SOE: Free Realms can reach 100 million

Thanks to "endless supply of children".

An "endless supply of children" is what Sony Online Entertainment believes can propel friendly fantasy MMO Free Realms all the way to 100 million players.

The free-to-play MMO has already rocketed past 17 million registered users since 2009 on PC alone. This week marks the US arrival of Free Realms on PS3.

"I think it could take five or six years," SOE president John Smedley told GamesIndustry.biz. "But I don't see any reason why it can't go to 100 million.

"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 [Free Realms] 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."

He added: "One of our other games, EverQuest, has just hit its 12th birthday, and I can definitely see Free Realms doing that."

RuneScape, a browser-based and free to play fantasy MMO, holds the record for the most registered users - over 140 million. Free Realms has some catching up to do.

Smedley told Eurogamer last year that there would be a delay between the US launch of Free Realms on PS3 and the European launch. When Europe will receive Free Realms on PS3 specifically hasn't been announced.

Smedley's comments to GamesIndustry.biz were made days before the shock announcement that PS3 and PC spy MMO The Agency has been cancelled, three SOE studios closed and 205 staff laid off.

SOE spun this positively by saying other under-development games PlanetSide Next and EverQuest Next would benefit from added focus and resources.

Eurogamer awarded Free Realms 7/10 at PC launch nearly two years ago (remember that MMOs can change significantly over time). At the time, reviewer Oli Welsh wrote: "Free Realms never stops tickling the pleasure centres of your brain or handing you sweets."

Free Realms on PC.

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