FreeRealms announced

Publisher Sony Online targets kids and casuals with free-to-play fantasy community

Trendsetting online game publisher Sony Online has lifted the veil of secrecy covering FreeRealms, a whimsical new Massively Multiplayer Online game targeted toward young children, soccer moms, casual players... you know: everyone who doesn't really play games. It may sound like suicide, but that's also exactly the market the Wii has targeted as well, and it seems to be doing okay so far.

So, what exactly is FreeRealms? It's a little difficult to tell at this point, because the trailer centered upon characters who looked midway between Shrek extras and World of WarCraft players dancing and throwing acorns. But we're told it's a sort of giant virtual fantasy world in which you can wander around and do all sorts of things: play chess, kick a soccer ball around, race cars, beat up trolls - and of course, just talk. There's also talk of user-generated content, but the details have yet to be laid out.

Whether this plethora of activities will attract casual gamers we can't say, but the price will definitely not be a barrier of entry for FreeRealms. There will be no monthly fee of any kind. There will, of course, be ads, and also microtransactions for those who want to glom onto customizable features, such as unique items for your character.

Also interesting is Sony's promise that, due to a new streaming technology, FreeRealms will be a 30-second installation. That alone will make FreeRealms worth checking out when it arrives in early 2008, especially if the tech can be leveraged to other games as well.

June 11, 2007

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

I was the founding Executive Editor/Editor in Chief here at GR, charged with making sure we published great stories every day without burning down the building or getting sued. Which isn't nearly as easy as you might imagine. I don't work for GR any longer, but I still come here - why wouldn't I? It's awesome. I'm a fairly average person who has nursed an above average love of video games since I first played Pong just over 30 years ago. I entered the games journalism world as a freelancer and have since been on staff at the magazines Next Generation and PSM before coming over to GamesRadar. Outside of gaming, I also love music (especially classic metal and hard rock), my lovely wife, my pet pig Bacon, Japanese monster movies, and my dented, now dearly departed '89 Ranger pickup truck. I pray sincerely. I cheer for the Bears, Bulls, and White Sox. And behind Tyler Nagata, I am probably the GR staffer least likely to get arrested... again.
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