The new MMO business model?

Not to bank on financial writers for solid reporting related to MMOs or anything, but this little blurb I found interesting for one reason: how important are initial sales for an MMO?

Of course they are important, after all if no one buys your game at launch, who cares how great your retention is, right? But five years after release, would you rather be WAR or EVE? EVE sold something like 50k copies at release, WAR sold close to (or over?) a million. We all know how each game is doing right now, and how things are likely to continue. Factor in development costs and all that, and the picture is pretty clear.

Going back to SW, the fact that the game is ‘trending’ high for pre-orders means next to nothing for me as a fan (I’m sure the suits are happy). A monkey could hype and sell SW right now. It’s SW, it’s BioWare, it cost a billion dollars to develop, and EA is throwing another billion to market it. It also helps that the vast majority of people who pre-ordered the game have not played it, and even those who have are playing in the “best case scenario” land of beta. But even if SW sells, say, 1-2 million copies at release, if its retention rate mirrors that of WAR (and I think it will), won’t the game still end up costing EA in the end?

WoW makes Blizzard truckloads of cash not because it sold a ton of copies at release, but because it has had millions paying $15 a month for years, easily recouping all those development costs and sitting pretty in almost (they do still have an intern updating the game occasionally I believe) pure profit land. That’s always been the model for an MMO: high initial cost, ability to make some of it back one day one, then hopefully make it all back and profit after X amount of time has passed. If the vast majority of your players are gone before you hit X, the plan kinda falls apart.

Or is the new MMO model to super-hype a release, get a million or so suckers, err sorry, fans, to buy it at release (for $150 preferably), and consider it a job well done a day/week/month after release? Because from an MMO fans perspective, that’s not what I’m here for, and I have sRPG’s that do a much better job of deliver that kind of content.

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
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11 Responses to The new MMO business model?

  1. Stabs says:

    To be fair the analysis is for financial readers interested in buying EA shares for a short period. He mentions that they are trending to outperform over the next 12 months. Any such investors will be thinking of dumping the stock at the end of this period unless the performance bubble is maintained.

    It does suggest that there are investors who don’t really get MMOs. Possibly you could make money buying now then selling just before release, getting out before the game crashes.

  2. Aufero says:

    SW:TOR interests me from a financial model perspective because they appear to be trying something relatively new in the area of triple-A MMO customer retention strategies – focusing heavily on the single-player RPG market and replayability. (Thus the emphasis on separate story lines, NPC companions and voiceover work for each class, and the early announcement of endgame solo content.)

    I’ll be interested to see how that works out for them. Will people drop the game two or three months after launch when they’ve burned through all the (inevitably limited) endgame content, or stick around to play another class or two while the developers come up with new stuff?

  3. Well, box sales are the traditional measure for a company like EA. And since EA hasn’t really be able to turn on the money printing machine in a few MMO attempts, it might bet better for now to point how many $60 and $150 boxes they plan to sell. That sort of best seller status they can market effectively.

    Other looks at what Cowen & Co. had to say included an estimate from them that SWTOR would sell 3 million copies in the first year.

  4. Carson says:

    That “new MMO business model” is just the old single-player game business model, though, isn’t it? It’s hardly surprising that companies like EA would go down that road, it’s made so much money for them in the past.

  5. NO no.. NEW MODEL = FREE TO PLAY… with cash shop.

  6. I havent steal anything, Its OFFICIAL MMORPG BLOG. I think you should learn to read.

    • No, sir, you are a thief and you are stealing things quite openly. You can put any label you like on your site, but it is theft.

      I am quite competent in the English language (unlike you) and your “official” blog is nothing but plagiarism.

      I’ll wait a minute for your lips to stop moving to allow you to look up “plagiarism” so you’ll know what I am talking about.

      Why don’t you drop a note to the people from who you are stealing posts and ask them if they approve. Somehow I doubt it.

      Meanwhile, learn to read, learn to write, and learn the law.

  7. Pingback: Analysts predict 3 million sales for Star Wars MMO |

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