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Story of the Week: Subscriptions Losing to RMT

Editorial By William Murphy on September 17, 2011

This week’s Story of the Week is a bit of a “Debbie Downer”. A recently publish analysis of the online games market revealed that subscription revenue has declined while revenue from microtransactions has increased the profits for everyone overall.  However, I’m not so sure it’s time to start crying about falling skies or the end of the subscription.
 
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If you take into effect that several companies in the past year or so have dropped the subscription model in a last ditch effort to save their games, this can probably explain the 5% drop in subscription revenue the report details.  Meanwhile microtransaction totals have increased significantly (in the face of these changes), but what’s more interesting to note is that the cash-shop revenue has apparently increased the total revenue of the market.  This means more people are buying things from these item malls, and it’s enough to increase the overall market by nearly half a billion dollars.
 
One has to wonder how much this will increase in 2012 when Guild Wars 2 launches depending on their microtransactions.  Will MOBAs be taken into account as well?  Because they’re undoubtedly driving some of this growth too.  I’m half-tempted to buy the whole document from iHS, because I’d like to see just where they’re pulling their numbers from. 
 

One thing is for certain however… the industry is shifting.  More and more hybrid revenue models will come into play, and the subscription will eventually be for the elite games only.  And who knows how long even they can hold on?
 
(Image courtesy of WoW Insider.)
William Murphy / Bill is the Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, RTSGuru.com, and lover of all things gaming. He''s been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002, and you can harass him and his views on Twitter @thebillmurphy.

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