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Free Realms

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Free Realms is a massively multiplayer online adventure game developed by Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) set in a whimsical, family-friendly, fantasy-themed (though the car races in Free Realms add a small amount of science fiction) world for the PC. The game was released on April 29, 2009, for the PC.[1]

Gameplay

There are many worlds to go to and a large number of quests to complete for coins and stardust.[2] Leveling up is handled in several ways, ranging from traditional combat to quests and minigames depending on which job the player wishes to advance.[3] As of November 1, accounts registered after that date will have some jobs capped to level 5, giving a limit of two jobs that can be leveled to its maximum.

Unlike typical MMOs, combat is completely optional; the focus is instead spread across a variety of gameplay mechanics – exploration, combat, building, pet-raising, mini-games and social networking – to ensure its appeal to a variety of audiences.

Free Realms is also playable as a trading card game (TCG), extending game play from the purely online setting to the real world face to face with friends. Both on-line and real world packs of the trading card game feature 10 game cards, and 1 virtual reward card that can be redeemed in-game for various items. Real world game card packs also include 50 Station Cash, usable to purchase items in-game.[4]

Due to the social networking nature of the game, players are able to send links, share images and videos, and chat with friends from their own profile page, which is all optional for parents that want to restrict their child’s access to user generated content.

Of some note, Free Realms is one of the first MMO to incorporate integrated video capture and the ability to upload in-game video captures directly to YouTube. Locally saved captures can also be viewed or edited with any software that supports AVI. Free Realms also contains yearly holidays like The Spooktacular in October, Snow Days in December, Festival of Hearts in February, and Free Realms Bday Bash in April and May.

Theme song

The Free Realms hit theme song titled, “It’s Your World,” is available on iTunes. The song is performed by the The Dares,[5] a southern California based pop-punk band, and was composed by Robbie Nevil and Matthew Gerrard exclusively for Free Realms.

Guinness World Record

On June 2, 2009, Guinness World Records recognized The Dares and Sony Online Entertainment for putting on the first concert to take place in the real world as well as virtual space. This record setting event took place at the E3 gaming convention at the Los Angeles Convention Center while the virtual version of the concert was performed within the Free Realms game.[6]

Business model

The game is available to download and play free of charge. The PC version is accessed via the Free Realms web site[7] or, through game arcade sites Candy Stand[8] or Miniclip.[9] During character creation a 3D client downloads in the background and then streams as the user plays. This method is used when encountering any new in-game content or updates, eliminating large or long downloads. A version of FreeRealms for Mac was announced at SOE Fan Faire 2010 for release "within the next 3 months."[10]

The PlayStation 3 version will be accessed via the PlayStation Network.[11]

Free Realms offers an optional membership for a single player, allowing for 3 characters to be created per account plus other benefits such as member-only quests, jobs, and items.[12] Only one character can be played at a time[13] but in the future, a "family" membership will be offered allowing multiple logins at the same time.[14] Also, micro-transactions are available for players interested in purchasing in-game items for their characters.

Reception

 Reception
Review scores
Publication Score
Eurogamer 7/10[15]
IGN 8.8[3]
USA Today 4/5[16]

In the New York Times, Free Realms was well received. The reviewer, Seth Shiesel, noted "For Sony Online, Free Realms is a triumph of the company’s own reinvention."[17] USA Today reviewer Marc Saltzman gave Free Realms a 4/5 score, noting "Sony Online Entertainment's Free Realms is an extraordinary online adventure that is sure to please tweens and teens looking for a fun and free fantasy world."[16] Eurogamer gave the game a largely positive review, MMO editor Oli Welsh describing the game as "an effortlessly light and addictive indulgence".[15]

John Smedley, president of Sony Online Entertainment, revealed that 1 million users had signed up to Free Realms 18 days after its launch;[18] a month after release Free Realms reached 2 million users,[19] and registrations have continued growing at a steady rate since then. As of July 24, 2009, it had approximately 5 million registered users.[20] Sony Online Entertainment announced in February 2010 that the game now has 8 million registered users.[21] In April 2010, it was announced that the game has now 10 million players, with two million players signing up in March 2010.[22]

Free Realms comic

A Free Realms comic, released for $3.99 per issue, holds twelve issues each of which contain unique one time code redeemable for a in game virtual reward. Published by DC Comics' Wildstorm, it is based on the Sony Online Entertainment MMO. The comic is written by J.S. Lewis, writer of the "Gray Griffon" series of young-adult fantasy books, with the art by Allen Martinez and Jon Buran.[23]

The comic features the blonde and blue-eyed Dane Kensington, an aspiring Brawler who sets out on his adventure in hopes of becoming stronger.

References

  1. Dreier, Troy (2009-04-29). Sony Launches Free Realms Virtual World. Pcmag.com. Retrieved on 2009-05-25.
  2. Adams, Dan (2008-07-15). Free Realms Preview. IGN. Retrieved on 2008-07-15.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Krause, Staci (2009-05-06). Free Realms Review. IGN.com. Retrieved on 2009-05-25.
  4. Free Realms Trading Card Game. Topps (2009-05-06). Retrieved on 2009-05-06.
  5. The Official The Dares Web Site. Retrieved on 2009-05-27.
  6. http://ve3d.ign.com/articles/news/48267/Free-Realms-Band-Does-Concert-Gets-World-Record
  7. Welcome To Free Realms. Retrieved on 2009-05-06.
  8. Free Realms - Candystand.com..
  9. Free Realms - Miniclip.com. Retrieved on 2009-05-11.
  10. http://www.freerealmsinsider.com/content/2625-breaking-free-realms-headed-ps3-and-mac-next-3-months
  11. Welsh, Oli (2009-02-12). Free Realms to launch in early April News. Eurogamer. Retrieved on 2009-02-12.
  12. Free Realms Member Benefits. Retrieved on 2009-04-19.
  13. http://help.freerealms.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/21128/kw/log%20in%20two%20computers/sort/null,null/r_id/158
  14. http://help.freerealms.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/20772/c/1732/page/5/r_id/158
  15. 15.0 15.1 Welsh, Oli (2009-05-27). Free Realms Review. Eurogamer..
  16. 16.0 16.1 Saltzman, Marc (2009-05-21). "'Free Realms' offers world of family-friendly fun". USA Today. http://www.usatoday.com/tech/columnist/marcsaltzman/2009-05-21-free-realms_N.htm. Retrieved 2009-05-25. 
  17. Shiesel, Seth (2009-05-20). "Pick a Role, Any Role, Then Live Nine Lives". New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/21/arts/television/21free.html?_r=1. Retrieved 2009-05-25. 
  18. MacManus, Christopher (2009-05-24). SOE’s Free Realms Has A Million Unique Registered Users. Sony Insider. Retrieved on 2009-05-25.
  19. Martin, Matt (2009-05-27). Free Realms hits over 2 million users. Games Industry. Retrieved on 2009-06-12.
  20. http://www.vg247.com/2009/07/24/free-realms-hits-close-to-the-5-million-registered-mark/
  21. Clarke, Robert (2010-02-08). Free Realms Boasts 8 Million Registered Users. Aperture Games. Retrieved on 2010-02-08.
  22. http://www.gamedaily.com/games/free-realms/playstation-3/game-features/free-realms-reaches-10-million-registered-players-plans-birthday-festivities/
  23. http://www.joystiq.com/2009/07/23/free-realms-comic-coming-july-29-includes-in-game-bonuses/

External links

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