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US Gamers Spend $3.8 Billion On MMOs Yearly

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the tell-us-about-your-paladin dept.

Businesses 177

eldavojohn writes "A new report from Games Industry indicates that MMO gamers in the United States paid $3.8 billion to play last year, with an analysis of five European countries bringing the total close to $4.5 billion USD. In America, the report estimated that payments for boxed content and client downloads amounted to a measly $400 million, while the subscriptions came to $2.38 billion. Hopefully that will fund some developer budgets for bigger and better MMOs yet to come. The study also found that roughly a quarter of the US population plays some form of MMO. Surely MMOs are shaping up to be a juicy industry, and a market that can satisfy people of all walks of life."

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Farmville (4, Interesting)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 4 years ago | (#31422296)

Roughly a quarter of the US population plays some form of MMO

Does "Farmville" count as an MMO? Along with Mafia Wars and god knows what else? If so, then that number is probably conservatively low, judging from my Facebook newsfeed.

Re:Farmville (2, Interesting)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31422346)

I don't think so, as Zynga alone brings in over a billion a year. They're actually alone competing around the same level on revenue as EA and only with Facebook games.

Re:Farmville (5, Funny)

MadUndergrad (950779) | more than 4 years ago | (#31422474)

My faith in humanity just died a little.

Re:Farmville (5, Funny)

Berkyjay (1225604) | more than 4 years ago | (#31422682)

You had faith in humanity?

Mod parent awesome. For the children. (1)

copponex (13876) | more than 4 years ago | (#31422852)

Please!

Re:Mod parent awesome. For the children. (4, Funny)

bertoelcon (1557907) | more than 4 years ago | (#31422992)

For the children? You some sort of pedophile?

Re:Farmville (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31423344)

Privately held companies such as Zynga rarely release their financial information because they are not required to like publicly held companies are. Where are you coming up with this 'over a billion a year'? Back in April '09 the estimate was somewhere between 50 and 100 million.

http://techcrunch.com/2009/04/29/zynga-pushing-nine-figures-in-revenues-thanks-to-micro-transactions/

Did you find it in the same spot you found the revenue for EA? EA's revenue is 4.212 billion for 2009.

Re:Farmville (2, Informative)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#31422392)

TFA seems to use MMOs and Virtual Worlds interchangeably so it seems that at least in this study, various Facebook games were probably not considered MMOs.

Re:Farmville (1)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 4 years ago | (#31422398)

Considering $1.8 billion (subscription portion of their pie) divided by 46 million (their total number of gamers) is $40 a month, I imagine their numbers are extremely inaccurate. Unless we're assuming every gamer has three separate WoW accounts (or equivalent).

Re:Farmville (1)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 4 years ago | (#31422410)

Disregard above, I cannot do maths...

I'd prefer to see lost productivity (3, Insightful)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 4 years ago | (#31422338)

rather than what people spend on the games. And I mean at the workplace, not at home.

Re:I'd prefer to see lost productivity (5, Funny)

wjc_25 (1686272) | more than 4 years ago | (#31422368)

Probably more than Minesweeper, less than Solitaire.

Re:I'd prefer to see lost productivity (1)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31422374)

Do you often play World of Warcraft at workplace?

Actually that's a good question. A friend of mine is a programmer and he plays various games all day long. He is not really in a software development firm though, but a software developer at a firm who's business is in "real things", so he probably has the time. I wouldn't mind either playing 2-3 hours left4dead session during work day...

Re:I'd prefer to see lost productivity (2, Insightful)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 4 years ago | (#31422570)

A friend of mine was a help desk monkey at a college. You know, the guys most people call when their computer breaks and they don't know what the Hell is going on.

If no one made a call, then he was to sit on his ass. If he played games, well... it's not entirely *allowed*, but he basically has paid free time. Many a Diablo II quest was completed during his work hours because he literally had nothing to do but was on the clock.

Re:I'd prefer to see lost productivity (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31422676)

It works the same way in the electronics industry.

The technician plugs a unit into an hourlong automated test. The white people have to sit and stare at the screen motionless until the test finishes. Of course, Phuong Truong Gook and Magando Garcia Flip are allowed to run Kazaa and WMP and have faggoty Super Mario DS wallpapers(what are we, fucking 10 years old?) because their brother works in engineering or their daddy(who speaks english like he has two dicks in his mouth) is the shift supervisor. And nobody touches the niggers, of course, because they're mean and scary and that would be racism and 'scrimination 'n' shit.

Re:I'd prefer to see lost productivity (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#31422990)

A friend of mine was a help desk monkey at a college.

I knew a crew of four such help desk workers who had an office down the hall from the hovel that my institution gave me and they became an extremely formidable Starcraft squad. It was by snooping over their shoulders that I learned the finer points of the game myself.

We used to have friendly (sort-of) games of faculty vs students and they would whip our asses regularly. When they graduated, a couple of them were talking about going pro. They had first-rate strategic minds, although I did have to give one of them a "C" in a modern European literature class.

Re:I'd prefer to see lost productivity (1)

EastCoastSurfer (310758) | more than 4 years ago | (#31422632)

A sys admin I used to work with played DAoC back when it was popular. He actually became pretty e-famous in the game because he could play 6-9 hours while at work and then another 6+ hours at home nearly every day. I'm sure there were things he should have been doing, but he also had most things automated to the point where he didn't have much that he HAD to do each day.

I'm just not comfortable playing a game while at work. I'd much rather just check /. or other news during any break time.

Re:I'd prefer to see lost productivity (2, Insightful)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#31422412)

It seems to me that someone that substitutes time working at their job for playing various games at said job isn't going to be doing much productive either way.

Re:I'd prefer to see lost productivity (3, Insightful)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31422702)

Well, as the previous posters illustrate, sometimes there just isn't anything to do.

Also, a software developer firm's boss once told me one of his best worker liked to play Civilization during work day but he didn't really have a problem with that, as it helped him unwind for a bit and then continue working even better. Relaxing for a bit often gives better results than just trying to push it to the limits.

Re:I'd prefer to see lost productivity (1)

Jazz-Masta (240659) | more than 4 years ago | (#31423082)

I get a little bit upset (inside) whenever my clients ask me to enable certain games, or to install high end video cards on machines for gaming purposes at work.

I know, they pay me to do a job, etc, but I still help but wonder how much work isn't being done. When I saw Office Space and Peter says he only get about 15 minutes of real, actual work done a week, I knew this was the truth in most organizations.

I'd have to say that the hardest I've ever worked (other than University) was at Dairy Queen. Every job after that has been relatively easy with enough downtime that I felt guilty for years, until I realized every person has the same downtime.

Oh the math... (-1, Troll)

kiehlster (844523) | more than 4 years ago | (#31422356)

So, 46% of MMO players are paying $15.10 for an MMO, which comes to $319,516,000. That means the other 54% of MMO players are letting their parents foot $140 bills for the other $3,480,484,000. Ah, statistics. Journalists make it up, and we can only make up weird estimates to see how their number can work.

Re:Oh the math... (5, Insightful)

BKX (5066) | more than 4 years ago | (#31422430)

Multiply that $319M by 12 months and the numbers make a bit more sense.

Re:Oh the math... (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#31422470)

140$/1 year = 11.67$ per month which is not that bad. Just try finding decent internet access or cable tv that cheap.

Re:Oh the math... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31422868)

140$/1 year = 11.67$ per month which is not that bad. Just try finding decent internet access or cable tv that cheap.

$11.67 will buy you two packs of condoms. Why don't you just try finding a life?

Re:Um..No. This is Slashdot (0, Offtopic)

Green Salad (705185) | more than 4 years ago | (#31423040)

Perhaps you thought you were posting to some sort of mainstream site and not slashdot? Condoms won't help me find a life in my mother's basement. The secret to finding a life down here is a microscope and agar-infused petri dish kept warm and with the cover left off of it long enough for me to watch Wierd Science. Just to make sure...maybe use the Q-tip to scrape the keyboard then scrape the same Q-tip across the agar solution...

Re:Oh the math... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31423238)

You only need 6 condoms a month ? Sounds like you need *more* of a life !

Corporate Shills (2, Informative)

Misanthrope (49269) | more than 4 years ago | (#31422372)

"a market that can satisfy people of all walks of life", count me out, I really hate MMOs. I might be biased though because I started playing back in the early 90's on various MUDs which were a) free and b) a lot more creative with their game mechanics. Give me a good old tabletop RPG any day of the week.

Re:Corporate Shills (3, Insightful)

Nemyst (1383049) | more than 4 years ago | (#31422408)

No need to go back that far. There was a time where multiplayer was assumed to be free; paying for it wasn't even a question.

Why do I suddenly feel old?

Re:Corporate Shills (1)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31422442)

Why should it be free though? Users paying for it means continuous development and better content.

And really guys. It's $10 a month. You spend that amount on 4-5 beers. You spent multiple amount of that when you go out. Even a single movie costs that. If something these MMO's give a great return in the amount of hours wasted in entertainment. I get off your lawns now, but please try to think a bit before just shouting "this is how it was in the old days"

Re:Corporate Shills (1)

Misanthrope (49269) | more than 4 years ago | (#31422478)

I wasn't implying it was free, I was just stating that even if it was free I wouldn't play it.

Re:Corporate Shills (1)

Cassius Corodes (1084513) | more than 4 years ago | (#31422672)

Is there really much continuous development and content addition going on in paid MMOs? I only really have experience in WOW - and they only release new content on expansion packs which you have to fork out for. As far as I can see the monthly payment is just for server maintenance and to fill the money pool at blizzard.

Re:Corporate Shills (2, Informative)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31422742)

Do you actually play WoW? They release new patches and new dungeons and raid areas often. It's the larger changes like completely new areas and races that come with expansions.

Re:Corporate Shills (3, Funny)

Reverend Zanix (1157273) | more than 4 years ago | (#31422788)

They also often seem like they promote some of those dungeons as being part of the expansion though. Fight the Lich King! In a year or so!

Re:Corporate Shills (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31422760)

Expansions packs and point releases. There have been 3 major point releases in WoW since the last expansion came out.

Not that they have anything close to the level of content found in an expansion at launch, but it's still new content.

Re:Corporate Shills (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31422816)

You can ask yourself whether or not the latest Expansion Pack for WOW included the content released so far in Northrend, which includes:

The Argent Tournament
Ulduar
Onyxia at lvl 80
A new Battleground
Icecrown Citadel

Is it worthwhile, given how long the expansion has been out?

Tough question.

Re:Corporate Shills (1)

morcego (260031) | more than 4 years ago | (#31423036)

Not to mention the costs of keeping the servers running. Hardware, staff, bandwidth, more staff.
Yes, WoW is a gold making machine for Blizzard. No, it is still not cheap to develop/maintain.

Re:Corporate Shills (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 4 years ago | (#31422696)

Um, go out? I don't understand the concept.

Re:Corporate Shills (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31422914)

Agreed. It costs me that to catch public transport to work and home for a single day.

Re:Corporate Shills (4, Interesting)

Rei (128717) | more than 4 years ago | (#31422848)

Some of my fondest coding memories were programming for an LP mud. :) I loved the fact that wizards (coders) could literally have programming wars. For example, one wizard makes a dest ("destruct" -- basically, kicking off another player or wizard, with a lot of fanfare) that has a big leadup to it. So another wizard, tired of getting dested, writes a rapid counter-dest that kicks off the wizard doing the dest before it completes. So the first wizard writes an insta-dest that doesn't give the second wizard a chance to counter. So the second wizard writes an object that seeks out the first wizard's inventory, intercepts their commands, and if they try to start a dest against them, it instead turns the dest on its caster. So the first wizard writes an object that scans their inventory for objects to intercept the dest, and if it finds something that shouldn't be there, the object kills it off for them and then dests its owner. And on and on, back and forth.

Then there was the simply humorous aspects. A friend of mine had a dest where he would pick up a flower and contemplate whether the person being dested loved them. "(S)He loves me; (S)He loves me not. (S)He loves me."... and so forth, ending up on "(S)He loves me not." As they throw the flower away, the person gets kicked off the server. So I wrote a parody wherein, first thing, an object gets added to the inventory of the target to prevent them from quitting or counter-desting. A bumbling ogre version of my friend stumbles in and picks up the person being dested and starts pulling off limbs, doing the "(S)He loves me, (s)he loves me not" thing with them, and causing the person to randomly scream out in pain.

I used to occasionally disguise myself as the developer's board in the main development room. When people tried to interact with me, I'd manually make up responses. Occasionally I'd jump into other wizard's inventory or other things like that, perhaps making myself into a talking sword and having them wield me or the like. A neat feature was that you could "patch" objects to call any function that object possessed, including the objects that it inherited from. So changing things' descriptions or making them call actions was a snap.

I once wrote a program that would compile statistics about the most used words on the wizard chat line. When I informed everyone of it, all of the sudden, they started shouting out random obscene words over and over for days on end to try to get them high up on the ranking list. ;)

At one time, I accidentally wrote an object that landed on the floor of the room everyone logged in to and which dested anyone the instant they logged in. This kicked off all but one player, who was in another room coding an area. I couldn't get in to tell them not to log out and to please dest all objects in the login room; if they logged out, we'd have to wait for a sysadmin to restart the server! So I connected in through the FTP server and uploaded some files in the area they were working with file names in all caps that would tell them what to do as soon as they LS'ed. Thankfully they did ls, noticed the files, and fixed the problem!

Re:Corporate Shills (1)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 4 years ago | (#31422930)

Multiplayer still is free. The only sort that isn't is persistent world multiplayer, where your activity is taking place on a third party server, which has to be paid for and maintained.

Re:Corporate Shills (1)

morcego (260031) | more than 4 years ago | (#31423056)

Just because YOU are not paying for it, doesn't mean it is free.
I remember a friend of mine that used to run a NWN permanent world. Used to cost him some good money and time.

Re:Corporate Shills (1)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 4 years ago | (#31423072)

Which is what I said. Persistent world's aren't free. The "traditional" multiplayer still is.

Re:Corporate Shills (1)

merchant_x (165931) | more than 4 years ago | (#31422416)

You forgot to tell us to get off your lawn.

Re:Corporate Shills (0, Redundant)

Misanthrope (49269) | more than 4 years ago | (#31422494)

Get off my lawn!

Re:Corporate Shills (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31422586)

Did you have a senior moment and forget?

Re:Corporate Shills (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#31422486)

"A market that can satisfy people of all walks of life"?

That's not even the plan, where did the story writer get that idea?

What do MMOs aim at? Large market share. Duh. That's how they survive. What gives large market share? Lowest common denominator. Again, duh. So you get shallow quests ("go there, kill x", "go there, kill x of y", optionally appended with "and bring me z of their w"), a matchmaking system that reeks of first person shooters where you get slapped together with some other people of dubious skill, which is no problem because the battles are dumbed down to the point where only your equipment makes the difference anyway. A halfway decently written script can play any modern MMO easily without failing. Ever. Unless the odd 1% bad luck chance strikes, but that can't be avoided anyway. Ok, no big deal, death is meaningless anyway.

If you are not into that, you are basically fucked. If your "walk of life" includes wanting a game that cannot be beaten by a lobotomized monkey who got his paws tied to the keyboard, what's left for you is one or two games. If you're also not into big space battles, you're basically screwed.

Re:Corporate Shills (4, Interesting)

Rei (128717) | more than 4 years ago | (#31422554)

Which raises some good questions, re: lowest common denominator. The general question with MMO design isn't whether the focus should be grinding to gain more ability, or even whether the focus should be grinding in combat to gain levels; it's "what sort of variant of a common formula should be used". A MMO that doesn't stick to the standard tank/healer/damage dealer party formula gets considered as innovative. And, sure, there's usually some form of resource harvesting or crafting in addition to the fighting, but that's usually half-arsed, and even more of a grind.

Sure, there are exceptions. But not many. Second Life an obvious one, for example, but that's little more than a graphical chat room, and a couple steps away from being an interactive porn site.

Is it unreasonable to expect more diversity from MMOs? Or is the grind, and in particular combat grind, the only formula that will really work?

I'm curious as to what others think about the subject.

Re:Corporate Shills (2, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#31422890)

Well, I guess we could discuss endlessly what has been tried so far and what has failed. In general, what makes the "holy Trinity" so stable is simply that it's been done and tried and will work. Hands down. But whatever "innovation" you want to bring along will not inherently work. The road to make it "good" is a lot longer than simply tossing healer, tank and a handful of DD into battle because that model has been established and so many hours have already been invested in making it "work". If you dump the same amount of hours behind any other model, it will certainly work out too.

The question is not "what would be better?" but rather "what company would be willing to invest the time it needs?". Take whatever concept you could think of and ponder whether a company would really want to drop the time (and thus money) on it to make it "good", to iron out the wrinkles and to actually take the incredible risk that their customers won't think like them, that they consider it inferior. And, again no matter how good the idea, they WILL think it is inferior because the first incarnation simply cannot be anything but inferior. It has by far fewer test hours than the Trinity. A system that has been optimized by MMOs and their players over more than a decade now.

So if you want to bring along a "new" system, you first of all have to convince your players that this is new and that it will probably look inferior for now, but they have to see that it has potential. And then you have to find a way to keep your investors from wanting to dump your game onto SOE when they don't see their ROI forthcoming within a year or two.

If you cannot do that, don't even ponder touching the Trinity. No matter what idea you might have, you can't implement it without sinking your MMO.

Re:Corporate Shills (2, Informative)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31422584)

Your view is kind of screwed as well, or you just haven't looked good enough. There is more to MMO's than just World of Warcraft.

Fallen Earth [wikipedia.org] is a great fallout like MMO with crafting etc
Lego Universe [wikipedia.org] will have building with lego blocks among normal MMO like things
Haven & Hearth [havenandhearth.com] is in beta and is extremely open MMO with no quests in it's own - you build your own place, maybe go raid other peoples places if you want to. Almost with endless possibilities (even if somewhat buggy still as its beta)
Eve Online also has a lot of aspects unusual in the casual MMO games.
Successor for Ultima Online is coming this year.
And countless of other MMO's available and development that should cover every need of a gamer.

Please try to look past World of Warcraft next time.

Re:Corporate Shills (2, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#31423012)

Ok, allow me to elaborate.

I've been playing various MMOs, from the mainstream ones to the obscure ones that few know of and fewer played. Let's see...

I've seen WoW, played it even for a while. It was a nice game to raid in when there was something good on TV that I wanted to see where a game that needed my attention would really have been distracting.
I also played games like Earth and Beyond (which should be taught as the example for cardinal sins as far as MMOs go, how to dump a game with a great storyline by doing about everything wrong).
Anarchy Online was a great game with a great idea, great tools, great ... everything. It just suffered the fate of every old MMO: Top heavy and deserted. Old players leave, no new players come in and eventually it gets stale. But that game really gives me fond memories... a skill system complex enough to earn a master's degree for, and an equipment planning scheming that makes old Diablo go pale in comparison. Also one of the first games that got third party addons... though mostly due to the lack of traffic encryption. ;)
DAoC is the poster child for "how to kill a game with an expansion", some thing that WoW might accomplish with their next. Just in case the groupfinder wasn't enough. But I ramble. Still one of the best games I played. At least 'til the ToA expansion.
Vanguard is something that really makes me weep. It is maybe the game with the most interesting crafting system to date, it has such a great, interesting "additional sphere" with its diplomacy, it just suffered the usual "push the premature child out the door" dagger to the backside. It was pushed out half baked, people dumped it, now it's empty. Pity. Good game. Really is. Just ... well, in a multiplayer game it would be nice to see someone else in a while.
EQ2 was HARD at release. You needed a group and you needed a group that plays well. A bit like EQ. Just more badass hardcore mode. Tough like a nail and about as comely. Needless to say that was NOT what people wanted. And, to be honest, it was even a bit too far out for my tastes too. So people left in droves and in return it was dumbed down to WoW levels, making the ones leave, too, who liked it difficult... you can imagine the rest.
Tabula Rasa. Another one that went too early for my tastes. Another one killed by a release too early (ok, after seven years of development, investors could be excused for getting uneasy). But it was really ready for release - The moment it was shut down it really was. But at least it was something else for a change. The formula could have worked with a bit more tweaking... anyway, it's over.
And EvE, yes, a good game. Unforgiving, tough, but it takes too much of my time away to make me "enjoy" it. I didn't want a second job, and the way I play it it's what a friend of mine described very aptly: Excel with nicer graphics. I am more metagaming than gaming. Or rather, I'm not playing the game, I'm gaming the play. ;)
Perpetuum Online seems to go the same road (hell, it seems they got more than "a few ideas" from EvE... not going into detail here, apply for the beta if you want to take a look. Imagine EvE on a planet).

So you might notice that I have played a few MMOs in my time. I also tried Fallen Earth, I've been waiting for it since, well, '07 I think. To say I'm not really impressed is maybe an understatement. Well, maybe I should go back again and take a look at it once more, but at release the world was quite ... bland. Don't get me wrong, something happy-go-lucky would certainly be out of place in an end time MMO, but seriously, it was just ... empty. Nothing to, well, do.

Still, nothing on the horizon that could get me interested. What would I want? I don't really know, maybe a blend of AO, DAoC with a hint of EvE mixed in, creative and meaningful crafting and a smidge of Vanguard's diplomacy. But I guess I won't find something custom made in a cookie-cutter world.

Re:Corporate Shills (1)

DMUTPeregrine (612791) | more than 4 years ago | (#31422722)

Actually, given some of the lag problems recently you'd best be into small space battles (less than 50 people per side or so). That will be fixed eventually though.

Re:Corporate Shills (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31423060)

The success of EVE-online kind of throws a spanner in your "lowest common denominator" theory. Its so brutally difficult most players don't make it through the trial. And its made that way on purpose

Re:Corporate Shills (2, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#31423164)

EvE sure is the odd-one out. And it's only successful because its company actually let it live long enough to be successful. Even had fewer than 50k subs in its first year. Fewer than 100k for over three years of its existance. How many games do you think will be allowed to piddle around for three years without being the touted "WoW killer" that was promised to the VCs before they axe it? Sure, EvE now has a stable 200k, some say 300k, subs, but it hasn't been that way until rather recently. Over five full years after its initial release.

The cynic in me would say that EvE is so successful because every other "hard" MMO folded eventually and every time another MMO closed its doors, some of the people playing those games gyrated over to EvE with every other toughie in the MMO market closing its door, so eventually it got critical mass. Simply because people come in every time another game closes. CCP also took the hint and offered again and again "transfers", i.e. free play time to the "refugees" from games that shut down.

Re:Corporate Shills (1)

dieth (951868) | more than 4 years ago | (#31423262)

Absolute Virtue says "Hi" to all the people who want a tough came.

Re:Corporate Shills (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#31422638)

Luckily there are other people just like you for whom a market for other kinds of games exists.

Re:Corporate Shills (1)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 4 years ago | (#31422924)

I started playing back in the early 90's on various MUDs which were a) free and b) a lot more creative with their game mechanics.

Which were basically an early form of MMO (large number of players, persistent world, etc). So it's not that you hate the concept of MMOs, you just don't like any of the current, popular MMOs.

Re:Corporate Shills (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31423290)

As it turns out, you can still play MMOs for free. I'm currently enjoying the very artistic and good game play of Granado Espada [iahgames.com] . Sure the game works on micro-payments, but you really don't have to buy the items to play the game.

/posting anon to avoid undoing mod points.

Welcome to the world of fast-food computer gaming (5, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#31422418)

Why? Because MMOs will be what will eventually remain of games, at least A-Title games, in the forseeable future. Think of it: Recurring revenue, no copying worries, customer loyality even big brand names could only dream of today (aka fanboys that will defend any shit you cram down their throat) and even the "this sucks" lamenters will pay. They might not play (for now, when their favorite class gets nerfed) but they still pay!

Even add-ons are superior to sequels, despite (usually) not going for the same amount of dough. Think about it: A sequel may or may not be to your customer's liking, so he may or may not buy it. He WILL have to buy the add-on just to stay in the loop, like it or not, buy it or the months you "invested" in the game are wasted. And just like the main game, you will sell them not only today but for years to come. And when your next add-on is due, bundle the original and the first add-on and again you can sell them to all those that didn't catch on earlier. Oh, did I forget to mention that you can still sell your same old, dated game five years down the road? Yes, that's right. You can still sell your title five years after its initial release and people will still buy it! Now name a single non-MMO that can boast this (I'm not talking about the 2-bucks-bin here, ok?).

Wait, it gets better. If you craft your game carefully and make it juuuust easy enough that you can play it with half your brain's attention, people will actually go out and buy TWO, read it, TWO copies of your game. Or three! Or four! Watch people buy their own group, their own raid, their own ... well, however large you make your sensible grouping, you just have to dumb it down enough. And people will go and buy not one, but five or ten copies of your game and pay for every single one every month.

And since companies tend to follow exactly that logic, this is what we get: Shallow, repetitive, faceroller MMOs that fulfill only a single letter in MMORPG. And that's only if the servers are not offline.

Re:Welcome to the world of fast-food computer gami (1)

Haoie (1277294) | more than 4 years ago | (#31422518)

Guess what? They both lead to obesity!

Re:Welcome to the world of fast-food computer gami (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31422536)

Oh, did I forget to mention that you can still sell your same old, dated game five years down the road? Yes, that's right. You can still sell your title five years after its initial release and people will still buy it! Now name a single non-MMO that can boast this (I'm not talking about the 2-bucks-bin here, ok?).

StarCraft comes to mind.

No not really (4, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 4 years ago | (#31422578)

While MMOs are attractive, they aren't easy. An MMO requires a substantial investment to start up, far more than a single player game. Also MMOs are the sort of thing that there's more of a limit on how many there can be. Many people will pay for one MMO, far less will pay for two MMOs, and so on. As such to get in to the market you either have to get a new segment of gamers that weren't doing MMOs before, or take gamers away from MMOs already out there. With a single player game, you just have to convince someone they want to play your game, they may well play others.

MMOs will doubtless continue to be very popular, but they are hardly all that is going to be out there. I mean look at Blizzard they are -THE- kings of the MMO world currently, yet they are making Starcraft 2 and Diablo 3, both non-MMO games. Reason is they know they'll make money on those too. Heck some of their WoW players will buy them. Just because people play MMOs doesn't mean they don't also play other games. I've played an MMO of one kind or another for about 6 years now or so. However I still buy single player games all the time. Just because I like MMOs doesn't mean that's all I play.

So sorry, I'm not buying this doom and gloom "Only MMOs are the future!" All evidence seems to say there will continue to be games of many different types. After all, MMOs are not new, yet game studios continue to roll out non-MMO titles as well as MMO ones.

As for your analogy, well guess what? Fast food hasn't taken over the world. You are right that I can find McDonalds all over my city. However I can find hundreds of non fast food restaurants too. There are sit down chain restaurants like Olive Garden or P.F. Changs, and there are plenty of little ones that are just someone running their own thing. Fast food has not replaced where you can go to eat, it has supplemented it. Also turns out that you can eat fast food for one meal, and then eat at a nice place the next, they don't get mad at you or anything.

I think it'll be the same for MMOs. Sure, a lot of people are going to play them, but it won't be the only thing they'll play.

Re:Welcome to the world of fast-food computer gami (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31422680)

Oh, did I forget to mention that you can still sell your same old, dated game five years down the road? Yes, that's right. You can still sell your title five years after its initial release and people will still buy it! Now name a single non-MMO that can boast this (I'm not talking about the 2-bucks-bin here, ok?).

There are quite a few games that are 5+ years old that are still in stores and not in the bargain-bin:

Civilization III
The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
Diablo II
Half-Life 2
Neverwinter Nights
Starcraft
Warcraft III
Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War

And these are just what I can think of off the top of my head.

Re:Welcome to the world of fast-food computer gami (1)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31422754)

Uh, what? Even on Steam they're all on low priced sale. All of them.

But neither of you or the GP is correct. WoW and its expansions are also sold for really low prices now a days.

Re:Welcome to the world of fast-food computer gami (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31422884)

Just because a game isn't selling for $50 anymore after 5+ years doesn't make the game "low priced." "Low priced" is not the same as bargain bin. Bargain bin is more along the lines of $10 or less, of which there are plenty of games there. The games listed are typically still sell for $20-30 in brick-and-mortar stores, which is typical price for a good, solid, PC game being that old. Just the fact that almost every store that sells PC games still sells the games listed, and not even in the bargain bin, says that the games still sell decent enough even to this day.

Re:Welcome to the world of fast-food computer gami (0)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31422942)

So then buy it where its cheaper.

I just looked Civilization III on Steam and its 4,99e with all the expansions. That's not low priced enough for you?

Re:Welcome to the world of fast-food computer gami (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31423078)

Oh wow, one of the games on the list is offered for less than $20 through some random online vendor! That must mean every game on the list is like that, right? Right? No.

I posted a relatively small list of games that are typically priced between $20-30 that are 5+ years old. Obviously, those games still sell decently, otherwise they'd either be in the bargain bin everywhere for $10 or less, or not even sold at all. This was to show the OP that his assumption that games don't sell when they're that old is silly.

As for you, what are you even trying to get at?

Re:Welcome to the world of fast-food computer gami (1)

Korin43 (881732) | more than 4 years ago | (#31422782)

And you just described why I don't play MMO's. Why pay to "play" a game that's just designed to keep you playing as long as possible (fun doesn't even enter into the equation)?

Re:Welcome to the world of fast-food computer gami (2, Insightful)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31422960)

Why would you pay for any game you don't think isn't fun? However, many gamers find MMO's fun.

I have played WoW and while I still think its too much grinding and too less PVP, I still think it would be quite fun if I just had the time now. But I like crafting and building the world (I coded a similar project as a teen, even spend my school hours thinking how the AI would interact :), so I currently play Haven & Hearth [havenandhearth.com] beta, even if it's a little bit buggy but I like the concept.

Re:Welcome to the world of fast-food computer gami (1)

Unoti (731964) | more than 4 years ago | (#31423260)

And you just described why I don't play MMO's. Why pay to "play" a game that's just designed to keep you playing as long as possible (fun doesn't even enter into the equation)?

You're right, and I've felt the same way. But your perspective starts with the assumption that you don't want to interact with the other people that are playing.

MMO's is the principal way that I stay in touch with old friends and family members. We play WoW, we hang out in Second Life, we play board games online- especially Ticket to Ride and some others. One of my sons is in the Army. I've got family members in multiple states, and we spend time together every day. How many dads spend time with their wife, kids, and parents every single day? Even though we're all over the world, we're together every day and generating new memories and experiences together.

In Second Life, you can go learn other languages, spend time with brilliant creators from all over the world. I know and see every day people from Japan, Singapore, Germany, and Great Britain. People that are currently in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Brazil. The last few years of co-mingling with people from all over the world has been very enriching for me; I didn't really do that before virtual worlds. (Exchanging email or chatting some in IRC isn't the same as goofing off interactively, at least it has not been for me.)

Your point about MMO's being boring is spot on. But people themselves are not always boring, at least the cool ones aren't. MMO's and virtual worlds let people spend time together and dissolve geographical and cultural boundaries. This is why someone might want to play them. Because the game itself is just a computer has limits to how entertaining it can be, but spending quality time with valued friends and family is priceless.

Bullshiznizzle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31422446)

How can there be more people playing MMOs than there are playing video games at all?

Who funds this shit? (Blizzard) Who reads it? (Naive investors)

http://blog.nielsen.com/nielsenwire/consumer/video-games-in-play/

MSN (3, Interesting)

BlackHawk-666 (560896) | more than 4 years ago | (#31422460)

I like to think of the MMO I play as hanging out with friends on MSN/Vent...with dragons!

The MMO gives my hands something to do while I chat to my peer group.

Re:MSN (1)

bmecoli (963615) | more than 4 years ago | (#31422846)

The MMO gives my hands something to do while I chat to my peer group.

Se, that's what porn is for...

Re:MSN (1)

Selfbain (624722) | more than 4 years ago | (#31423044)

Once Star Trek Online launches, I'll be hanging with my friends on MSN/Vent... IN SPAAAAAAAAAACE

Re:MSN (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31423336)

Star Trek Online already launched. Don't worry, you didn't miss a thing.

Not me (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 4 years ago | (#31422506)

I've never played an MMO, and don't intend to start. I prefer to spend once for my entertainment, especially games, and even then most don't have replayability to justify $50 price tags so I wait a couple years until they hit the bargain bins.

Re:Not me (4, Insightful)

EastCoastSurfer (310758) | more than 4 years ago | (#31422686)

I don't really see MMOs as a waste of money. The game fee and then the monthly probably give way more hour/$ of entertainment than most $60 console games. What MMOs do waste is tons of time.

Re:Not me (1)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 4 years ago | (#31423270)

Oh come now, everyone knows that time is money. Also women are the root of all evil, or however that works....

Re:Not me (1)

mandolin (7248) | more than 4 years ago | (#31422710)

Agreed. In addition, since I have fairly addictive personality and enough addictions already ... I don't need to start an MMORPG habit.

Re:Not me (0, Troll)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31422766)

Good for you. While otherwise we other enjoy the games while you can't put up with $10 a month which you probably spend on a few beers for 1 hour.

Re:Not me (1)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 4 years ago | (#31422984)

"While otherwise we other enjoy the games while you can't put up with $10 a month which you probably spend on a few beers for 1 hour."

$10/mo? Really? What game are you playing? Last time I saw an MMO with a $10/mo subscription, it was Ultima Online in 1999. $15/mo seems to be about the average, near as I can tell. Although, I do still agree with your point that MMO's are still a fairly 'cheap' entertainment. Movie at a first-run cinema, plus drink and a snack, will probably cost you more than $15 for 2 hours entertainment. Dinner out with friends, plus drinks, will *definitely* cost you more than $15.

But, I've personally quit playing MMOGs. I had played them pretty much continuously from about 1999-2009, then decided it was just time to quit. They really are too much of a time sink, and I've decided I want to do other things with the rest of my life.

Re:Not me (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 4 years ago | (#31423280)

You keep thinking I'm some flawed hypocrite if you want. I don't drink beer; I can't stand the taste and the alcoholic buzz is unpleasant. I don't squander my fifty dollars on some other frivolous B.S., because I don't have it to squander. I don't own a cellphone because I don't have the $30+ a month. Squandering $120 or more in a year on a game is out of the question.

Enjoy your luxury, but don't you dare call me a hypocrite because you assume I must be like you.

Re:Not me (2, Interesting)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 4 years ago | (#31423042)

I'm with you on waiting for games to get cheaper before buying them - not to mention the fact that most games these days seem to be unplayable out of the box and you need to wait six months for a patch or two to appear.

As for MMOs, I'd never played one until two weeks ago after finally relenting to my close buddies and joining them in WoW. Bearing in mind that these are the very same buddies I socialise with and have (very enjoyable) board game evenings with, I'm distinctly underwhelmed with WoW.

I'm a huge fan of FPS/RPG games like Fallout & the STALKER series, and IMHO WoW comes nowhere near close to the enjoyment I get playing those games - or even just going online for an hour or two for Left 4 Dead, Team Fortress 2 or Unreal Tournament.

Firstly, there's the issue of being "forced" to play the game. I like to take my gaming chunks as and when I feel like it, not necessarily at a time when all my buddies want to meet up online together.

Secondly, I know there are restrictions in MMOs but the realism just isn't there for me. In WoW, you start levelling up by taking on missions to, say, kill someone or go explore a kobold mine.

Yet when you find the NPC you need to kill, you discover someone else is doing the same mission - so you wait for him/her to kill that NPC, whereupon the NPC dies and then stands up again for you to kill him...

Or you go explore a kobold mine, start fighting your way through it & killing off kobolds one by one, whereupon you get halfway into the mine and the ones you've killed stand up again so it's impossible to beat a hasty retreat to heal up and go in again...

And finally, the saddest thing about WoW is that despite it supposedly being a "social" game, I don't think I've ever felt so "alone" when playing it when my buddies aren't there. Sure, there's plenty of players about, stood in groups posing or running around... but despite my having joined a "role playing" server, nobody bothers to communicate with you (unless it's to hurl abuse) and when you try and speak with anyone new, you're just ignored if you're not already part of their little gaming group.

At least now I can have an opinion of WoW based on actual experiences but you're really not missing that much.

Re:Not me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31423284)

There are a number of MMOs that aren't pay every month. They're not the big names, but they're the ones that I play.

Dungeons and Dragons Online (ddo.com) is my current one. I used to play GuildWars (pay once - or once per stand-alone game, as there are multiple games that can be played together, but you're just fine with just one).

Many more hard core MMo players will point out that they're generally not as high-quality as the $15/month games, but if you're like me and only play an hour or two here and there, why pay $15/month if you only play three or four hours a week? That's a buck an hour!

The Expansion Problem (3, Informative)

BlackHawk-666 (560896) | more than 4 years ago | (#31422522)

MMOs have a problem which is slowly creeping up on them, I guess the EQ crowd are already well familiar with it. As they release more expansions, all of which are required to play with the level capped players it becomes more and more expensive to enter the game. Over here in Aus WoW classic is about $40, Burning Crusade $50, and the latest pile of WoW is $60 - total price to enter the game is current $150 and then on top of that you pay about $24 / month to play. This means over the course of a year you will have paid out $438 and most likely only experienced the top level content. The rest will have been an endless grind of UPS/Kill/Kill+Collect quests - oh sorry, at lvl 60+ bombing quests are added to the grind. Unless you have a friend joining at the same time or one who will level with you you're stuck doing all this shitty content solo.

When the next expansion is out you will need to buy class+3 x expansions. I expect that to cost about $190 total and then subscription fees bringing one years playtime on WoW up to almost $500.

The amount of money you have to pay keeps rising, but the amount of useful content doesn't - it stays at the top level of the game. As soon as the gates are opened everyone floods out of the current top level zone and into the next, leaving only a desert behind.

Re:The Expansion Problem (1)

Reverend Zanix (1157273) | more than 4 years ago | (#31422690)

I think this is one of the wise things that Funcom is doing with Age of Conan. The upcoming expansion is not raising the level cap, and is instead adding content for all levels, so you won't have the whole deal where a bunch of content becomes obsolete all of a sudden. God knows that game needs to grow out, not up anyway.

Re:The Expansion Problem (3, Informative)

HybridJeff (717521) | more than 4 years ago | (#31422694)

Are you sure about those prices? The USD and AUD are pretty close right now and you can buy every wow product online at blizzards battle.net store. $20 for original wow, $40 for the battle chest (original+first expansion) and $40 for the current expansion. Assuming you wanted to go from not having the game to being current all at once you would need to put out $80 US (which as of this post is equivalent to 87.57 AUD)

Is the blizzard store not available in Australia or something? I can use it seamlessly from Canada with a Canadian credit card. Those prices are nearly half what you're describing. I can understand if its not your cup of tea and you don't want to play,but whats the point of over inflating the cost to such a large degree?

Re:The Expansion Problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31422824)

Welcome to the world down under with the 'no good reason' tax. Games are stupidly expensive off the shelf just because. PS3 and 360 games are usually $110 to $120 when new. Hell, COD4 stayed over $100 even after COD5 came out just because they can. I think the dollar was 1AUD = 0.98USD at the time. Even with steam I hear we pay more just because we are an isolated market and steam has nothing to do with shipping...

Re:The Expansion Problem (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31423002)

Yep. I just moved from Canada to Australia and while the dollar in both countries is about the same, games here are twice as expensive and even online stores like "Impulse" have half the games as "Not available in your region" ... What ? My internet connection can't download this game ?

Re:The Expansion Problem (1)

Ambassador Kosh (18352) | more than 4 years ago | (#31422882)

Actually for Everquest and Everquest 2 this is incorrect. For the last 5 years or so the expansions have been inclusive. So if you buy whatever the most recent one it then you get all the content from everything previous. They have also been making it much easier to catch up with bonus experience until you get closer to where most of the players are. It actually is not as hard to catchup as you would think. When EQ1 first came out it took months to hit 50, you can now hit it in a week or two of fairly relaxed play. The mercenary system makes it much easier to solo and form groups. There are still 85 levels though and probably a thousand AA for EQ1 but I just recently went back and started on a new server and catching up has not really been hard at all.

I think that all the older MMO will have to something like what everquest does to make it easier to come back.

Re:The Expansion Problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31423096)

WoW is particularly onerous in that it charges subscription + client + expansions. Most MMOs only charge subscription - the latest up-to-date client is free.

To the fanboys out there... (0, Offtopic)

Dogbertius (1333565) | more than 4 years ago | (#31422548)

Mac: Photoshop is not a game!
Win: Windows is not an OS!
Lin: You're STILL playing koules???

Azeroth Barbados (1)

izomiac (815208) | more than 4 years ago | (#31422714)

It's rather amusing to me that in 2010 virtual worlds are economically more powerful than about 50 real countries. Population-wise, they beat about 100 real countries. While largely an irrelevant apples-to-oranges comparison, it does portend interesting changes in politics as decentralized global NGO-esk groups become larger and more powerful. Of course, while the current lot has a militia that's globally unprecedented in training and equipment, I think they're content enough within the virtual world to be basically harmless to the real one.

MMOs? (2, Funny)

Michael Kristopeit (1751814) | more than 4 years ago | (#31422902)

they also live at their MOMs

I don't think the poll is that accurate (2, Interesting)

JumpDrive (1437895) | more than 4 years ago | (#31422904)

I think they did this poll outside a gamestop.
Really, you actually believe 72% of people over 50 play MMO games.

Geez, you think that maybe someone at gameindustry.com may have an incentive to exaggerate the numbers, just maybe

Re:I don't think the poll is that accurate (1)

JumpDrive (1437895) | more than 4 years ago | (#31422996)

Ahh, saw where I looked at the wrong graph, but I still think they have the hours wrong and there's a whole population of people I don't know about.

I still think they amplified the results.

The Internet (2, Funny)

bistromath007 (1253428) | more than 4 years ago | (#31422964)

MMOs replace Your father's love for mother She gets a webcam Burma Shave

I used to think MMOs were a waste of time... (3, Insightful)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 4 years ago | (#31423010)

But, then I listened to what most of my coworkers were doing on their time off. They were watching American Idol and Lost. So, what's the bigger waste of time? I quit playing MMOs when I saw how much time it was taking away from my regular "life management" chores.

But who really gets paid? (1)

CodeDragonDM (1570963) | more than 4 years ago | (#31423376)

As I look at the numbers, I want to know: Who is really seeing the 2.38 billion dollars in subscriptions? Blizzard of course comes to mind, but how many other thousands of little MMO games are there that have a subscription base of less than enough to protect Greece? 300 jokes aside, I don't see many companies sharing this great wealth.

Now, if the pool is being spread around some, anyone wanna help me make a game?

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