Free MMORPG & Free MMOs

Racing and Sports MMOs

Posted on: October 25, 2010

With dozens of high budget MMOs and MMORPGs launching every year, it’s worth pointing out that only a handful of sports MMOs and racing MMOs ever get released. The only sports MMOs to launch in 2010 are FreeJack, Zone 4: Fight District, Lost Saga, Hot Dance Party (Steps) and FIFA Online. But the number of sports games that launched on the PS3 and Xbox 360 are in the dozens! Sports games are big business on traditional platforms like the 360 and PS3, but for some reason they haven’t experienced the same explosive growth in the free to play MMO department. I think this will change in the coming years, because as games begin to transition from products to services, more and more games will relaunch as free to play MMOs. Companies like Electronic Arts and Sony Online Entertainment are already beginning to realize that they can make more money by making their games free to play and by monetizing through optional micro-transactions. Turbine figured this out when they made two of their biggest games free to play – Dungeons and Dragons Online and The Lord of the Rings Online. Zynga figured it out once Farmville began printing money. It’s rumored that Farmville makes over a million dollars a day in revenue. Farmville isn’t the only facebook game printing money though – Playdom has been so successful with games like Market Street and City of Wonder that they got bought out by Disney for over half a billion dollars!

It seems like MMORPGs right now are huge amongst free to play games – as games like Runes of Magic and Fiesta Online from OutSpark are growing like crazy. Perfect World Entertainment’s revenues in North America have also been climbing with the growth of their four core games – Perfect World, Jade Dynasty, Heroes of Three Kingdoms and Battle of the Immortals. Other Chinese MMORPG companies are launching their games in the west too. ChangYou has been super enthusiastic – as they already launched three games within 2 years, with Zentia being their newest title. Chinese browser games are also making their way to the West with strategy MMORPGs like Caesary and Evony leading the charge. Business Tycoon Online from Dovogame has been a huge hit too – so it shows that non-strategy games can also be successful.

Non-RPG MMOs such as racing games and sports games haven’t really experienced the same growth that RPGs have though. Games like Company of Heroes Online, Land of Chaos Online and Alien Swarm have been somewhat successful, but again they haven’t experienced the exponential growth of RPGs. I think it’s safe to say the most successful non-rpg MMO is League of Legends right now. It’s worth pointing out too that the game is Western developed. The entire free to play genre emerged in South Korea and China, so seeing an American MMORPG developer be so successful is quite intriguing. I think the most successful non-rpg genre has been MMOFPS games. Games like Mission Against Terror, Alliance of Valiant Arms and Cross Fire have all proven to be very popular here in the West. But that’s not too surprising, as Western gamers absolutely love their first person shooters. Just look at Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2’s success in Europe and North America. The game isn’t popular at all in Asia, but it’s thriving here in the West.

I suspect that Sports and Racing MMOs will push forward and begin growing, but only when gaming itself fully transitions into a service rather than a product.

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