Freerealms Has A Million Users, Not Including Your Raiding Guild

Congratulations to SOE for possibly the fastest growing online game ever, breaking the 1 million mark in less than a month. (Cheesy TV ads may have helped.) Just as a reference, it took World of Warcraft three months to break the 1 million mark.

It’s important to note of course that, given the name of the game, these are not paid subscriptions, but still, 1 million users in 3 weeks is a milestone by any definition. Of course, if you base MMO popularity solely off the length of Broken Toys comments thread, Darkfall is the most popular MMO of ALL TIME. So, there you go.

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36 Responses to Freerealms Has A Million Users, Not Including Your Raiding Guild

  1. Andy O. says:

    Really like FreeRealms, good to see SoE still has a few tricks up its sleeve. I might even become a member just to say thanks.

  2. TPRJones says:

    I’m one of those 999,999, and a paying one, too. $5 a month for a fluffy fun MMO is about where I’m at right now.

    Although I’ve not played it since I got into the Battlefield Heroes beta.

  3. Daniel says:

    I will have to go check out my free tee-shirt. However, the number is bogus because it does not detail the number of paying members. So comparing WoW paying members to SoE free members is apples to oranges.

  4. hitnrun says:

    Didn’t like it enough to keep playing, but I’m glad it’s working for them.

    @Daniel: That’s true in the strict rules of the inevitable fanboy wars that will be commencing shortly, but if we’re just talking about the game’s success then you have to acknowledge that Free Realms is going to be selling in-game advertising, making the free players plenty profitable for them.

  5. Longasc says:

    So much about the relevance of data/statistics… I registered 3 email-addresses for Free Realms.

    I really wonder that people embrace this game so much.

  6. markalot says:

    I’ve donated a total of $80 to pay for pets and a few months subscription for the entire family. Now they have no incentive to introduce family discounts.

  7. Daniel says:

    @hitnrun. That’s the theory. Personally, I think that what SoE is doing from a business model stand point is more interesting than the game itself. It’s not a pure micro-transaction model. It’s a hybrid that’s pulling funding from all sorts of different areas. It’s going to be really interesting to see how players respond to that over the long term.

  8. Joey says:

    I thought FreeRealms was just okay. Even though its done fairly well, it’s certainly not gonna make me give up WoW time for it — free or not.

    I don’t know, maybe it’s worth the investment of my gaming time past the 3-hour mark, but I doubt it.

    I was gonna play it a bit more, but once they rejected the name of “Black Francis” for my Pixie (post-character creation — DUH!), I kinda lost what little interest I had.

    *shrugs*

  9. Mikey says:

    Much better than Wow. Wow has ruined the MMO market, bringing a new generation of ignorant gamers who don’t really understand how to work hard for anything. (Everquest taught us to be on our best game, death = lost xp = hours of wasted time, and levels equated to skill.) This dumbed-down arrival of the newbie MMOer has turned WoW into just another Diablo environment.

    Free realms is doing significant damage to Wow, we actually interviewed a guy from Blizzard a few weeks ago and he stated they had been quite concerned about what this game would do to “their” market. Blizzard simply has nerfed too much and attracted too many l33td00dz to make it a fun environment anymore.

    Good job Sony, glad to see a quality MMO coming out to finally level the playing field.

  10. Gx1080 says:

    SOE produced something good?. It must be a sign of the Apocalypse.

    Seriously, major succes for something that isnt WoW its good. But i truly expect seeing that sucess of something more mature. And i know that im not the only one thinking it.

  11. Lewisham says:

    @Joey
    This game isn’t trying to be WoW. It’s not supposed to be taking away your raiding time. It’s not for gamers like you.

    @Longasc
    You registered three accounts, then you bash SOE for their numbers? How are they supposed to do it? Reading tea leaves?

  12. dartwick says:

    I registered – but I cant get it to work.

  13. Stabs says:

    Good to see the dot com bubble re-emerging, think I still have some Lastminute.com shares from last time, any takers?

  14. Vetarnias says:

    I’m so bored that I might actually check this out. Besides, it’s free, isn’t it?

    And we need more Darkfall updates. Now. We are counting on you.

  15. Arrakiv says:

    I give SOE plenty of props for managing a success like that. I haven’t checked out Free Realms yet — been too frickin’ busy lately — but hopefully I’ll have a chance soonish.

  16. Rog says:

    Runes of Magic also has 1 million ‘users’, in slightly longer time. Wizard101 has 2 million.

    I don’t think they can be honestly compared to games with other pricing models. The numbers within this group are a lot more telling.

  17. AMIB says:

    Mikey :
    Everquest taught us to be on our best game, death = lost xp = hours of wasted time, and levels equated to skill.

    If you really believe this, then you deserve Everquest.

  18. geldonyetich says:

    According to the charts, EverQuest and EverQuest topped out at about 550,000 subscriptions, so it’s interesting to hear that Free Realms has doubled SOE’s formerly most successful games.

    Foremost on my mind: does this mean the rest of SOE’s games are going Free2Play?

    We know Smed’s been leaning that way pretty heavily, but I suspect the jury is still out. Really, he’s more likely to blame a casual-friendly audience than the F2P focus.

    My own impressions of FreeRealm? Seems to me the game is more of a threat to Puzzle Pirates than WoW. But then, WoW is it’s own greatest threat: the game is old. Blizzard should have invested those ludicrous profits in having a successor product by now. Yes, I know some things are in development, but in 4-5 years they could have had a game released by now.

  19. Vetarnias says:

    @geldonyetich
    It does seem to be a threat to Puzzle Pirates, because that game itself is even older than WoW. But I’m not sure. The business model seems the same, but the demographic it’s trying to reach?

    Don’t be deceived by Puzzle Pirates’ graphics. Sure, kids might love it, but it also seems aimed at the adult market, and it is in fact cleverly multi-layered.

    I haven’t tried Freerealms yet, but I still can’t make out what it is, or what it is trying to be. It looks like a hodgepodge of everything without a master vision — a WoW fantasy setting with The Sims and God knows what else thrown in, with the one overriding factor to decide what to include being, seemingly, not how well you can integrate it within your game world, but because it looks cool.

    This was the greatest strength of Puzzle Pirates — it was seamless, yet thematically vibrant while remaining, at its core, a puzzle game. At first glance, I can’t find the same quality to Freerealms, which just seems to be a large bland mass of cute elements. But maybe I’m being too harsh, since I’m one of those guys who cringe at WoW’s Haris Pilton…

    In addition, the visual design definitely has something artificial about it, reminiscent of North Americans trying to espouse an Asian style, while the commercial juggernaut behind the venture lingers in the mind, like when you are reading an alt weekly that belongs to a traditional media chain.

    But time will tell.

  20. EpicSquirt says:

    The sad thing is that Darkfall is most likely a better overall game.

  21. Sullee says:

    Rog :Runes of Magic also has 1 million ‘users’, in slightly longer time. Wizard101 has 2 million.
    I don’t think they can be honestly compared to games with other pricing models. The numbers within this group are a lot more telling.

    Sure but are all of WoW’s numbers monthly subscriptions? Do netcafe pricing\no monthly fee accounts count?

    The important thing here is that it is a significant milestone (for SOE) and any non-blizzard success is good for everyone. I don’t know about you but I’m kind of tired of watching people dump vast millions of dollars on wow-clone failures.

    FR isn’t a wow-clone but I do expect a lot of WoW players to end up there and in other games as WoW sucks and has for years. At some point even a fracking moron has to realize that WoW offers no elder game other than EQ raiding with training wheels.

  22. taodon says:

    Isn’t FreeRealms just Class Warfare Online? – I mean, the haves will be flaunting their goods, and the have-nots will be mocked and ridiculed by the Haves until they either spend their milk money on getting a pet, or by leaving the game entirely…

    Once again – the poor are the victims here.

    LOL

  23. JuJutsu says:

    EpicSquirt :The sad thing is that Darkfall is most likely a better overall game.

    Lol, pull the other one.

  24. Longasc says:

    Free Realms managed: That people pay more for a “free” game than for a subscription game. And get not that much for it.

    I applaud Free Realms for doing differently, but I am definitely their target group. I always had this fantasy theme in mind with MMOs, the more classic dungeon crawl.

    The Kids & Family theme is really much more scary for me than tons of blood and guts! 🙂

  25. ubvman says:

    I checked it out for a few minutes with my old SOE exchange account. Futzed around for a few minutes and logged out – probably never to return, even for free. Just not for me. This will probably count towards the 1 million figure even though I just looked at it for a few minutes and will never play again. Something to consider evaluating the “1 Million user” figure as I don’t think I am an exception.

    One thing that I greatly commend SOE for (and which probably accounted for the 1 million user figure) – is that you download the game in small increments at a time. About 10 megs at a time as you play and never more than 50 megs that I noticed. This really helps bring in the users (a new term for players?) that are potentially scared off by 700 meg downloads; approximately how much I had to download just to play Warhammer Online even after I bought the game on DVDs.

  26. geldonyetich says:

    Vetarnias :
    @geldonyetich
    It does seem to be a threat to Puzzle Pirates, because that game itself is even older than WoW. But I’m not sure. […] I haven’t tried Freerealms yet

    If I can stop you right there: you want to do this in order to see what I meant about the Puzzle Pirates analogy.

    It’s not so much that SOE is going to be raiding 3-Rings’ larder here. (3-Rings actually has a whole new gaming portal they’ve released with integrated graphical chat rooms.)

    It’s that Free Realms and Puzzle Pirates have enough in common that I could see why FR has more to do with PP than WoW.

  27. Viz says:

    @Vetarnias
    The cleverly multi-layered things are the best things! Sadly, I played during a phase when PP went “super hardcore mode” with the 24-hour blockade dealies, and the stress of it eventually fractured my flag. So I quit to play another game that seemed pretty casual at first but ultimately became a massive time sink (WoW).

  28. The main complaint I’ve heard is that the game doesn’t really seem to have any multiplayer focus. While WoW may have shown us that people are happy to play solo and ignore the rest of the world (except for those hilarious Chuck Norris jokes on zone chat), but when you have a game where part of the attraction is having something neat to show off to others then a lack of social bonds isn’t a good thing.

    I still haven’t tried the game out myself, though. Just repeating what I’ve heard.

    taodon :
    Isn’t FreeRealms just Class Warfare Online?

    A well-designed game will avoid this. The “have nots” as you wish to call them will have more time to spend in the game and gain in-game rewards, whereas the “haves” will have more money to spend on items. A smart game will make sure that the “have nots” don’t get too screwed, otherwise the social fabric of the game will be hurt.

    Check out how Puzzle Pirates runs their dual currency system to see a way for people with lots of time and people with lots of money to actually work together. You don’t have to spend a dime in Puzzle Pirates on the green oceans if you don’t want, and you can still get anything people who pay for currency can get.

  29. Vetarnias says:

    @Brian ‘Psychochild’ Green
    The dual-currency system of Puzzle Pirates was perhaps its second best feature, in that you weren’t immediately shut off from anything in the game if you decided not to put real money into it.

    For those who might not know, the blue oceans are exclusively for subscribers, but the green oceans have a “doubloon” system in which key goods require payment in both pieces-of-eight (which was the in-game currency) and doubloons (which you could buy for cash, or by exchanging pieces of eight at an auction house). Say, for example, that you wanted to buy a sloop, the smallest vessel in the game; prices when I played (Hunter Ocean) were 7,000-10,000 pieces of eight to purchase, and 20 doubloons for the “delivery”. But you can buy doubloons with pieces of eight, and it could go (at the time) from 700 to 1300 PoE per doubloon (I just logged in to check, and the exchange is now 2400 per doubloon). Likewise, if you want to be able to serve as officer on a crew, you need a badge, which has a doubloon price (from 8 to 20 for Captains), and so on. Basic goods are the only items exempted, but anything fancier than a striped shirt will carry a doubloon delivery price.

    I could state for the record that my reason for not playing it anymore was the way they handled the foraging loophole. In a nutshell, before they closed the loophole, players could get wealthy by creating alts and using them to forage. The only requirements were that each alt had to own a labor badge (5 doubloons) and be logged in for 10 minutes at an undeveloped island. You could create up to 3 accounts (with 3 pirates each) per computer within a period of 3 months, so anyone starting out with enough wherewithal could theoretically get 9 pirates to forage. But inevitably you got cases of players using all the computers in their college dorm to create alts, and there was one player I remember who had upward of 100 (he didn’t even bother to find names for them anymore, he just numbered them), which made my 20 alts (at most; usually I bothered with only 12) look like a mom-and-pop operation by comparison. So it was inevitable that Three Rings would clamp down on that, even though it was a gray zone in terms of legality (it apparently was okay as long as you didn’t mess with the game files to create more alts than you could).

    So they brought in a puzzle, a nice, slow one, that simply made it impossible to run three or four windows of the game at once and make your alts wait their 10 minutes before using them, because you would be so busy playing the puzzle with one character that if you did that with all your alts, you would waste your entire day doing it.

    Three Rings’ idea was necessary, but imagine bringing that into the game years after some servers had launched. People who got rich with foraging would now be living with a cushion under them which new players couldn’t have. And it meant the old, rich, established alliances which had foraging empires would be able to remain on top despite losing this as a source of revenue, because nobody could catch up with them now (or not in the short term, at least). But wiping the servers would have been so unpopular that they had no choice but to get rid of the loophole and let the players live with the consequences.

    The class question is interesting too, because I saw a great deal of that in Puzzle Pirates.

    You would have the low-class pirates, newcomers with just the clothes they were created with, living in their free shack with cheap furniture that required no doubloons; at best, they might have the pirate badge, their first expense. Since skill also played a role in which class you would reach, most players with some skill at a puzzle and some dedication would rise above that.

    Then you had the middle class, with decent low-level housing with ordinary furniture, and wearing some of the less expensive doubloon clothes. On top of that, they usually owned a sloop with an officer badge to sail it. As officers in charge of a ship, they were usually a waste of time to truly skilled players, but they still made some decent money that way. Most players seemed to stay at that stage.

    Above that, you had the upper middle class, with a second-tier house and good furniture, fine yet practical clothing, and a few vessels to their name. Some would go for status items like pets and portraits, or would get into shopkeeping with varying degrees of success. In terms of skill, they would be semi-elite, excelling at perhaps one puzzle or two but without the connections to be invited to truly elite expeditions. This was the level I had reached when I quit, because I had pretty much hit the ceiling.

    And finally you had the rich classes, dressed in gold and black (the two most expensive colours in the game), with extravagant housing and furniture, as well as extensive fleets (military and commercial). They would excel at many puzzles (sometimes all), had been playing for years, knew all the people worth knowing, were mainstays on elite pillages, and would dabble in politics. Because of their connections, they owned the largest shops in the game (for which you had to get a deed from an island governor). Everybody knew their names.

    So yes, there was class warfare in Puzzle Pirates — plenty of it — but strangely enough it could bypass the doubloon purchasing process altogether. There was a definite tendency to denigrate those who bought their wealth with real money, as exemplified by the pejorative expression “CC (credit card) Captain”: http://yppedia.puzzlepirates.com/Credit_card_captain . In this case, it is a very interesting consideration. Gold buyers in subscription-based games are frowned upon because the practice is illegal and regarded as cheating, but that gold buying should be regarded in the same light in a game with a business model clearly designed this way is, to say the least, fascinating. Credit-card-bought wealth plus skill = good; credit-card-bought wealth minus skill = bad. There lies, in a nutshell, Puzzle Pirates’ elitism.

    I’m not sure if other cash-shop games face a similar problem, except maybe among freeloading purists but certainly not among the bulk of players. And I’m not sure if Three Rings might have been negatively affected by this.

    So the real class warfare in PP always had an element of skill involved; elite pillages, for instance, always gave more loot, the amount of which was linked to the skill displayed by the people taking part. It does seem to be one of PP’s distinctive features, and I’m not sure it is to be found in Freerealms.

    I still have to try Freerealms, but when I realized that it had classes and such reserved for subscribers, I’m wondering how close it really is to Puzzle Pirates’ model as opposed to, say, Runescape’s (which did have exclusive skills and most of the map reserved for subscribers). Puzzle Pirates’ model, after all, hinges on offering non-subscribers everything in the game, at much higher prices, true, but if you have the money, you can buy it. Runescape and other games of a similar nature offer non-subscribers only the barest bones, which seems to be what Freerealms is really about.

    As for Freerealms’ visual design, I finally remembered what it reminds me of: AdventureQuest with slightly less faux-anime, and with some WoW thrown in.

  30. Merkwurdigliebe says:

    I’ve always said that I will never play a game that has me doing the sames things that I can do in real life. For instance I can’t (easily) dress up as a viking and shoot fireballs at elves so I play DAoC. I can’t fly spaceships and watch a slide show of a 200+ space battle so I play EVE Online. I can, however, dress up as a homosexual in real life so I don’t play Freerealms. (Not saying that I do, but I can also buy some S&M gear and whip a college freshman while listening to Bjork, so I don’t play Second Life either.)

  31. Iggep says:

    I am highly skeptical of SOE’s claim of a million accounts and would love to see them post in six months. Lets see what’s what then. Active accounts of course.

    Mikey :
    Much better than Wow. Wow has ruined the MMO market, bringing a new generation of ignorant gamers who don’t really understand how to work hard for anything. (Everquest taught us to be on our best game, death = lost xp = hours of wasted time, and levels equated to skill.) This dumbed-down arrival of the newbie MMOer has turned WoW into just another Diablo environment.
    Free realms is doing significant damage to Wow, we actually interviewed a guy from Blizzard a few weeks ago and he stated they had been quite concerned about what this game would do to “their” market. Blizzard simply has nerfed too much and attracted too many l33td00dz to make it a fun environment anymore.
    Good job Sony, glad to see a quality MMO coming out to finally level the playing field.

    Ridiculous. WoW earned, and has sustained itself as the leader because it catered to what a majority of gamers wanted. Games have not surpassed WoW because they are not catering to what a majority of gamers want.

    It’s nothing more, nor nothing less, than that.

  32. heartless_ says:

    1 million, and I’ve yet to talk to or interact with another player in game.

  33. Gx1080 says:

    @heartless_

    I dont think that Free Realms would be this succesful if you had to interact with other players. After all, most people want MMOs to be like single player games. Aka, interact with others just because they want to, not because is neccesary for anything.

    IMHO, that kills the entire idea of a MMO, but it sells. And all its about selling, amirite?

  34. Yumi says:

    I play Free Realms, and I like it quite a lot, but I’ve also noticed the lack of anything really social. People don’t even talk to each other, it seems, because there’s just no need; go into everything solo, and the game will adapt. Plus the fact that for many of the jobs, you have no choice but to solo, and.. well.

    Puzzle Pirates I also liked, and I’ve played it for a while – on the old subscription model (they didn’t use Doubloons when I joined). The big problem with it was that it didn’t offer any tutorial or guidelines in how to advance. I basically played the puzzles from the “Ahoy!” menu that you get when you begin, and there was no sign of how I would get a shop or ship or even why I would want to, so I continued to use it basically just as a puzzle game compilation.

  35. Owain says:

    In other MMO news, according to Gamasutra, http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=23668, Age of Conan, while stabilizing somewhat, continues to lose subscribers.

    However, it’s worth noting that improved relative subscriber retention and increased new users may still mean that overall subscriptions are dropping. Since the PC game’s May 2008 launch, subscriber figures fell far short of expectations, leading to the closure of 31 out of 42 servers.

    I knew AoC had been slipping, but didn’t know that they closed 3/4 of their servers since I quit playing. Maybe Darkfall’s incremental approach isn’t such a bad idea after all.

  36. Bonedead says:

    1 million and the Leaderboards, advertised as a feature for paying members (like me), still don’t work. Huzzah!

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