Several different stories in the last week show how gaming and in particular online games are evolving.
Online game Lord of the Rings (devised by gaming company Turbine who also created Dungeons and Dragons Online) has actually doubled revenue since moving to a free-to-play model earlier this year, a move that has seen a massive jump in the total number of players (400%) including a return of 20% who had been playing the game previously. It seems that players can’t resist using real world money to buy that extra magic sword or elixir!
This blog has talked about the king of massive multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPG), World of Warcraft (WO), which has an operation here in Ireland, before. It has successfully fended off new paying and freemium competitors and has a large and growing fan base. Last week it’s owners announced that WOW has more than 12 million paying subscribers, making it the biggest subscription online game in the world.
Freemium seems to be the key to this particular market. With so many cool Irish myths and legends, I am surprised someone hasn’t used these as a model for an MMORPG to compete with any Tolkien tale.
There is a report from Mediaweek that Microsoft is to shut down their in-game advertising division, Massive, which is acquired for several hundred million back in 2006, despite trying to find a buyer for it. The original hot area was similar to placed products on TV or movies, in this case the adverts that would appear seemingly at random in-built environments such as billboards on virtual streets, which one’s character passed by while blasting away at aliens/terrorist/friends. Hurt by recession, competitors and gaming companies such as Electronic Arts pulling much of its in-game ad business in-house, Massive’s business never reached the heights expected by Microsoft.