$5/month is my sweet spot (Free Realms)

I’ve grumped a bit (both here and on Tesh’s blog) about the monthly subscription model that many MMOs adhere to, and which seem more and more outdated every month. The model seems so limiting. I (and others) have talked about alternatives such as buying bundles of minutes, paying for access to certain content (the Wizard 101 model as I understand it) and so on.

And I griped about Free Realms really not being all that free. But I grudgingly ponied up $5 for a month’s subscription to Free Realms, and I’m finding that all my issues with a monthly model melt away as long as the price is low enough.

Fair or not, I work on the “movie value model” of entertainment. It costs me roughly $10 to see a roughly $2 hour movie, so anywhere that I can get entertainment for less than $5/hour feels ‘cheaper than going to a movie.’ It isn’t a perfect model and honestly I can’t afford to go to movies very often so it isn’t even an accurate model, but it is what I use.

In Free Realms, I paid my $5 and started playing, and probably spent more than an hour in that first paid play session, so the rest of the month is “free” according to my warped model. And I play the game a lot (for now) because I can jump in, do something meaningful, and jump out again, all in 5-10 minutes.

For instance yesterday, waiting for the water to boil for pasta, I logged in, Teleported to that town in the north with the mine (the name escapes me…getting old sucks), and ran in there and played the mining mini-game twice. Got some ore, some gems, some experience, and logged out in time for dinner.

Compare that to EQ2, where I paid $15 for a month about 3 weeks ago and so far have managed to fit in 1 play session of an hour or so. I don’t mean to single out EQ2, most MMOs really require a nice sized chunk of free time to play, and for me these days, those chunks are rare. Now I feel a nagging guilt that I *should* be playing EQ2 rather than Free Realms (or my other current time sink, Lawn of the Dead, aka Plants vs Zombies). I don’t like guilt, even when it is self-inflicted.

I wish to heck XFire would track Free Realms playtime on Vista, because I checked my /played time for this character that I started a week ago, and I’ve managed over 16 hours of Free Realms this week. I know for a lot of you, that’s a typical day. 🙂 But for me, that’s a huge amount of time for me to devote to a game in a week. Where did all that time come from? I guess the 5-10 minute sessions here and there do add up.

$5 for 16 hours (and counting) of entertainment? I can’t complain about that. I do need to shut off the auto-renew, though, in case I lose interest before my month is up (so far not looking very likely).

Now the RMT phase of Free Realms is a different story… but I’m pretty happy to have paid $5 for a month of having access to all the Jobs and all the Quests.

BTW, I finally unlocked Ninja…what a blast! And I had a glowy sword I’d made via Blacksmithing, so I started out uber. 🙂 I’m at work or I’d post a screenie.

And yeah, for now at least, I’m a bona fide Free Realms fanboy.

6 thoughts on “$5/month is my sweet spot (Free Realms)

  1. Blamefulgecko was in a weapon making mood last night so in return for some tourmaline and some iron he made me a bow and some other weapons. So I jaunted off and became an archer. Very cool look, and I had a lot of gear and shards and jewelry for the job just from normal adventuring.

    The Archer RMT hoodies are scary. Not sure if I’ll buy one….

    Ninja is fantastic. I am not using my best gear, though, because I like the outfit I have on now for looks.

  2. Ya know, from knowing all your gripes the past several months or more about monthly subs, etc., but from reading this post it sounded to me more like that it’s not so much that MMOs are $15/month vs. $5/month or any other pricing scheme, but that you just don’t have the time for the typical MMO time-sinks? Or perhaps more to the point, you don’t have the time all in one sitting?

    You can zip around in Free Realms and get a little something accomplished where in [insert every other DikuMMO here] you’d have tedious (what the deluded call “meaningful”) travel times and other aspects that just drag out the amount of time it takes to do what in the end should have been a simple task. Even finding groups in many MMOs can take entirely too much time. I suppose that’s the tradeoff to designing games for the optimum group composition as opposed to say, your typical XBL game where we can just click Join Quick Game and we’re off and running.

  3. The short session playstyle of FR is perhaps their biggest key to success. The business model may have its quirks, but letting people play in bits and pieces, rather than in hour(s) long blocks is very significant.

    Good to see you having fun with it! I keep meaning to play it more (I played in the Beta), but I’m short on time. As usual. 😉

  4. I’m really enjoying FR and it’s great about the short session playstyle.

    I did also pony up the $5 (yay, big spender!) and I was impressed at the extra minigames that were unlocked, like the snowboarding one and the archaeology one. I actually need to locate where to train the new jobs though 🙂 I’m finding the MMO style jobs kind of grindy to train.

  5. (replying a bit late as been on holidays)
    Your pricing comparisons there are some that have regularly run through my mind but for me it has always been with the ‘normal’ $15/month and I’ve considered that comparatively that has always seemed a larger amount in the US. Here in Australia my basis has been to see a movie has been AUD$16 for many years. To buy a mass market paperback is AUD$18-$21 . So when looking at the US$15 which until recently had been converting to about AUD$17 the typical MMO subscription stood up very well in entertainment time cost. Of course our dollar has dropped in the past half year and its more like AUD$23 now. Still considering I will typically play at least 5, and occasionally as much as 15, hours a week on any MMO I am subscribed too that is excellent value.

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