More free games will help the MMORPG market expand, found a Parks Associates study. Apparently, only "hardcore" gamers, who represent only a small portion of the audience surveyed, are willing to pay subscription fees, and so for everyone else, the study recommends offering more free titles. Out of some 2000 online gamers surveyed, Parks said, 14 percent would be interested in playing more MMORPGs if they were free. According to Worlds in Motion, Parks Associates' Michael Cai said that the excess of 10 million players WoW's scored is a major exception that most publishers shouldn't expect to emulate using a subscription business model."Social, dormant, and leisure gamers all show significant interest in a free-to-play, microtransaction-based model," said the study. Most "hardcore" MMO players are actually opposed to the microtransaction-driven model because of concerns about game balance, and some developers have said it can be an extra challenge to balance a complex MMORPG when some users will pay for items and others won't. But games aimed at more casual players may not be possessed of the same level of complexity, or may feature different types of game mechanics, thus lessening the concern. Parks: More Free Games Needed To Grow MMORPG Market [Worlds in Motion]
@Omegasoap: I agree completely, particularly with the barhopping analogy. Whenever people complain about Xbox Live's yearly fee, I wonder if they've actually used it. Sure there are morons galore, but it's the internet. The user interface is top-notch, such that I can't bear to take my Wii online and whenever get my PS3 I'll still buy 360 multi-plat games with online components.
You get what you pay for, and that definitely applies to MMORPGS. By their very nature, those games need a team of devs making sure the wheels don't come off the axles. Look at all the crazy shit people did in WoW... economic scams, a glitch exploit that turned capital cities into a virtual re-enactment of "Outbreak", etc.
It's been said before by MMORPG diehards that their game budgets are actually significantly lower annually than the rest of us, because they're less likely to buy new games. People just balk at another monthly bill, which is unfortunate.
My biggest gripe with the medium isn't the money, but the timesink involved and the e-drama dynamics involved with raiding with strangers. Playing with real-life friends is more fun to me, and allows me to lower expectations I'd have if left to my own devices, so I'm stuck on XBL for now.
Maybe AoC will be polished enough and out of its "paid beta" stage when it hits the 360 for my college homies to give it a spin.