Is the subscription MMO model dead?

Is there any future for MMOs that charge a monthly fee? Unless they’re called World of Warcraft, maybe not. This article at Kotaku takes a look at the increasingly free-to-play MMO landscape and concludes that the subscription model is dead.

In the past few years, numerous big-name MMOs have ditched monthly fees in favor of tempting players with in-game items that can be purchased for real-world cash. Newer subscription-based titles like Star Wars: The Old Republic and The Secret World have struggled to attract and maintain subscribers, according to the article. Even the mighty WoW, which continues to charge a monthy fee, has seen its player base shrink by 10% in the past year.

As the author points out, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for subscription MMOs to compete with their free counterparts. Gamers expect titles to go free-to-play eventually, and they have no shortage of alternatives to play while they wait.

Monthly subscriptions are rare outside the MMO sphere, but we’re already seeing other games adopt the free-to-play model. Shooters like TeamFortress 2 and Tribes: Ascend won’t cost you a dime to play—unless you want a fancy hat. Some games are moving in the opposite direction, though. The latest Call of Duty and Battlefield games have started offering premium memberships loaded with special features, including early access to new content like multiplayer maps. Those memberships include the DLC, of course, and they cost less than six months of World of Warcraft.

Comments closed
    • sroylance
    • 7 years ago

    I don’t think we can declare the model dead while WoW still turns in huge profits from subscription fees. I think one of the key factors in the continued success of WoW, and the high infant mortality rate of other subscription-based MMOs, is the network effect. Pretty much the majority of anyone who has ever played any MMO has played WoW, and knows people who still play. You can move on to some other game, but odds are good some part of your social gaming circle remains in WoW, and is happy to help you come back.

    It helps that Blizzard is a step ahead with software technology, and continues to invest in the underlying systems that make their MMOs work. It’s hard for anyone else to catch up, since they can’t match the investment Blizzard can make in continuing development.

    When ‘Titan’ comes out and is free to play, then I think we can move the subscription model into hospice care. Given how successful the model has been for Blizzard, though, what are the odds of that?

      • superjawes
      • 7 years ago

      Titan is probably not going to be a WoW competitor at all. They’ve said it’s going to be a new IP, and there really wouldn’t be any smart reason to have two MMORPGs active at once. Still, no one knows [i<]exactly[/i<] what Titan is, so speculation ahoy! But even if WoW converted to a free to play model, I don't think that would mean that subscription based models were "dead." The evolution of the MMO market is going to be more games that survive with limited and steadier numbers rather than the multi-million player MMO, and each of those MMOs is going to have its own quirks, and maybe even its own payment model.

    • cynan
    • 7 years ago

    I just tried out [url=http://www.pathofexile.com/<]Path of Exile[/url<] last weekend (currently still in close beta). It's more or less an online action RPG Diablo clone that looks to have more depth than Diablo 3, and seems pretty high quality. (I won't go into further detail here - I [url=https://techreport.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=83278<]posted about it[/url<] in the forums) What I don't get is how the business model works. It will be entirely free to play: free to download, with no subscriptions. There will be microtransactions, but the creators promise that they'll mostly be for aesthetic purposes and conveniences and will not provide any meaningful advantages over people who choose not to buy. There will also be no auction houses (the game doesn't even have a gold-like common currency - though it does have currencies of sorts). I just don't see how they are going to turn a profit by hocking "upgrades" via microtransactions that are only of superficial utility. Maybe the client (that you need to download and install to play) will have adds? The beta doesn't. All I can say is that if they make this model work and keep it as "free" as they say, they'll make other companies like Blizzard, etc, who charge top dollar for their games, and especially subscription based online games look pretty greedy by comparison.

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 7 years ago

    Not a huge fan of any of the financial models for MMO’s Those were the main deter-ants for why I didn’t play any of them.

    • Malphas
    • 7 years ago

    The MMORPG has been dead/dying for years now, everyone knows that. It’s funny how after the success of WoW there was a mad rush of others following the subscription model and quickly saturating the market before it all came crashing down shortly after, and now again we’re seeing the same thing with the rush towards free-to-play and in-game purchases, wonder how that’s going to end. *rolls eyes*

    • ShadowEyez
    • 7 years ago

    Guildwars/Guildwars2 and other “freemium” stuff seems like a winner.

      • sweatshopking
      • 7 years ago

      yeah, it does seem like the best model.

      • rika13
      • 7 years ago

      I’ve played GW, got myself an Ithas Bow from the pre-order box (even though I bought it a few days after release, EB still had a few boxes lying around), got Factions, got Nightfall, got GWEN. I paid for every last one of them. GW is NOT a freemium game. It follows the traditional model of “pay once, own forever”.

        • ShadowEyez
        • 7 years ago

        You are right, buy once play forever. But there are extras one can buy such as more storage, extra character slots, costumes, etc…

    • HisDivineOrder
    • 7 years ago

    Is the subscription-paid MMO dead?

    Yes.

    Also, it’s not just dead in 2012. It’s been dead for years. Look at Conan, LotR, WAR, etc. It’s been dead for two years at least. People just expected TOR to buck the trend, so they kept thinking it was alive when it had died years ago. No one was ever going to match WoW. And no one ever did.

    On the face of it, it’s kinda ridiculous to pay $60 for a game, then $15 per month and then $40 per expansion. I mean, think about the investment, especially if you show up late (before they started dropping prices on the games themselves). And then they charge you for mounts and pets, even server transfers and character modifications? I mean, WoW is… wow.

    You’d have to have a 10 million base to even begin to keep that up for long.

    • odizzido
    • 7 years ago

    I used to buy MMOs but too many have sucked so I stopped. If a game has a free trial I sometimes give it a shot but recent MMOs have been so bad that they aren’t even worth playing for free.

    I wanted to try star trek online but they never offered a 14 day trial so they have no chance of getting any money from me. The secret world has a short three day trial which I will give a shot once I get home in a month, but if it’s going pay to win I am not interested.

    Pretty much if they want my money I need a free trial, and since the game will probably be just so-so I need a low initial cost.

      • destroy.all.monsters
      • 7 years ago

      You were lucky – STO sucked. It’s F2P now though if you’re still interested.

      Ship battles are fun. That’s about it. YMMV of course.

        • odizzido
        • 7 years ago

        I assumed it sucked before they even said anything about it. I still don’t know anything about it really, and still assume it sucks.

        Well, if it’s P2W I might look at it, but P2W games put me off so I doubt it will keep me entertained for more than a few days. Still, at least I can satisfy my curiosity. A shame for STO that they never offered a free trail because at least then they could have possibly gotten some money off me.

        I think that a lack of demos is what hurts the MMO scene the most right now. There have been a few MMOs I have had interest in that I never really looked at because of the lack of a demo. Oh well I guess.

          • destroy.all.monsters
          • 7 years ago

          It’s a good thing you didn’t buy it. I did and was extremely disappointed. As much as I liked hearing Nimoy’s voice it was extremely disjointed and his narrative not connected to anything. From what I saw the stories were a joke – and “away missions” were not fun. I hear they’ve improved them in the meantime.

          I’m not sure how they’ve implemented F2P but there was always a Cryptic store even when it was sub only.

          A nitpick – all F2P is not pay to win. I play 2 MMOs (WoT and City of Heroes) and they’re both F2P and there’s really nothing that causes “win” from subbing. Niceties absolutely. Gold ammo in WoT isn’t an auto win and is only useful in extremely limited circumstances for example.

      • steelcity_ballin
      • 7 years ago

      Consider GuildWars2. I’ve been in the same boat as you with Conan, Aion, Rift, you name it. GuildWars2 is nothing short of spectacular.

    • ShadowTiger
    • 7 years ago

    I still think there is room for MMO’s to launch at $60, charge a $15/mo subscription and go free to play a year later. This way you get a bunch of sales early on that help recoup development costs and then you have a nice long tail where you update the game and have a chance to grow back the players that drop off after the first few months.

    I thought Rift would go free to play by now but they seem to be holding out. Maybe the key is simply having low expectations and keeping your budget reasonable for the potential market for a new subscription based MMO.

    • destroy.all.monsters
    • 7 years ago

    I think she (Kate Cox at Kotaku) is right. Without a demo no one will play these things and F2P acts to some extent as a long term demo. Many F2P games are hybrid models like City of Heroes. Yet they all push you in some way to pay more money – even if you’re only a free user.

    People have been burned repeatedly and seen MMO games go belly up and/or stop making content. Further the economy still sucks.

    Only a very few number of MMOs can continue with a subscription model – and that is because their players are _dedicated_. Everybody and their brother wanted to make an MMO and make WoW money. There’s this illusion that it’s possible – and it just isn’t.

    Players now have a “show me” attitude that didn’t exist so much before so many MMOs came out and sucked or failed.

      • ET3D
      • 7 years ago

      I think that the hybrid model is a good compromise. It’s still a subscription model, but it allows those who don’t want a subscription to buy features. So far the games I’ve seen and tried that switched to this model have seen quite a few updates to the game, so I see it as a positive thing.

        • destroy.all.monsters
        • 7 years ago

        I completely agree. Forced subs just don’t seem to work though for the majority and the hybrid model is an elegant solution.

    • travbrad
    • 7 years ago

    The problem I see with most MMOs is they are basically just trying to copy WOW, so it’s very hard to convince someone to pay for your particular WOW-clone up front, when there are 100 other games trying to do exactly the same thing. If you make your game “Free”-To-Play then that removes the biggest hurdle to trying out your game. Certain MMOs can still “get away” with a subscription fee if they offer a truly unique experience (Eve-Online for example), but for every 1 unique MMO there’s 20 WOW clones.

    The Secret World pricing was totally screwed up from the start, because it not only had the subscription fee but also a $50 price tag to just install the game. Getting people to pay $50 PLUS a subscription fee was just never going to happen in this day and age. There were a lot of people interested in the game who just weren’t willing to pay that kind of money up-front for a game they had never played, in addition to a subscription fee.

    I actually think the best F2P games have been non-MMO games. Tribes Ascend and World of Tanks for example are really fun games who make plenty of money using the F2P model (last report was WoT was earning $10million+ per month)

      • destroy.all.monsters
      • 7 years ago

      I don’t understand how WoT isn’t an MMO. I’m massively multiplayer and online. There’s no singleplayer.

      You are encouraged to spend in-game gold to be a premium user and can buy a sub from 1 day up to 1 year. It’s also very hard to run Tier 8+ without going premium.

    • Xenolith
    • 7 years ago

    WoW is F2P, but you are capped at level 20.

      • Duck
      • 7 years ago

      That’s called a demo then.

    • Coyote_ar
    • 7 years ago

    The F2P is based on giving you a try of the game, make you want to put lots of money on it in a short period of time (even more that you would with a suscription model). Then when you figure the game is uber cr@p, you already paid lots of money, so they are done with it.

    Suscription model is for games based on the long run, if people figure your game is a broken POS within months of release, they will stop suscription.

    F2P es better for people who have short attention span. They can have a few months of enterteinment then move along to the next big thing.

    • Decelerate
    • 7 years ago

    I remember a documentary on MMOs when the developpers themselves evaluated the market at 1, maybe 2 million players [b<]tops[/b<]... then came WoW. The same thing happened with cars and the Model-T. Online game purchases and Steam. Tablets and the iPad. Etc. etc. The plethora of freemium games just raises the bar for paying ones, and as long as no one releases a revolutionary product (a simply well-made product [b<]is[/b<] revolutionary, as it defines that all previous products were cheap), the market will simply lie dormant until something excites them. Edit: grammar.

    • DeadOfKnight
    • 7 years ago

    I hate freemium crap. The only game that pulled off subscription-less MMO well was Guild Wars.

    • Bensam123
    • 7 years ago

    No, but it’s easier to get people to play your crappy game if it’s free then if it is not. There is a giant f2p bubble and it will eventually pop. The majority of those mmos switched to f2p because they couldn’t sustain themselves on the paid model… People desire more if they pay for something… Conversely, they’re willing to pay for something if it is worth their money.

    None of those MMOs besides WoW (which has been going down hill since the end of Wrath) has been worth my money as a paying consumer and customer. I wouldn’t play those MMOS even if they are free! They give players relatively nothing new to do compared to WoW and they’re just all me-toos that were aimed after WoWs head.

    Now WoW is falling and all the me-toos which were merely copies of WoW are feeling the burn from it. There really haven’t been any inventive MMOs in years. Everyone has been so fixated on copying and stealing WoWs playerbase that they never even tried to make their game new and unique. Of course they’re going to fail! And of course they’re going to get more players by giving away their content for free!

    I’m pretty sure we’ll be hearing about unprecedented feats in the MMO scene over the next few months as GuildWars2 hits the ground running. That’s a game people WILL pay a monthly fee for, IS different from WoW and tried to do their own thing, and people actually want to play!

    You have to make good games for people to pay for them. Simply copying the competition doesn’t do it. Simply offering your game for free wont do it either as people are going to play what they find fun as they only have a finite amount of time.

      • Game_boy
      • 7 years ago

      Was agreeing up until the “but the NEXT hyped MMO will be a total game changer!” part. People said that about SWTOR, and another ten “huge” RPGs ever since WoW launched.

      Could you link or explain what makes it so different? Particularly why you believe it will hold people’s attention after they burn through the launch content.

        • Bensam123
        • 7 years ago

        Have you played the beta of GW2?

        Some games were me-toos, GW2 is not. They said that from the beginning and it’s different through the whole design process. They aren’t aiming to imitate and are instead aiming to design a really good game. They aren’t whoring themselves out for WoWs playerbase. The class system is completely devoid of the traditional damage/tank/healer model that is present in most MMOs. There are a lot of things like this, such as WvWvW, but I’m not going to list them all here.

        I’d suggest watching some game play videos.

      • whitechaco
      • 7 years ago

      Guild Wars 2 isn’t going to require a subscription.

        • Bensam123
        • 7 years ago

        You are correct. I never said it required a subscription, but they could and people would pay it.

      • travbrad
      • 7 years ago

      [quote<] There really haven't been any inventive MMOs in years[/quote<] It depends what you consider a "MMO". If you define MMO as being something where you grind levels doing repetitive tasks/quests (like WOW) then sure. DayZ has really changed my idea of what a MMO could be though. On the face of it, it may seem like a shooter but it has a ton of MMO-like ideas implemented in a completely new and different ways. The MMO concepts are just done in such a natural way that you don't even think of it as an MMO. It has persistent characters, but there is also permadeath forcing you to restart if you die (although you can store gear in tents). Instead of a traditional "hit this enemy 1000x to level up", you level up by finding better gear/weapons, and by naturally learning about the game and environment (being able to tell how far away gunshot sounds are, which gun is firing, which direction, where you are on the map, which buildings have good loot, which towns are most dangerous, etc). The combat is also very unique in the sense that avoiding combat is often a wiser choice than engaging in combat. If you see someone and attack them they may have a friend nearby sniping, and even if you do kill them you will use up a lot of your ammo and attract a zombie horde. You also don't want to fire if they are too far away from you since you'll probably miss and give away your position. DayZ is obviously still a work-in-progress with a lot of things to figure out (not to mention fix the bugs) but it has a lot of interesting ideas and gameplay mechanics, and hopefully it will make game developers re-think what is possible in games. Apparently there is a big demand for that kind of game experience too, since it has attracted 1million players while still at such an early stage.

        • Bensam123
        • 7 years ago

        A MMO would be a game that have more then lets say 64 people playing in it at any given time.

        Massively multiplayer online to me means a huge world with lots of things in it, lots of things to do, and lots of people. DayZ really is none of that except for a ridiculously huge barren wasteland.

        I’ve played DayZ and it’s essentially practicing to be a dick. Zombies don’t play into it and you just get better gear to better kill nublets that don’t have it.

          • travbrad
          • 7 years ago

          [quote<]I've played DayZ and it's essentially practicing to be a dick. Zombies don't play into it[/quote<] I don't quite understand why people think killing people in DayZ is "being a dick" but in most other games no one bats an eye when you kill other players. Then again most of my MMO "experience" comes from the Eve-Online world where PVP is basically the whole point of the game. Zombies aren't a huge threat once you are all geared up (more of a nuisance), but when you start out with no weapon they are a pretty damn big threat. [quote<]you just get better gear to better kill nublets that don't have it.[/quote<] You obviously haven't had a full DayZ experience then. We've had some great extremely tense battles (win or lose) with rival groups of survivors who are all equally as geared up as us. There's been some really great moments attacking/sneaking into or defending the NW airfield, for example. Sometimes these encounters can last up to a couple hours and it's very intense. I get the impression it's just not going to be your kind of game though. It doesn't have any of the instant gratification most games have. In most games you get a bunch of blinking lights and bells when you kill someone, but in DayZ you aren't even sure whether you killed them or not. [quote<]A MMO would be a game that have more then lets say 64 people playing in it... ...Massively multiplayer online to me means a huge world with lots of things in it, lots of things to do, and lots of people.[/quote<] DayZ does allow more than 64 people per server, it's just that most servers can't handle it yet (optimizations are constantly being made to allow higher player counts). "Lots of things to do" is very subjective. I tried playing WOW and found it extremely boring and repetitive, so for me there weren't enough "things to do" in WOW. The only thing dayZ is lacking is "lots of people" per server, although your character IS persistent across multiple servers (something that can't be said of WOW) I'm not necessarily saying DayZ is a "full" MMO either, whatever that means. I'm just saying it has changed my idea of what an MMO could potentially be in the future, because clearly copying WOW isn't really working.

            • Bensam123
            • 7 years ago

            Ah cause you haven’t heard or seen people shooting nubs in the legs to cripple them, walking over and beating them to death with a blunt weapon?

            Yeah zombies only matter when you’re most vulnerable and most likely to get shot by another person… I don’t see anything wrong with that…

            I’ve watched twitch channels. It amounts to rolling around and trying to find people you can’t see after someone shoots back at you for camping nublet spots. That’s all it really comes down to is camping one specific area people go to and then running away if you can’t find the person that is shooting at you.

            I’m not a huge fan of bells and whistles, but I don’t plan on spending hours hunting one person in a pretty vacant server just so I can kill them and tbag them, that sounds like a waste of time.

            You notice how this whole line of discussion is based around killing people in a zombie invasion? You could simply remove the zombies and you’d have the same thing… only without zombies.

            64 was a arbitrary number and a game magically supporting more players then it starts out with almost never happens. When we talk about traditional MMO servers, that’s in the hundreds and even thousands of concurrent users.

            Yes, Eve being the only game pvp you’ve ever played you would enjoy DayZ as it has the similar type of assholerly screw over your fellow man game play. Mainly because there is relatively little to do that is fun besides it.

            I’d suggest trying out Tribes Ascend.

    • Chrispy_
    • 7 years ago

    My beef with subscription model gaming is that they all seem to suffer from a very low entertainment/hour ratio.

    When the aim is to keep you hooked long-term, they use diminishing-returns addiction modelling to make you farm, grind, invest and generally waste time in the game without requiring new mechanics or art content.

      • brucethemoose
      • 7 years ago

      This is exactly why I quit SWTOR. Liked the story and wanted to continue, but it got way too slow/repetitive. The inability to move from my plain unpopulated server to a big PVP one didn’t help.

    • BIF
    • 7 years ago

    “Is the subscription MMO model dead?”

    I have never paid for such a subscription. I won’t even let the health club or the alarm company get me on the hook for a monthly fee, and I certainly won’t let them have debit, EFT, or auto pay authority to any of my accounts.

    I’m also thinking of terminating sat tv, I hate subscriptions THAT much.

    Sheesh!

    • Sabresiberian
    • 7 years ago

    One of the biggest lies perpetrated by the media in general is that subscription MMOGs aren’t profitable.

    Yes, they absolutely are. When you consider that subscription players buy the game to begin with, immediately paying for a large chunk of the development costs, if not all of them, and often have over a million subscribers @ 15/mo per account, bringing in a steady $15 million every month, they are highly profitable. SWTOR brings in something like $20 million a month right now, and it’s development costs have long since been paid.

    However, adding F2P accounts on top of the subscription base makes the game even more profitable. F2P players are players who spend more money per month, on average, than subscription players – so, from a financial point, it only makes sense to add this kind of player to MMOGs. These players don’t like to pay the up-front cost for the game and don’t like to be tied down to a monthly charge, and there are a lot of them, so they attract a much larger audience.

    Frankly, the subscription players are very much getting taken advantage of here. They are the ones that pay for the game to begin with – so, you see the current MMOG business model, rape the subscription player for the cost of the game up front and make it F2P 6 months or a year later.

    The fact is, most if not all of today’s MMOGs are made for a low quality player who has little personal interest invested in the game, and the games are very shallow. In an age where technology and game advancement should mean we have deeply involving perpetual worlds, we have insipid game play with weak story and lore that very few can care about.

    I’m done with buying MMOGs, only to have them go F2P down the road, and I encourage all former subscription players to stop paying for the development cost of weak games by buying them up front. Wait until it’s free, at least. Better yet, vote entirely with your wallet and don’t play them at all.

    (The MMOG publishers have totally let me down. I’m very glad to have discovered a high quality game that can talk a little to my RP nature and be a great game, Borderlands. Borderlands 2 will fill my gaming time with a thousand hours of play, or more; great FPS action with a little RP, loot that matters because it isn’t just different graphical versions of otherwise exactly the same thing (Can you say Diablo 3?), but are actually different in function (like guns tend to be in shooters).

      • Game_boy
      • 7 years ago

      SWTOR budget: $200m
      SWTOR subscription months: 7 @ $20m = $140m.

      And now SWTOR is F2P so it’s bringing in FAR less money.

      Don’t think they made back dev costs yet, never mind operational ones.

        • lilbuddhaman
        • 7 years ago

        You forget several million of box sales that covered a huge chunk of that budget in the first month.

      • ET3D
      • 7 years ago

      So to sum up, you’re saying that you don’t like the F2P model, but since everything is going that way anyway we might as well bring it about faster.

      • sweatshopking
      • 7 years ago

      ONE OF THE BIGGEST LIES? BIGGEST? REALLY? with everything in the world, that’s one of the biggest?

        • BobbinThreadbare
        • 7 years ago

        The BIGGEST

    • sweatshopking
    • 7 years ago

    the problem with subscription model is that it’s for sucky games. mmo’s suck. that’s the bottom line. there is no other argument. anyone paying for one at all is a silly goof. it’s like paying for suckage.

      • NeelyCam
      • 7 years ago

      Are you implying that you don’t like The Guild?

        • sweatshopking
        • 7 years ago

        yes.

    • CoWBoY
    • 7 years ago

    Forbes did an interesting article with a pretty successful MMO – [url<]http://www.forbes.com/sites/johngaudiosi/2012/07/20/kingsisle-entertainment-creative-director-todd-coleman-explains-how-wizard101-become-a-global-success/[/url<] They've been pretty successful thus far. The studio even released a new game with similar features recently..

      • Game_boy
      • 7 years ago

      That’s not Forbes that some guy’s random blog they’re hosting. Forbes staff do not edit or answer for those articles.

    • TurtlePerson2
    • 7 years ago

    It’s not just WoW. EVE Online still has a subscription and has been around for a really long time. I think that new MMOs are all going to end up being free to play though.

      • Game_boy
      • 7 years ago

      EVE is free to play for anyone who knows what they’re doing. (Edit: legally. You can purchase game time with game resources, in case anyone misunderstood)

    • Helmore
    • 7 years ago

    Arstechnica also had an article on this subject a couple of weeks ago. Seems like a pretty nice development to me, as long as they do it right.

    Arstechnica article is here: [url<]http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2012/08/good-riddance-the-death-of-online-gamings-monthly-subscription-model/[/url<]

    • Game_boy
    • 7 years ago

    Companies need to stop cloning WoW and instead fix the problems of WoW that are preventing it from reaching a wider audience: the stigma of needing to play long hours, the stigma of needing to be a fantasy geek, the accessibility if you’ve never played a videogame before, the cost of entry (buying the game and all its expansions).

    Notice most of those things are an image problem rather than a gameplay problem.

    The problem is Blizzard only listen to the hardcore’s complaints, not current /non-customers/ complaints.

    On the business side they need to find a way to lower the cost of creating new content versus the time spent to consume it: either find a way to make it with less people, or make the gameplay emergent enough that people are happy to replay it more times.

    When you solve the non-customers’ reaons for not buying, you get a Wii Sports or Super Mario Bros. selling game. Not 1m copies sold but 40m copies sold.

      • superjawes
      • 7 years ago

      Like what Blizzard is doing in MoP? The “listening to hardcore players” expansion was Cataclysm (which was mostly a disaster pre-4.3), and they are going back to a more inclusive model with Mists, especially if you include LFR and dungeon philosophy in 4.3.

      That, and WoW has been [b<]THE[/b<] MMO for wide appeal. You don't need to be a fantasy geek to appreciate the game, it's become much more friendly to new players, and they...[i<]help[/i<] the time requirements for newcomers. That's not to say that there aren't still issues (cost of entry is probably the worst right now), but WoW is certainly ahead of the curve on a lot of them.

        • Game_boy
        • 7 years ago

        Yes, I agree WoW has come a long way since vanilla to solve those problems and that is why it’s lasted so long. I just believe that in order to outdo WoW’s sales, a company must try harder than Blizzard to solve those problems, instead of trying to outdo Blizzard on content or lore or something else temporary.

        The dialogue on hardcore sites is about hating on “casuals” and any change percieved to cater to them, which is not constructive at all.

          • superjawes
          • 7 years ago

          No one is going to outdo Blizzard on this, at least it is very unlikely. Your best bet is probably going to be focusing on specific things and doing it right (like PvP OR raiding OR questing OR professions), and be satisfied with whatever limited player base you can sustain.

          [i<]Maybe[/i<] someone will eventually be able to an MMO with everything WoW currently does, but even then, it probably won't release with everything. At least not while WoW is still active.

          • BobbinThreadbare
          • 7 years ago

          Constructive to whom? Maybe not to making money, but to having a fun game that rewards skill? Pandering to casual players absolutely ruins it.

            • Game_boy
            • 7 years ago

            Framing it in terms of “casuals VERSUS hardcore” like you are doing is going about it all wrong. Everyone who plays games is looking for something different out of them and businesses need all kinds of customers to be a success.

            When Wii came out, Wii Sports were doing it right so that EVERYONE could enjoy it, whereas Game Party 53 was not doing it right because only the braindead could enjoy it. And there were deep experiences like Metroid or Zelda available on the system if you did not. WoW or another MMO can succeed by being accessible like I said but also some deeper experiences for those that want them. None of what I listed is a slight to the core experience.

            • BobbinThreadbare
            • 7 years ago

            See, that’s the thing. I thought Wii Sports was incredibly dull after about 10 min, and my roommates Wii has about 1/10th of the time spent on it as my PS3.

            Yes, you can make a lot of money by appealing to 7 year olds and their parents. No, these games do not appeal to me.

            • Beelzebubba9
            • 7 years ago

            How has WoW’s focus on making the game more accessible hurt it?

            I was a raider in one of the top guilds in my server in 2005/2006 or so and have played casually since, so I’m curious to see why you think (if you do) WoW has gotten worse as it’s tried to make the game more accessible.

            • BobbinThreadbare
            • 7 years ago

            I actually never liked WoW and was speaking hypothetically in this case.

      • BobbinThreadbare
      • 7 years ago

      I don’t think accessibility is WoW’s problem. I’m pretty sure the only games more accessible are Farmville clones.

        • Game_boy
        • 7 years ago

        Find 100 random people on the street. 90 of them have never tried WoW. Why is this? The first company to get another 10 of the 90 to play their game will be spectacularly rich. Until that day, there is more they can do to make it accessible.

        (Yes the numbers are BS but I’m making a point that the market games DON’T have is vastly bigger than the market games do)

        Accessibility =/= low skill ceiling or lack of depth btw, because I can see your next point coming.

          • BobbinThreadbare
          • 7 years ago

          Maybe, but I’m not sure a game can appeal to both the *next* 10% and the current 10%.

            • Game_boy
            • 7 years ago

            I don’t know either, but companies certainly need to try it. Game software and hardware revenue are vastly down from the 2007 peak, Nintendo/Sony/MS are all losing money on games now, and even the “new gen” 3DS and Vita are losing money.

            The industry’s current reaction is to retreat into their shell and try and appeal more and more to their core market or give up on rich experiences and run towards shallow phone games. In 2007 the talk was all about how we could bring gaming to the masses and I think we need to go back to that optimism.

            • Washer
            • 7 years ago

            Strange. Here I was thinking Kinect, Playstation Move, the 3DS, and Vita were all attempts to cater to more casual markets. Instead, you’re seemingly suggesting the complete opposite.

            In fact, my impressions of the gaming market seem almost entirely opposite of your’s and that the lose of player base for a game like WoW is because everyone thinks it has become a collection of mini games under one banner.

            I can’t think of a single game publisher who is doing what you’re suggesting they are… retreating to the hardcores.

            • Game_boy
            • 7 years ago

            Nintendo with Wii U (higher hardware power, focused E3 on Arkham Asylum and Assasins’ Creed) and Sony with Vita (no casual games in sight).
            MS’s E3 focused on non-game services like tablets, Netflix, Nike, Win8 integration.

            There was no PS Move or Wii motion-control games spotlighted at E3, they are abandoned. Kinect is still alive but was much less emphasised than E3 2010.

            The 3DS is much less casual than the DS. Higher entry price, 3D is a high end feature, greater online focus, they’ve brought 3D Mario and Zelda forward whereas Brain Training/Animal Crossing aren’t out yet.

            The Vita is about the same as the PSP in that no casual type would pay for it.

            • BobbinThreadbare
            • 7 years ago

            3D is a gimmick feature for casual players.

            • Game_boy
            • 7 years ago

            I think it’s just an outright failure. No one is buying a 3DS for the 3D, not casual or core players.

            3D raised the system price needlessly. That was the fastest console price drop I can remember and now they’re losing money per unit.

            • BobbinThreadbare
            • 7 years ago

            My point was that ‘hardcore’ gamers would focus on gameplay, not gimmicks. Gimmicks are intended to appeal to casual players who get drawn in by shiny things.

            • Washer
            • 7 years ago

            E3 is a hardcore gaming focused event. Casual gamers do not read gaming news. Casual gamers are just every day people. Games are now a time waster like TV. The market has become so casual in fact that gaming consoles are no longer dedicated devices. Microsoft’s E3 showing couldn’t have been catering any more to the casual/normal person. By offering those services Microsoft hopes to justify the console’s price to the non-hardcore via those extra services.

            It blows my mind you’re using something like “greater power” or 3D or “greater online focus” as evidence that the gaming industry is again catering to the hardcore. None of those suggest that. The Wii U had to be more powerful than the Wii, and even then it only matches this aged current generation. 3D is a gimmick feature on the 3DS because it is a marketing tie in with 3D in everything else, catering to those who just consume marketing all day (most people in the US), and greater online focus is a joke. You mean online support that’s barely on par and that every device everyone owns these days? Yep, sure signs of listening to the hardcore.

            • Game_boy
            • 7 years ago

            E3 is a casual event because it is the one time that gaming news can make general news websites. I’ve only seen gaming on the front page of the BBC after Wii E3 and after Kinect E3. If game companies want to announce core news they only need put out a press release and everyone like us will know about it via TR or something.

            And I mean the Wii U is more powerful compared to its MS/Sony competition, they’re trying to get third party/core games on the system and are pricing it at $300 instead of $200. ($200 was Japan price, was $250 in US but that was bundled).

            Anyway I’m done with this thread because, basically, with their current direction gaming is sinking and certainly Sony/THQ and maybe Nintendo/Square will go out of business when the next gen fails as much as the Vita has. And instead of thinking about solutions, core gaming websites such as this can only talk about how much the casuals are killing everything.

            Don’t imagine that I LIKE casual games. I hate Wii Sports and Nintendo quit making the games I like when they switched to it (I don’t buy videogames since 2009). But they should do what is business success instead of what I want. Gaming world: Stop thinking about what YOU want.

            • BobbinThreadbare
            • 7 years ago

            Nintendo has been raking in the money.

            Sony is failing because they treat their customers like trash.

            • Game_boy
            • 7 years ago

            Nintendo reports first annual loss in over 100 years
            [url<]http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-17852137[/url<] Nintendo also lost over $100m in each of Q1 and Q2 this year. And they are losing money on each 3DS sold according to the Q2 earnings call.

            • Beelzebubba9
            • 7 years ago

            …good point.

            I haven’t spent a ton of time thinking about it, but from my perspective WoW is about as good at balancing the needs of hardcore raiders/PvPers and casuals as I could think of.

      • mno
      • 7 years ago

      No, you get a Wii Sports or Super Mario Bros. selling game when you bundle the game with the hardware for your wildly successful console and include the sales of the bundles in your figures. In fact, no non-bundled game has sold 40 million physical copies.

        • Game_boy
        • 7 years ago

        People bought the console to get the bundled game. Consoles aren’t successful in a vacuum.

        But if you want an unbundled example, NSMB DS. 30m sold.

      • BIF
      • 7 years ago

      This post makes a lot of sense. I ask that everybody down thumb me instead.

      Go ahead, I can take it. 🙂

      • lilbuddhaman
      • 7 years ago

      WoW is (now) one of the most easily accessible multiplayer games on the market. It requires little to no time investment compared to virtually any other mmo. The game is casual city, with a tiny subsection of “hardcore” that get a bit of attention each expansion, but little in the grand sceme.

    • TheMonkeyKing
    • 7 years ago

    Someone has to pay for server uptime and connectivity of server to network. You buy a game directly from the people who run the servers and that is supposed to pay for this? This on top off all the other things a company has to pay for like salaries and business operations.

    I don’t think companies have figured out what is profitable in the long term for them. At first they thought subscriptions, now it is free to play with pay for leveling and mods. This latter option may not pan out either. A company has to figure out how many special weapons have to be bought to pay for the server uptime and connectivity. They may realize this option won’t pay the bills either.

    Maybe they might go back to subscriptions. Two thoughts here: maybe the previous subscription price was too high? What is the right price that not only pays the bills but offers some sort of margin? Is there such a thing? Can the best a company hope for is to break even on hosting?

    The other thought is to make the multiple player games free but charge for server hosting. This is a variant of the free to play but make them pay for the right to play others. Make the single player version of the game a pay up front, too. I think this idea is best because the single player version should pay the bills for development and provide a margin of profit. The multiplayer game can only be played by connecting to a team server, which is code only the hosting company has. Here you can make the fee structure in two parts: by single game (tokens) or monthly/yearly access. The cheapest route (per game play) is yearly; the most costly is the single game. However, you can create award structures within this model, too. Buy four tokens, get a fifth free. Sign up for yearly and get your birth month free. See where this goes?

    The point to all this is that the subscription model is not dead, it just hasn’t cycled back around to it yet.

      • superjawes
      • 7 years ago

      The technology is going to change things as well, not just the general trends.

      For example, WoW is adding cross-realm zones, meaning that the need for individual servers in the MMO are going to become less apparent and less needed. That could lead to complete server shut downs on a daily basis to handle loads, greatly reducing the operating costs. Not to mention the montly fluxuations in player count.

      I suspect that the subscription model (for MMOs) will either die with WoW or evolve into a premium feature, automatically unlocking things, providing progress boosts, or simply as an alternative to “a la cart” pricing (where players would buy the classes, zones, races, etc. as he or she wanted them). MMOs need as many people as possible to experience content and maximize profits, so free to play is still going to be a strong component so people at least get a taste of things, which will bring many back for more.

    • Ryhadar
    • 7 years ago

    I hope so. I’ll be letting the market know my feelings by buying Guild Wars 2.

    • Rectal Prolapse
    • 7 years ago

    Well actually, Tribes: Ascend lets you buy new classes and new weapons and items. If you don’t, you have to earn XP and that can take a LONG time – it can be a real grind heh.

      • lilbuddhaman
      • 7 years ago

      every new class they release is the FOTM OP class/weapon. The basic (read: tribes iconic) weapons get left behind to automatic hybrids that make you feel like you’re playing CoD. if you’re really good you can compete, but it’s 1/10th the effort to use one of the paid weapons.

    • 00-Evan
    • 7 years ago

    Call me old fashioned, but I refuse to play an MMO that lets players buy ingame status with real money, whether that be via item stats or even cosmetics. It just makes the entire experience feel cheap and fake to me, I want an MMO I can really invest myself in. If the subscription based model is dead then I guess I won’t be playing any more MMOs.

      • Jive
      • 7 years ago

      Call me old fashioned, but i refuse to play a game that charges me an entry fee, a subscription fee and any other additional fees (i.e. DLC that should of been already included in the game to begin with).

      League of Legends is a good example of a very profitable and successful game that requires you to PAY NOTHING and allows you to have FULL ACCESS to the game (except for skins), even though they still have very expensive servers to maintain all over the world.

    • lilbuddhaman
    • 7 years ago

    Please stop linking Kotaku / Gawker “content” as real news. Please……

    It’s a conspiracy I tell ya, a conspiracy !

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