I spent a little more time in Free Realms today, this time harvesting and racing. Anytime you do something in Free Realms, you wind up playing a mini-game. So for harvesting, you don't just wander around looking for resource nodes that you then stand around while your avatar makes harvesting motions. Oh no! You play a game sort of like Tetris, except instead of the matches automatically making the blocks disappear, you have to trace the matches. I was on a harvesting quest and I wound up playing the mini-game 3 times to complete the quest. The discouraging thing was I got a big red "You Lose!" after each game. Aargh!
The racing game is pretty fun. In a traditional MMORPG, it would be called an instance. In Free Realms, you are just at the track. You can create an instance and invite your friends and once they are all at the track you can start the race. I think I played for 30 minutes straight before I realized I hadn't done the tutorial. Maybe after doing the tutorial I'll be able to finish higher than 5th place.
While some people will complain about having to pay for content for a "free" game, if you get into the mini-games I don't think you'll have to worry about leveling your skills. Of course, I've only played the beta for 3 hours now. From what I've seen the game is very polished. There are bugs that need to be fixed, but the game is still in closed beta, so that is only to be expected.