DRAGON QUEST X (WII) WILL BE FREE TO PLAY. FOR KIDS. FOR A BIT. KIND OF.

March, minions. March to your local Geo and buy plushy Slimes by dozen.

Soon, these critters will be min-maxing quicker than you can say “mandatory healthy lunches”

They’ve already shown that they like to get ‘em hooked young in Japan. But since that sort of thing is somewhat frowned upon by the man these days, Square Enix have taken a different approach to dealing digital crack. Admittedly, it’s not really any different from a 20-level trial, but specifically calling it Kids’ Time might pull in a few extra munchkins. And before long they’ll be spending all their New Years’ money on gamecards.

The upcoming Wii MMO Dragon Quest X Online will offer two hours of free time every day in a bid to entice younger fans to play, Square Enix said Thursday. The game launches in Japan on August 2 and normally costs about 1,000 yen ($12) each month.

“Kids’ Time” will run from 4 to 6 p.m. on weekdays and 1 to 3 p.m. on weekends. The hours were chosen based on customer feedback from demo events held in shopping malls early this Spring. In-game messages will advise players of the end of the free-to-play sessions, and those without money in their accounts when Kids’ Time ends will automatically have their game saved before being disconnecting from the server.
Square Enix warned that these times were subject to change. The company said there will not be an age-verification system to restrict Kids’ Time to solely younger players, but instead asked all players to “please understand this service is aimed at children.”

Based on the hours chosen, it’s unlikely any Japanese Dragon Quest fans over the age of twelve will be home to log in during Kids’ Time on weekdays. The time frame seems tailor-made to suit Japanese elementary school students returning to their homes. Middle and high-school students, however, normally participate in extensive after-school activities that will keep them from playing Dragon Quest X for free.

Subscription-based MMORPGs are increasingly waiving monthly fees in favor of microtransactions to lower the barrier of entry to new players as well as keep established players from walking away. Even the gold standard of MMORPGs, World of Warcraft, allows players to reach level 20 without buying a subscription. It will be interesting to see if Japanese consumers, accustomed to paying more for their entertainment, embrace the monthly-payment model or instead crowd onto servers each afternoon to play for free.

[Source: Wired Game Life]

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