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PC Games (Games) The Almighty Buck Entertainment Games

How Much Money Do Free-To-Play MMOs Make? 157

Posted by Soulskill
from the insert-coin-for-funny-hat dept.
simoniker writes "Over at Gamasutra, a new feature article discusses how much money free-to-play MMO games make, with specific real-world stats from game developers willing to discuss how they make money with microtransaction-based PC games. In particular, Puzzle Pirates co-creator Daniel James reveals that 'the average revenue per user (ARPU) is between one and two dollars a month, but only about 10% of his player base has ever paid him anything. As a result, he says, approximately 5,000 gamers are generating the $230,000 in revenue he sees each month.' It's obviously quite a different model from the regular $15/month for World Of Warcraft, but it evidently works for some companies."
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How Much Money Do Free-To-Play MMOs Make?

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Stop making your games for Windows only and maybe you'll see more money.

    Hint: on campuses there's at least 50% Mac users.

    • by f0dder (570496)
      They're moving to consoles & other proprietary devices like the iPhone & iPod.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Bieeanda (961632)
      How many of those Mac users are too busy studying, socializing in person, or ransacking the couch for ramen money though?
    • by Mprx (82435) on Tuesday June 09, 2009 @05:40PM (#28272643)
      Puzzle Pirates is written in cross platform Java. Works on every major OS.
    • by Quirkz (1206400) on Tuesday June 09, 2009 @05:51PM (#28272753) Homepage
      Some of us are browser based. I play www.KingdomofLoathing.com all the time, and it's platform independent. I also run my own game at www.Twilightheroes.com.

      With just under 30k accounts, maybe 2,000 of them active in a given month, I'm not really quite "massive" yet but my own experience is that I pull in on average less than $0.50 per account per month, with some fair bit of fluctuation. I'd be jumping for joy at an average of $2/player.
      • 15k a month?

        I need to start one of these. Either that or this is where you tell me your operating cost is 16k a month.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          He's likely only getting revenue from active accounts, so it's $1k per month.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Quirkz (1206400)
            Yes, that's fifty cents per active account. People who don't log in or play generally don't donate.

            Server costs are about half of my income for two dedicated servers (one file server, one database server). Doesn't leave a lot of profit (especially if I want to do any advertising or hire out any services), so at this point it's still more of a minimum-wage hobby. On the other hand, that beats the hell out of hobbies that *cost* money and it's still fantastically fun, educational, and rewarding.
      • by julesh (229690)

        With just under 30k accounts, maybe 2,000 of them active in a given month, I'm not really quite "massive" yet but my own experience is that I pull in on average less than $0.50 per account per month, with some fair bit of fluctuation. I'd be jumping for joy at an average of $2/player.

        Means your game isn't sticky enough. You need to tweek it to get your players competing against each other more. :)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Itninja (937614)
      I think a better statement would be 'at least 50% of the people who I see with computers use Macs'. That's because Macs are status symbols first, and computers second (not to say they are not great systems). If PC's were as sexy as Macs then folks would be proud to be seen using them too. And I would imagine those people would far out number the Mac users.
      • by Omestes (471991) <omestes @ g m a il.com> on Tuesday June 09, 2009 @07:15PM (#28273461) Homepage Journal

        Odd, I got a Mac in college when my PC crapped out thanks to some defective parts after $300 of upgrades. I decided I had enough of futzing with my computer, and fixing things, so I bought an iBook. With student discounts it was cheaper than most comparable Wintel laptops, and did pretty much the same stuff, and I got a free iPod with it. Sure, I couldn't game, but I had more important things to do.

        It actually served my purposes fine, and it was damn cheap. Hardly a status symbol. Hell, even if it was a status symbol it might have left my dorm room 4 times 3 years.

        Stop generalizing to justify your own selection of OS as being far superior to everyone elses. And stop deluding yourself into thinking you OS choice has anything to do with anything that actually matters. Its shallow, and obnoxious.

        And just so you don't call me a fan-boy (which is also vapid, I might add) I'm typing this on my Windows gaming rig, sitting next to my Ubuntu laptop, which is sitting next to a Mac Mini I'm fitting into a mini media center.

        • I don't think he was trying to be a smart ass at all. In fact, he's probably on to something. However much I want to deny it, Macs have become status symbols of a kind. Not blingy useless crap that hangs around your neck like a gold chan does, but status symbols all the same. Look at all the Mac product placement in movies and TV shows for example. Macs have entered the public consciousness.

          I think Macs have become status symbols in spite of themselves, which is rather surprising. After all, no-one (despite

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Omestes (471991)

            When I bought my first Mac, an iBook G3 in 2003, it was the best value notebook for my needs. It was actually cheap in comparison to most PC notebooks, which really surprised me. The Mac notebook line has always been good value.

            Sadly this doesn't hold true on the higher end. MacBooks and iBooks were a decent value, and at least comparable to Windows laptops with the same specs, but PowerBooks and MacBook Pro's are generally way too expensive for what you get.

            My HP Pavilion Vista Laptop (now running Linux)

      • by MrMista_B (891430)

        "Status symbol"? Hah! I take it you've not actually used one, then.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by drtsystems (775462)
        I actually have noticed that a disproportionate amount of mac users bring their laptops places (library, class, coffee shop, etc) than PC users on campus, but I attributed it to a different reason. I've found Macs to be better suited to portability. Apple laptops are very portable compared to many WIndows laptops (the $500 massive PC laptop doesn't exist for Apple customers). Most Windows laptops I see around campus are massive and heavy. OS X also handles sleeping very gracefully. Maybe this has been
        • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Wednesday June 10, 2009 @02:38AM (#28276429) Journal
          Proper sleep support is really important. For a while I owned a PowerBook and a ThinkPad (well, I still do, I just don't use them much now). To take my ThinkPad somewhere, I needed to shut it down, then when I got there reboot and reopen all of my applications in their last state. With the Mac, I shut the lid and opened it when I got there, with all of my applications in exactly the same state I left them. I theory I could do the same with my ThinkPad, but it only had an 80-90% chance of coming out of sleep mode correctly, and I didn't think even a 10% chance of data loss was acceptable every time I closed the lid. The battery on the PowerBook also lasted about twice as long. Guess which machine I took with me, and which I left at home...
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Silentknyght (1042778)

            I use a thinkpad t61 for work, and used a t43 before that, and I have never, ever, ever had any problems with the suspend/resume functions with closing/opening the laptop lid. And I virtually ONLY use suspend/resume because otherwise I have to sit through the ridiculously long log-in script.

            I'd say I've reasonably done this at least twice over the last four years, or about 2,500 times, without ever (remembering) any problem like you discuss.

            • Mine is an R31; much older model. Sleep is a bit more reliable in Windows, although sometimes on resuming from sleep the processor gets stuck in the lowest-power mode so the machine runs painfully slowly, and there was no safe-sleep mode, so you lost data if the battery went flat while in sleep mode (or you hibernated manually, but that took 30 second or more to sleep and wake). With other operating systems it was a lot less reliable, although apparently OpenBSD recently committed some fixes for the buggy
      • That's true for some people but I got my Mac for its power, its ease of use, its UNIX base, and the fact that I can use it with my neuroimaging research. Most of the people here at college who have Macs got them not for their looks or status symbol, they got them because they wanted a computer that worked.

        I think more often than not, college students now get Macs because they are in fact sick of Windows. Further, for people in fields similar to mine, Macs have become the platform to do the work. Most or a
      • by mdwh2 (535323)

        I think also people tend to notice it more often, because of the way your attention is drawn to it - e.g., someone saying "I'll just do this on my Mac", but no one says "I'll just do this on my Windows laptop". So even if that only happens 5% of the time, we have a tendancy to overestimate its occurance.

        Similarly with people who say "I'll just check this website on my Iphone", but no one else ever bothers to mention their model of phone, they just use the perfectly acceptable word that already exists: phone

    • by westlake (615356)

      Stop making your games for Windows only and maybe you'll see more money.

      I suspect that if you are in this business you have credible numbers for the OSX and Linux platforms.

      It would be helpful if OEM Linux shed its reputation as a bottom feeder.

      That you could point to mass-market sales of entry-level gaming systems at least as plausible as the mid-line HP Pavilion sold at WalMart.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Turor (770192)

      Ahoy matey, Puzzle Pirates runs on Mac and Linux just fine.

      In fact I'm using Linux and logged in right now. Arr!

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        I just discovered that you could play for free again. Yarrr! Now if I can play on windows mobile my head asplode.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Mad Merlin (837387)

      You mean like Game! [wittyrpg.com]? I don't really see many Mac users, substantially more Linux users actually.

    • And they're willing to pay for shiny.

      No, hold it, that's not quite it. It's more that the average Mac user, at least to my observation, wants his stuff to do what he wants. He's quite willing to say "here's the money, now bend over and do what I want you to do!"

      Windows users are generally hoping things would work out, notice they don't, then putz around and reach for workarounds before ever even considering paying another dime.

      And Linux users are actually looking for and thriving on traps, pitfalls and shor

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Wow, when did $46 become a micro payment?

    • by PMBjornerud (947233) on Tuesday June 09, 2009 @05:32PM (#28272545)

      Wow, when did $46 become a micro payment?

      From when you RTFA:

      Three Rings' MMO Puzzle Pirates takes in approximately $50 each month from each paying user (ARPPU) for a total of $230,000 a month, all resulting from microtransactions.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by phorm (591458)

        Maybe I read this wrong, but I could see that as being several smaller payments throughout the month, totalling up to roughly $50 per user in a month.

        So if you paid around, say, $1.60/day you'd end up around that mark but each payment is in itself rather small.

        • by goodmanj (234846)

          Having played Puzzle Pirates back when it was transitioning from subscription to micropayments, yes, the payments are individually small: 50 cents here, a buck there. But if you're a big pimp pirate, they add up.

          I also believe the median is a lot smaller than the average. Many pirates paying a little, a few paying truly ridiculous amounts of cash.

    • by Yvan256 (722131)

      Maybe he used to work for Verizon [slashdot.org]?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by retchdog (1319261)

      I suspect that the median monthly payment is much smaller, and that there's a "long tail" of people-who-would-be-called-irrational-by-economists, who see the game as a social venue and thus are chipping in a lot. I used to play Kingdom of Loathing, and some of the hard core users seemed to be spending upward of $100 a month on the game partly because they spent a lot of their social time in the game and meta-game (forums; auctions; clan dungeons; &c.). They seemed to be getting a whole lot more out of i

      • You mean those people who act like the U.S. government which apparently has nothing better to do other than spend money. :)
        • by retchdog (1319261)

          Yeah or, you know, almost anyone.

          A real-life person who actually behaved consistently with economic theory, would be the biggest freak you could possibly imagine.

    • I want to know when "free mmos" included micropayments.

      • Oh c'mon, bait-and-switch. You can play for free, but to get the "good stuff" and don't have the feeling you're just wasting your time (why that changes when you pay is beyond me, but ... ya know...), you have to shell out dough.

        It's not really that uncommon, ya know?

    • by shentino (1139071)

      Compared to the bottom line of any retail outlet, what you pay at the cash register is probably considered a micro payment.

      When you spend a billion dollars on R&D for the latest pharmaceutical, selling a billion pills for a few bucks each would be micro payment.

      For MMO's that earn a few million dollars a year, the subscription fees are probably considered micro payments, with payments for in-game perks probably also being micro or even nano payments.

  • by Xaoswolf (524554) <Xaoswolf@nOSPAM.gmail.com> on Tuesday June 09, 2009 @05:24PM (#28272471) Homepage Journal
    most people are going to play it like it's free, as in, not paying for anything. You'll still have a minority that will help to boost the sales by paying a whole lot more than they should for in game items. Likewise, I have never played a free MMO that didn't have someone running around the home city just shouting out advertisements.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by LandDolphin (1202876)
      I have never played a ANY MMO that didn't have someone running around the home city just shouting out advertisements.

      Have not read the article, but it seems fro mthe summary that they know that most people are going ot play for free. But the free draws them in and then some pay for things and they make enough to stay in business.

      A good business model does not require making millions of profit. If a company makes enough to pay it's employees well with a little leftover capitol to grow then it is do
      • I have.

        Granted, that's partly because you're trapped in one area until level 50 (at which point you have to start paying), and that area is hard to get to after level 50. Generally, people who would just shout out advertisements aren't willing to spend $10 for the very short opportunity until they get jailed.

        But I would guess that is a problem -- if it's a pay game, there's a hurdle for griefers and spambots. If it's free, you have to play with CAPTCHAS and the like, just like any other free service.

    • most people are going to play it like it's free, as in, not paying for anything.

      I don't know that that is the case. I've been involved in a handful of free-to-play, but pay-for-perks games, and most of the people I played with threw money at the game.

      Currently, the game is Requiem: Bloodymare, and most of the people I play with throw a fair bit of money at it. I wouldn't be surprised if the average wasn't near WOW's average. Why would we throw money its way? The game makes it easy and fun. There is no marketing pressure, but a fair bit of social pressure. At the same time, mon

    • by dword (735428)

      I have never played a free MMO that didn't have someone running around the home city just shouting out advertisements.

      Hero Online [netgame.com] doesn't have ads and you only pay if you want bonus stuff, like armors and such, which you can trade in-game anyway so there's no need for any real money to get that stuff and the game is playable even without it.

    • That's nothing. I used to play an MMO where several, or many, characters stand in each of the 5 towns shouting advertisements. Literally hundreds of bot characters clog up the 37 servers running all over the map killing mobs for gold that they sell on external websites to other players in the game. The company sells premium tickets so users can get priority access to log into "full" servers. You have to actually log in with a character in order to buy the premium ticket that allows you to log in with pr

    • by shoemilk (1008173)
      try samuraioflegend.com you any advertising brings instant banishment
    • by julesh (229690)

      most people are going to play it like it's free, as in, not paying for anything

      This tallies with my experiences of playing free MMOs... e.g., I've been playing Galaxy Online lately, where the vast majority never pay anything, but there's an a kind of inverse-long-tail effect going on where there are one or two players who spend absolutely obscene quantities of money. The mean per paying player may well be $50/month, but I bet you the median is more like $20. And while there may be thousands who spend only

  • by greymond (539980) on Tuesday June 09, 2009 @05:41PM (#28272657) Homepage Journal

    "(ARPU) is between one and two dollars a month, but only about 10% of his player base has ever paid him anything. As a result, he says, approximately 5,000 gamers are generating the $230,000 in revenue"

    So 10% of the player base is paying him and that player base equals 5,000 people. So there are 50,000 people a month playing - nice.

    But wait a sec...ARPU is only $2 on the top end and 5,000 people pay this, so that's $10,000 a month - where is the other $220,000 coming from!!!!! Even if all 50k people were spending $2 a month that's be $100k - Where did I miss something?

    OH I GET IT NOW - From the actual article....
    "Indeed, James reveals that Three Rings' MMO Puzzle Pirates takes in approximately $50 each month from each paying user (ARPPU) for a total of $230,000 a month, all resulting from microtransactions."

    This is different than what the blurb mentioned - I guess it did get me to read, but only this time - you're tactics won't always work on me!

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 09, 2009 @05:49PM (#28272735)

      And if I add apples and oranges, I can eliminate the national debt as long as I remember to divide by zero!

      10% of the player base is paying him

      No, 10% of the player base has ever paid him. Some other % (presumably smaller) is the 5000 players paying monthly.

      ARPU is only $2 on the top end and 5,000 people pay this, so that's $10,000 a month

      No, the average is over all of the players, so thats (total players)*$2 a month.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Endo13 (1000782)

        I love summaries like this one. It's a great tool for figuring out who has poor reading comprehension and/or logic ability.

        • As opposed to a properly written summary, which would be a great tool for dispensing information to readers of the site.
      • by julesh (229690)

        No, 10% of the player base has ever paid him. Some other % (presumably smaller) is the 5000 players paying monthly.

        [...]

        No, the average is over all of the players, so thats (total players)*$2 a month.

        And total monthly = $230,000, so we can surmise total players = ~115,000. So the smaller % is actually about 4%.

  • I think 6 (Score:5, Funny)

    by geekoid (135745) <`moc.oohay' `ta' `dnaltropnidad'> on Tuesday June 09, 2009 @05:47PM (#28272697) Homepage Journal

    is it 6? I'm guessing 6, 6 right?

    "approximately 5,000 gamers are generating the $230,000 in revenue he sees each month."

    If you knew, why the hell did you ask me?

  • Interesting that this was posted today without announcing that today was also the day that DDO (Dungeons and Dragons Online, Turbine Entertainment) announced it was going free to play. Just a thought.

    • by Lunzo (1065904)
      I'd say it was a co-incidence, as opposed to sneaky DDO (Dungeons & Dragons Online) marketing. There was no mention of DDO at all in TFA (I did read it for once. It felt wrong I tell you). In fact the article focused on smaller indy games which use this pricing model. Contrast that with the major effort that went into DDO which wanted to be a World of Warcraft killer but flopped.
  • I haven't read the article, but, to me it seems the takeaway here is pretty obvious: Your users are content and they are providing themselves. The question becomes "Are the users that never pay anything valuable enough to the users that may pay something to convince them to continue paying and participating at that paying level, or would those same paying users pay as much without the addition free users as human content?" And I think that's a tough question to ask which can only be answered through actua

  • I've not played a lot of the free/micro-payment MMOs but the ones I have fooled around with act the same way. That being if you want to have any real power in the game your forced to pay. And it's not that I'm saying that paying for an MMO service itself is bad. Rather that paying a flat rate subscription MMO is a better deal.

    As such I either want to a) play for free when online; such as when playing a FPS, RTS, or even back in the day with a RPG like NWN. (A philosophy I supported by writing/hosting St

    • If you read the article, it says the money is coming from people making micropayments adding up to $50/month each. Ummm, ouch, that's a shitload of money. For that you could buy a new, retail game each month. It is also way more than subscription MMOs. Pricing for those varies, but seems to cap out at $15/month for the big ones like WoW. Means for each month those people pay for this game, they could have a little over 3 months of WoW.

      I think that is precisely why some publishers are so in to the micropayme

    • by julesh (229690)

      I dunno, the micropayment based systems I've played you could get realistically powerful spending less than you would on a typical subscription game. E.g., I'm playing Galaxy Online these days, where I'm a corps leader of a mid-strata corps and get to have quite a bit of fun, and I'm spending roughly $5 a month on it. I don't see the issue, anless its the somewhat bait-and-switch aspect of how these games are marketed.

  • I am curious about the investment Disney and others are prepared to make in games like Pirates of Caribbean.

    Free to play.

    Period.

    I think the small-time developer should be asking this question.

    Disney has a lot of assets it can bring to the table.

    IP. Creative talent. Tech.

    It won't be generating headlines on Fox News when the addict passes $100/mo in "micropayments."

    This I think is a model for disaster.

    • by jamstar7 (694492)

      I am curious about the investment Disney and others are prepared to make in games like Pirates of Caribbean.

      Free to play.

      Period.

      And probably every penny of running the game is written off as an advertising expense. Since the 'cost of doing business' comes right off the top, it's not taxed. Add to this some Hollywood accounting [wikipedia.org] and you have the potential to create a profit center from something that looks like a loss from the outside, if you don't look close...

    • Free? As in ... you don't pay?

      That doesn't sound very Disney, where's the catch?

  • by tdelaney (458893) on Tuesday June 09, 2009 @07:25PM (#28273569)

    Guild Wars is pay to purchase, but from then on it's free to play. Its graphics are astounding (better than WoW IMO - much less cartoony) and it supports huge numbers of players. It's got a huge amount of content - after 2 years of solid playing there's still lots that I haven't done yet.

    I've got 3 accounts (mine, brother, mule - used to be 4, but I gave one to my nephew). The interesting thing with GW is that there is no significant advantage to buying additional stuff beyond the 3 campaigns (each standalone) and one expansion (which can be used with any of the campaigns). There are lots of things you can buy (extra character slots, extra account-wide storage, skill unlock packs, etc) but nothing that gives a significant advantage in the game - e.g. everything in the skill unlock packs can be unlocked by playing the PvE game, or doing well in PvP and using the points you get to unlock things.

    Over the past 2 years we've gradually bought all the campaigns and expansions (most at sales, some full price) - all up, we've spent approx US$500 on the 4 accounts. ArenaNet has continually added new content and updates - enough that last night I finally bought the other 2 campaigns for my mule account.

    GW has been more than worth the money I've paid - and maybe some day I'll buy some more character slots, etc.

  • by petrus4 (213815) on Tuesday June 09, 2009 @09:40PM (#28274477) Homepage Journal

    I was looking at Warcraftrealms.com overnight; WoW's population is about to drop like a rock. It's already begun, in fact.

    Character classes have been nerfed into the ground, with the Paladin or DK now being the only two worth playing. Any originality is gone. WotLK had the worst instances the game has ever had, and the only thing the developers now focus on is the Arena.

    I can see it in my own behaviour; I'd be lucky to log into WoW once a week, now, and even just this last night, while I got up planning on playing WoW, it never happened, even though I spent practically the entire night idling on IRC, bored.

    When I'd rather spend a night vegetating on Freenode than playing World of Warcraft, (which I used to genuinely love, incidentally) I know that the game has truly died in the ass...and it has.

    I'm starting to think Guild Wars might be worth a look. WoW sure isn't getting much of my time these days, that's for sure.

    • Hmmm, maybe warrior isn't man-bitch for casters anymore. That's why I quit. My favorite class was basically a dartboard for any class with a range attack and that's even if you stack up points in Protection.
    • by Renraku (518261)

      The problem is that there's little reason to log on.

      The arena, even if you do poorly, will give you equipment that's 90% as strong as the best equipment. In only a few weeks. Without having to 'roll' on it and compete with people who can't even use the equipment in question.

      I love PvP, but PvP will not float WoW alone.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Kenja (541830)
      This is claimed at least once a week, but has yet to be true. Fact is, there's nothing on the market that can compete with WoW.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by petrus4 (213815)

        This is claimed at least once a week, but has yet to be true. Fact is, there's nothing on the market that can compete with WoW.

        I fairly regularly see trolls making this statement as well, but then never offering anything more specific to back it up. Allow me to offer you a clue.

        a) The levelling game is dead. D-E-A-D. Blizzard reduced the xp requirement between 20-60 by 20%. Then you've got Recruit-A-Friend, and the +10% xp heirloom bonus on top of that. They're killing the ability of new users to real

        • a) The levelling game is dead. D-E-A-D. Blizzard reduced the xp requirement between 20-60 by 20%. Then you've got Recruit-A-Friend, and the +10% xp heirloom bonus on top of that. They're killing the ability of new users to really acclimatise, learn the game, or experience what was genuinely good content, all for the sake of letting the established crowd race to the cap.

          I agree with all your other points but I don't really agree with this.

          There is still *a lot* of leveling to do. Not everyone has a recruit-a-friend ability, and even if you level your alt there is some serious leveling from 1-60-70-80. Even from 60-80 there is tons of leveling to do actually. And I'm not so sure about that "learning the game and experiencing genuinely good content". Many people, including me, didn't learn much from 1-60. All you learn is something like 1-2222-3-222-f key combos to kill a mo

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Stickerboy (61554)

          Wow. This pile of sour grapes gets modded informative?

          >>Fact is, there's nothing on the market that can compete with WoW.

          >I fairly regularly see trolls making this statement as well, but then never offering anything more specific to back it up.

          You mean, other than the tens of millions of World of Warcraft customers. Because it would be a shame if, while proclaiming yet another time that WoW is dying (Netcraft apparently confirms), you would miss the blatantly obvious fact that WoW continues to th

  • The article lists only Three Rings and hints at what some other operators make, but it completely skipped the big names in the industry. Frogster and Runewaker (Runes of Magic), Aeria Games (Luminary, Shin Megami Tensei: Imagine and a dozen other MMOs), Nexon (Mabinogi), Ankama (Dofus) and all the others. Where's Barunson, NCSoft (the Korean version) and gPotato? These companies usually localize multiple games from Asia (or France in the case of Ankama) and then launch them as free-to-plays in Europe and th

  • this topic seems appropriate as it was just recently announced that my favorite MMO, Dungeons and Dragons Online, was moving towards a Free 2 Play Hybrid model. The way it'll work is that existing subs at the standard MMO rate of 15/month or so will be converted into VIPs who will have access to all content as well as 500 points / month. Once the game is relaunched this summer, people will be able to play entirely for free, play for free but pay to unlock certain pieces of content or customization options
  • sounds about right (Score:3, Informative)

    by Tom (822) on Wednesday June 10, 2009 @03:36AM (#28276725) Homepage Journal

    Interestingly, I can confirm those percentages. I run a free online game (see footer) where you can donate, if you want to. Whenever I checked, it was around 10% (+/- 2% maybe) of the long-term player base that had donated anything, ever. "long-term" here means that I don't count the accounts that go inactive within a few weeks, those people obviously just took a look and decided the game's not for them.

    At the same time, those people who do give anything are often very generous. Again, confirmation there.

    Does this work as a business model? Not for me (too few players) but then again I've never tried to make a living off what I consider a hobby. Very nice to know, however, that it can work. The problem is, of course, long-term viability. If your income depends crucially on a fairly small number of customers, you're always at risk of them moving elsewhere. Online gamers have a bit of a herd mentality, they often take their friends with them when they move somewhere else.

Felson's Law: To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism; to steal from many is research.

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