Thursday, September 17, 2009

John Smedley on Free Realms at GDC Austin

Cherry-picking the coverage of Sony Online Entertainment president John Smedley's keynote at GDC Austin. Most of the bulleted items are text from the articles; the direct Smedley quotes are in italics.

From GameSpot, Free Realms PS3 due mid-2010, EyeToy support 'likely':
  • The biggest surprise to the developers is that while two-thirds of the audience is made up of boys, two-thirds of the [microtransaction] purchasers are girls.
  • 75 percent of the game's traffic is driven by TV.
  • The company is so pleased with the product that it's preparing another product along the same audience-expanding lines
  • Quote: "There are some upsides to kids. They don't call customer service, almost ever. And they don't talk on the forums."
From Gamasutra, GDC Austin: Free Realms And The Attention Span Challenge:
  • Free Realms players now play for about 20 minutes per session.
  • "We found very quickly that kids had their own way of playing a game, but we also need a way to monetize them" said Smedley. "...Commerce to kids is hard -- a lot harder than we thought it would be."
From Virtual Worlds News, a preview written before the keynote, Free Realms Tallies 5 Million Users; No, Really:
  • "Because kids' mind [s]hare is so constantly inundated with new games, new things on TV, it's literally necessary to remind them [about the game] on a daily or weekly basis," Smedley says.
  • "We've instrumented literally every single aspect of Free Realms in ways that few if any game has ever done," Smedley says. "We report every click every person does when they register."
  • [The collected data is analyzed by a] team of five full-time data crunchers
  • 51 percent of Free Realms gamers are under 13, with around 75 percent under 18.
From, Sony Online president talks kids, women and MMOs:
  • the company erred early on in giving too much free content away when the game launched
  • the company is working on a PlayStation 3 console version of “FreeRealms” due out sometime in the middle of 2010 and is also planning a Facebook-based online game.
From Xemu's blog, AGDC 2009: Smedley on Free Realms:
  • Peak pop around 5:30 PM. Huge spikes when TV commercials run. Commercial = 5 mins later in game. These are not just new customers but returning ones, need to remind them to come back!
I'm still waiting on the coverage teased by Massively, and will edit to include anything significant.

Update 1: Added a few bullet points.
Update 2: And another.

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