| Mail |
You might also like: WoW Insider, Joystiq, and more

Reader Comments (64)

Posted: Nov 10th 2010 3:02PM Saker said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
The old western model of buy a box on a shelf and pay a monthly charge, yes that's on it's way out. Some kind of micro-transaction models will be the future.

Posted: Nov 10th 2010 3:39PM Wisdomandlore said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
Something is incredibly ironic about two of the biggest F2P games: DDO and LOTRO. A huge chunk of their profits still come subscriptions! In fact, LOTRO doubled it's active subscriptions after it went F2P. Same for DDO. This shouldn't be a F2P vs Subscription debate. It should instead be a lesson that people want options for how they pay and how they play.

Posted: Nov 10th 2010 4:19PM hami83 said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
Subscriptions will always exists, there will just be fewer and fewer.

There will be more and more free to play, micro transaction, or whatever you want to call it.

Systems like Guild Wars, or Lord of the Rings Online. You're going to see more of those.

I wouldn't be surprised if you see Age of Conan, Warhammer, Star Trek Online going LotRo style (Hoping for WAR to do this) because honestly, when you're asking for money monthly and there's 100 of you with all decent games. It's too much, it'll kill the consumers desire to go with more then one and more then half of those games will die.

F2P is better as you can hook people and with minor cash transactions every once and a while it doesn't bother consumers as much.

Also, I have doubts of Blizzards next MMO doing anywhere near as well because of so many popular F2P games in the west.
Asia? I have no idea what that market is like, but from a glance, they seem to like free to play as well.

So in summary, no it's not going away, but you'll see less and less until it's just the biggest ones left.

Posted: Nov 10th 2010 4:25PM (Unverified) said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
I certainly don't feel I got my $15 a month worth out of Warcraft for WLK. Not enough content updates, it seemed they were just collecting rent and I wasn't getting any added value beyond just being able to log in.

Not resubbing for Cata. I'm really digging the ArenaNet model (B2P) at the moment.

Posted: Nov 10th 2010 4:31PM DancingCow said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
You know what they say: there's lies, damn lies and statistics.

Other research starkly contradicts the 'conclusions' of this report.

http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=23003

They measured something meaningful - growth in spending - and that growth was HUGE (22%) during 2008 with that growth expected to continue into 2009. Subscription MMOs were unscathed by the GFC.

But the PA report says there was an 8% drop between 2008 and 2010. So either 2009 saw a mass exodus from subscription MMOs or..... the PA report is deliberately misleading.

Let's look at both possibilities.

1) There has been a genuine drop.

I can believe there has been some drop. I hate free-to-play games and microtransactions and will only play subscription MMOs - but for most of the past two years I haven't been subscribed to one. The MMOs I like I've played to death and the new releases have all been COMPLETELY AWFUL.

My entire guild has been MMO'less most of this time. We're just waiting for something decent to release.

If there has been a genuine slump in subscription MMO profits it would be because the products have sucked.

2) The Parks Associates report is misleading

Look closely at what they've measured - an 8% drop in "the percentage of gamers who spend monthly on gaming in US Broadband households".

Mmmmmm.

Look at the column "subscribe to MMOGs" - there's a tiny drop. It isn't 8% - maybe 1 or 2. The 8% comes from the final column.

They're not actually reporting a drop in subscription revenue or the number of players who pay subscriptions. They're only reporting an 8% proportional drop. All this shows is that the online gaming market is broadening to include people like eg., one of my flatmates.

He doesn't play MMOs or any other kind of computer games. But he has started playing those 'social network' type games and has probably dropped a little bit of money on them.

So all you need for an 8% proportional drop in MMO subscribers is an increase in the number of people who spend even a single dollar on some other kind of online game.

Seriously massively - would it kill you to apply even a mildly critical eye to the rubbish you report? Or are you trying to lead your readers up the garden path in an attempt to endear yourselves to game developers - oh I don't, maybe to land a job with them - by pushing the microtransaction cash cow?

Posted: Nov 10th 2010 4:54PM Jef Reahard said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
Mildly critical? Really?

I'm sorry, but that writeup contains about as much anti-F2P snark as I can inject into a news post without seeming completely biased. We do strive to remain reasonably objective outside of opinion columns, which is why I wrote the post like I did rather than using it as an opportunity to harp on my own personal distaste for microtransactions.

Tbh, I'm not sure you've read much of Massively, and certainly not of my own work, if you think I'm pushing a F2P agenda.
Reply

Posted: Nov 10th 2010 5:13PM DancingCow said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
Sorry - you're right. The tone of your article is skeptical.

Knee-jerk reaction on my part.

I have read a LOT of massively. It - like other gaming sites - does strongly push the microtransaction agenda. You might recall a relatively recent article, prompted by such criticisms, which reviewed the staff's feelings on subscriptions and microtransactions, and the vast majority of massively staff were on the MT side of the fence.

And that bias shines through.

But my criticism of you personally was inappropriate and I apologise for that.
Reply

Posted: Nov 10th 2010 5:28PM Birk said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
Not to be rude mate, but I don't think Massively is "pushing an agenda" in any way. The hot topic of the moment is F2P versus P2P, and there are clearly folks on both side of the fence.

But claiming that Massively is "sucking up" to game developers to...land a job with them? That's pretty conspiracy theory. Everyone has their preferences - hell, Beau Hindman has been going on about the virtues of F2P for ever and a day. It's not something new, and it's not something that's likely to go away.

-Birk
Reply

Posted: Nov 10th 2010 5:32PM Jef Reahard said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
Are you talking about this article?

http://www.massively.com/2010/08/05/ask-massively-free-to-play-edition/#continued

If so, I agree with you to a point, but it's also worth noting that two of those writers are no longer on the staff, which means 9 out of 18 Massively folks have shared their opinions. We do have our share of people who, if not unabashed F2P proponents, don't mind that their games are going that route, but we also have a couple of traditionalists, as well as people "on the fence," so to speak, as that article illustrates.

In any event, no need to apologize, I just wanted to make sure my stance on the issue was crystal clear, lol.
Reply

Posted: Nov 10th 2010 9:59PM UnSub said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
The biggest issue with both 'reports' is that they are selected findings. I can't see a methodology for collecting the figures, so it's hard to work out the biases that may be influencing the figures, or if the growth mentioned in the ScreenDigest report isn't reflecting the structural changes that the Parks report is talking about.
Reply

Posted: Nov 11th 2010 12:28AM DancingCow said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
Tempes, you are spectacularly trolltastic :)

Gamasutra didn't conduct that study. Maybe you should read the article?

But what this study measured is clear - actual spending. Actual spending by consumers on subscription MMOs shows substantial growth.

What the PA study measured is also clear - proportion of gamers (in their sample) spending any money on any online games. Over 2 years the proportion of those spending on mmo subscriptions dropped by 8% - but this has been grossly misinterpreted to suggest that the bottom is falling out of that market.

You can see quite clearly in the graph that in this particular group there has been at most a miniscule drop in the number of gamers spending money on a subscription.

So the 8% proportional drop absolutely does not show that the bottom is dropping out of the subscription mmo market. It shows that the number of people spending money on other forms of online gaming has increased over the past two years.
Reply

Posted: Nov 10th 2010 5:52PM Its Utakata stupid said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
In a just world...F2P's would be the ones "going the way of the dodo."

Posted: Nov 10th 2010 8:39PM Its Utakata stupid said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
I prefer to play games where it requires skill and not my wallet to progress. If there's a game that can do that without subscription...yes, I am interested in it. But until such game exist (Guild Wars is pretty much the closest so far)...I prefer to earn my loot and experience, not pay for it. It's not really a game otherwise. Just saying...
Reply

Posted: Nov 10th 2010 9:33PM Its Utakata stupid said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
Of coarse my arguements are weak and easy to disprove in the minds of those who disagree....

...but instead of wasting your time on insipid rambling of why I am wrong, go play your F2P's instead. You have not convinced me otherwise with your rather perverse undestanding of subs....nor will you. So go away and alllow me to enjoy my subs. Thankx.

/thread
Reply

Posted: Nov 10th 2010 6:10PM DancingCow said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
Birk - this isn't a "hot topic of the moment". It's been going on for years. As I recall, massively jumped on that bandwagon back when it was first revealed that Champions Online would charge a subscription and have an item mall. And it is generally characterised by deliberate attempts to mislead.

I don't think massively are the worst perpetrators - I'd give that award to mmorpg.com - but the bias is there.

The report cited in this article is a prime example. The actual numbers say one thing, but it has been presented in a manner which suggests that the subscription mmo market is in sharp decline.

Why do that? Why misrepresent the facts? Could there be, oh I don't know, an agenda? Well yes, almost always when it comes to "market research". And the obvious motive here is, as it generally is, money.

I honestly don't care that there are lots of free-to-play games or that many people enjoy them and prefer that payment model. Tastes vary.

My beef is with the industry's attempts to alter some of our tastes, to boost their profits. Here we see them attempting to appeal to herd mentality, misinforming us that everyone else is abandoning subscriptions so we should too.

Call me old-fashioned, but the fundamental principle of a free-market economy is that consumer's needs/wants drive production - not the other way around.

And Jef I do think I needed to apologise. My criticism of your article was both inaccurate and unfair.

Posted: Nov 11th 2010 12:17AM DancingCow said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
"You're trying to hold back a tidal wave of fact and other peoples' opinions with nothing but your own opinions."

Pure nonsense.

As I cited in my earlier comment, the FACT is that even during the GFC the subscription MMO market showed incredibly healthy growth.

http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=23003

But this FACT hasn't stopped a slew of articles on gaming sites - eg. the one cited in this article - trying to convince us otherwise.
Reply

Posted: Nov 11th 2010 12:34AM DancingCow said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
Tempes - you're wasted on the internet. You could have a spectacular career in politics, or maybe law.....

First you (falsely) criticise me for citing my own opinions as fact. Then when I (again) cite my source you criticise me for.... well citing a source.

Mmmm.....
Reply

Posted: Nov 11th 2010 3:54PM DancingCow said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
Tempes - there is no irony/hypocrisy/idiocy etc in my comment.

I have also not called the Parks Associates results wrong/false as you claim.

Statistics are incredibly prone to abuse but are not, in and of themselves, dishonest. Dishonesty creeps in either in methodology deliberately intended to produce false results or in biased interpretation.

There is no indication that the Screen Digest results have been misinterpreted or are otherwise biased.

The two MMO giants - Blizzard and NCSoft, who between them account for a HUGE chunk of subscription mmo earnings - are publicly owned companies. By law they are required to publish details like the number of subscribers to their MMOs in financial reports. This is also true of many (but not all) other MMO developers.

Given that data is so publicly accessible, I'm reasonably confident the Screen Digest results can be trusted.

Even assuming that the Parks Associates results are also legit - they absolutely do not show what the Industry Gamers' article says they do, i.e. that "subscription models for online games are going the way of the dodo".

The graph only shows a _proportional_ shift - which could also be accounted for by an increased number of people spending any money on other forms of online gaming, including non-mmo's.

So when you have someone blatantly misrepresenting results like this, it's entirely appropriate to look at them in relation to other results to see what's really going on.
Reply

Posted: Nov 11th 2010 11:04AM Vrazule said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
Well, if it is the end of subscriptions, then it will be the end of my stint in MMOs. Subscription models are affordable entertainment that charge approximately what they deserve to earn. These stupidly named free to play games are ridiculously expensive, especially for content that is usually worse or barely on par with AAA game content. Why the heck would I want to pay a company more money for less or inferior entertainment? Why would I want to play games that are designed to suck the life out of you in order to suck more money out of your wallet?

No Thanks!

Posted: Nov 11th 2010 9:32PM Valdamar said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
I think pure P2P games are going the way of the dodo, sadly.

Nowadays the trend is for every P2P to have a cash-shop so they can double-dip customers out of even more money and that is killing P2P far more swiftly than anything the pro-F2P crusaders can do. Besides I don't consider those double-dippers to be pure P2P MMOs anyway - they're just P2Ps that have adopted the worst part of F2P games. I hate cash shops because I think micro-transactions will inevitably lead to pay-to-win items in every game, and that would ruin my gameplay.

What I would like to see all MMOs adopting is pretty much the Guild Wars model - buy to play, purchase additional zone/mission content in mini-expansion like chunks, and maybe buy some aesthetic items if you feel like it.

But I guess the fairest thing would be if every MMO offered multiple payment options to suit everyone - some would make you buy the client, others would let you download the client free - the subscription option would let you access absolutely everything in the game (and I mean EVERYTHING), but there would also be the option to pay for time in chunks (1 hour at a time, say) so that players could just pay for the time they could use, while also offering a free to play option with restrictions (many of which could be lifted by paying a one-time fee). I think an MMO offering all these options would be fairest to everyone and garner lots more customers because it covered so many bases, and thus would prove profitable. Then the choice is in our hands as gamers - how we pay and what we pay - we pick what is best value for us.

But regardless of the payment options I will never play an MMO that lets players:
1) pay to skip content;
2) pay to level/progress;
3) pay for weapons/armour that are better than commonly dropped items you can earn easily in gameplay;
4) pay for classes/races that are much more powerful than existing races/classes;

I'm not interested in pay-to-win games. Games must be fair or I won't play them.

Featured Stories

Global Chat: Doom and WAAAGH!

Posted on Jul 22nd 2014 8:00PM

Engadget

Engadget

Joystiq

Joystiq

WoW Insider

WoW

TUAW

TUAW