Gamasutra reports that over five million people have signed up to play Grinding Gear's Path of Exile title. The company hasn't disclosed how many of those people are actually paying for the free-to-play Diablo-style game, but Path of Exile's critical and financial success invites a closer examination of its business model.
Unlike most F2P titles, Path of Exile completely avoids gameplay gates and delaying mechanisms and thus avoids the dreaded pay-to-win stigma. Microtransactions are purely cosmetic, and Grinding Gear's crowdfunding campaign has now morphed "into a permanent rewards-based structure for monetization."
Managing director Chris Wilson tells Gamasutra that PoE's supporter packs are a big part of the game's success story in addition to traditional microtransactions, the latter of which offer "enough money to run the company on" by themselves. Wilson says that players want to support PoE because its business model puts gameplay first. "We've been careful when designing the game so there's no paying for game content or advantage in the game," he explained. "We've purposefully divorced any game mechanics from the monetization."