Online gaming is a big deal. You already knew that, of course, but SuperData is trying to quantify just how big of a deal it is. The answer: really big.
OK, how about some precise numbers? According to the brief accompanying its 2016 MMO & MOBA Games Market Report, which estimates that MMOs — which, in SuperData’s parlance, includes shooters and MOBAs (but apparently not Guild Wars 2) — will earn $19.8 billion worldwide this year, or 60% of all digital game revenue on the PC.
And most of that money goes to free-to-play games. According to the map in the article, $17.1 billion of that $19.8 billion comes from free-to-play games — which actually might be a bit low for our purposes, seeing as how SuperData doesn’t count games with optional subscriptions, like Star Wars: The Old Republic, as free-to-play. It’s also interesting to note how the ratio of paid-to-free revenue varies per region. A quick set of calculations reveals:
Free-to-play revenue/Total revenue:
Worldwide: $17.1b/$19.8b, 86%
North America: $1.9b/$2.48b, 77%
Europe: $2.9b/$3.55b, 82%
Asia: $11.2b/$12.6b, 89%
Latin America: $0.913b/$1.01b, 90%
Perhaps it’s not surprising that in affluent North America, where people are more likely to be willing to pay for a box-and-sub game, free-to-play is at its (relative) weakest.
The brief also presents a small chart detailing the number of MMOs players play simultaneously — by which I assume it means “play sessions of interchangeably” as opposed to some convoluted multiboxing. Only 30% of players report as playing just one MMO, with 7% getting into seven or more such games. Count me among the 7%, then.
The report cautions against making generalizations, however, across such a wide data set:
Traditionally online multi-player games have attracted a hardcore audience, but today user sentiments and habits are far from homogenous. Players buy very different types of in-game items depending on if they are new to an MMO or if they have been playing a title for years.
It’s a lot of food for thought. So, what do you think?