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Apr 29, 2009



As RPS notes, though, the game isn't completely free--there will be micropayments to support it. There could be some backlash as parents find out just how much of the game is "free" and how much isn't.


I'm personally interested in the card game. I wasn't able to join in the Beta even though I was accepted, so I'm waiting for a bit of free time to open up before I try out Free Realms. Generally, whenever Tycho from Penny Arcade is interested in something, I tend to be as well.


Although the marketing and talk from SOE is that Free Realms is targeted at teens and tweens, there are a LOT of older (in their 20s, and up) testing, playing or planning on playing. While SOE want's to ensure that their target demographic is taken care of, I think that any report on FR that ignores the makeup of the entire player base isn't covering the whole story.


We had our 4 seven year-olds play through the beta tutorial. Three of them are now highly addicted. On top of that Sarah and I have found it fun and addictive.

To me, more than anything, free realms is a mmo training ground. Kids playing this for a few months will be able to transition into something more complex like WoW or WAR with no troubles. It would not surprise me to see SEO put portals to their other games in free realms eventually.


I am on server 1 - Typewriter Tackleberry & Intellagirl.


I'm flummoxed... started playing as a EQ type goblin bashing fairy, spent a gob of time slicing veggies for a stew cooking mama style and played with doggie pets and race cars all in the first 20 mins.

I loved how in the first chance I had to do violence to Goblins I was offered an option of cooking a magic stew for the NPC to bash the goblins instead. Fun to make the stew very unsatisfying to watch the NPC... but them I am no tween (not even close to those 20 somethings either :)

My kingdom for a coherent Harry Potter or some other pop cultural yet coherent narrative online game for tweens.


I've been incongrously excited about this game all year. I can't wait to install it.

I wish I'd have been able to work on this actually. It seems like almost the perfect mix between my Sims experience and my MMO experience.

This is the first really smart MMO placement we've seen since WoW came out. I hope it does very well and prints lots of money for SOE.



- The character class system is pretty cool. (You can belong to lots of different character classes - with a separate level for each - but you can only be acting as one class at any one time. Your clothing, weapons etc. are changed when you switch class).

- It's easy to get into and understand what you're supposed to do, and there are interactive tutorials to introduce you to most of the classes. The only one I've noticed that has a really steep learning curve is the collectable card game, for which you have to understand a ton of game mechanics. (And I imagine that that one class is aimed at players who want a ton of game mechanics).

- I like the way they've managed to integrate a lot of different game genres into the same world. (This is partly what the character classes are about)

Personal dislikes:

- The 3D graphics gives me motion sickness (I couldn't play Doom either). I'd prefer 2.5D isometric.
(Though the minigames for the "Chef" class are 2D. I wonder if they found that the kind of player that wants to play a chef has trouble with 3D?)

- I don't like the art style. Especially not the pixies.

- I prefer games with more storytelling. For most of the quests you just get told some lame reason why you have to either (a) kill mob <x> (b) go and talk to mob <y> (c) collect <n> objects of type <z>. With storylines as lame as this, I can understand why people would skip-read the (already short) text to get to the operative bit that tells you the value of x, y or z.

Things that are really wierd:

- Boomboxes in dungeons. So you can choose which track to play while you're killing mobs. (Why does this remind me of "A Clockwork Orange"?) I'd almost forgive them if it distracted the mobs (Your Ninja sneaks into the Yetis' cave, puts a really loud CD on their stereo, hides in shadows until they come to see what the hell the noise is, and hits them in the back with a shuriken). But I don't think they've implemented it that way.

- In the cooking mini-game, cuts of meat try to escape from you as if they were still alive. I find this far more disturbing than if they'd just made you do some bunny-bashing to get the ingredients. ("Chicken, meet a level 5 Ninja with a katana. Ninja, meet dinner.") Vegetarianism does not seem an option. Maybe they need to do a deal with PETA


A few more observations, after having clocked up a few more hours playing time:

1. The trading card game provides the PvP element. This is a pretty clever design decision, as it will hopefully not be as prone to griefing as traditional PvP. (e.g. both parties have to agree that want to play the card game against each other).

2. My initial dissatisfaction with the quests was partly due to them being too easy for an experienced MMO player - it gets better once you've moved on to the harder ones. The stories are still lame, but the game play gets more interesting. (Starting players off with really easy quests is clearly the right thing to do, though).

3. The items you can buy on the official RMT market are an interesting combination of things that just look cool and have no in-game advantage (e.g. avatar clothing) and things that give a real advantage. This must be one of the hardest aspect of the game to get right - if they overdo it, the leaderboards will just be the people who are willing to spend the most money.

4. The Ninja magic swords you can get on the RMT market look incredibly like vibrators. The manufacturers of sex toys and virtual magic swords are presumably trying to achieve a similar kind of phallic appearance, but rarely has it been this blatant.
You can get a glowing one, too.


Mike Dargo wrote:

This is the first really smart MMO placement we've seen since WoW came out.

Yeah, things didn't work out well for the Club Penguin guys at all. ;)



kept looping back to the install page. Gave up since there is no button or "clear instructions" on how to even register.


I'm one of those twentysomethings inexplicably sucked into FreeRealms. So much so that I bought a members subscription (5 bucks a month) to remove the level cap and get more jobs.

Pros: I'm entranced with the crafting system. Rather than just clicking ingredients together to make a predetermined foobar, the game whisks you into a minigame that has your skill determine the amount of stuff you make.

For instance, in the blacksmithing minigame, you have to smelt some ore. Depending on how well you do the various mini-tasks (pouring some water to cool the mix, using a hammer to bash the iron into shape, pouring the ingots, etc), you can end up with 1 to 5 bars. It's a much better way of doing crafting than simply plugging in formulas. Even if it is completely incongruous (one doesn't mine in real-life by playing a bejeweled clone, but i digress)

Lots of things to collect. Easy to get started collecting.

Should run on anything, very small initial download.

There's a lot of things to do. It's easy to get sidetracked... And hooray, a demolition derby!

Cons: Quests are very repetitive. No fun if you don't like casual desktop games like desktop tower defense or bejeweled.

Exploration is very limited... there's a lot of arbitrary obstacles preventing you from exploring much past the path.

Communication is... hidden. I've been playing for several days and have yet to actually see a conversation between players. Instead, the default chat log is filled... with NPC jabber, not player jabber. Very weird.

Friends list is broken or completely unintuitive.


Quote from rrgh: kept looping back to the install page. Gave up since there is no button or "clear instructions" on how to even register.

I had a similar probem in Firefox, presumably due to my various settings / addons. Basically the Play button didn't appear.
It runs quite happily in Chrome, and for that matter on my son's account in Firefox.

So if it's missing something major try another browser.


I was very suprised about FreeRealms, it kinda slipped through under my Radar untill I read about in Edge magazine. While watching the trailer I immediately had to think of all those other kid friendly games out there: "Choose a job, switch when you want to. Have pets ... wow you can even dress up your pet?!!" I think FreeRealms definitely has a good mix of elements that are attractive. Unfortunately I haven't spend enough time to really judge the whole inworld experience, but the few minutes I did spend in world - were pretty good.


We just passed 1 million registrations; had to open 2 more servers today.

And so it goes -- nice to be climbing again.



Andy -- Gratz! That's great.

Thanks to all for the comments, esp the detailed reviews.

I've installed and poked around a very little bit, but have been busy with grading and writing a book. I'm planning to sic my two boys on this soon, though. My initial impressions remain very positive -- great tween transition MMOG which could ever adjust the way the adult scene plays out.


I can't go to the website...everytime I type the URL in the address bar it just loads for ever finally after about 15min it says page cannot be loaded!!!

p.s. I have high speed internet other web pages load in less than 3secs


If you are looking for more information, ZAM has a free realms site at http://fr.zam.com with lots of guides and other information.






We did a review of Free Realms on the This Mommy Gig blog and found the graphics very cool, the immediate involvement in a quest a good start, and the parental controls pretty good. Overall, though, if you've got younger kiddos like mine, you might want to pay attention to the fact that it's rate Everyone 10+.


Free Realms has just passed the 4 million player mark! That is SO cool, and I'm glad that other gamers are enjoying this MMOG as much as I am! To celebrate the milestone, FR will be hosting an in-game bonus from July 2nd- 8th where players will receive double treasure tickets! These can then be used in Sanctuary to get sweets rewards.
Find out more about the bonus here


I have been playing FR only for a few days now, and while it does not have the scale that a lot of other MMOs have, it still seems "big". There are a lot of little things for distractions, and plenty to see and do.

It's perfect for those who only have 10-15 minutes to play here and there as opposed to the 2-3 hour time synch that most other MMOs require. Even in WOW it takes 15 minutes to get somewhere before you can even think about starting a daily quest.

I'm not sure what the endgame looks like in FR, or if there even is an endgame but it has my hooked for now. I'm thinking of trying out the paid membership for a month or two just so I can at least do some of the quests and see some of the added benefits of having it.

I have to agree that this is probably a "trainer" for the full-scale MMOs but with 4 million and growing it's not going to be brushed aside.

The only sad part is that my wife keeps telling me to play WOW instead:) It got 4 years of my life, and while I wouldn't mind going back (I really do like WOW) I don't plan on it as I can't dedicate my time to raiding.


Free Realms is celebrating the summer with plenty of spirit! These fun features include:

-Seaside Summer Splash with a treasure hunt that rewards players with Seaside Stickers that can be redeemed for fireworks and other prizes. Also, a TCG scenario that rewards card duelists with the exclusive Star Shot Candle item
-The Summer Sparkler Bundle is available now for Members only! Members must log in and claim this blue and green sparkler

Find out more about these cool features here: http://www.freerealms.com/article/detail.action?articleId=136


Comic Book Resources has previews up of the Free Realms comic book!


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