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Samhain's Zergwatch

Samhain's Zergwatch is a blog that started in 2006 on a different gaming community server and has since evolved into, a place to gather my twisted thoughts on the whole mess. Explore the oozing underbelly of gaming with me.

Author: zergwatch

Can SOE redeem themselves with Free Realms?

Posted by zergwatch Saturday March 29 2008 at 3:54PM
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In the race to capture the wide open market of family based MMORPG's, Sony Online Entertainment appears to be the front runner with their upcoming family MMORPG, Free Realms. Currently, the family based MMORPG space is an undiscovered continent waiting for the first explorers to plant their flags, tame the natives and steal their gold.

As a parent of a 5 year old child and an uncle many times over, I can testify first hand that there just aren't any suitable online worlds for tweens. While Toontown Online is borderline condescending to tweens, Habbo Hotel and Club Penguin are not appropriate environments for them either. Sites like Webkinz World, Bella Sara and other real item based virtual worlds shake down kids and parents alike for every last dollar they can commit to the game. Disney's Game Kingdom and MyNoggin are exceptional and highly recommended online outlets for that age group, but there's just nowhere for young kids and parents to play together.

The game is geared for teens and tweens (5-12 year old range). Some parents opt for letting their young children play more mature MMORPG's such as World of Warcraft or Everquest 2, but when sensible parenting comes in to play, you realize its like having your young children sit by themselves on the sidelines, hoping to be called upon to play in a teenage pickup basketball game at an inner city court with no lights at dusk.

The "MMOG" space for children is very cluttered with flash based web browser worlds such as Club Penguin, Habbo Hotel and the upcoming and highly anticipated Hello Kitty Online MMOG. Free Realms promises a exciting and fully rendered 3D world for whole family to explore, adventure, play and socialize in, together.

Fundamentally, Free Realms is a win-win scenario with SOE, provided they can overcome the black cloud that still hangs over them, whether right or wrong, in the MMORPG industry. If the game is solid and fun at release, SOE has an opportunity to be the major player in the family MMOG market.

Free Realms seems to capitalize on several different gaming genres with an MMORPG core element that ties traditional MMORPG activities such as adventuring, combat, exploring and socializing to non traditional MMORPG minigames. Within the virtual 3d world of Free Realms, players will be able to interact with in game venues such as actually Ice Skating at the Ice Rink, picking up an instrument and playing it on stage, playing soccer in mingame formats.

The game will be a free download for the PC, funded by in game advertising, but users can opt to pay a small monthly fee of 4.95 to remove the ads. Players can also pay to buy additional in game items using real money transactions to acquire virtual goods.

Whether or not Free Realms will be embraced by the portion of the MMORPG community that has previously blacklisted the company is yet to be determined. Quite frankly, I don't think it will have any impact whatsoever on the success of Free Realms.

grimfall writes:

Why is SOE in need of redemption?

Sun Mar 30 2008 5:55AM Report
Gishgeron writes:



In short, because they have made some terrible mistakes with their community across every one of their games.  That said, not a single one of their MMO's is currently commanding great sub numbers compared to its competition (no, not just WoW either).  They also have a habit of buying every crappy game ever made.  Oh, and they like to completely retool their MMO's all the time in ways that are almost guaranteed to run off players.

Then you add in the fact that after doing ALL of the above they STILL like to be condencending and even full out suggest its OUR fault as players for failing to find their ideals very fun. 

But, hey.  I'm a nice guy.  They just merged that by the time Free Realms even comes out Kaz will be in charge with SCE running the SOE show.  I'm willing to give the new guy a shot.

Sun Mar 30 2008 10:38AM Report
green13 writes:

I don't think Free Realms' success would have any capacity to redeem SOE. I think, rather, that they know they're beyond redemption and have instead opted to target a fresh mmo audience they haven't already repeatedly kicked in the nuts.

This may be a smart move on their part. Maybe if they get this right, the next generation of mmo'ers might be able to view them as serious mmo developers.

Sun Mar 30 2008 6:14PM Report
lordtwisted writes:

Never heard of this game, but looking for something like it for myself and my now 13 year old daughter.  She likes playing the little Flyff, and disney magic kingdom type games, that I can not stand, and she doesn't care for EQ2, Vanguard type perhaps this will be an equal ground.

  Is there a link to this game anywhere, I can't seem to find it, or anything about it.

Mon Mar 31 2008 11:05AM Report
zergwatch writes:

I'm not sure if there is an official website, but here's a link to an interview with John Smedley about the game: there's also a couple videos on you tube.

Grimfall..  SOE "Really" doesn't have to redeem themselves for anything.   Whether or not hardcore mmorpg players who feel like they got burned too many times in the past is really not going to impact the success of this game.  

The question was more for those who have kids.. even though they may hate SOE and wish bad things on them...   If they make a solid family mmo, will jaded SWG, EQ or Vanguard fans play it with their kids.. or not just to somehow spite SOE in their minds.


Mon Mar 31 2008 11:38PM Report writes:
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