First things first.
Is Free Realms no longer going to be completely, totally and absolutely 100 % FREE? It never was in the first place. And if you made your CHARACTER (not account) before Nov 1st, nothing will change for you: you can mostly play for free but would need to subscribe to gain access to all the other stuff. Same deal as before.
Second things second: go read the official post. Carefully.
Now, what does this mean? Basically, all players new to the game after this update will have to pay a sub to play the jobs above level 4. Erm, 5. You know what I mean. How many of us, though, have already not only made a character before November 1st, but also have played the game? Heck, I still play the game. In fact, I will bet that most protests come from people that never really played the game, called the game "kids stuff" and laughed at it, or thought that the game sucked. In other words, the SOE bashers will have another reason to use the letters "NGE". I have already witnessed it.
But, read the blog carefully, and you will see that two of the jobs will remain 100% free till the end: "Characters created after November 1st, 2009 will be able to play all jobs up to level 5 and Adventurer and Card Duelist all the way to level 20. These characters will also be able to advance through all of the Pet Trainer trophies and earn the exclusive pet."
This means that Free Realms is about as free as many "freemium" games. I don't like it, but I think that they might, JUST MIGHT, be looking at sub numbers and player trends from sources that we are not. SOE has made a lot of dumb decisions in their life-time, but HOW dumb? Nothing so insane that it stopped the company from producing high-quality games, with more coming out? How many years do they need to be around before people recognize that even surviving, mush less doing well, in the MMO world is hard enough to qualify you as a success? And like I said on one of our shows: if they aren't messing up once in a while, that means they aren't trying anything new.
But, to the point: Free Realms, semi-misleading name or not, is fun as hell. It's a great collection of games, activities and "things-to-do." And look at the updates! All of the new items and activities blend so well into the world that it seems as though they had them made before the game ever came out. The costumes for Halloween were incredible! The 4th of July fireworks brought nostalgia to my stomach!
Free Realms, with it's brand tie-ins and "schemes" to get you to pay money (as though they are fooling your feeble mind with Vampire "glamouring") is what it is: a high quality game that can be enjoyed for very, very low costs.
That's it. A super cheap, fun game. Like Wizard 101, Mabinogi, or many other games that actually still give you a ton to do for free, but give you options to pay. Kind of like that expansion or downloadable content with the games that are actually making you pay 15 dollars a month.
Personally, I am so thrilled about the housing. The mini-games can kind of take you out of the world a bit, and housing will give it a depth that other MMO's have, that "living in another world" type of depth. Congrats, SOE, consider me excited.