U.S. MMORPG Companies Need To Offer More Free Games – Not Subscription Models – To Grow Market

by Mindi Sue Sternblitz-Rubenstein | Jul. 22, 2008

Parks Associates Study Outlines Strengths and Weaknesses in MMORPG Market...

Massive multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) publishers may have to start giving away playing time to attract more players into online role-playing worlds, according to Parks Associates’ Electronic Gaming in the Digital Home II.

This consumer study of 2,000+ U.S. Internet gamers found only power gamers are interested in subscribing to an MMORPG service, whereas social, dormant, and leisure gamers all show significant interest in a free-to-play, microtransaction-based model. The MMORPG market will be difficult to enter with a subscription model at this stage.

Fourteen percent of gamers not currently playing MMORPGs would be interested in playing if they could play for free. Only 2% of gamers from the same group were interested in adopting an MMORPG with the traditional subscription-based model. The good news for MMORPG companies is they can recoup their investment over time through microtransactions, where game publishers and operators make money through sales of in-game items.

The barriers to entry, in terms of time and money, are simply too high for many potential customers, according to Cai. “Free-to-play models offer flexibility, and players can choose how much they want to invest based on interest level and play patterns. Microtransaction models have the best potential to grow the U.S. MMORPG audience.”



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