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Sony Online Entertainment Unveils FreeRealms, The Agency

Sony Online Entertainment has revealed it has three new titles in development, led by the previously hinted at spy themed MMO The Agency for PC and PlayStation 3, as well as the primarily free to play FreeRealms, also for PC/PS3, and aimed a
Officials from Sony Online Entertainment have revealed that the company has three new titles in development, led by the previously hinted at The Agency on PC and PlayStation 3. Although SoE indicated at the DICE 07 event in February that it was working on a spy based massively multiplayer online game, the title has not been described in detail until now. In an article in the International Herald Tribune, the games are portrayed as an attempt to expand the company in four major ways; by diversifying its business model, expanding the demographic of its users, moving into the console market and expanding its presence in Asia. The article quotes SoE president John Smedley as saying, “"Right now our revenue is almost all subscriptions. In two years, we would like to see no more than 50 percent of our revenue coming from subscriptions and five years from now we think less than 10 percent of our revenue will come from subscription sources." All these factors are implied to be addressed in the forthcoming trio of games, which includes the newly announced FreeRealms, due on PC this winter and PlayStation 3 next summer. The title is primarily aimed at children, particularly girls, and will be free to play in general with paid membership for access to “special zones and activities”. Smedley has revealed more on the title in a new Gamasutra interview, saying SOE is aiming "a lot bigger" than even the record population achieved by Blizzard's World of Warcraft. By comparison The Agency is aimed at a more traditional video game audience, which Smedley describes as “24 meets Counter-Strike meets Alias meets James Bond”. The game is meant as a conscious move away from high fantasy themed massively multiplayer online games - a direction discussed in detail during a Gamasutra interview with Smedley from early May. Sony Online has called the game a "pick-up-and-play experience," with, in lieu of class-based systems common in fantasy games, a "You Are What You Wear" approach with customized attire emphasizing combat, support, stealth, or cover identities per mission. More on The Agency has been revealed in a new Gamasutra interview with Sony Online Entertainment studio manager Matt Wilson. The company’s third new title has not yet been named, but is expected to be announced this week. Previously the publisher’s most successful titles in the West have included EverQuest, PlanetSide and Star Wars: Galaxies for LucasArts.

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