The Daily Grind: What MMO will be the next to change up its business model dramatically?

You may not like it, but the vast majority of MMORPGs are free-to-play or buy-to-play as of 2018. EVE Online went free-to-play at the end of 2016, you’ll recall, and some of the last classic holdouts – Ultima Online and Dark Age of Camelot – will make the same move this year. That doesn’t leave many games to go free-to-play or alter their business models in a big way. World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy XIV with their subscription-only models lead the way (and have been lauded accordingly).

Do you think any of the remaining sub-only MMORPGs – that are actually launched and live, that is – will yet go free-to-play? What MMO will be the next to change up its business model dramatically?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!
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29 Comments on "The Daily Grind: What MMO will be the next to change up its business model dramatically?"

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Sally Bowls

Derp, I am embarrassed that I did not think of this immediately:

CryptoCrap!

So the unethical MMO could just mine coins without telling you.

Of the game being F2P instead of sub if you enable mining. Or you get a kickback of the crypto currency you mine. Or you get mining generates lockboxes. or … Polygon’s article was “Crytek’s new cryptocurrency will be used to buy new players – A novel approach to getting more users”

So a well-written press release liberally seasoned with blockchain and cryptocurrency throughout would get the crypto-MMO far, far, far more publicity than yet another never-going-to-happen crowdfunded MMO.

https://www.theverge.com/2017/12/21/16805598/companies-blockchain-tech-cryptocurrency-tea

P.S.:

Crycash teams up with Crytek to create cryptocurrency for gamers

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nomadmorlock9

I think games like ESO have really nailed the ideal new payment model. Buy to play with subscription options, cosmetic and consumables cash shop which cannot impact in game economy. I don’t like the loot crates but at least they wall that off from the in game economy as well. Yearly expansions that must be purchased separately on top.

The options allow gamers to play together regardless of if some can afford (or prefer) a monthly sub or if they just want to pay as they go. I think for large MMOs that cater to lots different play styles, this is key going forward.

I would expect that Final Fantasy and World of Warcraft have taken note and expect to see them expand options to play beyond the base sub model in the near future.

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Castagere Shaikura

Only changes i see to sub , b2p and f2p is adding more lootboxes.

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Sally Bowls

I don’t see either of the sub games changing anytime soon so I don’t see any headline changes.

N.B.: IMO, the days of sub or b2p goes f2p are about over. F2P (or B2P for console) has essentially won and got all the converts. So now the dramatic changes will be more subtle. Not sub vs f2p but what you have to grind for and how it is monetized. How will the upsell be increased? Can you get $120 instead of the current $90 of revenue for a $60 game? …

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rafael12104

Well, if the latest from EA is to be believed, it’s EA. Oh the irony, right?

How is this a change to their business model? Well, it is obvious isn’t it? They had gone all in on loot boxes as their end all and be all of microtransactions. So much so that they tied actual character and game progression to those damn boxes.

But now, it seems they are backing off of that strategy.

BF2 is of course the catalyst. And it remains to be seen how they reintroduce loot boxes. But I think we can count on the loot boxes not coming back with the same hooks. This time they are going to change them to something less impactful and more cosmetic.

But the big news is Anthem. According to reports, I think it was even reported here, Anthem watched the BF2 debacle unfold and decided to move away from the reliance of loot boxes as a game mechanic. If the reports are to be believed, they are going to be strictly cosmetic.

This is a change in their business model. Because, as I said earlier, loot boxes were the gateway to EAs microtransactions. It seems they are now looking at these boxes as a complimentary items.

To early to tell for sure, of course, with Anthem being so far out. But I think this bodes well. I expect to see more changes from EA in 2018 to show their customers that they are not the greedy bastards we think they are.

Lol. Yeah, I know, they are still greedy bastards, but if they back off on loot boxes in general, well then that is a business practice change I can condone.

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Rolan Storm

Lol. Yeah, I know, they are still greedy bastards…
Heh. We all do. But they are smart.

…but if they back off on loot boxes in general, well then that is a business practice change I can condone.
Amen to that.

Good one. Actually possible… Remains to be seen, obviously. I am intereseted in Anthem, though I do not watch it closely (not much to watch yet). People already trying to bury the game, but if I learnt something about something it is ‘keep an open mind’. Always.

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Cosmic Cleric

THE DAILY GRIND: WHAT MMO WILL BE THE NEXT TO CHANGE UP ITS BUSINESS MODEL DRAMATICALLY?

The one that doesn’t pull in enough money, per the management/investors.

We talk all the time about how the subscription model has failed, but WoW and FFXIV just keep trucking on with that model. So, what makes them different?

Probably, making a product that people want to pay for. Or addiction. Or both.

To other companies, make products that people want to pay for, and you too can use the ‘failed’ subscription model. But please, don’t addict your customers.

solardragon4114
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solardragon4114

Since I don’t know about a lot of subscription based MMOs I can only make this comment. The ones that will change their business model will based on what brings in the most money. Will subscriptions that are bringing in about 100 million dollars year or more (WoW) make more money with being free to pay? If the answer is yes then they will move to free to play or buy to play. Activision Blizzard is no doubt like all other companies they go the route that will bring in the most profit on a consistant basis.

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Armsbend

Star Citizen is going to do multiple brainstorming sessions to discover what other objects in a game world they can sell. Trees. Belt buckles. The keys to your spaceship. They are going to say everything can be earned using game currency and people are going to believe them as they pony up cash for space shirts with different colored lapels.

Oh, new business model. My bad.

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Vincent Clark

My hope is that FFXIV will never go F2P. Yoshida has expressed his desire for that NOT to happen and it would only be discussed if a significant majority of the players requested it (I don’t know anyone that plays the game complaining that it should be F2P).

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Toy Clown

Final Fantasy has been sneaking in higher priced items on their cash shop, and they’re in the corner of burning the candle at both ends now. I prefer sub games, but not when they start having an outrageously priced cash shop alongside a sub.

I haven’t played WoW in years, so have no idea if they’re doing the same thing.

Ashes of Creation said they’ll be going with a sub / cash shop model.

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Phubarrh

Anarchy Online pulling their Shadowlands expansion out from behind the paywall would seem an obvious move…to somebody who bought it, at least.

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Zen Dadaist

Chances of that are slim to none. They stopped offering the SL-only sub type a long time back and recently they actually started to give those old accounts sub perks that they never used to get Vet Points – now the sub days threshold rewards. The rebalance brought a reinforcement of SL-required tags to various things – froobs got hit very hard indeed.

I mean, I’d love it if they were to open up SL to Froobs. Even if it was a one-time £10 Buy-to-play sort of deal. I just don’t see it having any remote chance of happening any year soon.

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Utakata

That’s weird. The question seems to be leaning to which sub will change their business model next. I personally don’t think there will be. More provocatively though, the question should be: Which F2P/B2P will start getting cold feet over its business model, effecting big change? o.O

plasmajohn
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plasmajohn

Once the gaming industry grows up and stops chasing short term profits I think we’ll see much more palatable business models emerge. Treating current and potential customers well is remedial B-school concepts yet this seems to have escaped the suits.

Perhaps part of the problem is that these execs don’t see MMO’s as long-term services. I have my fingers crossed that sooner or later they’ll realize that these games can provide decades of entertainment and they’ll dial back on the predatory business practices that are causing so much long-term damage.

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Rolan Storm

*sigh* Sadly, no. The very nature of business makes it predatory, so we will see a lot of it in future. Along with better models I hope.

camren_rooke
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camren_rooke

Not sure the customers see it as a long term service either.

Plenty of folks logging into Rift, “Hey I’m new. Whats the fastest way to get to max level?”

Estranged
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Estranged

Content locusts are definitely an issue. You can’t make content fast enough to keep them.

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TheDonDude

I think Star Citizen will shake things up by having backers implant Dune-style heart plugs in case CIG ever wants blood straight from the source.

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Daniel Miller

FFXi is still sub. If wow went f2p. then ffxi would get longest running sub to play game :)

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Zora

I am surprised WoW didn’t shift yet but I would ascribe that more to blizzard not being overly sure what to do of its aging flagship rather than the solid profitability. When in doubt, engaging cruise speed and milking it to the moon works too.

The addition of some kind of lootbox circus to the game is the kind of change I expect more than anything. It’s not even a matter of if, only of when. They are training their audience to the mechanics already, just withholding the part where you have to shell out cash for them.

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starbuck1771

I wouldn’t expect World of Warcraft to change any time soon as it is still in front of the pack.

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Zora

I wouldn’t expect World of Warcraft to change any time soon as it is still in front of the pack.

But is it, really?

Blizzard never cared for its competition, their success hinges in successfully reaching out of the MMORPG crowd and tap into the greater audience. In that regard, they probably prefer to make comparisons with their other titles and WoW still is the highest investment/lowest return of them all.

They make a load, but if they get the impression they might make a load more some other way… that’s how long term strategies work. With the amount of opportunities they “missed” I’m not sure they rank WoW very high in the company hierarchy, their vision for its future seems to be “more of the same, milk it till it’s dry” which indeed works.

I was very amazed they didn’t hop on the console train with it for example, but that wouldn’t come free of cost and as Protostar put it “you need to spend money to make money!”

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Kickstarter Donor
Tandor

Agreed, the reason Blizzard haven’t changed WoW’s business model is because they don’t need to. Other developers don’t do it from choice, but out of commercial necessity.

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Schmidt.Capela

Blizzard has been toying with F2P in its other products for a long time already. The moment Blizzard thinks WoW will bring more revenues by going F2P (or B2P), it will change business models.

Estranged
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Estranged

The first step for WoW will be to have a better trial, like levels 1-60.

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Rolan Storm

Oh, I’d love that. But, like starbuck1771, very much doubt it.

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starbuck1771

Correct and I don’t see that happening soon. Blizz still makes a fortune off of WoW. The currently have a lvl 20 trial. As long as numbers don’t drop too low they will not change it’s business model.

Estranged
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Estranged

Starbuck, right, I do some lowbie PvP. Would be more satisfying to a new customer to get hooked on the very mainstream 1-60 experience, IMHO.

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