Free-to-Play "MMO" Revenue Triples Subscription-Based Revenue In 2014

Jason Winter
By Jason Winter, News Editor October 23, 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.

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About the Author

Jason Winter
Jason Winter, News Editor
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.

Discussion (23)

ASD 5 years ago
World of warcraft is better then all these crappy free 2 play MMO's still. I understand if you can't afford it but World of warcraft has a good balance and doesn't shove cash shops and micro currency down your throat like alot of free 2 play games seem to do.

Yeahthatsright 6 years ago
World Of Warcraft is still the best MMO to date, you can all play your shitty free-to-play MMO's if you want and hate on it because you can't afford it, but it's a ton better than them.

thetrue 6 years ago
i really dont care about WoW at all,its maybe one of the oldest mmorpg out there and for the same reason i dont see the point on playing something that old and outdated.

Manpig 6 years ago
Lets remember there are like a gazillion f2p (p2w) mmo's for every p2p mmo. Also the p2w formula is pretty popular cause it gives the chance to the most casual of gamers to win over more experienced players without effort. They can even spend like over 2000$ in less than two months and they pretty much can roll over anyone regardless of their skills. Oh and im excluding hack purchases and stuff like that which IS a thing in many games.

A good example of p2w would be Elsword. People argue the game is not p2w but reality is that in less than a month a paying player can pretty much acquire everything, this includes +10 Henir Gear which would take a non paying player like 6 months up to a year to acquire + they would still need to spend money if they actually want +10 gears. Also Ice Burner costumes give a pretty decent amount of stats and even worse the weapon costume has an additional socket. Also the higher rankings in PvP consist of either hackers or the paying members, I know cause I was in the top 10 through hacking :3. However I simply set my stat the same as an player I love to watch playing (Tubasa316 or something like that, thats is his youtube user) , nothing broken or shit like that (cause couldnt get my henir to +10 withough paying).

If you want an obvious example of hard-core p2w just browse any of IGG's games, their Item malls are pretty ridiculous. End-game gear and gems which can only be acquired by paying which a fully loaded character would cost around 2000 usd + I even have friends who spend this much in one of their games called Tales of Pirates, I was like dude...I know you can do whatever you like with your money but that many in like less than 3 months on a game that doesn't even get updates or has an live support...

MOBAs are truly free to play but there isn't really like a massive amount of players playing in the same area never so I never considered them MMOs.

They say p2w is a vague concept but I think it is kinda obvious when paying gives you unfair advantage.

Peter Jackson 6 years ago
Here we go again ...comparing shi* with honey!
Don't compare an OPEN WORLD, free roaming game like WoW, with hobbies, pets, flying mounts (more hard to achieve engine-wise) with crappy offline type games like SWTOR (follow the road to go from one place to another) or Tera (tiny zones) etc. What Blizzard atchieved, the full freedom to move and fly, is beyong any reach for others.

View 1 reply
NobleNerd 6 years ago
This is suppose to be news or surprising?

Of course F2P is showing more money spent..... everyone has jumped on the F2P (more like free to get ripped off) band wagon over the last 4-5 years. I will still stick with a good subscription game over the charge you for everything option.

no1curr 6 years ago

Arye 7 years ago
If WoW went F2P, I still wouldn't play that shitty ass, outdated piece of junk. Expansion after expansion, and the game has only become worse. IMO...............

View 1 reply
hovsep56 7 years ago
f2p is great tough it has some flaws but heck even p2p got some flaws

i mean if you think as a bussinesman they are trying compete against other products by decreasing the price as low as possible but those people cannot fight against products that are free so the only way to have a chance is to make a BETTER product than the the others

short said: f2p makes devs try their hardest to be better than other f2p titles while p2p games try to reduce their price the lowest than other p2p games

Mamson 7 years ago
go ahead PIG BLIZZARD! we need to play world of warcraft FREE!!!!

DiceColdfire 7 years ago
Well that's something to think about.

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