In short – the Hot Wheels ID app is 100% free to download and use, providing the digital platform to get the most out of NFC-enabled Hot Wheels cars and sets. However, you need to purchase the physical Hot Wheels ID cars separately to fully experience the mixed reality gameplay. Keep reading as I‘ll fully break down the free and paid aspects of this innovative toy-meets-video game ecosystem.
As someone who‘s been playing and collecting Hot Wheels since childhood, I was instantly intrigued when Hot Wheels ID was announced in 2019. The idea of using NFC technology to digitally track real world cars sounded like a brilliant evolution of the iconic brand.
After getting to try the app and sets hands-on, I‘m impressed with how seamlessly Hot Wheels ID blends physical and digital play. The free app really unlocks a whole new level of interactive fun with your Hot Wheels cars.
In this detailed guide, I‘ll cover everything you need to know about the free and paid aspects of the platform. Let‘s dive in!
Overview of the Hot Wheels ID experience
Before getting into pricing, it‘s helpful to understand exactly what Hot Wheels ID offers.
At a high level, it‘s a mixed reality ecosystem that pairs NFC-enabled Hot Wheels cars with a free mobile app. The app lets you digitally identify and track your real world cars through races, challenges, and events.
The smart NFC integration bridges the toy and video game spaces in a way we haven‘t quite seen before.
Here are some of the key features and components of Hot Wheels ID:
NFC-enabled cars – Special Hot Wheels models contain tiny NFC chips that store unique IDs. Over 175 Hot Wheels ID cars have been released so far.
Free app – Available on iOS and Android, the Hot Wheels ID app is the portal for digitally managing your cars.
Digital tracking – When you scan a car into the app, you can view its stats and level it up through races and challenges.
Gameplay modes – Options range from classic races to stunt challenges to boss battles. New events are added regularly.
Race Portal – This accessory lets you race physical Hot Wheels cars through a real track while detecting laps and times.
Smart Track kits – These tracking-enabled track sets connect to the app to combine physical and digital play.
Now that you have an idea of what Hot Wheels ID entails, let‘s explore what aspects are available for free versus paid.
Is the Hot Wheels ID app free?
The Hot Wheels ID app is 100% free to download and use on both iOS and Android devices.
You can find the app on the App Store and Google Play Store. Just search for "Hot Wheels ID" and look for the red Hot Wheels logo to ensure you get the official app.
Once downloaded, you can create an account and access all of the core Hot Wheels ID features at no cost. No in-app purchases or subscriptions are required to enjoy the base experience.
Here are some of the key things you can do for free with the app:
- Scan and add Hot Wheels ID cars to your digital garage
- View detailed stats and customize each car
- Race on a variety of digital tracks and environments
- Compete in daily/weekly challenges and events
- Level up cars and earn rewards as you race
- Track race times and lap counts (requires Race Portal)
- Manage large collections and wish lists
- Decorate your racing hub withunlockable items
- Experience the whole single-player campaign
- Compete against other players‘ ghost laps
Besides having to purchase the NFC-enabled cars themselves, the app provides all you need to enjoy Hot Wheels ID gameplay free of charge.
Hot Wheels ID physical components
While the app is free, the NFC-enabled cars, accessories, and sets require separate purchase. These physical components are what really bring the mixed reality experience to life.
Here is an overview of typical prices for key Hot Wheels ID toys:
Individual cars – The main NFC cars cost around $6.99 each. Over 175 different Hot Wheels ID cars have been released to collect.
Race Portal – This portal reads NFC cars and tracks laps/speeds during physical races. The Race Portal retails for $39.99.
Smart Track kits – These complete sets combine NFC-enabled track pieces with the digital app. Prices range from $69.99 to $189.99.
Playsets – Playsets like the ID Box Headquarters add structured racing experiences. Playset prices are usually between $29.99 and $59.99.
You can purchase Hot Wheels ID cars, accessories, and sets from most major retailers including Walmart, Target, Amazon, and more.
These physical components are one-time purchases rather than requiring ongoing in-app transactions or subscription fees to use.
Getting started for free
If you want to try before you buy, there are a few ways to check out the Hot Wheels ID experience for free:
When you first open the app, you can scan and race the demo Skull Crusher and Rodger Dodger cars for free. This unlocks some starter challenges.
Around big entertainment releases like movies, Hot Wheels sometimes offers free limited-time car unlocks. For instance, they unlocked F9 cars around the latest Fast & Furious film.
A small selection of digital-only cars can be scanned into the app for free without owning the physical version. However, these are mostly basic models.
By using the accessible demo cars and any special unlocks, you‘re able to get a feel for the Hot Wheels ID gameplay before purchasing your own NFC-enabled cars.
Paid digital content
While 100% of the core Hot Wheels ID functionality is free, there are some optional paid digital content packs that enthusiasts may be interested in:
- Hot Wheels ID Season 1 Pass – $39.99 for exclusive cars and campaign expansion
- Hot Wheels ID Season 2 Pass – $39.99 for another set of exclusive unlockable cars
- Individual DLC cars – $1.99 for select individual cars like Skull Crusher
These downloads provide bonus content beyond the base free experience. They are completely optional purchases aimed more so at die-hard Hot Wheels fans.
No Hot Wheels ID subscription
At this time, there is no premium subscription or membership required to access features in the Hot Wheels ID app.
All gameplay modes, challenges, tracks, and limited-time events are unlocked for free simply by downloading the app.
There was some speculation that a "Hot Wheels ID Pass" auto-renewing subscription may be introduced based on unused in-app menu text.
However, Mattel has directly confirmed that there are no plans for a subscription or premium version. The core Hot Wheels ID experience will remain free-to-play.
Of course, that‘s not to say a subscription couldn‘t be added down the line. But for now, all you need is the free app and some NFC-enabled cars.
Key benefits of the free model
In my opinion, making the app completely free was a smart strategy by Mattel. Here are some of the benefits this approach offers:
Lower barrier to entry – Making the app free reduces barriers for kids and parents to try Hot Wheels ID.
Lets you preview the experience – Players can access core gameplay before committing to purchasing physical cars and sets.
Encourages collectibility – Since each car unlocks unique digital content, it encourages collecting more without ongoing fees.
Engages with minimal investment – Kids can start playing for free with demo cars before asking for ID cars as gifts.
Rewards early adopters – Those who bought in early got full free access to content they paid for physically.
Overall, the free app should significantly expand the mixed reality platform‘s reach and adoption.
Summary of pricing model
Here is a quick summary of Hot Wheels ID‘s free vs paid elements:
|App download||✅ Yes||❌ No|
|Core app features||✅ Yes||❌ No|
|Demo car scans||✅ Yes||❌ No|
|Limited car unlocks||✅ Yes||❌ No|
|NFC-enabled cars||❌ No||✅ Yes ($6.99)|
|Race Portal||❌ No||✅ Yes ($39.99)|
|Smart Track kits||❌ No||✅ Yes ($69.99+)|
|Hot Wheels ID Season Pass||❌ No||✅ Yes ($39.99)|
|Subscription||✅ None required||❌ N/A|
To wrap up, Hot Wheels ID‘s free app provides the digital component to experience mixed reality racing using NFC-enabled diecast cars. While Hot Wheels ID physical toys must be purchased separately, there is no cost or subscription needed to enjoy the base game experience.
For tech-forward Hot Wheels fans like myself, ID takes the iconic toy to exciting new levels. And the free platform helps make those innovations accessible to the next generation of fans.
With over 175 NFC-enabled cars released so far, massive digital racing potential, and more sets expanding the ecosystem, Hot Wheels ID is revving up to be a new favorite way to race and play both digitally and physically.