Online Gaming: Rise of Microtransactions

So over the past few years the whole microtransaction approach has made some serious head way, in no way is the use of this payment method new to the online gaming community especially “Mass Multiplay Online Role Playing Game” (MMORPG) but in the past it seems it was not as popular as the “Subscription System” (monthly payments) which has been so prodominantly used by top ranking MMORPGs that it is almost feels like it is the traditional payment method for MMORPGs.

World of Warcraft used the Monthly Subscription System

Interesting enough the “Subscription System” “pay to play” (P2P) is used mostly by the top MMORPGs on the market (the ones you would have to pay for the title and then pay for the subscription) while the “Microtransaction System” is usually used by the “free to play” (F2P) MMORPGs.  So one would expect that, the P2P titles would be making more money than the F2P wouldn’t they?

Well apparently not, it would seem with the microtransactions system which usually revolves around an “item shop” (feature in game where real money is used to pay for in game items) the amount of money which is spent on items that 1. would be hard to come by or 2. they can soley be acquired via the item shop.  Surpasses if not at times dwarfs the average income made by some P2P titles. Of course the first time I heard this I was not buying it (no pun intended) at all because I was looking on it from a stand point of a steady monthly influx of lets say USD15-20 a month could no way be surpassed by one or two transactions in game but it would seem that at times the amount of money spent via the “item shop” by the numerous gamers surpasses an individual who is spending USD15-20 on a P2P title.

So I’m guessing that one month or so may surpass a P2P title to a point that even if the next month the F2P title makes less than the P2P title per user, due to the surplus from the previous month(s) the average F2P title still in the long run may make more money than the average P2P title.

This is becoming more and more apparent with the several P2P titles that are either going F2P or offering a F2P option along side their regualr P2P option, these are often stripped down versions of the P2P account but none the less for the most part are still very much the same as the P2P account minus a few bells and whistles.  It would seem unless you are a World Of Warcraft (WoW) with roughly 11 Million Subscribers it would be more feasible to switch to the F2P Microtranaction System, in my opinion I think that WoW has consumed such a large section of the P2P MMORPG market that other titles have little choice but to switch to the Microtransaction System.

As recent as to last month one newer MMORPG P2P titles “DC Universe Online” (DCUO) has switched to the free to play system if they are going to follow suite of the several P2P MMORPG titles that have switched to F2P before them.  Then most likely it shall revolve around an “item shop” as I described above where one will be able to use real money to purchase in game items, while having a limited version of the full access that someone with a P2P account will have.  Such popular MMORPG titles which have gone F2P are Age Of Conan, Lord Of The Rings Online, Dungeon & Dragons Online just to name a few there are other none MMORPG titles which have switched also such Mass Online Battle Arena (MOBA) and titles such as Heroes of Newreth (HoN).

Also if one pays attention to the trend more and more online quality titles are being released as F2P model usually F2P were synanomous to cheap (poor graphics, poor audio, limited in game options/gameplay etc…) e.g. Combat Arms, Crossfire, Blackshot if compared to titles like Call Of Duty and Battlefield.  But as of late good quality tiles such as “League of Legends” and upcoming titles like “Firefall”.  Overall this seems like the new trend how successful it would be only time will tell, I for one am looking forward to see how the side of the gaming industry that expects their games to be bought will react/counter the situation.

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Ramano is a fan of the Far East and so tends to bask in such things as anime, manga and rpgs as a source of entertainment. Like many other indivudials of this generation he is also very interested in technology.

1 Comment

  • Ramano

    So as of the 7th December another P2P possibly one of the parents (at least from my recollection) of the MMORPG genre has join the ranks of several P2P MMORPGs before it and is now bolstering a F2P component.

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