In 1958, noted science fiction author Theodore Sturgeon wrote that 90% of science fiction was crud, which was generalized and explained that 90% of EVERYTHING is crud.
I loved doing the Daily Blogroll, but the loss of a couple hours out of each day are only one reason I have put them on hold for now. It’s mostly because I came to understand that MMOs aren’t immune from Sturgeon’s Law, and that for every good, original MMO, there are nine that are crap. Writing about those nine crappy MMOs as if they were good and fun was exhausting. I’m not gonna name names; I vote for which goes in the fun pile and which goes in the crap pile by how I spend my time online, and it should be pretty obvious how that goes with me. And my definition of crap vs crumpets probably isn’t yours.
I’m just going to point out that blaming WoW players for coming to your game in droves and then leaving after a month because they placed your game in that famous 90% is kinda short-sighted. Why would you think WoW players would want a game like WoW, anyway? They already HAVE one.
What makes a game crappy? It’s not bugs or server queues, it’s granted that every game has bugs and deals with over-popularity at some point, and that all will deal with these problems. A game is crappy when it has no reason to exist other than the hubris of its developers. Do we NEED another fantasy MMO with fed-ex quests and classes and leveling? No, we don’t. There’s hundreds out there right now. You could play one a day from now until doomsday (in 2012), probably. If you think your game is going to make any sort of splash in that very deep pond, well, you’re wrong. Spending millions in advertising might get people in the door, but won’t stop them from walking right back out.
Anyway, I didn’t want to talk about crappy games, I wanted to talk about Free Realms.
Free Realms is Free. You can make a character and choose from any of a wide variety of jobs and swap between them at any time. If you pay a little, you get even COOLER jobs. I was pretty excited about the game when it launched, but the gameplay just got kinda repetitive and I found I was only leveling my final class — the wizard — in order to get more Hogwart’s-style wizard outfits. That wasn’t worth buying a card at Best Buy to play after awhile.
Now it seems I don’t have to worry about playing all, any more, because Free Realms is no longer free. The Teal Terrapin noticed in a Massively story that SOE is adopting a Wizard101-style “free-mium” model, where your first four levels are free, but after that, you must pay.
Creative Director Laralyn McWilliams insists this was a change players asked for.
Players have asked to try out all of the jobs, and we listened. So as of early November, free player characters that are newly created will be able to play any job (Ninja, Chef, Postman, Kart Driver, Demo Derby Driver, Brawler, Miner, Soccer Star, Archer, Wizard, Medic, Blacksmith, Warrior) in Free Realms up to level five for free. When level four is completed, the job becomes Members Only.
… so we’re given to believe.
Was there really a great outcry from Free Realms players to make the game not be free any more?
In Wizard101, you can either subscribe or pay to unlock new areas as you come to them. Once you unlock an area, it is unlocked forever, and for all your current or future characters. Letting your Free Realms membership expire means you won’t be able to play any job that has leveled past level 5. This isn’t unusual for a subscription game, but it is rather odd for a free to play game, that usually try to encourage people to spend time online.
But then, Free Realms is no longer a F2P game.