Unless you have been hiding under a rock, you would know that World of War Craft is pretty much under siege in terms of membership base. A lot of industry observers are saying that the paid monthly subscriber business model has no place in the MMO space. They point to the fact that free to play games are numerous and many of these free to play games are self sustaining. In other words, they make enough money from in-game items to cover their costs as well as perhaps make a little profit. But the question is, “Is this enough for a company? Is this enough profit or return on investment for companies to even launch a free to play MMO?” But that is another discussion for another blog post. What is indisputable is that free to play MMOs are extremely popular and they are fast spreading.
Here are the top three reasons why free to play MMOs are exploding while the paid subscription model except of World of War Craft is pretty much dead. If you don’t believe me, just look at what happened to Star Wars: The Old Republic.
Try Before You Buy
One of the great things about free to play is that the model acknowledges that while you are not paying with money, you are paying with time. MMOs suck up a lot of your time especially games that take a lot of grinding and have a lot of leveling and skill trees. This is why many free to play players love the fact that you can sample many different free to play games until you pick the one that you want to hang out in. In other words, there is no cost to you to constantly experiment regarding what’s out there.
No Psychological Compulsion to Recoup Your Investment
One of the least reported drawbacks of the paid subscription model is that once you put in money, whether we’re talking about $19.95 a month or maybe even more, at the back of your head you want to get that money back. With free to play, there is no such mental pressure. You put in your money and you just put in the time to download and install, if it doesn’t work out you can just walk away. In other words, you are free to play as much as you want, whenever you want or as little as you want. This has a great psychological advantage over the paid subscription model. This cannot be underestimated.
The great thing about free to play is that it gives you a lot of choices. You can experiment all these games and you feel that you can jump around from one game to the other. You don’t get this with World of War Craft. You are basically locked into this space that sucks up a lot of your time whereas you can jump from many different games if you are using free to play. Also, one thing that works with World of War Craft is that sure, you’re already paying a subscription mode but there’s also an auction house so if you really want to get a competitive advantage, then you have to pay up, in other words, you are paying twice whereas in the free to play model, you pay once if you want to get in-game items that would give you a competitive advantage.