Are We Witnessing The Revival Of The Subscription MMO?
Seldom do you hear the term “subscription MMO” in any other discussion other than one regarding the death of a business model. However, recent events unfolding in the MMO industry have provoked conversation of quite the opposite. With the recent announcements from WildStar, The Elder Scrolls Online and Final Fantasy XIV all confirming that they’ll be using a pay-to-play model, the Internet is filled with debates regarding the questionable actions of these upcoming titles.
So what gives? Why have we gone so long without any official pay-to-play titles yet we receive news of 3 in as many weeks? Many fans are speculating that the genre is not dead, just sleeping. That the success of World of Warcraft can still be matched with the right game. But is there any credit to these speculations?
In my personal opinion, no. In today’s current gaming environment I don’t believe any single game is going to match the accomplishments tied with World of Warcraft. The game launched during the very early stages of the genre and many subscribe just out of habit. Despite its aging graphics, repetitive mechanics and continually expanding casual features, World of Warcraft still boasts a subscriber base of almost 8 million.
So why are so many of today’s most anticipated titles using a subscription based business model? It’s very obvious really. Money. MMO games of today cost millions of dollars to create and when you consider the years of development time behind Final Fantasy XIV, WildStar and The Elder Scrolls Online, it’s not surprising they need a big cash injection to justify the costs. The easiest way to do this is to begin your games shelf-life with a subscription model.
Using the subscription and purchase models these games will be able to cover some, if not all, of their development costs. Giving them several months of subscription income to follow while working on new content. They then have the opportunity to revamp an item mall, change to free-to-play and attract the thousands of players that didn’t opt to subscribe previously, with a surprising number of those choosing to use the item mall.
In short, expect all 3 of the titles to announce a free-to-play version within 12-18 months. Most likely with a new item mall or additional cost somewhere. Such as paid expansions or restricted content. What do you think?
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