Stropp's World

Games And Gamery

Is Free To Play A Sign Of Defeat?

Posted by Stropp on September 3, 2011

Or is it the superior business model for MMORPGs?

Star Trek Online is the latest MMO to announce that they are going to go from a subscription model to a free to play business model. Considering that Champions had already made the transition some time ago, this announcement didn’t come as a surprise.

It seems that more and more second tier MMORPGs are making the move to free to play. Dungeons and Dragons Online started the trend a few years ago, and that move saved the struggling game at the time. Since then, we’ve seen Lord of the Rings Online, Age of Conan, Champions go free, with Fallen Earth and now Star Trek making the move in the near future.

In the cases of DnDO, LotRO, and AoC the developers have reported significant increases in the number of players playing, and an increase in revenue.

Of course none of the first tier MMORPGs are planning to go FTP anytime soon. WoW and Rift, as far as I know have no intention, and the big up and comers, The Secret World and Star Wars The Old Republic have announced that they will be using the subscription model.

So it seems that, in Western markets at least, developers prefer the subscription business model. And who can blame them? Subs provide a fairly stable income stream, which if you have lots of subscribers can be huge.

But when these games start struggling with subscriber numbers, it seems more and more of them opt to change the model to the free to play model.

So I ask, is this a sign of defeat or does it mean that free to play is the superior business model?

Secret World Subscriptions

Posted by Stropp on August 27, 2011

Yesterday Funcom announced that The Secret World business model was going to go down the subscription path with a game store that sells only convenience and character customisation gear.

I have been wondering a bit about this. While it’s not surprising that Funcom are going to use a subscription model for The Secret World, the fact is that going Freemium with Age of Conan has brought a lot of new players (or perhaps returning players) to the game. Something like 300,000 extra active players I believe, which has to be good for the game.

Still, The Secret World has a lot of positive buzz around it at the moment. I’d be surprised if it doesn’t do well at launch, as long as the launch itself doesn’t go the same way as the Anarchy Online and Age of Conan launches.

Third time lucky anyone?

That’s It For Paid Subscriptions

Posted by Stropp on December 23, 2010

At least for a while. Earthrise is due shortly, and SW:TOR is due later this year I think.

Unfortunately, my business hasn’t been doing all that well lately. I lost a lucrative client, and haven’t had any successful quotes of recent. Christmas also sucks for getting new work, noone does anything until the holiday season ends, usually after Australia Day (26th Jan.) So, I find myself on the other side of the freelancer feast or famine cycle.

All which means I have to do some belt-tightening. I canceled the SOE Station Access sub earlier in the month, and that expires in the next day or so I think. It’s not a big deal because I have been so busy I haven’t spent any time in EQ2 for months. Still, it’s a bit odd not having that subscription safety net there in case I get the urge to log in.

And there are no other MMORPG subs going. The six month period for Fallen Earth expired some time ago, and I canceled Star Trek Online and Champions not long after I bought them. Mate, that would have to be a while ago now. Eve was canceled after the third or fourth attempt to get something going also early in the year.

And World of Warcraft. Aside from a minor itching to play a Worgen (I think there’s a powder for that,) I have no desire to go back into the Warcraft world.

I think the last time I was sub free for any extended period was between 2002 to 2005. I moved to the US for work and had finished up with Anarchy Online just beforehand. I did buy and subscribe to some games during that period for limited times. WoW for a bit, EQ2 until the constant lag became too much, but it was sketchy until I returned to Oz and resubbed to WoW in late 2005. And from then on, I haven’t been without¬† a MMORPG subscription. I feel nekkid.

Still. I do have the lifetime subscription to LoTRO, even though that has now been converted into a full access to the free to play LoTRO. And, there’s DDO which I’ve enjoyed, not to mention other FTP games out there.¬† So there is still some MMORPG goodness out there to enjoy.

And, I’m not sure I’ll be able to resist Earthrise when it comes out in the next month or so, I think. And SWTOR… well, enough said there. I’ll have to scrape my pennies together I think.

Having said all that, I’m also finding myself attracted to some of the single player and indie games that are available.

There’s no shortage of gaming fun if I need a fix.

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