I've been doing some research on SOE's "family friendly" MMO, Free Realms. Or is it "FreeRealms" since some articles apply a one word title? Well, I'll go with Free Realms as that seems to be more prevalent.
Anyway, this thing has apparently been covered to death on the interwebs, so I'll just provide you with some of the better links I found rather then rehashing what's already out there:
Eurogamer takes a look at the game, stating that "It's the slickest, cleverest prospect due out in the next year - including the increasingly impressive Warhammer Online - with the broadest appeal."
Wired has a short piece, calling the game "the most impressive showing at Sony Online Entertainment's booth."
It's clear that most reports are positive and that Sony put a lot of effort into this. It sounds like the game will run on even low-end machines, which is a smart move on SOE's part for this type of title.
I don't think this is quite as revolutionary as people are making it out to be, since there are a ton of free MMO's supported by micro-transactions or optional subscriptions already out there. But this might be the best of the class. It certainly seems to have the highest production values. I'll wait until I get more information or a hands-on before giving my opinion, but the potential for crazy fun seems there.
Although these are the Free Realms, SOE's not doing this out of the kindness of their hearts, right? There is some discrepancy in the articles I linked as to just how the game will be monetized. Will it be ad-supported? Have subscription only content? Utilize micro-transactions?
Wired says "SOE is leaning towards a microtransaction or ad-supported model for Free Realms, though a standard MMO subscription model is still being discussed."
TenTonHammer seems to suggest that all three of these techniques will be implemented. And if I had to guess, I would agree. I think they will experiment to see what works best for Free Realms and to gain experience in preparation for future entries into this space. Again, I'll wait until I hear the specifics confirmed by SOE with details.
Maybe I'm crazy, but am I the only one bothered by the name? I haven't seen anyone else complaining so I've possibly lost my game-addled mind. I get it, it's FREE (and even that is debatable). Do you have to hit me over the head with it by putting the word free in the name of the game? I haven't seen any other free games deem it necessary to shoehorn the word free into the title.
Well, I'm thinking the word free will also tie into the backstory somehow. Perhaps these are known as the Free Realms because they are kingdoms of liberty and independence, not because they don't cost money. But backstory aside, it's obvious what SOE is going for by putting free in the title.
I just think it might create better perceived value to give it a normal, cool title. People will figure out that it's free. If you had a choice between a trip to Free Hotel or the Atlantis Resort (and both were actually free), wouldn't your inclination be to choose the Atlantis?
One kid asks another, "What are you playing?" And the other kid responds, "Free Realms!" Wouldn't they be worried that it sounds a bit cheesy to relate that to their peers?
To be fair, I'm sure they focus-group'ed it to death. And perhaps they found it was more important to get the free concept out there than have a cool title.
I would change the title but it's probably too late at this point. So I'll shut up about the name of the game the next time I post on it and review it on the merits.