Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) president John Smedley is confident that Free Realms, its free-to-play child-friendly MMOG that launched on PS3 download service PlayStation Network last week, will reach 100 million users.
First launched for PC in 2009, with a Mac release the following year, Free Realms recently hit 17 million users, but Smedley expects that number to grow dramatically over time.
“It is a phenomenal number,” he told GI.biz, “and we’re very pleased with its success – and it’s really keeping going. I don’t see this thing stopping until it hits 100 million.
“I think it could take five or six years. But I don’t see any reason why it can’t go to 100 million, because there are so many kids out there. And the great thing about a kids’ game – and this is different for an adult audience and people don’t think about this – is that there are always more kids.
“That endless supply of children that have a hunger for gaming, as long as we keep improving it and make sure it’s still relevant – which we do every month with patches – means that we expect the game to have a long life.”
Pointing to another SOE MMOG, Everquest, which recently reached its 12th birthday, as evidence that Free Realms will be given time to grow, Smedley stated his belief that more and more console games will use the free-to-play model.
“There are a lot of people out there that have, in the past, associated free-to-play with lower quality – and simply put, that’s just not true anymore. There are a lot of free-to-play games that are great, and I think that’s going to come over to console just as well.
“It’s too soon to tell for sure but I think you’re going to start seeing free-to-play gaming on console as well. People will realise that getting a lot more folk to try their games using that kind of business model will help.”