Free MMORPG & Free MMOs

Free to Play is Here to Stay

Posted on: June 10, 2010

Another major main stream video game developer jumped on the MMORPG bandwagon recently. Ubisoft recently announced that they have 5+ unannounced free to play MMORPG games in development. Ubisoft already announced one game – Heroes of Might and Magic which TQ Digital is publishing for them in Asia, but they have a bunch of other games in the pipeline. Ubisoft is the fourth major game developer to jump on the free to play bandwagon. Free to play games like MapleStory from Nexon and Perfect World from Perfect World Entertainment have always been big in the East, but they’ve just recently grown big in the U.S. And the West. Electronic Arts was the first major Western game developer to begin embracing the free to play model. Their first game was Battlefield Heroes but they now publish many more including RayCity, FIFA Online, Battleforge and Lord of Ultima. They also announced their intentions to bring all of their major franchises to F2P. That’s quite a commitment.

In late 2009 Sony even began embracing the genre. Their first free to play was Free Realms, which today has over 7 million registered users. The game is largely aimed at teens, but it’s a lot of fun. Now that Free Realms has been such a big success, Sony announced that they are working on another casual MMORPG – Clone Wars Adventures. Turbine also embraced the genre last year with Dungeons and Dragons Online going free to play. Just recently (Early June), they further embraced the gene by announcing The Lord of the Rings Online going fully free to play. This bit of news was released after Turbine was acquired by Warner Brothers. I know Lord of the Rings Online was a big money maker for Turbine – so it looks like they’re taking a big gamble with this decision. I predict Lord of the Rings Online will be much more popular and profitable once it becomes free to play though. After all, Dungeons and Dragons Online exploded in popularity only after it went free to play.

With more and more Western developers embracing free to play, I wonder how long till more the less popular pay to play MMORPGs go free to play? I bet Warhammer Online and Champions Online could make a killing as free to play games, just as Dungeons and Dragons Online did.

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June 2010
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