Analysis of MMO Industry As A Whole In The Wake Of SWTOR F2P

The discussion of SWTOR’s F2P move continues, but it has split now into two – one between SWTOR players discussing what the future holds for their game – which we’ll cover later – and another whole discussion asking what this massive bombshell – the biggest-budget MMO since WoW admitting failure – means for the MMO industry as a whole.

There’s some really interesting thinking going on from a wide variety of people, talking about payment models, but also much more:

  • Jim Rossignol argues that it’s not the MMORPG that’s dying – it’s the quest-based semi-single-player experience, as opposed to the sandbox game“Perhaps the true lesson of EVE, as I suspect I’ve drummed many times before, is that it delivers a unique experience. What you pay for is unlike what others play for. Not just in the sense of being a singular game design, but in the sense that your EVE experience is yours.”
  • Green Armadillo looks at the numbers for SWTOR, and asks where all the money went“The catch is who gets the $210 million. The store doesn’t put the box on their shelves and pay an employee to run the checkout line for free. The distributor doesn’t ship the boxes to the store for free.”
  • Rowan Blaze reminds us that the question isn’t really “did subscriptions fail”, it’s “does the game offer enough that you want to play it?”“The real question is, Does the game service provide you value? That is, is the game designed to your tastes? Do you enjoy playing? Is your investment in time (and money) worth it?”
  • Ocho compares the cost to the end user of the various potential game business models“Content, potions, storage, cosmetic items, ships, weapons, it’s all in there, and it’s scrutinized heavily. Not only is it scrutinized, but it’s pushed like a bookstore’s endcap with the latest best sellers. “
  • A Ding World briefly compares the fates of EA’s MMOs and those from Funcom“Given the numbers Funcom provided in the earnings report they will be quite profitable with The Secret World even with numbers similar to Age of Conan. Now that about a month has passed since launch we may see some subscriber numbers soon – if they have been doing well and are able to retain players.”

It’s interesting to note just how many sandbox games are still around and collecting subscription cash. Jim Rossignol only mentions EVE, but WURM is still doing fine as far as I’m aware, Ultima Online is still out there, and of course A Tale In The Desert just keeps on rolling. OTOH, of course, RIFT and WoW are still happily collecting subscriptions too.

What do you think SWTOR’s move to Free To Play says about the future of the MMORPG industry as a whole?