Free MMORPG & Free MMOs

Pay to Play Vs Free to Play MMORPGs

Posted on: December 6, 2009

There are numerous MMORPGs that originally launched as ‘pay to play’ titles but have later relaunched themselves as free to play. Many of these once pay to play MMORPGs have been much more successful as free to play games than back when they collection subscription revenues. Dungeons and Dragons Online for example, which launched in 2006 with a $14.99 /month price tag but is now free to play, earns 40% more subscription revenues today as a free to play game than it did when it was pay to play. This means that many more people are today ‘voluntarily’ subscribing to the game (For added benefits) when they could be enjoying it for free. Fernando Paitz, the game’s executive producer said in an interview with Ars Technica, “All aspects of our business are growing.” “Hundreds of thousands of new players in the world are playing for free, with a very high percentage using the store.” Obviously Turbine had a lot of success with Dungeons and Dragons Online’s transformation into a free to play game which may tempt the companies behind older pay to play MMORPGs like EverQuest and Ultima Online to consider going free to play or at least consider extending their MMORPG free trials.

Going free to play has its clear advantages and disadvantages. Games without subscription fees tend to appeal to a larger audience while axing the subscription fee results in lower revenues in the short term. Not every MMORPG that has gone free to play has been successful either – Fury for example, which launched in 2007 with a subscription fee, went free to play sometime in late 07’ and shut down a few months after going free. Shadowbane also tried to ‘relaunch’ itself as a free to play game in order to survive, as its subscription revenues have been in decline for years, but unfortunately failed. The game was officially shut down on July 1, 2009. There are a lot of knockoffs out there for pay to play games that haven’t gone free to play. World of Warcraft for example has many knockoffs – Runes of Magic and Gates of Andaron being the two most popular.

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December 2009
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