Free Realms Update Impressions

We take a look at the latest update for Sony's free massively multiplayer online game.

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Sony's free massively multiplayer online game has only been live since late April, but the company has already been able to achieve huge headway in carving out a community. As it stands, the game has already attracted well over 2 million users to the service and is on track to break through the 3 million user mark in the next few weeks. While the numbers may pale slightly in comparison to the likes of market-leader Blizzard and its World of Warcraft 11.5 million active-subscriber base, Free Realms has managed to get its foot in the door of the lucrative online game market.

Customise your character's look in this colorful fantasy world.

Though currently only available on the PC platform, Sony confirmed its plans to port the game to its PlayStation 3 console, and while it's already in the process of making it happen, no release date has been announced yet. With the service taking on a life of its own, it's not real surprise to find out that new content is being rolled out to retain those who are coming to play. We caught up with the team from Sony Online Entertainment at this year's E3 show to get a rundown of the new and upcoming features.

Sony's current approach is to offer short 10-to-15-minute tasks in the fantasy world, putting you in the role of a character you can choose. In addition to the now expected customization options, which will allow you to mix and match physical attributes to create the look you want to achieve, you'll be able to train for and experiment with various in-game jobs. Each job contains its own profession-specific minigames, which will complement other skills. In the example we were given, you'll be able to meld mining- and engineering-type skills to create in-game objects for your character to share with others.

Sony reps also outlined plans for further changes to its currently optional subscription model, giving players access to additional services, including realm transfers, new job types, vanity pets, and exclusive in-game combat encounters. Also planned for future release are guilds, shared guild housing, new sports minigames, different types of pets, and new car styles.

Though Sony hasn't fully explored the option yet, our guide also talked about plans to further integrate real-world advertising into the game world. Our guide stressed the importance of serving contextual ads, and we were shown a promotional poster for a Dares in-game concert, which mirrored a real-world rock show. Nothing has been confirmed yet, but brands like McDonalds were also name checked during our guided tour.

Will Free Realms be able to retain its user-base-growth momentum? We're going to have to wait and see as it continues to evolve.

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