Sony Online Entertainment has announced that its free, family-friendly MMO Free Realms has begun closed beta testing, and will go into open beta in early April.
We recently reported that the game would actually launch in early April. But for most free-to-play games, open beta is effectively a soft launch, in any case.
Registration for the open beta is available at the Free Realms site.
All these dates refer to the PC version only; a PS3 version of Free Realms is in development and expected to follow in the summer.
SOE boss John Smedley is excited, saying the company's first foray into free-to-play kids' gaming is as big a step as the launch of EverQuest.
"Ten years ago, SOE introduced EverQuest, the genre-defining online video game, and this spring, we will introduce Free Realms, a game I believe will expand and enrich the kids' online gaming genre which really shows the rapid evolution of the online game space," Smedley said.
We're excited too - what we've seen of Free Realms suggests it's been polished until Smedley can see his face in it, and it should set new standards for free-to-play MMOs.
We'll bring you impressions from the beta as soon as we can. In the meantime, find more information at the Free Realms gamepage.