Thursday, April 30, 2009

Hammered Home

I gotta say Free Realms is really quite fun, and there is a lot of free content. As someone who is not planning on ever paying any real money at all (instead I'll stay a truly no cost player) I realize that I'll be missing out on roughly 1/3rd of the game - which is fine by me - there seems to be so much free content at least initially. One irritant however is the almost incessant need to hammer home the point that I'll be missing out on some good stuff at every opportunity. Quest chains end quite suddenly after having diligently completed the first sevens steps with the fact that to go any further in the chain, membership is required. I realize that this is part of the (brilliant) marketing strat, but it is jarring and really serves to ruin whatever immersion one can get from such a game as FR.

I notice a few more popup messages than there were in beta, pitching the CCG for example, even though I have been playing the CCG for an hour or so already, just minor annoyances and to be expected certainly in this game model. I have noticed several shops where the items you can purchase require Jobs which are membership-only thereby preventing me from purchasing said items from that shop and therefore putting me at a distinct disadvantage. I'm thinking that there will be more things like that which are not immediately evident at first but after having played for a while will be uncovered as putting a bit too much emphasis on a subscription purchase.

It will remain to be seen whether the tradeoff between disadvantages to the free player is outweighed by the brilliance and pure fun-factor of the game world. So far it is. And SOE knows that while there will be many paying subscribers (or at least they hope so) that there will be many many more who never pay a dime. That is just the nature of the F2P genre and they know it. Here's hoping they eventually stop rubbing my face so hard in the mud of being a non-subscriber!

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