WoW Was the Top Subscription MMO in 2013, Star Wars: The Old Republic #4

New report also suggests The Elder Scrolls Online has done well so far in 2014.

To no one's surprise, World of Warcraft earned more revenue than any other subscription-based MMO in the world during 2013, according to a new report from SuperData Research. What may come as a surprise is the fact that Star Wars: The Old Republic came in at number four on the list.

The BioWare-developed Star Wars MMO brought in $165 million in worldwide revenue in 2013, SuperData reports. That's a far cry from the $1.041 billion in revenue earned by WoW during the same period, but it's a figure only topped by Lineage ($253 million, despite its North American servers shutting down years ago--it originally launched in 1998) and TERA ($236 million).

For the purposes of the report, "pay-to-play" MMOs are considered any games "that earn revenue from subscriptions, expansion packs, and microtransactions-based virtual items and services (e.g. experience boosts, items, mounts, and server transfer fees)."

That's a market that has been "shrinking since 2010," as can be seen in the graph below. In 2010, there were 30.6 million active monthly subscribers worldwide, a figure which dropped to 23.4 million in 2013. This has resulted in a move toward relying increasingly on microtransactions, if not outright adopting a free-to-play model that is entirely dependent on them.

That's the case with The Old Republic, which offers a subscription option but is otherwise microtransaction-based. This has been the case since November 2012, when the game switched to a free-to-play model after it struggled to keep hold of subscribers as a subscription-only game. EA said last May that the game's revenue doubled following the move.

The percentage of revenue that MMOs earn from microtransactions has gone up from 14 percent to 27 percent in the last five years, the report continues. (The graph above shows how that coincides with a drop in subscription revenue.) The average digital spend has also increased worldwide during that span, going from $16 to $46.

We've seen a pair of high-profile subscription-based MMO launches this year in The Elder Scrolls Online (April) and WildStar (June). As WildStar provides buyers of the game with a free month of subscription time, it's not yet clear how much of its audience it will be able to retain. Traditionally, subscription-based MMOs lose a portion of their user base after the initial month when people decide not to renew their subscriptions. ESO, though, has held on to 772,374 of its subscribers as of June, according to SuperData. As always when evaluating MMOs, this may look poor when held up to WoW's most recent subscription numbers--7.6 million as of March 31--but it's actually a strong number.

Do you still play any MMOs, or have you moved on from the genre like I have? Let us know in the comments.

Chris Pereira is a freelance writer for GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @TheSmokingManX
Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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Discussion

127 comments
kachungb00
kachungb00

Am happy with how Wildstar turned out, pvp matching is hella annoying though when the people you're with dont take things seriously, but that's how it is with any game anyway. Ya just gotta push forward.

Pyro77
Pyro77

How many games have come out now that were supposed to "WOW killers"?

chicobeberlou
chicobeberlou

In terms of the "high-profile" MMO launches, I'm rooting more for WIldstar than ESO. Wildstar's combat alone is enough to demolish ESO's archaic elder scrolls old school model.

atronarh
atronarh

This list is bulshit for me. How can you compare f2p games with wow which have to pay to play? nonesens. In most mmos ppl dont have to pay to enjoy the full content, that is why ******WOW will alvays be in first place with payment.

SmawRpg
SmawRpg

There is so much hate on MMOs lately, even the author has "moved on" like it is such a passe thing to play an MMO. Really it is just a genre, and even though a revolutionary MMO hasn't come out since WoW and GW2. I don't think the genre is dead, rather it affirms to the lasting power of these games. Often they don't start picking up steam until well into their second year.


That being said, I think gaming quality has seen a certain "leveling off" lately. Titanfall was a fun FPS, but it doesn't do anything much different than all others. Call of Duty has essentially been the same game since Modern Warfare. RTS's like starcraft 2, top down RPGs like pathfinder, diablo 3. All of these games didn't revolutionize their genre, they simply created quality games of existing genre's that were fun to play and then get boring like most other games. People treat MMO players like they need their grinding fix or they will die, when in reality if a game compels you to keep playing it, that is a good thing. Obviously you can take it too far, but MMO gaming actually saves me money then playing a single player game, getting bored of it, and moving on to another.


Nothing wrong with paying a sub either if the developer cares about the game and releases content. Vanilla Rift was one of the best experiences when it had a sub, they churned out so much content and classes it was crazy, and in Rift you can switch up your classes at any time so there was always new stuff popping up.  The new MOBA craze is the same thing as MMOs, so many generic MOBAs are being release with just different themes and some different mechanics but basically just the same thing reskinned.

label07
label07

These numbers and amounts of players currently paying for other games services/subscriptions will drastically change when the next expansion for WoW releases.  Looks to be the most content added in an expansion yet.  The number of players can only rise.  Good for Blizzard!

Cashmoney007
Cashmoney007

The Old Republic is number four?  The pve is fun in that game.  But both the pve and pvp could have been so much more.

Bhemont
Bhemont

Wonder where ffxiv would be on that list today

emerin76
emerin76

The Secret World for me.  Subscription not required, but you can have one for extra 'stuff'.  Just got back into it.
I am curious as to where it stands on the list.  I know it's not a very popular MMORPG, but, still curious.

oflow
oflow

I wonder what the cut off is for it to be considered profitable? I know its different depending on the size of the company just asking.

vicsrealms
vicsrealms

WoW, World of Warcraft is way ahead of the competition.  Nice to see them doing so well.  FOR THE HORDE!!

toddx77
toddx77

How is Final Fantasy XIV not on this list?


ignitingicarus
ignitingicarus

All of these are garbage, with the exception of EVE Online. Amazed at how people can pay for this stuff.

mad0260
mad0260

ESO would be around 4th spot then. Might climb up over the years, the game is getting better. Lots of people got bored by rushing through the content. I don't think devs expected so many people going in just for the end-game, rush it and find nothing there.

Intellijosh
Intellijosh

I don't understand mmo's. Tried TOR last year, beat the "story" and was bored out of my mind the whole way through.

veryDERPY
veryDERPY

im almost certain wow lost more subs than #2 on the list has players. still #1...

Bubbagum_Bish
Bubbagum_Bish

FFXIV is the only MMO I've ever been able to tolerate. And even then I still can't get myself to pay that monthly subscription fee. MMOs just aren't worth it to me.

Defender1978
Defender1978

The only MMO that I play is Age of Conan.  I don't like MMOs, but Conan is my favorite fictional character ever.  I wish that it were a solo game like Skyrim.  It will be a sad day when they shut the servers down, but I guess it's inevitable for every online game.  

Jacanuk
Jacanuk

Blizzard only makes a billion a year on its mmo. , bad Warcraft when is it going to be F2P.



(S.U)

jack00
jack00

Fk mmos. Simple as that.

Statistic
Statistic

I hate micro-transaction games.  You end up paying 4 times as much to play effectively.  I've decided not to play any more games using micro-transactions.

BamaGoatt
BamaGoatt

I might be done with Subscription games and go back to guild wars 2 

BamaGoatt
BamaGoatt

I'm still playing eso but probably not going to renew after my first 6 months is up already getting bored with it.

stage4saiyan
stage4saiyan

ARR came out in August, which explains why it's not there. Tera being third is great. Loved that game, and that was when it was still sub.

dosvalencia
dosvalencia

@atronarh totally agree, I just made a similar comment in another article saying the mostly the same thing. F2P business models are greedy capitalistic marketing-monster ploys. 

hyru99
hyru99

@toddx77 yea ffxiv has far more subs than Swtor, so they are in the top 3 hands down. And there will be even more subs when the game opens up to more countries which was stated.

trayvian
trayvian

@mad0260 This is a primary complaint in most MMORPGs, so I do not think this is a valid excuse for them to use.  All developers know this by now.  I think the cause is the same as SWTOR:  they took an established license and just did not make a very compelling game.  I agree though that as they add more content, the game will get better.  The question is if the content will make people want to stay and play.

dialtech
dialtech

@Intellijosh Sense you don't understand MMO's you should really try WoW. They keep making it more and more accessible for new players. If you can't figure out how to play and what to do you should really give up and go back to single player games with some multiplayer elements if that's more your thing. 

timthegem
timthegem

@Intellijosh So you allegedly played one of the character lines in a single game and that causes you to not understand MMO's in general? Cool life.

trayvian
trayvian

@Intellijosh Which story did you play?  The Knight is the "Classic" SW and the Imperial Agent is really good.

Silicoln
Silicoln

@vadagar1 Mate, when trying to tell people how to better their life, you might consider bettering your own grammar and spelling. It would really help them take you seriously. Also, I play plenty of MMO's, have my own job, pay my own bills, and will have paid off my house by next year. If you actually take the time and balance your life, gaming and responsibility can go hand-in-hand, might want to re-evaluate your judgmental statement next time.

therealzorvan
therealzorvan

@BamaGoatt I managed to get to a whole level 11 before I gave up on Guild Wars 2. Just bored the hell out of me.

Silicoln
Silicoln

@BamaGoatt I truly loved the story and most of the combat in ESO however, the one thing that aggravates me to no end would be the lack of a proper healing class. Hardcore ESO fans keep trying to defend the jumbled mess that is healing in that game but it just does not work. Healing abilities that randomly choose targets kill immersion and of course, the party as well. That is the one thing that would bring me back should they change.

vadagar1
vadagar1

@BamaGoatt its a nice a nice game but I usually got bored after a few months, happened to me too :P


what AMAZES ME is the wow zombies that never ever ever quit : /

BamaGoatt
BamaGoatt

@vadagar1 @BamaGoatt yeah I am starting to play dcuo again on my ps4 so finding the time to play both is hard. I am shocked people still play swtor might have to try that one again since I own it and it is ftp.

trayvian
trayvian

@BamaGoatt @vadagar1 SWTOR is not really free to play; they severely restrict most things in the game without a) buying a subscription or b) removing the restrictions through in game purchases.  You certainly still can play to the end free, but your enjoyment will be limited by the restrictions.

hyru99
hyru99

@trayvian @BamaGoatt @vadagar1 Yea it peeves me beyond comprehension. I am leveling up alts, but don't like the money restrictions that I can easily obtain and then having to deal with endgame restrictions which I am into above all things.