Free MMORPG & Free MMOs

Why Pay for Pay to Play MMORPGs?

Posted on: May 20, 2009

The more I look at the MMORPG genre, the more I’m convinced that the ‘pay to play’ genre will be fully replaced by free to play games. Some people may think I’m crazy, but if you take a look at all the pay to play games out today, it’s clear that only two or three of them out of dozens are a success. Sure no one will admit it, but games like Pirates of the Burning Sea and Vanguard: Saga of Heroes are complete flops. They were both rumored to be ‘WoW killers’, but in reality, they were nothing more than a whole lot of hype. I’m not saying that all pay to play games are bad, they aren’t, but with more and more free to play MMORPGs coming to market every year, I just can’t see people paying a monthly subscription to play a game. The only ‘mega popular’ pay to play MMORPG is World of Warcraft with 12 million or so subscribers and Eve Online as a distant second or third with 400,000 subscribers. After third of fourth place, the ‘pay to play’ subscriber numbers get worse. The incredibly hyped up ‘Warhammer Online” launched with nearly 1 million subscribers, but today has under 600,000. Games like EverQuest II and Age of Conan are also in rapid decline.


Twelve million players may sound like a lot, but if you look at free MMORPGs like MapleStory and Ragnarok Online, you’ll quickly realize that twelve million isn’t that much. MapleStory alone has over 100 million accounts worldwide and there are easily a dozen or so free titles that have similar figures. The first pay to play MMORPGs, EverQuest, Ultima Online and Dark Age of Camelot played an important role in the development of the entire MMORPG market, as they were the ones that got the ball rolling, but like everything else, the MMORPG industry in North America and Europe will change. Gaming in China, Korea and Japan has already shifted to largely ‘free to play’ games and the West will soon follow.

Everyone I’ve talked to tells me that ‘pay to play’ games are ‘higher quality’ than free to play ones, but from my experience this isn’t always the case. Sure, big budget mega hits like World of Warcraft have a lot of content, but is does that justify the game’s $15 / month cost? Heck, there’s a relatively new free MMORPG called ‘Runes of Magic’ that plays a lot like World of Warcraft, but without the monthly cost. The growth of the free to play market will lead to gaming companies developing ‘free’ versions of these premium pay to play games. It has already happened with World of Warcraft, and it’s happening with other MMORPGs as well. With so many free alternatives, why should anyone pay monthly to play an MMORPG?


Why Pay for Pay to Play MMORPGs?Game Wallpapers

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May 2009
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