Free Realms Not All That Free

by Alphaville Herald on 04/05/09 at 7:36 am

Creating demand for Station Cash spacebux

by Suzie Skybeam


You'll have to pay to experience the Pro Chef Square Shard

“What is Free Realms? A free online world where you rule!” said that banner on the web site. Recalling similar bold claims from Second Life (“Second Life is a 3D online digital world imagined, created and owned by its residents”) my first thought was, what’s the catch? And how much am I going to end up paying for this?

A free account at Free Realms will let you try out the game to see if you like it, but if you do like it, you’ll probably find that you need to pay the $4.99 monthly subscription to progress further through the game. And on top of that, there’s real money trading for items that will make you look cool or help you progress faster.

You do want a magic sword that glows in the dark, don’t you? Of course you do!

In Free Realms, characters can belong to multiple classes, and switch between them according to the task at hand. You can fight monsters as a Ninja, and then switch back to being a Chef when it’s time to cook some provisions for your next adventure. A free account will let you play a good selection of interesting character classes, but some of them – such as Wizard  or Medic – are only accessible from subscription accounts.

As you walk through the virtual world, an icon over the head of a non-player character lets you know that if you were to go and talk to them, you would find out about a quest. Some NPC’s show a slightly different icon with a badge that lets you know they would have had a quest for you if you had a subscription account, but seeing as you’re playing from a free account, you’re right out of luck. Shame about that.

Once your character has advanced a few levels and you’re tackling the slightly more difficult quests, you’ll start winning items that you can only be used from pay accounts.

The Chef class might be initially free to play, but when you’ve won a “Pro Chef Square Shard” and can’t use it, you realize that it’s really only free at the starting levels. You don’t suddenly hit a wall that stops you from making progress, but items that would let you advance faster are inaccessible. If you’re wondering what on Earth a “Pro Chef Square Shard” is, don’t worry – the game mechanics are introduced gradually as you advance in level, so you can start playing without needing to know all of it.

Even if you’re decided that you like the game enough that you’re willing to pay a monthly subscription, you still have to pay extra for some avatar customizations or power-ups that let you advance faster. “Station Cash” costs $5 (U.S.) for 500 points. A cool-looking but useless avatar customization such as a tuxedo will cost you 300 Station Cash (i.e. $3 U.S.). For 200 Station Cash (i.e. $2) you can turn into a wolf for thirty minutes.

It’s a great game, but it is “free” not in the sense of “free beer” or “free speech”, but “no such thing as a free lunch”.

6 Responses to “Free Realms Not All That Free”

  1. Jumpman Lane

    May 4th, 2009

    IT SUX caws it has these crappy selected names! They wouldnt let me be Jumpman Lane so i told em i quit and deleted thatshit!

  2. Alyx Stoklitsky

    May 4th, 2009

    Wow, it’s like SLfags suddenly descovered the shitty ‘free’ MMO’s that everyone else was playing in 2004.

  3. Tenshi

    May 4th, 2009


  4. tman

    Jul 22nd, 2010

    free realms is the bigest scam ever. my freind fell for it and spends all her money on this station cash crap. you spend like 100$ a month to get anyenjoyment out of it its rediculose.

  5. John Lear

    May 25th, 2011

    They really need to change the name of the game, It is not free as advertised. As a company, you should be honest and this was simple deceipt. Regardless of the quality of the game, you need to spill the beans as is. On the other hand, constant loading times mar the whole experience and, as Jumpman Lane previously stated, not being able to use your name in a game like this is an unforgivable misconception, to say the least.

    I am waiting for the next attempt at a decent MMORPG in the PS3. I’ll pass this childish one.

  6. Flamec4

    Sep 15th, 2012

    They have lifetime now buy it on a deal like i did

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