The state of the subscription MMO: Revenues up, WoW's stranglehold slipping

Justin Olivetti
J. Olivetti|09.24.10

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The state of the subscription MMO: Revenues up, WoW's stranglehold slipping
While MMO subscription numbers are largely hidden from public eyes, found a report by Screen Digest that delivered solid figures for the rate of subscription growth and revenue from the Western market. It's a classic case of "good news, bad news" for the industry.

The good news is that MMO subscriptions rose from $1.4 billion in 2008 to $1.6 billion in 2009, a respectable increase, especially when you consider the increase of free-to-play and microtransaction titles. This number is expected to hit the $2 billion mark by 2014. The bad news is that the average revenue per player is down 10% during the same time period due to "the popularity of cheaper premium subscription services." So more people are playing and paying, but they're spending less per person.

The analysis noted that World of Warcraft's domination in the subscription MMO market is slipping, going from 60% to 54% during that time period. Screen Digest says not to count the subscription MMO out, however: "We maintain our view that subscriptions will continue to play an important role in the MMOG sector. Certain consumer groups and types of service are well suited to subscriptions but we also acknowledge the growing success and adoption of microtransaction-based MMOGs as an alternative business model for operators."
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