Of the 2,000+ online gamers polled, only hardcore gamers were found to be interested in subscribing to an MMORPG service, whereas “social, dormant, and leisure gamers all show significant interest in a free-to-play, microtransaction-based model.”
The study’s numbers show that 14% of gamers currently not playing MMORPGs would be interested in playing them if they could for free, while only 2% of gamers from the same group were interested in playing an MMORPG requiring subscriptions.
According to Parks Associate’s director of broadband and gaming, Yuanzhe (Michael) Cai, the barriers to entry with subscription-based MMORPGs, such as time and money, are too high for potential customers. Free-to-play models, however, offer flexibility and enable players to choose how much they want to invest based on interest level and play patterns. Thus, the firm believes that microtransaction models have the best potential to grow the U.S. MMORPG audience.
I continue to be very bullish on the free-to-play/digital goods model for gaming companies over the next few years.