Today Sony announced that over 2 million unique users have registered to their new free2play MMORPG Free Realms. Of those users, 75% are under the age of 17, 46% under 13 and 1/3 are female gamers. To be honest I thought Free Realms was going to be a flop. I didn’t actually play it, but I obviously severely underestimated the draw it would have on young people. Two million unique registered players in less then one month is huge to say the least.Certainly a remarkable feat, although moot in the grand scheme of "is it making any money?". However, I honestly question where these two million players reside. I've logged a few hours in Free Realms now and I have yet to actually speak to anyone in game directly. I haven't even seen local chat between players. Even when playing the card game, there is limited to no talk between players. So far, Free Realms is a 3D web site that forces you to run from mini-game to mini-game instead offering the instant access of a standard website.
I'm really confused on what to think of Free Realms. The mini-games get repetitive fast, but yet tie back into a larger world which varies the goals and makes the repetition at least mildly interesting. Secondly, the game play is solid and the game itself runs without a hitch (so far).
But as I approach more than a few hours played, I am starting to see the freebies run out and the game increasingly asking for a credit card. Plus, it loves to remind players at every loading screen that member benefits are only $4.99 (per month) away and as anyone that plays Free Realms knows, there are A LOT of loading screens.
Unfortunately, I don't think SOE cares. They are hitting their age demographic and as I have no teenagers/young adults in my household, Free Realms is most likely to be lost upon me.