Tonight, SOE demoed its new Free Realms game at the FanFaire. You can get a quick sense of the game via its brief Wikipedia entry. Call me a silly old sentimental gamer who should know better, but it looks quite amazing and strikes me that a lot of people, adult gamers included, could make great use of the environment as a place where they can all meet, either to game with each other (in-game soccer and “Mario Kart” style games look like fun), or just engage in social networking, especially if they are friends who are otherwise playing different games to one another.
Why? Because the game client is free and is only a very small download (according to tonight’s demo) to get running, as well as running on just about any old PC, so most gamers out there would, in theory, have very easy access to it. I believe it will be subsidised with “extra content” costing a $4.99/month subscription, as well as micropayments available in-game for certain items, but none of that is essential to accessing a lot of its basic content in the first place.
I’m going to watch this very closely, actually. Although it’s promoted at the 9-14 age group, there is a lot of fun stuff in there; similar to how the Sims can be enjoyed by a wide variety of people. Infact, it’s funny I should actually say that because, from the demo, the game came across as part (original) Star Wars Galaxies, part Sims, and part something else very rare in gaming today… a game where you can just have fun from the start. Amazing. Creativity is still alive today.