about a minor update to the article to point out the same issue monster island had on release..
  • I'm going to go against the grain as far as the pacing of the game. I love resting and training my players, and trying to keep a good rotation day to day. I do have to draw the line at the mandatory spending on achievements however. I gladly spent $5 hoping to boost my team and give gameloft a little love for brining these games to WP8. I think  it was worth it, got a few start players and that made the game much more enjoyable.  Now that I read we have to pay even more to get all the achieves though just break my heart. There is no need for dirty pool Gameloft. We will support you if you play fair.
  • Sorry another comment, you know of the policy that Microsoft has that you can't be forced to lay money for any achievements? Don't you think they will catch this and fix it, like they did with monster island? Could have mentioned that in the article as well.
  • I was wondering the same thing.
  • Same here, this seems not right. They need to change that...buying achievements with no option to get them legit is just awful.
  • Please share this article tweet it post it wherever you can. I can't stress enough how important this article/review is, Knowing there releasing many many more games for WP in the future & everyone has the right to know what's expected from the next (9) games from Gameloft! They need to know! Also Arsenic your the x360a guy let them all know on the Forum page for this game. Please!
  • Are you just upset about the freemium model here or the achievement. I can't tell what you are mad about more. I am in the process of making a guide on x360a. Trust me it will be apparent in the guide or raodmap what this garbage game is all about!
  • Actually I don't mind the gameplay what little there is! My main issue is with the achievement.
  • This is why I want to jailbreak WP. Memory editing is the way to go.
  • Gameloft are crazy if they thought they could get away with this. They better change their model.
  • Fuck freemiums.
  • 'how to tackle without getting a penalty'
    Sorry to be a pedant, but it should read conceding a penalty.
    As far as the game goes, Gameloft screwed up big time.
  • When you start you get one free 5 star player. He is a striker for me and is literally the backbone of my team. He scores all my goals and is a speed demon. Never gets tired or injured either. I can play him like 10 straight games before a rest is needed. The other players can only make it through a single game, then if you play them again they will most likely get injured. What a joke they give you a sample of greatness to try and make you buy all 5 star players, which by the way would cost like $80 to outfit your whole squad...
  • And still not unlock the final achievement! almost better to just get the 10 silver players & upgrade them & get the 5 golds then it's at least possible to get the Legendary Player achievement. We don't even get the deals for cash android & iphone get let alone on android you can earn poker chips for sharing game feats, then use to get stuff.
  • Wow that is a pain. Have you ever actually been able to successfully upgrade any players status. It seems like you would have to train like 100,000coins worth or more for that. So many stats that only go up by 1 pt....
  • I figured a 1 star player on average would take about 200+ days twice a day to upgrade to full stats, But i still don't think there star changes though have seen no proof yet. The 2 star guys I have are from the Bronze cards.
  • The people should fight against the freemium model, its horrible and designed not for enabling players to play the bits they want and thus make it cheaper for people, which is what they say its for, but for siphoning as much cash away as possible. They put the horrible "get coins to use in game" nags everywhere and whilst adults can spot that, a LOT of kids wont. These companies are basically stealing millions from people as their kids click away to get coins to enable the game to work.
    Microsoft, Google and Apple really do have to rise above freemium. In app purchases shouldn't be possible. The only purchasable extras should be dlc that ADDS to an already complete game, not enables it to work.
  • Xbox certification fails again.  It is against certification requirements to force a player to pay money to be awarded an achievement.  As an Xbox developer, we bust our gut trying to meet every certification requirement and quite often get pinged on minor issues, then a high profile game comes along and blatantly violates those certification requirements.
  • This is actually one of my favorite WP games.  After leveling up all of your coaches, etc. it isn't a big deal.  Sometimes waiting for players to heal and rest stinks but I don't have that much time play anyways.  I think this game is great.
  • This game has a great idea and decent gameplay, right up until you realize that it is one of the worst freemiums ever designed.  Seriously I have never played a game that is crappy on so many levels.  Normally I would buy up the amount I think the game is worth but this one shall receive nothing and may God have mercy on their souls because I won't even download any other Gameloft freemiums until they change this farce.
  • I lost 3 matches in a row (this game is to hard) and hot stuck. Waited 20 hours, played 1 match and lost again and for stuck for another 20 hours......uninstall!!!!