Although usually based heavily on estimates (because not every company releases such important data publicly) a list of the highest revenue generating MMOs in 2008 is out. The full report costs real money and isn't available for another month, so we'll go with the pre-release PR article.
For those who don't click links, the list is:
- World of Warcraft (no surprises there)
- Fantasy Westward Journey (Chinese market MMO I've never heard of)
- Maple Story (probably the most well known of the F2P MMO crowd)
- Shanda (not sure how the company behind Legend of Mir and World of Legend gets on the list, but anyway)
- Lineage 1 and Lineage 2 (is linking sequels together really valid in a list like this?)
- Runescape (everyone's favourite western MMO that no-one talks about)
- Club Penguin (kid-friendly MMOs can be money generators too)
- Lord of the Rings Online (there's an irony that it is ranked ahead of...)
- Warhammer Online (which is at least ahead of...)
- Age of Conan (at least AoC is top ten in one list that wasn't Most Disappointing PC Game of 2008).
Now, this list is based on revenue, not profit, and I have some issues with how it was compiled, but it is interesting food for thought. The key things I take out from this list is that 1) free to play (F2P) can still earn huge amounts of money, 2) graphics are less important than distribution when it comes to MMOs, and 3) that just because a MMO doesn't get a lot of hype doesn't mean it is empty of players.