An anonymous reader writes "Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick disclosed that their forthcoming, unnamed MMOG will have 'a little more broad appeal' than its market-leading MMO World of Warcraft. This is adding to speculation that the game might be free to play, since such games now take more in digital revenue than any other genre. In his GDC Austin keynote today, Sony Online Entertainment president Jon Smedley said, 'As a company, we knew we had to evolve ... to expand [our] audience ... and to get a much wider female audience.' The article notes that SOE hasn't abandoned hardcore MMOs, but his talk focused on Free Realms, SOE's free-to-play MMO that has grown to 5 million users in 5 months. Marketed to kids, 51% of Free Realms gamers are under 13, with around 75% under 18, who pose a challenge to attract and retain. Since they only play for about 20 minutes per session and aren't focused on the mechanics of the game, SOE can get away with changes that are unfair to some players, as shown by a recent, oddly-handled item nerf in Free Realms."
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