Our Predictions For Free-to-Play In 2015

Jason Winter
By Jason Winter, News Editor


I could preface this by saying that 2014 was a wild year, and then list off all the crazy things that happened in gaming. But every such article does that, every year, and people just skip by those to get to the nice, easy-to-digest bolded points in the heart of the article. Blah blah blah lorem ipsum, etc. You're going to ignore all of this anyway, so let's get right down to it, shall we?

Disclaimer: These views represent my half-assed predictions and nobody else's. As with all predictions, results are not guaranteed, no matter how smart the writer thinks he or she is. Do not use these predictions while operating heavy machinery. MMOBomb.com is not liable for any costs or damages associated with taking these predictions way too seriously than you should.


No major subscription-based MMO will go free-to-play

Granted, there aren't a whole lot of sub-based games left to choose from, even with the spate of new releases over the past few years, like The Elder Scrolls Online, WildStar, and Final Fantasy XIV. I know this is a point on which Magicman will disagree with me, because he thinks TESO will take the plunge, whereas I think it's more likely that, if it changes at all, it will go to a buy-to-play system. And WildStar, for all its troubles, I think generated enough initial sales and has the CREDD system in place to keep it going for at least the year – though I'd almost give it good enough odds of shutting down altogether if it keeps struggling.

As for the “old guard,” World of Warcraft, Eve Online, and Final Fantasy XI don't seem like good candidates to make the change either. WoW's doing fine, Eve players would revolt, and FFXI, like FFXIV, is run by Square Enix, which seems firmly opposed to free-to-play for its MMOs. We could see a smaller game or two make the changeover, as we saw with Defiance this year, but if you're holding out for something to go F2P, I think you'll have a while yet to wait.


Overwatch will be free-to-play

It seems all but a given that Blizzard's upcoming arena battler will be free-to-play, even if the company is being coy about its plans. The question is, will it be more like a MOBA, like League of Legends or Smite, where a few champions are available on rotation for free and you have to buy the rest? Or something more like Team Fortress 2, where all characters/classes are available for free? I'm leaning/hoping toward the latter, but I could understand if Blizzard takes the former approach, though I'd expect some kind of Smite-like bundle that lets you buy all characters for a reduced price. Some way to buy characters (and skins) through gameplay would also be nice.

Regardless of exactly how it's implemented, Overwatch will probably quickly rise up the ranks and be one of the most popular new games of 2015. It wasn't officially announced as F2P, so we couldn't include it on any of our end-of-year lists, but we think it'll make its way onto our polls in the coming year.


EverQuest Next will not exist in a playable form

Here's another one Magicman and I disagree on. Given how long it's taken Landmark to get through its alpha and beta stages, and the pains SOE has taken to keep H1Z1 under wraps, I think they'll take their time, and then some, before EQN is available to the masses – no matter how much anyone wants it to be otherwise.

The MOBA train will slow down

Which you could follow up with “darn” or “finally,” depending on your point of view. I think the MOBA craze has finally crested. That doesn't mean we won't see new ones announced or released, but I don't think we'll be covering a new one every other week, like it seemed to go for a while over the last two years.

None of this is based on any extensive analysis of trends or numerical data or even personal opinion (though I wouldn't mind if it came true). It's just that it seems like we've been reporting on fewer new MOBAs over the latter half of this year than we did prior to it, and I think that trend will continue. Also, when you have one high-profile, big-budget game like Dawngate going down the tubes, I think that's a wake-up call to all the smaller MOBA makers that, yeah, maybe you can't carve out part of LoL/Dota 2/Smite's niche, no matter how good you think you are.


One long-running Free MMO will shut down

It seems like we lose one venerable MMO every year. It's not always free-to-play, but each year we seem a little surprised when “that game” shuts down. In 2011, it was Star Wars: Galaxies. In 2012, City of Heroes. 2013, Warhammer Online. 2014, Vanguard: Saga of Heroes. And all of the subscription games I mentioned above are in good enough shape (with the possible exception of WildStar), so I think we'll be “shocked” again when some F2P game shuts down for good.

As for who will get the axe – that's tougher to predict, because games that have been around for years, like the aforementioned bunch, seem like they'll be around forever. That said, with the financial issues some companies have faced lately, it's easier to imagine them pulling the plug on underperforming games. Specifically, Turbine (Dungeons & Dragons Online), Funcom (Age of Conan), and Perfect World (Champions Online) would seem like good candidates to cut some dead weight.

If you really wanted to think outside the box, too, would it be impossible to imagine SOE culling EverQuest 2, or even the original? They shut down four games in 2014, and it might make sense to “clear some space” to make room for the next incarnation of EverQuest. Then again, if you thought people went ballistic over SWG's shuttering... yeah, it'd probably be that multiplied by 10 if EverQuest went away.

So what are your predictions for F2P gaming in 2015? Note that commenting on this post grants us the right to poke fun at your insane predictions when we do next year's version of this article. Don't worry, I'll do the same with my own predictions. That way, we can all look stupid together.

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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.

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Discussion (28)

Jaedia 9 years ago
I somewhat agree with you, though not 100%. WildStar I'm not sure.. They could go F2P in the next year thought I'd reckon it'd be very late in the year if at all. TESO, also, I'd expect are more likely to go buy-to-play.

The MOBA train is already kinda slowing down. Though there ARE a few on the horizon yet, they flop faster than they can release new ones now because folk who want to MOBA go for the familiar names (not forgetting Heroes of the Storm, which goes into closed beta this month).

As for another MMO closing it's doors? For sure. There'll be niche titles that nobody bothers with closing down throughout.. maybe EQ1.. though what you said on the backlash of that one. A few months ago I might have said LotRO but I hear that's going okay at the moment.. While not a F2P title, I predict Secret World doesn't have much more life left in it. The company's had so many troubles and it's become SO niche I don't know how much longer it can last despite its' dedicated fanbase. We'll see.

Apoth 9 years ago
"comment awaiting moderation"

Look if you guys are gonna start censoring and not let people comment who you disagree with then what is the point of coming to this site anymore?

Lonetimegamer 9 years ago
But the question is : Does anyone really CARE?

Ben 9 years ago
I think WildStar will go F2P to draw players back into the game, and they will try to monetize through the home making system, and other possible fluff. I don't see them ever succeeding with a subscription model and the half-assed twitch promotions they do every now and then. TERA is basically taking a significant part of their potential market away, and I don't see that changing until WS is F2P, and they make their PvP more appealing than TERA's.

Age of Conan... why is this even still going? Games like War of Roses has the directional swing mechanic down and it takes much less time invested to play a game of it.

WoW will see a boost with the revamps they're doing to player models, and I think this will bring about a total overhaul of the game where they end up remodeling and remaking a great deal of things visually. It may yet go for another decade. It's one of the most liked themes on the PC with Hearthstone being as popular as it is.

I see new MOBA-esk games like Dead Island: Epidemic succeeding, where instead of a linear Red vs Blue, you get three teams against each other in maps with a variety of random objectives. Something that is more chaotic, unpredictable, and fun centered around one semi-customizable character with a set of skills.

Urs-00 9 years ago
I do think EQ Next will come next year, yes, Landmark is taking a long time on their Alpha, but this is because the Landmark will also affect Next... some content, including content made by players, might be on Next, that's why I think Landmark will take way longer in alpha than Next, Next will probably be shorter

And I do believe TESO will go at least b2p and wildstar will definitely going f2p, NCSoft knows it works, it saved their titles and they will do it again once they milk the p2p a bit more, it will happen, trust me xD

Merkadis 9 years ago
"(Dungeons & Dragons Online)"
This one? closing down? yeah right...
This one is one of a kind, no way in hell i see it closing down anytime soon.

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Atonal 9 years ago
2014 was NOT crazy in the mmo genre at all. It was probably one of the slowest gaming years I've experienced thus far. It had lackluster games, and the genre pretty much hit a giant wall. The year 2015 will be HUGE after all the announcements in G-Star. From NCSoft making ALL of their games international, to Tree of Savior, etc 2015 looks to be at least three times more exciting than this year.

IRONICTYPO! 9 years ago
"That we, we can all look stupid together."

Blazestone 9 years ago
they didn't even mention in the moba section.
That Heroes of the Storm is coming in 2015 starting with closed beta in January.

I'm already in Alpha and really enjoying it.
I have made some video's on youtube from some characters and soon i'm gonna make more.


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Black Desert Online 9 years ago
I just want to play Black Desert Online. I hope we will se it in 2015.

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dawanted 9 years ago
we all want a better 2015 in mmo world...2014 was weak

Grims Bane 9 years ago
For me I do believe an mmorpg will shutdown however not sure which one, but to be honest this does sound crazy I can see ArcheAge getting dropped late in 2015, or Age of Conan as its name is fadding however I can't see DDO getting canceled as it has a strong player base. Now As for games I could see going b2p I do strongly agree that TESO could go b2p and would strongly recommend that they do as most of the there player base is used to the b2p model and would greatly improve there revenue on the game. I also have to agree with EQN I can see it going into more of a 2016 to 2017 release, sorta like how it look 5 years for guildwars 2 to come out.

Trenix 9 years ago
MMORPGs will continue dying because it's an old school genre which is expensive, repetitive, and a complete grind fest. They've also proven to not work with a free to play model, I don't care how hard you try to make it work, it just wont. There will be more MOBAs, not DOTA ones, but more unique ones such as Overwatch. However they'll only thrive if they stick with the whole pay for aesthetics concept, since that's what I've been seeing lately. That pretty much goes for all game genres. Indie games will continue to thrive, since people are tired of the same old things. Survival games will thrive and so will sandbox games since every time you play, things are different.

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asdsd 9 years ago
why moba games will slow down. probably dev will stop making one.

Each of them try to appear unique to LoL or dota audience. Like , hey our game focused on fighting . It even have bushes.

Bushes , abandon RTS aspect , Casual pandering , Grind(p2w). STOP.

Why , both audience are toxic , they cant accept new thing when playing (so called , a new) other moba. They will compared it to what they used to play , its like league its like dota its like blablablablabla. Annoying , When im addicted to LoL and tried another moba I used to do this. But I learned how much dev worked on something(their product) when played dota 2 , whenever i tried other moba(since then) changed my perspective , I read their Lore , Understand mechanic and appreciate it attempt to be original(toward LoL's too - no hatred! really). And start appreciate games , idk about you guys.

Sandbox-Action will shine 2015 , who offer the best. Grand Option , Shorter Grind , Promote PvP(reward handsomely) .

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fromhelll 9 years ago
I'm no clairvoyant , but for 2015 I don't see anything out of the ordinary. Pretty much the same thing happens every year.

As for the mentioned in the article, I also think Overwatch will be F2P, as for the success of the game, if Diablo III, Hearthstone, and Heroes of the Storm have though us anything is that apparently Blizzard can do no wrong, as long as they make the Kool-Aid people seem to be willing to drink it, they would have to mess up Overwatch pretty badly for it to not pull people in.

I agree with "The MOBA train will slow down", my question about that is, which "train" will pick up speed?

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blabla 9 years ago
i agree, overwatch will be one of the best if not the best game on 2015. i can feel it

Dilan 9 years ago
The reason why MOBA games fail is simple: their learning curve. MOBAs are games you invest a lot into, even moreso than regular MMORPGs. When the MOBA genre was still young ( as in, when no one was even using the acronym "MOBA" ), there was only DotA. These players are the core of the MOBA playerbase. That's why when Dota 2 came out, it took no time at all for it to skyrocket to the #1 played game on Steam. No other MOBA will be able to launch on Steam and see the same amount of success. Ever. It's the same with League. League started out back when the genre was still in its "nobody really knows this genre exists" stage, so it was able to muster a huge following and be the first MOBA experience for a lot of players.

Now that everyone is conditioned to Dota 2 and League, and they are comfortable with all of their friends there and have worked hard to get high rankings in those games, they're not going to just jump ship and go play Dawngate for instance just because Dawngate took the DotA idea and just swapped 2 or 3 concepts around. That's not how this works. I wish I could be like, an adviser for game development start ups so I can tell anyone making a MOBA to simply not do it.

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