No matter how many different games you play, follow, or even care about, the fate of the bigger MMO industry affects them all. Every game, from World of Warcraft to Fantasy Earth Zero, is playing in the same sandbox. But for our favorite genre, it looks like the size of that sandbox is only trending upward. Gamasutra reported recently on a new study that predicts the global MMORPG market will reach a total of $8 billion in worth by the end of 2010, a significant increase from the $5 billion in 2009.

So what's spurring the increase? According to the study, the growth in the Western market has been slow but steady, while the Eastern market has been making great strides, led by companies such as Nexon and NCsoft. The study also predicts that the traditional subscription-based revenue model is losing steam as an aggregate, citing it as one of the causes behind the slower growth in the Western side of the industry. Free-to-play isn't everyone's cup of tea, but considering what it seems to be doing to the economic side of our hobby, it's certainly not going anywhere soon.

This article was originally published on Massively.