Monday, September 26, 2011

Everquest 3 will be Free2Play

While I was just recently discussing the relative advantages and disadvantages of the Free2Play and monthly subscription business models, it seems that some people can't bury the monthly subscription model fast enough. Thus John Smedley proclaimed his belief that Star Wars: The Old Republic "is going to be the last large scale MMO to use the traditional subscription business model. Why do I think that? Simply put, the world is moving on from this model and over time people aren’t going to accept this method."

I do believe Smed is misinterpreting some things here. SWTOR had nearly half a million pre-orders in North America alone before they even announced a release date. If you *know* that people are going to clamor to be able to play your game, charging them $50 up front and a monthly subscription is just good business sense. Obviously there isn't a huge number of games like this. But I would be really, really surprised if Blizzard's Titan would launch as Free2Play. It is exactly the "large scale MMO" games which will remain monthly subscription in the future.

Thus the only conclusion that I can draw from his statement is that John Smedley believes that the future games of SOE will not have that sort of critical size to support a monthly subscription business model. Expect any future SOE games to be Free2Play right from the start. Which might not be such a bad thing, I do think that designing games to be Free2Play from the start leads to better results than releasing them as monthly subscription and then switching to a different business model after a year.

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