Free-to-Play "MMO" Revenue Triples Subscription-Based Revenue In 2014
A wild SuperData report appears!
The latest from the gaming market-research firm shows the continuation of a years-long trend in gamer spending habits, namely that free-to-play revenue for MMOs continues to distance itself from pay-to-play revenue with each passing year. The latest estimates for 2014 show about $8 billion spent on F2P MMOs versus $2.5 for P2P MMOs.
As a reminder, SuperData is super-liberal with its definition of "MMO," counting MOBAs and games like World of Tanks in the mix alongside MMORPGs. That said, you can do a little quick-and-dirty math to semi-confirm at least one set of numbers. Assuming that about half of World of Warcraft's 7.4 million subscribers are in North America, that they spend an average of $15/month for each month of the year (taking into account that not everyone subs for the whole year but also that some people spend on microtransactions) and that it dwarfs any other popular subscription-based games like Eve Online or Final Fantasy XIV, that gives you a figure of 3.7m * $15 * 12 = $666 million. That's pretty close to the $700 million in subscription revenue SuperData reports for North America. And, with that figure, it also proves that WoW is the devil.
Other notable items in the report:
* "In fact, whenever there’s a major release on console, either via traditional retail or digital channels, we observe a dip in free-to-play spending. Gamers, the data tells us, play on multiple platforms at once and regularly shift their focus between them, expressed in both time played and money spent."
* However, outside of the U.S.: "In the absence of an installed console base and in countries where people generally play at Internet cafés rather than at home, free-to-play games offer high-quality game play that is also accessible."
* Also note that, at 2/1, North America's F2P/P2P revenue ratio is the smallest of any defined region's. This probably reflects Americans' greater affluence and willingness/ability to spend on subscription-based games while having more of a disdain for free-to-play games than exists in other parts of the world.
* "MOBAs have quickly become one of the most popular game genres worldwide, growing their share of the overall MMO category from 16% to 24% in just the last year." So if you were hoping that we'd seen enough MOBAs... well, think again.
If you've really got the money to burn, you can obtain SuperData's full report for the bargain price of $2,000, which goes up to $2,500 on Nov. 15. Me, I'd rather spend that on games, with or without a subscription.
About the Author
Jason Winter is a veteran gaming journalist, he brings a wide range of experience to MMOBomb, including two years with Beckett Media where he served as the editor of the leading gaming magazine Massive Online Gamer. He has also written professionally for several gaming websites.
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