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Subscriptions driving MMO game revenue

Game revenue is starting to transition from one-time game fees to subscriptions. Recurring revenue will help the gaming industry evolve, just as it did for software.

Massively multiplayer online, or MMO, games are generating serious dollars these days and doing so in a way that suggests that revenue opportunities are still nascent.

Counter to what we see with console games, the bulk of the revenue appears to be coming from subscriptions. Generally speaking, subscription revenue for MMOs and MMPORGs (massively multiplayer online role-playing games) is better than license revenue for console games because it has a longer life span. Call it support, maintenance, or whatever you like, but a recurring revenue stream is what drives every software-as-a-service and open-source company.

GigaOm has reported on the Top 10 money-making MMOs of 2008 and the ways in which they all make money.

A few interesting points it makes:

  • The top MMOs all require a piece of software to be installed to the local machine
  • Subscriptions and prepaid cards are clearly working well
  • Microtransactions are picking up

The top 3 MMOs for 2008:

1. World of Warcraft, launched in 2004
Genre/platform: Western MMORPG; client install with 3D graphics
Revenue sources: Monthly subscription, retail sales, prepaid cards (in Asia)
DFC Intelligence-estimated 2008 revenue: $500 million-plus

2. Fantasy Westward Journey, launched in 2004
Genre/platform: Asian MMORPG, client install with 2.5D graphics
Revenue sources: Prepaid cards
DFC-estimated 2008 revenue: $150 million to $500 million

3. Maple Story, launched in 2003
Genre/platform: Asian MMORPG for kids, client install with 2D graphics
Revenue sources: Microtransactions, prepaid cards, international licensing
DFC-estimated 2008 revenue: $150 million to $500 million

Read the rest of the list on GigaOm.