MMO’s have been around for a while. Remember Ultima? No? Probably for the best. Everquest? Probably rings more bells. Lord of the Rings Online? How about Dungeons and Dragons Online? Rift, Aion, Star Wars: The Old Republic. Wow…lots of fantasy MMO’s there. I have no idea if Ultima is still around…I don’t think so. Otherwise, all those other games have something in common. Know what it is? Do ya? Do ya? You probably do. You’re smart. Kinda. Yeah that’s right, they are MMORPG’s that all eventually went onto a free-to-play model after having subscription numbers drop like that cartoon coyote in Looney Tunes. When this happens…things change. With the base game now being free, game developers and publishers need to figure out new ways to monetize their game. You know…to have a prayer of recouping the massive costs to make an MMO.
That new form of monetizing the game usually comes with a 2-tier approach. First…they keep the subscriptions for anyone who wants them. That subscription however, now becomes a greatly enhanced experience. Instead of being the baseline for people playing the game, it now comes with VIP perks; a sort of thank you for the continued normal income. The second and more popular thing that comes to free-to-play MMO’s is some sort of microtransaction shop. This is typically what saves these MMO’s from shutting down the servers, and even what causes these things to turn a profit. For many games, especially titles like Turbine’s Dungeons and Dragons Online, and Lord of the Rings Online, this change has been a major lifeline. These games went from being money pits to largely popular services that allow people to play the way they want, for the amount of money they feel the game is worth. In a system like that, it seems like the perfect world for a MMO, and it would be great to see most MMO’s use this model from day one. It seems like the best way to make a return on the initial…insane investment a MMO is. Continue Reading