Free Realms coming to the PlayStation 3 on March 29

Sony Online Entertainment has announced a release date for casual free-to-play MMO Free Realms' arrival on the PlayStation 3, and it's just a few weeks from now, on March 29. The game was originally brought out on PC a few years ago, and is breaking new ground: "We'll be the first free-to-play casual MMO ever offered on the PlayStation Network," lead designer Stephen Bokkes told Joystiq.

SOE already has a major console MMO on the PS3 in the form of DC Universe Online, but Bokkes says that development of Free Realms ran separately from the superhero game. "I can't say that we took any cues specifically from DCUO" in terms of controls or design, he said. Bokkes' team developed console-style controls for each minigame in the title, from pet-raising to kart racing, and even rebalanced them for console-specific gameplay. A lot of technical work was done as well: "We actually had to port the renderer over," says producer Ryan Wells.

The PS3 version won't allow players to team up with their friends on PC, however. "It was certainly considered," says Bokkes, but in the end was too difficult to pull off correctly. "The difficulty comes in with linking the accounts." Another difficulty was setting a schedule for updates -- the team says it would like to do simultaneous updates across platforms, but "it becomes really hard when you're going through multiple approval paths," according to Wells. Free Realms has been relatively popular on the PC, and it'll be interesting to see how a console audience reacts at the end of the month.%Gallery-118871%

This article was originally published on Joystiq.