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The Free MMORPG Genre

Posted by lordaltay1 Friday July 25 2008 at 11:51AM
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As I’ve mentioned in my previous articles, the free MMORPG industry is growing by leaps and bounds every year. New MMORPGs and MMO games are being released on an almost weekly basis here in the United States. Games like MapleStory and Scions of Fate each have over 70 million players worldwide; that’s right, EACH game has over 70 Million players, while the most well known MMORPG, World of Warcraft, has only 10 million users. Of course this isn’t exactly a fair comparison as World of Warcraft has a monthly fee while the two games I mentioned don’t, but even so, it would be silly to call the free MMORPG genre small. With such an incredible amount of popularity you would imagine that free MMORPGs would get a lot more attention by the main stream gaming networks, but they don’t.

Networks like G4 almost completely ignore the free MMORPG genre. It’s as if they don’t even acknowledge its existence. There aren’t any major print magazines that follow free MMORPGs either, except for maybe a specialty publication with little circulation. Let us analyze the free MMORPG market for a bit. There literally hundreds of free online MMORPGs out in the US market already with countless games currently in closed beta. Nexon’s MapleStory game in the United States alone makes over $30 million a year and it is expected to increase in 2008. With big publishers like Outspark, Netgame, AeriaGames and Gpotato releasing new games almost every month, the industry is poised to continue growing.

The only MMORPG that gets any attention at all in traditional gaming magazines and outlets is World of Warcraft. We’ve heard a lot of buzz around Age of Conan as well, but it’s still a pay to play game. With the incredible growth of free MMORPGs I wouldn’t be surprised if the pay to play genre was completely eliminated in the next 10 years. There really are no successful pay to play MMORPGs out there anymore due to fierce competition. Previously popular pay to play MMORPGs like Ultima Online and Everquest are losing subscribers each and every day. Gamers are flocking over to free to play MMORPGs. The only real pay to play game that’s performing well is World of Warcraft, and that phenomenon can’t last forever. Think about it; would Facebook be as popular as it is today if it required a monthly fee to access? Of course not! Facebook is free to use for consumers because the company can make money through advertisements and selling Facebook gifts [The little images you can send your friends for usually a dollar]. If you look at in free MMORPG terms the Facebook gifts are like cash shop items. They allow the company to make money off a free product or service. I can’t see pay to play business models still being around in 10 years, as there are already so many free to play games out there today and there will only be more in the future.

chaotiix writes:

All this is true.

I hear less about Silkroad Online and similar games than I do about World of Warcraft.

WoW was originally supposed to be free, but Blizzard thought it couldn't be done.. that they couldn't make enough money to keep it running without the subscription payments.

Fri Jul 25 2008 12:15PM Report
just1opinion writes:

ROFLMAO!  Here we go AGAIN about MapleStory having 72 million players.  BULLSHIT.  I want proof.  I do not believe for ONE freaking minute that that p.o.s. grind game has that many players.  Even people living in total POVERTY and unable to afford a subscription fee, have better things to do with their time than grind endlessly.  Where are you getting this player number from, OP?  Someone is inflating numbers, and I'd certainly like to know WHO.

Fri Jul 25 2008 12:57PM Report
streea writes:

It's 70 million who have signed up for an account. That's it. Doesn't mean anything considering anyone could oh, you know, stop playing. But those numbers are still tossed around like they mean something.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy playing numerous free MMOs, it's just that going "omg 70 million players" is like AoC saying "omg 700,000 accounts"... it doesn't count current players. And at least AoC was making something off of those 700,000.

Fri Jul 25 2008 1:01PM Report
samuraislyr writes:

Lots of free MMO's get some press. Mabogni or w/e it's spelled got press in PC gamer as well as other magazines. Sword of the New World did as well course it was pay to play in a way when it first came out. Most free ones don't get any press because they are made by junk companies and offer nothing new. The free MMO's that do get press may not be revolutionary but they tend to have at least something slighty different.

Fri Jul 25 2008 3:24PM Report
Cursedsei writes:

actually, XPlay did a review recently of Requiem: Bloodymare, and actually talked about the game before, that's where I heard of it. They even gave it a decent score, so dont go off and say that G4 ignores the F2P MMOs, fact is that so many are cookie-cutter, and if you played one Asian Grindfest, you've played a dozen others.

The only reason Facebook is free, is because MySpace is free, and the whole point of both websites is to be a social sight to help keep track of friends.

And in all honestly, I havent seen WoW in any gaming magazine  I've read for a while now, so I dont know what you are reading, but it must be old.

And according to your 'logic' I shouldnt be playing WoW because I've played my share of F2P MMOs.

Fact is, that many of the F2P MMOs you preach about that are amazing, are nothing more than cookie-cutter grindfests with an Item Shop, which is the main source of income, as well as "Premium Accounts", both of which, provide an unfair advantage to those willing to throw out cash.

I play WoW because its a fair environment, I cant throw out some cash and expect to get an advantage legally.

And as a side note, you seem to contradict yourself alot. One blog post you bitch about all F2P MMOs being the same, the next you praise them and say that all P2P will fail. Get off the pointed fence, and stick to a side.

Fri Jul 25 2008 3:29PM Report
Vexe writes:

The thing about free to play games and the reason why they aren't mentioned as often id that they aren't terribly innovative. Or when they are, it's not genre changing. WoW is talked about so often because it has major plots to the quests, hour upon hundreds of hour spent on organizing dungeons and raids just right. It's more epic in scale. More time is spent making it. Bigger names are used.

Free MMO's don't have this aspect and hence get less attention.

Also, a lot (of course not all (maybe not even half, but at least a good recogniziable amount) are aimed at younger teens and preteens.

This is why they get less attention. As long as pay to play games are still around, expect to be hearing more about them.

Fri Jul 25 2008 3:49PM Report
RogueSeven writes:

i think if a game is going to be called free to play, then keep it free to play, dont have item malls or any of that bs, that's just stupid, i would much rather pay 15 dollars a month to be able to play a game and earn the best stuff, be the best, etc rather then pay more then 15 dollars a month so i can have the latest and greatest gear out there instantly

Fri Jul 25 2008 5:03PM Report
daltanious writes:

There are NO free games!!! Just accept this fact. Sooner or later there is price to be payed. And I prefer pay subscription to play good game rather then free crap. Which at the end of month turns to be double price I would spend for real subscription with policy "all included".


I did this mistake with Rappelz. That was my first and last mistake of this kind. I stay away from "free" (they are NOT free!) games like from plague.

Fri Jul 25 2008 6:27PM Report
mrcalhou writes:

pre_mar, you aren't forced to buy stuff from their malls.

Sat Jul 26 2008 12:33AM Report
linadragon writes:

Cash shops dont give a hugely unfair advantage alot of people assume they do but they actually dont... Alot of the time its just asthetic items , character slots , special pots , exp scrolls or what have you but the equipment usually doesnt help them in the game...

And to everyone calling Free2Player MMORPGS Cookie Cutters , have you looked at the entire freaking genre of MMORPGS in general? They are all cookie cutters of something, Meridian 59 and UO came out ages ago and the premise of the MMORPG playstyle is still pretty much the same, There has been no overt innovation to them other then graphics.

Now many will argue but there is diff playstyles or gameplay or this has mounts or pvp or whatever. Fact is its been done before all of it. WoW is technically no better then SilkRoad but people are more familiar with blizzard. If you get down to the core of the games they are all the same. Its down to settings and PVP and if they do isntances or not. There is no real way to innovate it except making an  mmorpg on the wii and using motion sensing for attacks.

Combat is the only innovation left. Get rid of the point to click thing and make it more like a beat em up. (ohhh wait a free to play game already did that called Lunia) The point is the MMORPG industry has gotten to a point where there isnt much innovation left in the industry... They keep promising innovation but its always a copy off of someone else.

We wont see anything that really feels "new" in the mmorpg genre for awhile. We just get a refresh of settings and a new quest and thats good enough for most of the people....  Also Vexe thats true of some p2p mmorpgs to not all have strong plots... There are some strong plots to games out there.... Like you can play Anarchy Online (still a fantastic game) for Free with their Base game , RF Online is a prime example of stuff without a heavy plot that was P2P and is now F2P, Sword Of the New World Opposite of that there is some plot to the quests and it actually innovated on controlling a squad in an MMORPG....

Rogue do realize most people incorrectly judge cash shops without actually looking at them. As i said most are more for asthetics/looking cool then being actually functional...  These companies still need a way to make money is what you gotta get down to.... There is no way someone can offer something 100% free unless they are extremely loaded.. Your dealing with publishers , bought liscences etc, They need to recoup design fees etc somehow and thats why there are cash shops...

Take a look at one sometime. And Pre-mar they arnt really a plague there are some great F2P games out there. see above statement on misconceptions about cash shops....

Sat Jul 26 2008 8:17AM Report
wolfmann writes:

I played a socalled free game once..

In it they had some badges.

one of the badges were like a newbie badge:

200.000 players had echieved this..

Another badge was supporting the game, with $'s..where the smallest was 5$:

10.000 players had paid.


Not much to get fat by...

Sat Jul 26 2008 9:25AM Report writes:
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