Sony Reveal Details For Free Realm

By John Walker on May 15th, 2008 at 5:46 pm.

Merry Christmas, readers!

Something to replace the lost Disney’s Magic Kingdom and the about to die EA Land (née the disastrous The Sims Online), perhaps? Free Realms is Sony’s forthcoming free, family-friendly MMO.

Massively reports that at the ION 08 online games development conference (is there a week without a games conference now?), Sony Online boss John Smedley has given lots more details about the project. It’s described as a “whimsical fantasy adventure game”, and is being pitched at kids aged 9 to 14, as well as their parents. In that cuddly Sony way, they want the family gathered around the PC in a way that’s only ever happened on photoshoots for other family-friendly MMO adverts.

Seriously, all they've released as Christmas-themed shots.

This doesn’t mean it will be combat free, but rather that combat won’t be at the forefront. Instead it’s one of four main categories, along with pet raising, housing and mini-games. Massively describe the minigames as:

“They’re pick-up and play experiences. If you’re exploring an ice zone with some friends and come across a frozen lake you can easily find some nearby skates and go skate.”

It’ll also let you form rock bands with your buddies, which will apparently work through rhythm-response games, and then because they haven’t already included enough things 10 year old will kill for, there’s to be a CCG attached, with cards bought online or in shops. And then it goes all Pokemon, letting you capture creatures in-game with a special net, or something, and convert them into cards for your collection.

Yes, more Christmas.

As horrific as the whole thing sounds, it seems like Sony are getting this spot on. It sounds horrific because it’s for 9 to 14 year olds, who are weird alien creatures with whom we should desire no communication. But unlike most games that are “for” younger players, this sounds like it’s been developed by someone who’s met a kid at some point in their life, rather than some patronising half-arsed effort.

There’s a ton more details over at Massively, including how you can train pet dogs to pee on fire hydrants, and information on the combat.

Via Eurogamer.

(Free Realms is now open – sign up here.)

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9 Comments »

  1. Kanakotka says:

    I have been fondling around with the games for quite a while, and if “free” or “family(aka children’s game)” is togethered with “mmorpg” it is prone to fail. This puts both minus factors to an MMO together. Will they cancel eachother out?

  2. NotArobot says:

    Hmmm, I’d be all over this if it actually came out. I have two small kids, they both love video games, and I wouldn’t mind introducing them to an MMO like this, especially if it’s free-ish.

    Some people might be thinking to themselves, “Why would a dad want to get his kids addicted to an MMO?” The answer? LEVERAGE! The kids might be a bit more inclined to pick up after themselves if their MMO privileges hang in the balance. :)

  3. Rook says:

    I’d free her realm… I mean… sounds pretty cool actually. I think Sony Online has been on a bit of a role lately what with this and The Agency.

    9-14 y.o.? I guess my restraining order still applies :(

  4. Larington says:

    SOE has a bad habit of starting with a great concept and then somehow, somewhere along the line, forgetting that original concept and negatively impacting the game as a result… Lets see if they do it with this one as well…

  5. dan^ says:

    Is that Alyson Hannigan in the first screenshot?

  6. Noc says:

    Sonyland . . . where it’s Christmas all year long.

  7. Lukasz says:

    :D

    Perfect. Let the hunt begin!

  8. heartless_ says:

    It’s amazing how SOE oversells a kids game at these fairly hardcore gaming conferences (yes, I know ION isn’t exactly a hardcore MMO conference). I think SOE is in knee-deep mud, sinking fast, and the only way to save face now is to produce games that will be a flash in the pan for six months while barely scraping an existence from the bottom of the money barrel.

    As much as I despise SOE, and not just for the SWG debacle, I can’t help feel that the MMO industry is losing one of its larger developers and that sort of makes me sad. SOE is really all over the place now, but at the same time in the same “make money off everything” business mode, but with nothing on the table that actually makes decent money. Yes, SOE is profitable, but at what cost? Sustainability? I see nothing coming from SOE that gives me faith they will exist as a company ten years from now.

    I think Free Realms and The Agency will herald SOE’s decline into a publisher role who operates some relics on the side.

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