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Big or Small

Posted Apr 05, 2010 by Jon Wood

Big or Small Free Zone columnist Richard Aihoshi writes this week's article on budgets in the Free to Play marketplace.

Richard Aihoshi

A decade or so ago, it was pretty widely accepted within the development industry that there were two ways for an MMOG to achieve profitability. One was by going big and attracting at least 100,000 subscribers. The other was the so-called boutique approach, which involved budgeting for far lower costs, and thus only required capturing a much smaller audience.

This piece of conventional wisdom was a reasonable fit with the titles that were live at the time. But the sample was still quite small, and as it expanded, the relationship turned out to be more correlational rather than causative. It was and is possible to make money without being either huge or tiny. It just takes planning and implementing a business plan on a different scale, granted this can be much easier said than done.

Recently, an interesting and at least partially comparable situation seems to be arising within the F2P space. On the one hand, some projects are getting pretty substantial. As you might expect, actual budget figures aren't readily available. Indeed, only one comes to mind that's public knowledge. It has been stated quite a few times that Allods Online is the Russian development industry's largest project to date, weighing in at $12 million. And it's hard to question the source since it's the studio that made the game; originally named Nival Online, it became Astrum Nival and is now Mail.Ru.

Read Big or Small.