At launch, I was a big fan of Free Realms. It was a nice looking, well crafted game, and it was free. I played it a few hours a week right up until they moved the velvet rope. Originally, some professions were fully open up to level 20 and other professions were closed unless you paid. I really liked this because it allowed you to see the game from the bottom to the top, at least in part. The new model allows you to get up to level 5 in every profession, with further advancement behind the pay wall. Because of the switch, I quit shortly thereafter, because frankly, even though I was enjoying it, it wasn’t worth $5 a month to play.
Right now and until August 2nd, SOE is running a special, $30 lifetime subscription for Free Realms. Due to a few freebies and other gifts I’ve gotten over the last year, I had accumulated 2800 Station Cash points, and the store said I could buy the lifetime subscription for 2999 points. I cracked open the wallet, bought $5 worth of points and bought my lifetime membership.
Sadly, this means that Free Realms technically doesn’t belong in the Freeloading category anymore, so this will be my last post on this game under this heading.
I think the game is totally worth $30. Especially if you have kids. Sure, there are still many items in the cash shop, and so your spending days may not be over, but the game will have no fixed costs, which is nice. And you can always dole out Station Cash as allowance and/or rewards. Personally, I like the game for the same reason I still like Puzzle Pirates – I like short arcade-style mini-games, but I love that doing them contributes to an overall game and world. Sure, I could play Bejeweled or other matching games over at Popcap or on Facebook, but they don’t earn me anything. In Free Realms, when I do well at mining I get ore which I can smith into weapons that I can use in my fighting professions and so on. Plus, I like running around in huge worlds and seeing stuff.
Now, the only issue I have with Free Realms is their silly 1024 x 768 minimum resolution limitation that prevents me from being able to play on my 1024 x 600 netbook. Puzzle Pirates is still the winner on that device…