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  • Activision earnings call offers more insight on WoW subscriber losses

    by 
    Elizabeth Harper
    Elizabeth Harper
    08.01.2013

    In addition to the news that Titan may not be subscription-based, today's Activision investor call also shed some light on WoW's most recent round of subscriber losses. Blizzard says that the subscriber loss was more or less evenly split between Eastern and Western markets, which is to say that they've lost subscribers in North America, Europe, and Asia. However, patch 5.2 and 5.3 both had a positive impact on subscriber numbers and Blizzard is working on making returning to the game easier for players who have left. While there's been a lot of panic over the subscriber losses, Blizzard isn't throwing in the towel yet: in this call they assured everyone that they're committed to the World of Warcraft playerbase (that's us!) in spite of the subscriber downturn and other projects like Titan on the horizon.

  • World of Warcraft down to 7.7 million subscribers

    by 
    Eliot Lefebvre
    Eliot Lefebvre
    07.26.2013

    Back in May, we were told that World of Warcraft subscriptions had fallen to 8.3 million. Now there are reports that the MMO has lost even more subscribers, dropping to 7.7 million subscribers worldwide. Those of you keeping score at home will probably recognize that the game hasn't fallen below 8 million since before the game's first expansion launched some six years ago. On the one hand, World of Warcraft is obviously nowhere near failure, considering that it's still far and away the game with the largest number of subscribers on the market. On the other hand, that margin is slowly shrinking, and the game continues to have a slow decline of subscriptions over the past several months. It's unsure when the game will be getting its next expansion, but we know that changes are coming to the game's business model, so it's quite possible that Blizzard still has some tricks up its sleeves.

  • Comixology adds options for subscriptions and bundles (update: Web app only)

    by 
    Mike Schramm
    Mike Schramm
    07.01.2013

    Comixology is, as we've discussed here before, basically the premiere app for comic books on Apple's iPad. And now, the app (well, the web app at least) is adding one more feature to its already long list. Starting today, you can subscribe to your favorite comics right inside the app's web store, which means that instead of going in every week to buy the comics you want, you can tap one button, and you'll automatically pick up a comic when it arrives. That's pretty handy if you buy a lot of comics -- it's like having your own personal comic book store pulling issues as you need them. The company has also added support for buying comics in bundles, which means those deals we occasionally see come out of Comixology's offices will probably be a lot better (it's much easier to buy a bunch of comics at a time for cheap, rather than a ton of issues individually on sale). This also means that the company can bundle up storylines and back issues, so finding what you want to read and purchasing it all in one go should be a piece of cake. Update: Bundles and subscriptions are only available on the web app, we're told. But you can definitely buy comics on the web, and then browse them on your iPad.

  • Mac App Store apps to get subscriptions support in OS X 10.9 Mavericks

    by 
    Michael Grothaus
    Michael Grothaus
    07.01.2013

    Developers will be happy to hear that subscriptions support is coming to OS X apps sold through the Mac App Store in OS X 10.9 Mavericks. App subscriptions have long been possible in iOS apps, but this is the first time they will be available on OS X. As 9to5Mac points out, iOS subscriptions currently come in two flavors: renewing and nonrenewing. Both types of subscriptions will make their way to OS X this fall. Once subscriptions come to the Mac App Store, users will be able to manage them via a "Subscriptions" control panel in their account settings. Best of all, the ability to manage subscriptions on OS X will now allow users to control them from any Apple device, which means that users who use iOS and OS X apps that have subscriptions (like Evernote or Wunderlist) won't have to leave their desktop to enable a subscription through their iPhone. Subscriptions in the Mac App Store will be available in OS X Mavericks when it ships this fall.

  • Multiple accounts can use a single Xbox Live subscription on the One

    by 
    Jamie Rigg
    Jamie Rigg
    05.22.2013

    If you joined us for the Xbox One reveal yesterday, you'll probably know that amidst all the excitement, we learned that a single Xbox Live Gold membership will cover both the 360 and the next-gen console. Good stuff -- no extra expenditure, subscription sign-ups or other irritations. But, it gets even better, as a couple of Microsoft bigwigs told Polygon that Live memberships can also used by multiple profiles. That means several accounts can be created on one console, for discrete friends lists, personal Home screens and the like, but they'll all be able to feed off the same subscription. We're not sure how this'll work exactly, but it already sounds better than the Gamertag-specific membership model on the 360, which is responsible for far too many amazing kill stats being lost to the dreaded "Guest" account.

  • YouTube launches pilot program for paid subscriptions, channels start at $0.99 per month

    by 
    Donald Melanson
    Donald Melanson
    05.09.2013

    We've had a pretty clear indication that it was coming, and YouTube has now gotten official with one of the biggest changes to the way it does business to date. It's today kicking off a pilot program for paid subscriptions, which initially consists of a small group of partners offering channels that start at $0.99 per month. Those will include channels ranging from Sesame Street to the UFC (just over 50 in all at the moment), each of which include a 14-day free trial, and some of which come at a discounted rate if you pay by the year instead of per-month. YouTube's promising to roll things out more broadly in the coming weeks, with qualifying partners able to take advantage of the option as a self-service feature and others invited to sign up if they're interested in going the paid route. Naturally, you'll be able to view channels on the usual range of devices once you subscribe, but you will have to do the actual subscribing on a computer for now (subscribing on others devices is promised to be coming soon). The company's also quick to point out that it's still early days for the service, noting that it'll have more to say as it gets feedback from users and content partners.

  • World of Warcraft loses over a million subs since February, now down to 8.3 million

    by 
    Matt Daniel
    Matt Daniel
    05.08.2013

    The world's most popular MMO has gotten a bit less popular in the last few months, it would seem. During today's quarterly investor call, Activision-Blizzard announced that World of Warcraft's subscriber numbers are down to 8.3 million. While that's still nothing to thumb your nose at, it does represent a significant decline from the 9.6 million subscribers the game was reported to have last February.

  • Darkfall Unholy Wars hits Steam as Valve introduces new subscription service

    by 
    Bree Royce
    Bree Royce
    04.25.2013

    In a press release issued on Steam today, Valve announced that it now offers something of particular value to MMOs on the platform: subscription plans. Gamers can now subscribe to MMOs on Steam and manage recurring payments to those games using Steam itself. With Subscription Plans, Steam offers gamers the ability to sign up and manage payments for subscription-based games on Steam. [...] Steam customers may now sign-up for, manage, cancel or renew game Subscription Plans at any time, online directly through Steam. On the front lines of this new Steam feature is none other than subscription-based sandbox MMO Darkfall Unholy Wars, which relaunched just last week. Valve promises that "additional subscription-based games [will] follow" and posted a lengthy FAQ to ward off the tinfoil hat crowd.

  • NPD: Digital game sales growing year-over-year 33 percent

    by 
    Mike Suszek
    Mike Suszek
    03.30.2013

    Digital games and downloadable content sales are growing at a rate of 33 percent year over year in the US and Europe, according to data presented by NPD, iResearch and Digi-Capital analysts at GDC. The speakers at the digital games sales talk noted that sales in China are expected to grow over 10 percent every year for the next three years.According to GamesIndustry International, NPD analyst Liam Callahan told attendees that digital game content sales in 2012 reached $5.9 billion in the United States. Sales in the UK reached $1.7 billion, followed by Germany with $1.4 billion and France with $1 billion. Callahan also said that digital content composes 40 percent of the United States' total spend on games, an increase from 28 percent in 2010.NPD estimated that 48 percent ($7.1 billion) of the $14.8 billion spent on games in the US in 2012 came from purchases on brand new games at retail. The other 51 percent was from digital games and downloadable content ($2.22 billion), mobile game sales ($2.11 billion), used game sales ($1.59 billion), subscriptions ($1.05 billion), social network gaming ($544 million) and rentals ($198 million). The NPD also reported a drop in used game sales from 2011 by 17.1 percent.

  • EVE Online hits 500,000 subscribers, heads into second decade

    by 
    Brendan Drain
    Brendan Drain
    02.28.2013

    Most modern MMOs launch to an initial flurry of sales followed by a steady decline in player activity, but sci-fi MMO EVE Online has lived life in reverse. The game initially failed to secure a large number of launch sales but has since grown organically into one of the most successful subscription MMOs on the planet. EVE developer CCP Games told Massively today that the game has now officially broken the 500,000 subscription barrier. Subscription numbers hit the 450,000 mark following the relaunch of EVE's Chinese server Serenity in December of last year, and they have continued to climb ever since. This new subscription milestone is attributed to the success of EVE's recent Retribution expansion and the anticipation building over upcoming console MMOFPS DUST 514, which is set on actual planets in the EVE universe. EVE is due to hit its 10th anniversary this year on May 6th, and developers have been taking the opportunity to look forward at what the coming decade will bring to the game. We caught up with CCP for a quick peek at the studio's plans for the future and to find out what kind of announcements we can expect from EVE Fanfest in April of this year.

  • Free for All: Justifying the subscriptions I maintain

    by 
    Beau Hindman
    Beau Hindman
    11.28.2012

    Subscriptions are a funny thing. For as long as I can remember, they've represented a level of quality to many gamers. To those players, only those funny Eastern MMOs didn't have a sub. Granted, I loved a lot of those funny Eastern games and didn't care how a game monetized itself. Watching Western players spin on a dime about subscriptions has been a pretty weird experience. The Western developers have changed as well, providing tiered services and other models that would have been seen as suspicious only years ago. I've been known as a free-to-play guy for a while. Heck, I was originally hired here at Massively to cover free-to-play games. Now that there are more free games than not, this column has spread out a bit, covering multiple topics. Payment models do still come up, as they did this week. I thought it'd be cool to examine the subs I do maintain and why -- not press accounts or accounts from long before I began working at Massively, but accounts that I choose to pay for with my own money.

  • Breakfast Topic: Sorting out multiple-account and -character finances

    by 
    Lisa Poisso
    Lisa Poisso
    11.18.2012

    Let's face it, the way we pay for WoW affects the way we play the game. So for us WoW-playing families, altaholics, and multiboxers, how about brainstorming some ways to nudge Blizzard into offering solid multiple-account discounts? Every single member of my family has played WoW at some point, and we might reactivate some of those accounts if there were a discount designed to keep family groups on the active rosters together. Of course, any discount system would need a way to prevent farmers and groups of players from trying to co-op their way to cheaper subscriptions. I believe there's currently a limit on how many accounts can be paid by a single credit card. What other checks and balances could you put on a discount system to keep it fair? Can we think of ways to set reasonable limits without requiring onerous levels of identification and verification? And what about the economics of server transfers? It seems logical that there be a financially reasonable alternative for moving an entire realm's worth of characters from one realm to another -- or at least some discount for multiple characters. I know so many players who categorically rule out transfers that would improve their quality of life (scheduling, realm population, raiding groups, friendships...) because they can't afford to move all the characters they've grown to love. Give us your ideas! Because when it comes to our characters in WoW, it unfortunately takes more than love to keep us together.

  • Google Play in-app subscriptions get free trial option

    by 
    Alexis Santos
    Alexis Santos
    10.09.2012

    In-app subscriptions found their way to Google Play this May, and now the folks in Mountain View are letting Android developers offer them with free trials. In order to make use of the freebie spans, you'll have to fork over your payment information to Page and Co. as if it were a run-of-the-mill purchase, but you won't get hit with the monthly fee until the dev-determined trial stretch is over. Developers looking to serve up samples of their episodic content can set a trial period that's at least seven days or longer right within the Developer Console, which means they can add the gratis option or alter its length without having to modify their apps. If the duration of the gratis subscription is changed, the tweak will only apply to new subscribers.

  • Google Play Music and Movies purchasing reaches Google TV, patches a media strategy hole

    by 
    Jon Fingas
    Jon Fingas
    10.08.2012

    It's been one of the more conspicuous omissions in the media hub space: despite Google Play being the cornerstone of Google's content strategy, you couldn't truly use the company's music or movie services through Google TV without depending on content you'd already paid for elsewhere. As of a new upgrade, the ecosystem has come full circle. Viewers with Google TV boxes can at last buy or rent directly from Google Play Movies and Google Play Music, and the content will be indexed in the TV & Movies section alongside third-party video services and traditional TV. The upgrade also helps Google's TV front end play catch-up with its mobile counterpart by adding automatic app updates and subscriptions. While device owners may have to wait a few weeks as the upgrade rolls out, the addition signals a big step forward for a platform that has normally leaned heavily on others for help.

  • Funcom: The Secret World metascores to blame for share price drop

    by 
    Jef Reahard
    Jef Reahard
    08.10.2012

    Funcom has posted an investor update on The Secret World to its official website. The company says its data are "based on current sales, press and gamer feedback, and early indicators of subscription levels following the free 30 days." The news isn't particularly good, as Funcom's share price has lost half its value in recent days. The company believes the culprit is TSW's aggregate review scores, which include the metascore at MetaCritic (72 out of 100) together with "other public sources" for tracking performance. Funcom's update states that it does not expect to meet either of its financial scenarios for the first 12 months following The Secret World's launch. Scenario one included 490,000 "average subs," while scenario two included 1,050,000 client sales and 280,000 subscriptions. In order to increase sales, Funcom is bringing TSW to Steam and "focusing on key areas for improvement of the game and ongoing activities on content updates, sales initiatives and communication." Funcom also notes that it has "significantly lower operational cost for TSW than was the case for Age of Conan" and that overall customer satisfaction is high. "A possible scenario going forward is that the game will sell less, [...] but with high customer satisfaction, it will generate a more stable subscriber base than Age of Conan. Over time, this will enable Funcom to retain more customers and generate higher revenue," the report says.

  • Trion selling End of Nations CE for $70, with special subscription and perks

    by 
    Mike Schramm
    Mike Schramm
    08.02.2012

    Trion has revealed Collector's Edition details for its upcoming free-to-play MMORTS End of Nations. For $70 you'll essentially get a head start in the game, including a Black Dragons company with special units for your army, the chance to start out two commanders at level 5, two extra commander slots, and a 50% boost on in-game cash for five days.You'll also get a three-month VIP membership, with perks like an in-game store discount, extra in-game credits, and a 90 game XP boost. If you don't want to take the plunge on the CE, Trion's also offering a Founder's Edition, with different skins and fewer perks, for $30, which you can upgrade later if you so choose.Or, because the game is free-to-play, you could, you know, just wait until it comes out and see what you think for without cracking your wallet. Trion is having another closed beta event this weekend, and rolling towards an open release later on this year.

  • Report: Global MMO spending to top $12 billion in 2012

    by 
    Justin Olivetti
    Justin Olivetti
    07.12.2012

    Number-crunching services SuperData Research and Newzoo released reports today forecasting strong growth in the MMO industry. According to the analysts, worldwide spending on MMOs will top $12 billion this year, and that's not all: The companies also predict that this number will increase to a whopping $17.5 billion in 2015. Other facts released in the reports: Yearly MMO market growth increased by 14% in the U.S. and 24% in Germany. The number of MMOs in the field has doubled since the start of 2011. Twenty-three of the 50 million U.S. MMO gamers spend money on subscriptions or microtransactions, a 3% increase from 2011. The yearly average amount spent is $127. More German players spend money on MMOs than in the U.S. -- 13% more, to be exact. Free-to-play revenues in the U.S. now account for 50% of the market, up from 39% in 2010. Science-fiction MMOs make up to three times as much money as their fantasy counterparts. SuperData CEO Joost van Dreunen says that the race for gamers' wallets is only getting started: "The current market saturation forces MMO publishers to compete over a finite gamer population." [Source: SuperData Research/Newzoo press release]

  • EVE Evolved: Four things MMOs can learn from EVE

    by 
    Brendan Drain
    Brendan Drain
    07.08.2012

    New MMOs are released every year, and we often see them repeating the same mistakes as previous games or releasing without tried-and-tested mechanics. It just seems like common sense to learn from the years of mistakes and successes of other companies and previous titles, but it isn't always clear how to apply game mechanics or lessons from dissimilar types of game. EVE Online is as dissimilar from the typical MMO as you can get, but there are lessons to be learned from its turbulent nine-year history that can be applied to all MMO development. EVE has helped prove that you can start small and grow rather than raking in huge launch sales and then fading away. The past year has also shown conclusively that iteration on existing features can trump big expansions. EVE's market system and single-shard server have both been commended countless times over the game's nine-year history, and yet in all that time, few games have tried to replicate those features. In this week's EVE Evolved, I look at four lessons learned from EVE Online that could easily be applied to other MMOs.

  • Blade & Soul takes over the top spot in Korea, dethroning Diablo III

    by 
    MJ Guthrie
    MJ Guthrie
    06.25.2012

    Just two days ago, Blades & Soul opened its doors to players for the Korean open beta test, clocking an impressive wave of users and a third place finish in popularity behind Diablo III and League of Legends. Now the new fantasy MMO has leapfrogged over both games to claim the number one spot. One feature that helped cinch Blade & Soul's rise in popularity was the lack of any server maintenance over the weekend, something the deposed leader couldn't claim when it launched. Want to see what all the fuss is about? Check out the two new studio-released PvP videos after the break. NCSoft also laid ongoing rumors of the game's going free-to-play to rest by announced the game's pricing: A monthly fee of 23,000 Korean Won (about 19.81 USD) will begin on June 30th.

  • Facebook backing away from Facebook Credits and adding subscription billing

    by 
    Eliot Lefebvre
    Eliot Lefebvre
    06.19.2012

    Facebook may not be your first choice for gaming, but it's impossible to ignore the influence that its games have had on pricing and the social landscape. Starting next month, the development team behind the site is empowering companies to give players a very novel way of paying for items: a recurring subscription for a fixed amount each month, which one might call a "subscription fee." Yes, that's right: Facebook is opening up the option for subscriptions to its games in the hopes of drawing in more money. Subscriptions are already being tested in several games, such as KIXEYE's Backyard Monsters. This coincides with the development team's shift away from Facebook Credits as a universal microtransaction currency for all of the many games floating around, mostly since developers preferred to use in-brand virtual currencies instead. None of this is particularly new to MMO veterans. It's still rather interesting after years of business model changes to see subscriptions being touted as the future of payments. [Thanks to Space Cobra for the tip!]