The global games market is expected to reach $19.8 billion this year alone, which makes 60% of all digital PC game revenue. Massive Multiplayer Online games (MMOs) include a wide range of game genres, such as role-playing, shooters and MOBAs, which include worldwide known titles like World of WarCraft and League of Legends.
These type of F2P games dominate today’s online games market. Their appeal to players in emerging markets is the key of their success. Older titles like World of WarCraft continue having the highest-grossing subscription-based MMOs.
Fewer and fewer PC titles opt for subscription models, which is reflected in a contraction of 12.4% P2P MMO. The console market is also showing a healthy growth rate of 11.3%, thanks to the AAA video game releases in the year. All together, the worldwide games market showed a growth rate of 9.5% YoY.
Emerging markets take free-to-play MMO revenue up to a CAGR1 of 7.8% from 2016E to 2018E. Most users in Asia and Eastern Europe switch to free-to-play MMOs because of the high price of video games. Players with low spending power are also less likely to pirate games that are free.
On the other hand, pay-to-play MMO revenue is predicted to earn $2.7B in 2018E. Devoted users continue to play older subscription-based titles, but since there is a large variety of F2P options, new players are turned off by fees. In the West, players pay $10-$15 per month to access an MMO game, while in Asia, subscribing to MMOs tends to charge players by the hour.
The truth is that the video game market is very competitive due to the presence of multiple vendors, such as Activision Blizzard and Electronic Arts. Intense vendor competition, rapid advancements in technology, and frequent changes in consumer preferences challenge vendors. That is why, in order to survive and succeed, vendors have to distinguish their product and offer something new and unique.
As consumers have come familiar with free-to-play, game makers have begun to compete over market share and most of them identify new changes in the market early on. Existing players are unlikely to try MOBAs that do not bring anything new. In fact, 61% of gamers only play MMOs to play with friends, and most of them use the word of mouth to find new games. The social parts of MMOs appeal to almost every player.
Did you know that six of the top 10-grossing MMOs are free-to-play games? That's right. League of Legends, the highest-grossing game in the world, earns more than $150 million per month. Riot’s game has a tconversion rate of 8.3% and an average spending per player of $18.88. The title’s success is thanks to a large audience of 98.4 million players. However, World of WarCraft continues to lead the P2P MMO market with more than the double of its closest competitor.
All of the top 10 free-to-play MMOs were launched before 2014. MMOs have indeed long lifespans. Players usually stick with a game after investing time and money on it, as well as because their PCs are not capable of running the latest games. However, mature titles such as Lineage 1 and Dungeon Fighter Online are doing downhill, creating opportunities for newer games.
There is no doubt that people love playing online games. And that is why investing in the MMO and MMORPG market is a safe bet that can't go downhill. The only requirement is being creative and original. Offering new characteristics and content to players is the key to success.