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Free Realms Approaches the Five-Million-Player Mark

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the price-is-right dept.

Role Playing (Games) 77

A few days ago at Comic-Con, Sony Online Entertainment president John Smedley spoke about the success of Free Realms, their free-to-play MMORPG that relies on microtransactions for a business model. The game was released at the end of April, and by mid-June there were upwards of three million registered users. Now that total is approaching five million, with no sign of slowing down. Min Kim, another panelist at the discussion, said, "When people started talking about it back in 2003 or 2004, people said Western games would never want to do this, to play a game for free and then buy items. And now everybody is saying, 'We're going to have microtransactions as part of our business model.'"

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So if I were to jump off the cliff... (2, Funny)

thatkid_2002 (1529917) | more than 5 years ago | (#28834085)

So if I were to jump off the cliff the idiotic CEOs and Game Designers would follow me?

It's OK. I'll take one for the team, guys.

Re:So if I were to jump off the cliff... (1)

Antidamage (1506489) | more than 5 years ago | (#28834279)

They do seem to not be completely grasping the business model. 5 million users + free game + microtransactions doesn't mean 5 million paying users.

The thing I didn't like about Free Realms is that the money aspect is PUSHED HARD right from the word go. It becomes a case of trial and errore to find out what you can actually do for free in the game. It seems a wiser idea would be to give the users a chance to love your game THEN introduce microtransactions, perhaps to allow users gain an edge during endgame.

I think the main thing we all learnt from Second Life is that microtransactions stay pretty micro until a user really engages.

Re:So if I were to jump off the cliff... (3, Interesting)

Jurily (900488) | more than 5 years ago | (#28834363)

It seems a wiser idea would be to give the users a chance to love your game THEN introduce microtransactions, perhaps to allow users gain an edge during endgame.

Fuck no. Nobody wants to play with someone who constantly tries to bribe the DM. And nobody wants to play with a DM who can be bribed.

You already have a working business model out there, follow that: in WoW everyone is equal.

Re:So if I were to jump off the cliff... (1)

Antidamage (1506489) | more than 5 years ago | (#28834407)

Agreed about WoW, any MMO with any sense should take the things that make up WoW and build on it. It just makes sense to use a familiar UI, quest structure and gameplay elements as asking users to learn whole new paradigms is a hurdle to quick adoption. You see the same logic in web browsers copying each other so often.

Re:So if I were to jump off the cliff... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28835173)

The only thing SOE could learn from Blizzard is Marketing. I don't know about the US, but in Europe you would only know about Everquest from hearsay. WoW on the other hand was omni-present. The sick amount of cash they were pouring into advertising directly or by donations to computer game magazines is unmatched.

The same thing happened again with Free Realms, if I wasn't playing Everquest or lurking Slashdot, I'd never have heard of that one. I suppose 5 million subscribers is pretty awesome for something only brought to attention in the USA

Re:So if I were to jump off the cliff... (1)

Antidamage (1506489) | more than 5 years ago | (#28835875)

Cmon, look at the target market. It's people like your little sister who makes a new account every time she goes to play.

Re:So if I were to jump off the cliff... (1)

DuckDodgers (541817) | more than 5 years ago | (#28836451)

When you have over 10 million users paying $15 per month each in World of Warcraft, you can afford a staggering advertising budget with plenty of room to spare.

The article doesn't make it clear how many of Free Realms players actually use the micro-transactions or what the average monthly revenue per player is. I'm sure they aren't pulling in the $150 million plus per month that Blizzard does.

Re:So if I were to jump off the cliff... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28839637)

When you have over 10 million users paying $15 per month each in World of Warcraft, [...] the $150 million plus per month that Blizzard does.

Wow, just wow. It's almost like you have no idea what you're talking about.

Hint: people in China do not pay $15 a month. They pay per minute, and it adds up to nowhere near $15 USD.

Re:So if I were to jump off the cliff... (1)

DuckDodgers (541817) | more than 5 years ago | (#28843673)

I honestly didn't know that. After I posted my comment, I saw a few comments indicating that Chinese WoW players don't pay the American price. Too bad Slashdot does not allow you to correct your previous comments.

Nevertheless, I think my main point still stands: Blizzard can afford a far larger advertising budget than Free Realms.

Re:So if I were to jump off the cliff... (1)

MeanderingMind (884641) | more than 5 years ago | (#28844963)

But it's a chicken and egg situation. Blizzard didn't have 10 million players' worth of revenue to spend on advertising when WoW launched. They can afford a much larger budget now, but you have to account for the fact that they didn't start with so many. At some point, Blizzard had to put money into advertising that wasn't backed by domination of the market.

Re:So if I were to jump off the cliff... (1)

Solus_Emsu (1447987) | more than 5 years ago | (#28841681)

Well it's more like 5 million paying the ~15 a month, since half the player base is from China who pay per the hour and most of it goes to the company Blizzard works through to release the game there. ( not to mention rumors say the China servers may never come back up )

microtransactions (1)

dontPanik (1296779) | more than 5 years ago | (#28835963)

And nobody wants to play with a DM who can be bribed.

You're assuming that the microtransitions give players a tactical advantage.

In Battlefield Heroes, there are microtransactions, but they give you no tactical advantage, besides that you can level and gain points faster.

You can't buy important things, like weapons and abilities, with real world money. That way you can't "bribe" the game.

I don't know what the case is in Free Realms. Hopefully someone can tell me what the situation is there.

Re:microtransactions (2, Interesting)

changedx (1338273) | more than 5 years ago | (#28842107)

I've played Free Realms to a number of max-level job classes. Paying a $5/month subscription fee increases the number of classes available, from 10 to 15.

Another $5 buys you the best possible weapon in Free Realms, and it is usable at level 1. Tobold has a good writeup here: http://tobolds.blogspot.com/2009/05/limits-of-microtransactions.html [blogspot.com]

Note that Free Realms has no end-game. There are some questlines that open up at max-level (20), but no raiding or group PvP. So that $5 uber-weapon only helps you quest and level faster.

Re:So if I were to jump off the cliff... (1)

spyrochaete (707033) | more than 5 years ago | (#28836403)

Free Realms is mostly co-operative and rarely competitive. It's in every party member's best interest that each player is as decked out as possible. Plus your character has to be a high enough level to use the subscriber items anyway so it's not like you can bribe your way to the top.

Re:So if I were to jump off the cliff... (1)

GuyWithLag (621929) | more than 5 years ago | (#28836507)

I'm starting to warm up to the DDO model where they still use microtransactions, only they are not as much 'micro': Instead of more levels or better gear you can buy yourself access to areas and instances, access to classes/races, an XP gain boost for a day, etc etc etc. The point is that in-game you will not get a free pass just because you have cash, and you can play with/against others without feeling handicapped just because you don't pay cash.

Re:So if I were to jump off the cliff... (1)

gumbi west (610122) | more than 5 years ago | (#28838849)

uh, go to google and type "world of warcraft purchase gold" how different is this?

Re:So if I were to jump off the cliff... (1)

merreborn (853723) | more than 5 years ago | (#28845087)

Fuck no. Nobody wants to play with someone who constantly tries to bribe the DM. And nobody wants to play with a DM who can be bribed.

You already have a working business model out there, follow that: in WoW everyone is equal.

...except for the people who buy gold from other players. They're able to buy themselves a little bit of a competitive edge.

In a 5 million player game of D&D, the DM may not take bribes, but some of the players will. The demand exists, and someone's going to satisfy it. It can be you, or your players.

Once you, as "the DM", accept the inevitability of RMT, you might as well get a cut of that money yourself. Not only do you get paid, but you make RMT more fair, by bringing it above the table, where all players have equal opportunity to partake, and hell -- you might even help reduce exploitation of underpaid "farmers" in the 3rd world.

Re:So if I were to jump off the cliff... (1)

wowgold365 (1607007) | more than 5 years ago | (#28863191)

Exactly, everyone is equal in wow, e.g. to make wow gold, do quests, buy weapons, etc. eu wow gold [wowgold365.co.uk] wow mining guide [wowgold365.co.uk] wow mining gold [wowgold365.co.uk] wow making gold [wowgold365.co.uk] money for wow [wowgold365.co.uk] wowgold buy [wowgold365.co.uk]

Re:So if I were to jump off the cliff... (1)

AP31R0N (723649) | more than 5 years ago | (#28886001)

"Fuck no. Nobody wants to play with someone who constantly tries to bribe the DM. And nobody wants to play with a DM who can be bribed."

Agreed. Well... i don't like those. Some people might not care as long as they can exploit the system too.

"WoW everyone is equal"

Unless you have money/time to burn. Gold farming and twinking are rampant in WoW. Until they have a server where player trade is forbidden, no... it's not equal. Then there is the matter of the Gygaxian power curve that allows instagibbing with no chance of survival no matter what. If i'm X levels above you, nothing you do will save you. i don't need skill to do that either... all i need is my mommy's credit card or having no life. You are right that it is the working business model... it's a license to print money.

If you want to see something more equal, look at PlanetSide. It's an MFPS with a shallow power curve. Skill, strategy and teamwork rule the day. A skilled player can hold off against 3 to 1 odds or worse. There's no n00bstomping. A day old character can go toe to toe with my 6 year character. Your Lasher is just as powerful as my Lasher. My experience might give me an advantage in that i know how to use the Lash effect around corners, but you can learn that too. It's an FPS which means that eye hand coordination is a factor, however i SUCK at FPSes. i can't aim, drive or fly for shit. But i have friends who do all of those very well. i found a niche as a cloaker (invisible saboteur) where that doesn't matter. It's all about trade offs. i'm mostly invisible, but i have no armor. You might have heavy armor, but you're slow. There's no grinding and it's PURE PvP. No inane quests for 5 golden rat spleens. What you conquer does not reset at the end of the round, it stays yours for as long as you defend it.

Re:So if I were to jump off the cliff... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28891415)

Just because you don't see the bribes doesn't mean they aren't happening. As someone else pointed out, you can still bribe other "players" (gold farmers) in WoW to get an advantage. It's not as "fair" as you think.

Re:So if I were to jump off the cliff... (1)

Necroloth (1512791) | more than 5 years ago | (#28834373)

I'm just quickly browsing at work so don't have time to look it up... but can someone explain what the transactions allow in this game? Is it cosmetic alterations or do those that pay have an advantage over the rest via pay-only items, quests, zones etc?

thanks in advance

Re:So if I were to jump off the cliff... (2, Informative)

Antidamage (1506489) | more than 5 years ago | (#28834385)

I didn't play very long, but it seemed everything beyond basic questing is locked off until you buy stuff. There's a lot of cosmetic, pet and other things that all cost. It sounds like frills but it felt like 75% of the game.

Re:So if I were to jump off the cliff... (1)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 5 years ago | (#28841007)

Free Realms is very young kid oriented. I was only able to stand the game for about a week before dropping it but the majority of the pay stuff wasn't "uber level" stuff it was "fun stuff".

One of the things about Free Realms is it's a bit Puzzle Piratey, in the sense that different 'occupations' are actually just minigames. Chefs, for instance, play a mashup of one of those ever present bejeweled games for ingredients and a bit of "Cooking Mama" to mix them up.

Mining is another bejewled takeoff, while brawing and regular fighting is a bit more 'generic'. However there are also collectable card games, and even a "tower defense" game.

The some of the professions (and their related miniquests) were pay only. The "tower defense" game was free in one town, but all the 'later' towns were pay only games. Similarly the card games allowed you to do the time old tradition of buying booster packs for your decks.

Then there were the avatar customizations, for instance you could only have one character and a limited choice of clothing for free. Paying allowed you more slots for your characters and of course, more fashion.

For the most part, the real down side to the microtransitions wasn't "oh, people are paying to be better than me" it was just "man, this would be more fun but I have to pay for 'that' part".

Plus, being aimed at a far younger audience, it was a bit hard to convince any of my regular 'crew' to join me on it and like WoW, there were certainly parts where having an group of people you actually knew was essential to being able to enjoy it.

Slashvertisement (-1, Offtopic)

Jurily (900488) | more than 5 years ago | (#28834343)

Nothing to see here, move along.

5m players or registered users? (3, Interesting)

Lazy Jones (8403) | more than 5 years ago | (#28834095)

I find such claims dubious, then again I don't know whether the pay-to-play games producers include people who take the free 14-day trials in their claimed player numbers...

Re:5m players or registered users? (4, Insightful)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 5 years ago | (#28834169)

It's easy to get registrations for a free game, most of those require you to register to even download the client. Average concurrent users is a much better measure of a game's popularity. Then again I guess you could consider WoW China's business model to be microtransaction based (they pay a very small fee per hour instead of paying a larger fee per month), and that's responsible for a large part of WoW's playerbase. Numbers like that are always inflated as much as they can to make the game look better anyway.

Re:5m players or registered users? (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 5 years ago | (#28835563)

I think I'd actually be more likely to play MMOs under that model now. In the past, when I had tons of time, I wanted the unlimited account... But now, where my time is more precious, I'd rather pay for what I actually use than pay a monthly fee on a game I might not play at all that month.

Depends on the game (3, Informative)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 5 years ago | (#28834399)

In the case of WoW the way the count a subscriber is a person who paid too play the game in the last 30 days. In the case of most of the world, that means someone who has an active monthly subscription. In the case of some Asian countries, it means someone who paid for some play time last month.

Re:Depends on the game (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28835003)

I find such claims dubious, then again I don't know whether the pay-to-play games producers include people who take the free 14-day trials in their claimed player numbers...

In the case of WoW the way the count a subscriber is a person who paid too play the game in the last 30 days. In the case of most of the world, that means someone who has an active monthly subscription. In the case of some Asian countries, it means someone who paid for some play time last month.

Exactly. With Blizzard counting a large chunk of hard to verify Asian customers that pay trivial amounts to play compared to Western subscribers I really don't see the issue with other companies using and abusing their numbers for what their are worth. The bottom line is that if it is fun to play I don't give a shit about how many other random people are playing it; except as how it relates to my personal experience in the game.

Re:Depends on the game (1)

Antidamage (1506489) | more than 5 years ago | (#28835921)

When I last looked and the population was around 10 million, about half the subscriber base, or 5 million, were on the Asian servers. The US (and Oceanic) servers held just over a quarter of the total subscriber base at 3 million. The last two million were on European servers.

Those are some staggering numbers, and their subscriber base is around 13 million now. It makes their slow content releases even more shocking.

Sony Hit A Homerun With Free Realms (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28834489)

Every time Free Realms crosses another million player milestone the same thing always gets implied.

The totals are always stated to be the unique number of players who have signed up for the game and actually played the game.

Anyone who has tried the game can easily see why Free Realms is such a massive hit. It appeals to three different demographics very well:

1. Burnt out hardcore MMORPG players who love being part of an online world but need a break from the hours of hardcore raiding or grinding they are use to

2. Kids and parents

3. Casual first time players who don't want to invent the insane time required for a standard MMORGP

Beyond that Sony's years of experience making MMORPGs really shows. The game is the most bug free and polished MMORPG I've ever seen. Everything is streamed from the very start. You can be playing live withing a few minutes of signing up. A tiny loader program is downloaded and you are good to go. No 10 gig all day downloading and patching just to try out the game like most MMORPGs require you to go through.

You can jump in and out at any time without worrying about dying or losing your stuff.

And the free versus pay is pretty much evenly divided so that you can easily play a half of the game without every paying a single penny.

The artwork is beautiful but it runs on just about any computer that someone would have at home today.

And it is just plain fun and relaxing. Sony absolutely nailed it with Free Realms. I wouldn't be surprised if the number of people playing gets into the 10-20 million range once the game hits the millions of PS3s already on the market.

Re:Sony Hit A Homerun With Free Realms (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28834519)

"2. Kids and parents"

I would guess these are the majority of the playerbase.

I gave the game a try just to see what all the talk of how good it was and huge the playerbase was growing. I was shocked at how good the game was and what a total blast I was having just running around exploring the world.

I told a couple of my friends with families and pretty soon all of us were playing together since they were able to run the game well on all the computers, even the old ones. And they told their friends and so on.

Funny thing about the free vs. pay for the game. Pretty much every one of our friends initially talked about not paying for anything but after a short time they were having so much fun in the game that they stared buying everything.

I have to imagine Sony is raking in the profits from the in game sales.

Re:Sony Hit A Homerun With Free Realms (0, Flamebait)

DuckDodgers (541817) | more than 5 years ago | (#28836479)

Christ, are you two paid advertisers?

Re:Sony Hit A Homerun With Free Realms (4, Informative)

Tridus (79566) | more than 5 years ago | (#28834655)

"Every time Free Realms crosses another million player milestone the same thing always gets implied.

The totals are always stated to be the unique number of players who have signed up for the game and actually played the game."

Yeah, because these numbers are meaningless. Sign up and play once, then quit? You still count as a "player" until the end of time. Comparing the numbers to anything other then another game with the same model is meaningless.

How many people spent money on it in the last month? That's the number that REALLY matters. You'll notice they don't release that one.

Re:Sony Hit A Homerun With Free Realms (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28834721)

One just has to look at the massive profits Sony is making from the 7+ million Home users on the PS3 to get an idea of how massively profitable these services are when done right like Sony has.

Re:Sony Hit A Homerun With Free Realms (1)

raehl (609729) | more than 5 years ago | (#28847149)

How many people spent money on it in the last month? That's the number that REALLY matters. You'll notice they don't release that one.

You realize the game is FREE, right? So the number of people who spent money on it is probably a very poor measurement?

Average concurrent users is probably the metric you want to look at for game 'popularity'. Of course, then you have to ask, is the most popular game the best game? Lots of people listen to Brittany! Lots of them even PAID to listen to Brittany!

Re:Sony Hit A Homerun With Free Realms (1, Troll)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 5 years ago | (#28834989)

I think I recognize your writing style from other Sony advertising.

Re:Sony Hit A Homerun With Free Realms (1)

revoldub (1425465) | more than 5 years ago | (#28835037)

Are we ever going to have cross platform games for PS3 / PC / Xbox? Seems to me this would be the easiest to accomplish with MMORPGS. I understand there are issues about server capacity etc. and compatibility, but you would think at least Xbox and Windows servers would be able to work together. Now what about Free Realms servers, and Sony PS3 servers?

Re:Sony Hit A Homerun With Free Realms (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28835281)

The thing the consoles lack the most in order to play a MMORPG on them is RAM. Both Main Memory and for the Graphics Accelerator. Textures and Animations eat up a lot of both, so you wouldn't be able to display the vast amount of different Races/Classes plus Customizations you're having in a standard MMORPG on the PC today.

Hooking up a keyboard to the console defenitely is not the issue they're having these days.

And one shouldn't forget, that SOE failed miserably with Everquest Online Adventures for the PS2

Re:Sony Hit A Homerun With Free Realms (1)

Sinning (1433953) | more than 5 years ago | (#28837459)

There are already cross platform MMORPGS. FFXI is playable on the PS2 and the PC. It is/was also a pretty popular game.

Re:Sony Hit A Homerun With Free Realms (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28837725)

Also works on Xbox360.

Re:Sony Hit A Homerun With Free Realms (1)

Ifandbut (1328775) | more than 5 years ago | (#28844457)

MOD UP!
Also, it has been announced that Final Fantasy 14 will be on PS3 and PC when it is released. It will likely be ported to the next X-Box like FFXI was with the 360.

Also, The Agency (a SOE game) will be released for PS3 and PC.

Re:Sony Hit A Homerun With Free Realms (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28839145)

Already happens:
Final Fantasy XI (Square-Enix)
Phantasy Star Universe (Sega)

And if you don't like Japanese MMOs, Sony is supposed to be releasing all their new MMOs (The Agency, DC Universe Online, etc) on PC and PS3.

Re:Sony Hit A Homerun With Free Realms (1)

spyrochaete (707033) | more than 5 years ago | (#28836481)

Great summary. I've tried most MMOs and the longest I played any one was 5 non-consecutive months. They're all too similar for my tastes.

Free Realms is absolutely a breath of fresh air because there are so many play types and objectives. I find this game very innovative, and I predict we'll start seeing more crafting mini games in place of boring progress bars.

Huge kudos to Sony. I might actually foot the $5/month to kick the tires on some of the subscriber content. For those wondering, though, there's tons and tons of free content and they've added a lot since launch.

Re:Sony Hit A Homerun With Free Realms (0)

zonker (1158) | more than 5 years ago | (#28846289)

Okay so they nailed it with Free Realms. How about doing something like this with their flagship gaming product, the PS3? For a company that produced such games like EverCrack Home for PS3 is an embarrassment. It's a boring mess with no evidence of improvement in sight. Port this thing to it.

Re:Sony Hit A Homerun With Free Realms (1)

CBob (722532) | more than 5 years ago | (#28846897)

Sony...Bug Free...I'm speechless. Utterly, even sarcasm fails me.

On the other notes, SOE has always struck me as a perfect example of how NOT to run online gaming. It took quite a bit of effort to eliminate the lead Everquest had, but by splitting the market & alienating players, they managed to do it. They seem to have followed this pattern more than once as well.

I'll prob dl the game just to use Smed's/SOE's names as obscenities again.

(edit after 1st preview)
Ok, I just actually looked at the game...I can't even stomach the intro movie, I don't want to see gameplay. World of Goo is suddenly a compelling deep game with an interesting plotline.

Re:Free Realms Approaches the Five-Million-Player (1)

RealGrouchy (943109) | more than 5 years ago | (#28839737)

Another reason to be dubious: If they haven't reached the five-millionth player yet, how do they already know his name will be Mark?

- RG>

Well, if it works... (2, Interesting)

Sumbius (1500703) | more than 5 years ago | (#28834109)

I have to admit that this is one of the free MMPORPGs that I haven't played, but I know many games that use this business model and it works. The so said "free" part attracts player to the game and most start paying for items soon after. Still, I'm really amazed by how they managed to get an estimate of 5 million players in such a short while. Lets just hope that they don't get greedy and start compensating the lack of monthly fee income by making the item prices too high, like Perfect World International has done (in my opinion atleast), where a simple mount can cost up to 60 euros, while on other servers, such as the Malaysian server they cost only a few bucks. Well we will see...

I'm willing to buy stuff in those games. (4, Insightful)

anomnomnomymous (1321267) | more than 5 years ago | (#28834129)

Well done to them.
If the game(s) are executed well, and you still can play the same game when -not- paying for it (or not get a severe advantage), I'll be playing it... and I might even buy some virtual stuff.

I've recently started playing Battlefield Heroes [battlefieldheroes.com] , and whereas I thought I wouldn't be fooled into buying silly virtual clothes, I've recently -did- do that, if not only because I think giving back five pounds of my money is a reasonable amount for the enjoyable content they delivered.
So yeah, let more free games come along, and I might try to compensate a company for their work (my main motivation for buying those items).

Re:I'm willing to buy stuff in those games. (2, Interesting)

julesh (229690) | more than 5 years ago | (#28834357)

Agreed. I'm normally a cheap-assed bastard who will go so far out of his way to avoid paying for stuff you wouldn't believe it, but I've shelled out cash for items in utransaction mmos before. The model does work.

Re:I'm willing to buy stuff in those games. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28835307)

I've recently started playing Battlefield Heroes [battlefieldheroes.com], and whereas I thought I wouldn't be fooled into buying silly virtual clothes, I've recently -did- do that, if not only because I think giving back five pounds of my money is a reasonable amount for the enjoyable content they delivered.
So yeah, let more free games come along, and I might try to compensate a company for their work (my main motivation for buying those items).

While I oppose being able to buy a mechanical advantage in a game with real world money I have no problem with the buying/selling of virtual goods that are basically just for laughs, decorative or pure bling. If a game is free to play I am more disposed to try it out, and if it is fun I can put some money in; if a game is pay to play I am less likely to try it; though if I do try and like it; I pay. Basically what I am saying is that I would pay for entertainment without question; the only thing I am done paying for is grinding/farming; give me something that entertains in one way or another and I'll part with some of my hard earned money; but after years and years of grindfest I cba "working" for 4-10 hours a day just to feel like I can play on equal terms with teenagers and unemployed stoners.

Re:I'm willing to buy stuff in those games. (1)

Ifandbut (1328775) | more than 5 years ago | (#28844495)

The stuff you can buy in Battlefield Heroes is purely cosmetic.

In Free Realms not so much. When I played a month ago you could buy weapons that made you level faster and get money faster. When you subscribed to the game you were able to get access to different classes and crafting abilities.

Hardly new (1)

woutersimons_com (1602459) | more than 5 years ago | (#28834137)

This model works for games such as SecondLife as well, doen't it? In fact, once upon a time I played a game [achaea.com] where you could buy credits to buy items to give you a small edge in combat. Especially played vs. player. This game has been around since the 90's and the company is still surviving so it must work. And all that with no graphics.

Winders Only, of course.... (2, Informative)

JasonDT (550477) | more than 5 years ago | (#28834139)

I was bored and wanted to see what the hype was about, so I went to check out Free Realms and what do you know, its windows only...Its a browser game for christs sake... Invest the time and make it multi-platform...I guess I'm out...thanks again sony...

Re:Winders Only, of course.... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28834725)

It's not a browser game. It launches via the browser but in no way is it a browser game.

Re:Winders Only, of course.... (2, Interesting)

JasonDT (550477) | more than 5 years ago | (#28836117)

I wouldn't know whether it was a browser game or not... as soon as it detected that I was not running windows the whole process stopped...

Re:Winders Only, of course.... (1)

mcfatboy93 (1363705) | more than 5 years ago | (#28835187)

Now Runescape that's a browser game. the entire game is in the browser and can be played as long as you have the most up to date java runtime. even on a mac

Re:Winders Only, of course.... (3, Funny)

Kratisto (1080113) | more than 5 years ago | (#28835523)

Now Slashdot that's a browser game. The entire website is in the browser and can be read as long as you have the most up to date javascript. Even on linux.

"Massively" Multiplayer (2, Insightful)

minsk (805035) | more than 5 years ago | (#28834175)

Whenever one of these articles comes up, I'm always curious about maximums for:

- active accounts
- concurrent users
- concurrent users per server
- interacting users

It seems to me that we should differentiate between multiplayer and massively multiplayer based on the last one. And on the degree of interaction. After all, a bunch of single-player games and a chat box isn't an MMOG... I hope.

Re:"Massively" Multiplayer (2)

binkzz (779594) | more than 5 years ago | (#28838605)

Come on, it's Sony! And marketing!

They'll blow it up any way they can.

In fact, I bet if you check the "Do you suffer from schizophrenia or any multiple personality disorder" box, they count you as several people.

Not to mention pregnant women!

Re:"Massively" Multiplayer (2, Informative)

changedx (1338273) | more than 5 years ago | (#28842297)

FWIW, the number of available Free Realms servers has not increased in the past few months. (At 10 when I checked last week.) When Free Realms first launched in April, the number of servers grew quickly, at a rate of about 2 per week. It's been at 10 since around the end of May.

Unless they're upgrading the capacity of each server, this indicates that the number of active players is remaining constant, so new people are entering at the same rate that people are quitting. But in a free-to-play game, the number of registered users = the number of active accounts, and that number increases monotonically.

Great name! (4, Insightful)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 5 years ago | (#28834315)

What a break from the usual parade of poorly-named free software products. "Free Realms" says it all. Free has that double meaning, and Realms tags it immediately as a swords-and-sorcery type thing. Makers of "the GIMP" and other unfortunate backronyms take note.

Re:Great name! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28834547)

What would you propose? 'Free Paint'?

Re:Great name! (1)

Ash-Fox (726320) | more than 5 years ago | (#28835579)

Makers of "the GIMP" and other unfortunate backronyms take note.

So.. What you're suggesting is that they use FIMP (Free Image Manipulation Program) instead?

Re:Great name! (4, Funny)

MistrBlank (1183469) | more than 5 years ago | (#28840805)

No silly, Photo Image Manipulation Program... or:

P.I.M.P.

They should also make a "lite edition" to make it much easier for the simple edits people would like to do without all the crazy effects.

P.I.M.P.L.E.

Re:Great name! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28837953)

Umm, it's not swords and scorcery. Not at all. It's a collection of minigames essentially, and no combat is required.

You must be thinking of another game.

This is the (sad) future (3, Funny)

physburn (1095481) | more than 5 years ago | (#28834543)

In the future a major proportion of the world economy will be lived in MMO style worlds. People with spend much of there time there, because in a polluted, expensive, miserable rule world, just doesn't have anything for them. Some people, like chinese gold farmers now, will slave in artificial game jobs, finding magic swords and a like for the spoiled teenagers of the richer classes. Gambling on gameplay might all spring up as a mini industry for the denizens of the MMO environments. It will be so much fun, that many people will neglect there real lives, usually spent alone in VR environment in dirty bed sits and ever smaller flats.

---

MUD Games [feeddistiller.com] Feed @ Feed Distiller [feeddistiller.com]

Re:This is the (sad) future (1)

xednieht (1117791) | more than 5 years ago | (#28835181)

Why in their right mind would anyone consider the dynamics of nature "(sad)"? Nature, biology, physics, life itself is based on the same principles as economics - the win is survival, the currency is life.

Re:This is the (sad) future (0, Offtopic)

Kreigaffe (765218) | more than 5 years ago | (#28835423)

Wow you need to stop smoking so much pot. Like, right now. Stop it.

Don't tell Activision/Blizzard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28835637)

They'll want $50 per game, $15/month AND microtransactions!

Re:Don't tell Activision/Blizzard (1)

Gerafix (1028986) | more than 5 years ago | (#28836423)

They already do this with WoW TCG, you can get in-game items for cash.

I loathe microtransactions (1)

sirroc (1157745) | more than 5 years ago | (#28836365)

At what point will they give up on the whole micro-transaction idea? When we have to pay one slip of gold pressed latinum every time we enter someones house or sit in a chair in a waiting room?

iTunes users rescue Sony (3, Interesting)

foniksonik (573572) | more than 5 years ago | (#28836825)

iTunes really got people used to micro-transactions... unafraid really. Yes people got a few shocks when they went on a binge and grabbed whatever they felt like for a week or two but then they sobered up and realized that they could easily just get a few new songs a week and they'd be really happy.

Now with the iPhone even more people are used to paying $0.99 for a wide selection of content while getting a lot of value for "free" (they did pay for the phone and mobile account).

All this adds up to a growing population of people who feel very comfortable paying on demand via micro-transactions for bonus entertainment. It's like going to Disneyland or [your local amusement park] - it's not the entrance fee that get you. It's the snacks, toys, shows, lunch, dinner, clothes, etc. The entrance fee is just to weed out those who have money from those who would clog the lines for paying customers.

How Many Buyers? (3, Interesting)

Bieeanda (961632) | more than 5 years ago | (#28837627)

Five million users, whether they just be one-time registrants or not, is pretty impressive. The thing is, Smed is implying a connection between those users and the cash shop, which just isn't necessarily there. The game is free-to-play. You don't need to subscribe, or to buy gear in the cash shop. I doubt many really have, beyond using the free 100 Store Cash they got from the first or second million milestone celebration.

Cash store games work, but claiming 'five million people spend money at ours!' is disingenuous.

Re:How Many Buyers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28839423)

It's really not impressive. You simply spend enough on marketing (such as SOE did) and you get registrations. Had they done it virally it'd be impressive. You can certainly get registrations for $2-$3 at most. SOE has easily spent $10 million on marketing. You do the math. Any game can do this with that marketing spend. Notice that SOE blatantly leaves out any information about how many active players they have, how many concurrents they have, or what kind of monetization they're seeing.

rewards rich folks? (1)

Robert Goatse (984232) | more than 5 years ago | (#28838527)

The only issue I have with micro-transactions are that you shouldn't be able to buy game-changing powers/skills. This rewards the sweaty kid in the basement who buys every skill available with his paper route money, while hurting the person who doesn't have the money to buy . If you could buy shiny stuff that doesn't really affect the game, I'd be more welcome to micro-transactions.

OMG Finally a proof (1)

SupremoMan (912191) | more than 5 years ago | (#28842277)

A proof that a bug free, well executed game attracts players. Who would have guessed?

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