Tobold's Blog
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Free Realms on G4TV

G4TV has an extensive video preview of Free Realms, the soon to be released Free2Play MMORPG from SOE. While the game is squarely aimed at children between 8 and 14 (compared to a minimum age of 12 for World of Warcraft), Free Realms looks as if it has some features that will also be interesting to grown-ups.

I especially like the idea that you make only one character, but that character has access to all 14 classes in the game, leveling them up separately. Also interesting is an automatic character webpage, similar to a Facebook page, which tracks your characters exploits and achievements. Child-safe social networking for beginners. :)

Free Realms is financed with microtransactions, with various options, allowing for example parents to give a fixed monthly allowance to their kid. The video only mentions outfits that can be bought, there might not be any stuff that advances your character faster. But as the different classes appear to be playing different mini-games, advancing your character doesn't seem to be the focus of this game. It probably is more a social space with various games than a classic MMORPG. Which, for the target demographic, might not be a bad thing. I'll certainly check it out, but probably won't play it very much.
Tobold I don't know if you saw this list ( of the top money making mmos of 2008 but it puts Club Penguin as the number 2 Western mmo in terms of revenue. You can argue about the relative placings but there is no doubt that "child safe social networking for beginners" as you put it is big business.

One concern I have about Free Realms is that there is a world of difference between 8 year olds and 14 year olds. I am not sure one game can please such a wide spectrum. I think a lot of the reason for club penguins success is that it doesn't try to be all things to all people.
That article is kind of a joke. I mean a revenue range of 150-500? Which one is it, 150 or 500, because if I'm a VC, that just MIGHT make a difference, not to mention revenue means nothing when its not linked to profit. That list is also not western MMOs, but MMOs total. How many people in the west have even HEARD of Fantasy Westward Journey? Until one of these companies gets bought out Blizzard style, or goes public with actual profit numbers, throwing out revenue estimates is about as useful as account numbers for free games.
Exact figures aren't available @Syncaine so all we can do is take the "best guesses" of people who have been watching the business for some time. I can't claim to have heard much about DFC intelligence but I did google around and they seem like a reputable gaming industry analysis outfit with a good track record. Most of the games on the list are subscription games so I would imagine that makes it easier to estimate revenues (you can surely make an estimate of customers based on active server numbers if nothing else). I know it would be a lot nicer to get exact figures rather than order of magnitude guesses but since exact figures aren't available these are probably the best we can get.
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