Free Realms: Three Million In Seven Weeks

By Jim Rossignol on June 15th, 2009 at 5:06 pm.


The chaps at SOE must be rather pleased with themselves. Their free-to-play-except-with-micropay-stuff MMO Free Realms has had three million registrations in just seven weeks. Not bad going, even by free-to-play standards. “We are pleased to be able to provide such a vast, in-depth and, most importantly, fun world to an average of 500,000 new gamers per week,” said John Smedley, president of Sony Online Entertainment. I bet you are, John. Those are the big numbers.

The game seems to have attracted folks with neat cartoon presentation and its kid-friendly demeanor, but it’ll be interesting to see how many of those millions stick around over time. I’m assuming some of you guys are included in that colossal figure? Anyone care to share their impressions? Any thoughts on long term appeal?

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29 Comments »

  1. Andytizer says:

    It’s an impressive, lush experience that was quick to access from account creation to wandering around the in-game world, however, I only got to play for 5 minutes because of the lack of an ‘invert mouse’ option (drilled into my brain from years of playing Wing Commander and Commanche with a mouse) made me feel sick.

    Other culprits of seemingly good games I can never experience properly: Spore, Beyond Good & Evil.

  2. MrBejeebus says:

    its actually suprisingly fun, im sad to say…

  3. Tei says:

    @Andytizer: Sounds like something can be fixed with a customized mouse drive or something, if that exist.
    Something like this (I have not tested it)
    http://www.maf-soft.de/mafmouse/

  4. Dominic White says:

    I’m fairly sure you CAN invert mouse – it’s one of the first things I did. You have to play a little way into the tutorial before it lets you open the full options menu though, I believe.

    Anyway, Freerealms is a really impressive piece of work. Very polished and user-friendly. Perfect kids MMO. Not really my kind of thing, but they seem to pretty much nail all the possible elements, and have much more gameplay variety than a lot of full-priced games in the genre.

    It’s not really ‘free’ though. It has a large demo – comparable to the shareware days of olde, where you got 1/3 or 1/4 of the game gratis – but there’s still a lot of content locked. Still, the subscription free is a titchy $5 a month, so for those who want to delve deeper, it literally costs pocket change.

  5. EyeMessiah says:

    @Dominic: “the subscription free is a titchy $5 a month, so for those who want to delve deeper, it literally costs pocket change”

    Look at you, richy rich!

  6. Bhazor says:

    If I didn’t have to pay per megabyte for my internet (currently £25 for 7 gigs) I’d be all over this.

    Inverted mouse? Thats dang crazy.
    Up is up ffs.
    I kid. I kid.

  7. Bob says:

    Might be worth a try, at least it will get more updates then Guild (we’re making a new game screw you lot) Wars

  8. HexagonalBolts says:

    I heard the game play was excruciatingly repetitive? Has anyone invested a large amount of time into the game?

  9. Premium User Badge

    oceanclub says:

    Wonder if this playable from Malaysia? Was going to set up a young nephew with the joys of MMOs, without crippling his dad with a monthly subscription to WOWCrack.

    P.

  10. Mechtroid says:

    It’s been pushed pretty heavily in ads on Cartoon Network. That might be part of it.

  11. Whiskey Jak says:

    Is there any way to know the numbers on concurrent players’ peaks? 3 millions is a lot of people, but seeing how many people are actually playing the game at top hours (probably during week-ends’ evenings) would probably tell us a lot more on how popular this game really is.

  12. Pani says:

    I concur with the above statements. I’m a sucker for cheap games and free games I can’t resist playing.

    Repetitiveness is true. The quests are grouped into occupations and you level up each occupation. The quests within each occupation are not particularly varied (maybe 3 different types) and there are variations on the theme across different occupations.

    The games are collection type games, basic killing stuff, bejeweled is in there a lot, cooking mama stuff too.

    Great for kids and achievement whores but not much longevity for those over teen years I would imagine.

  13. Jason says:

    @HexagonalBolts: Define “excruciatingly”… all MMOs to this point are repetitive. EQ, WoW, EVE… all of them are repeating the same stuff over and over. Free Realms is mini-games. If you find playing a handful of PopCap games to be “excruciatingly repetitive” then yes, it is.

    I’m Freeloading in FreeRealms. I absolutely will not pay a dime for it… because I’m broke and would rather put food on my table than pay for an MMO. I haven’t run out of content yet, but I am seeing more and more locked content as I go. We’ll see how long it takes for me to exhaust the free elements of the game.

  14. Carra says:

    Free, my favorite number. I might try this one out.

  15. Markoff Chaney says:

    I tried this for a bit. The god sons actually thought it was too kiddy, and this coming from Runescape lovers. They like the price, though.

  16. Larington says:

    I’ve played it a fair bit, yes. It’s nice to see an MMO which doesn’t constrain a character to a single class, allowing you to swap from one to another at will. I’ve hit level 20 as chef, miner & blacksmith and I’m near level 17 as an archer (I’m subscribed).

    Stuff I like:
    Green dot trail guides you from place to place, teleport nodes allow you to get about quickly, you can teleport straight to friends, so you spend more time doing stuff rather than just running about.
    Easy to switch between roles.
    Mini-games are fun.

    Stuff I’m not sure about:
    The non combat quests are frequently very fetch heavy, go get that, go get this, etc.
    The combat mechanics leave me a tad cold, the core combat gameplay just isn’t all that fun moment-to-moment.
    Blacksmithing has little actual value, you can’t make items better than standard gear as far as I can tell.
    The quest manager is a little borked, sometimes you’re given very little information in the quest summary and you end up being left guessing as to how to resume the quest, can always google the I suppose, but it’s not ideal.
    Game doesn’t currently have any kind of guild support, they haven’t implemented it yet though intend to.

  17. user@example.com says:

    No idea about its long-term appeal, but I’m really enjoying it. I have a membership via Station Access, but I’m *this* close to buying a few hundred points – I have the freebie 200 from being an early (beta, even) member, but have my eye on one of the more expensive pets. I can see myself buying gear as a high-end thing – I like the look of the Wizard robes, but I wouldn’t buy them unless I’d already got the almost-as-good level 20 version and wanted a different colour.

    Combat’s fairly fun – simple, but entertaining enough when you want to press buttons to kill things. I love the cooking, and the gathering minigames are fun. I haven’t played the driving games since beta, and wasn’t a huge fan then – of the subject matter, though, not the implementation.

    I like getting Adventurer xp, levels and shiny collection things (Sony love their collections, as I discovered the first time I logged into EQ2) just for wandering around and trying to climb to obscure bits of the map.

    Larington: From what I hear, blacksmithing’s good for making money if you sell the items to NPCs – you get far, far more than you would for selling ore or whatever.

  18. Chris R says:

    Hmmm, sounds like just the thing for my girlfriend to play. She LOVES Plants Vs. Zombies and all the little minigames in it, so if Free Realms also has lots of minigames then I’ll have to get her set up to try it out..

  19. Dominic White says:

    Chris: It’s a pretty standard MMO if you want to play as a fighter, but if you want to do anything else, like cooking, mining, racing (!) or whatever, those things all have their own minigame and levellable class attached.

    You can also switch class at will.

    There’s also a remarkably good collectible card game (ala Magic: The Gathering) attached. That’s probably the element that impressed me most.

  20. Cedge says:

    I’ve been addicted to this game for weeks. This is the first MMO I’ve truly enjoyed in probably five years or more.

  21. Devan says:

    I probably would not have looked at this game if it were not held in such high regard at thebrasse.com. However, I personally found it not very fun to play and lost interest after a day. Perhaps it’s because I’m not in their target audience, and perhaps it’s because many parts of the game felt like they was designed primarily for micropayment potential. I think that’s understandable, but it’s sure not enjoyable.

  22. Nero says:

    I’ve only played it for maybe 1 hour and while I might not go back it was still quite impressive. Lots to do, easy to get around and to know where to go etc.

  23. Brass Gerbil says:

    Hrm. All the avatars appear to be young, vaguely anime-like, soft-skulled teens. Can I create a frowning, curmudgeonly old fart who goes around growling at everyone and making them earn their living?

    Oh, wait; that’s my real-life job. Never mind.

  24. BigJonno says:

    I’d definitely recommend from my gamerdad perspective. My son is seven and he really enjoys the whole thing, plus it’s enjoyable enough for me and the other adult gamers in the household to play with him.

    A major point in it’s favour are the relatively grown-up looking avatars (the humans are closer to adult proportions than children’s and you can have facial hair.) Some of the other kid-friendly MMOs force you into a child avatar and I felt rather uncomfortable playing an MMO as a child.

  25. Dave says:

    I spent a couple hours on it and never logged in again. I can’t even muster enough enthusiasm to delete it off my hard drive. Meh.

  26. Carda says:

    It’s a pretty fun game; scratches the MMO itch if you can’t quite afford your WoW subscription.

    As for long-term appeal, a glance at the world map shows several zones outside the existing landscape with “coming soon” tags on them, so they clearly plan to add substantial amounts of new content over time. Whether this will include additional classes is unknown, but considering how each class is fairly self-sufficient, it doesn’t seem like it would be a very hard thing to add in new classes; balance doesn’t really factor into it nearly as much as it would in a more combat-oriented game like WoW.

    Granted, I’ll probably drop Free Realms for a while once my WoW guild gets active again, but it’s nice to have a game I can play in the meantime.

  27. Arnulf says:

    It’s a fun game. It’s really polished and has a WOW look and feel. A really great idea is the change-jobs-as-you-need-’em-Thing. I tried to level Brawler a bit, but since I was mostly alone, it was too hard. You need at least two people to complete most of the miniature instances.

    Other than that, Free Realms is polished as far as I got. I stopped playing however, since I have already two MMO subscriptions.

    Nice touches: character names have to be approved. One can teleport by finding warp stones.

  28. Spd from Russia says:

    tried this. looks neat, but I dont like the controls
    and I didnt find where to invert mouse

  29. bree says:

    ya it is a fun game would be nice to meet older people on it.
    love the battles but there is a lot of young people on it.
    if there was like a place where adults can meet to battle are chat.
    would be nice and battle games together.
    yes I’m young at heart love new games gives you something to do.