Global MMORPG revs hit $5 billion in 2009 - Study

Strategy Analytics finds Western online game growth slowing due to social, console games; Eastern interest blooms on free-to-play model.

26 Comments

Unearthing just how much the game industry pulls in can be a difficult task, thanks to vagaries beyond new game sales at retail outlets. For example, the industry stat-tracking NPD Group initially stated in January that new software at US retailers amounted to some $10.5 billion of the industry's $19.66 billion haul in 2009. However, by June, NPD had revised that figure upward to $15 billion, after factoring in other forms of revenue such as used games and subscriptions.

World of Warcraft's subscription model appears to be slowing growth in the West.
World of Warcraft's subscription model appears to be slowing growth in the West.

This week, Strategy Analytics has provided a look at one of the grayer areas of industry performance, that dealing with global massively multiplayer online role-playing game sales. According to the market research firm's latest report, titled "The World of MMORPG: a Tale of Two Regions," MMORPG revenues topped $5 billion worldwide in 2009, up 17 percent from a year prior.

Notably, the MMORPG markets in the East and West are not growing at the same rate. Strategy Analytics found that while Eastern markets have flourished since 2007, under the leadership of Shanda, Netease, Nexon, and NCsoft, Western growth, led by Blizzard Entertainment, has seen a marked slowdown.

"Faced with fierce competition from social games and console video games, MMORPG in the Western market has already shown signs of a slowdown," said Strategy Analytics director Martin Olausson. "The traditional subscription model that most Western MMORPGs adopt has lost traction and growth momentum." Conversely, the analytics firm noted that free-to-play, microtransaction-based models have fueled Asia's growth.

Despite the uneven growth, Strategy Analytics foresees a substantial rise in total MMORPG revenue in 2010. According to the firm's figures, online game sales should hit $8 billion this year.

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lock445

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Screw casual games they're ruining the industry.

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Ghazghkull_T

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If Blizzard ever puts up a Free to play system on WoW (with various other types of acounts, like Gold, Premium, where some people have acess to little stuff, others to some and others to all) ILL QUIT. no kidding, the good of wow is (as long as ur playing) ur not restrained from any action u might want to do. My two cents, cheers

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Pete5506

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Looking forward to GW2

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huytergeb

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@Isti01 Honestly, I couldn't agree with you more. And if they were to have people paying for incredibly overpowered items, I'm sure they know they would lose too big a chunk of their base..on the other hand, there are always those who are like "do anything and everything no matter the cost". Do I think that there should be items with some stats? Mounts that while decent aren't absurdly fast? On second thought, maybe just the option of buying some EFFECT items (click to use with cooldown..or maybe no cooldown but 50 charges or something..who knows?) then sure. But all I know is that if they make stuff necessary to buy, they lose. Bigtime.

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Gelugon_baat

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Anybody notice the credit card in the Blood Elf's hand? :lol:

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Chief_Kuuni

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I play DDO and love it, started when it became free to play

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TrueIori

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[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

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TrueIori

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@00ooPolarisoo00 Guild wars 2 will be open world and it is Subscription free.

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terminus

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Ummmmm, starwars WILL NOT be f2p. Starwars IS wow, but in the starwars universe. I AM a huge starwars fan, so I WILL get it when it comes out, but do not, under any circumstance, think that starwars will be any different then wow, except for the difference of one being fantasy, the other sci-fi fantasy. Guild wars 2 on the other hand, although fantasy, and persistent like wow, looks to be much different, besides graphics, story, and being f2p, they want to eliminate the repetitive grind that you find in most mmos. I would have to say gw2 is the most promising of the new mmo's. DC universe........ehhhhh, NO. Ps, people say wow is only big cause they have such a cult following, that's bs, star trek and star wars has a much larger fan base, and so far, all mmo's have failed miserably. Only time will tell, if this will be the starwars mmo we have been waiting for.

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JDWolfie

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That's because Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is going to blow this game away.

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IkedaTeramusa

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Here's how it's going to be boys and girls: WoW already does microtransactions. All those flying horsies... those were bought. Some of the pets, bought. I really dislike how everyone says "Oh , this is losing traction." or "This will be the next "WoW-killer". Whatever. There were many POSSIBLE contenders and all of them were bungled. Aion (bots/no real endgame), Champions Online (downhill from the moment Marvel dropped the MMO), Star Trek Online (downhill since they refused to listen to beta ideas), Warhammer Online (nothing to say, only lasted a month for me). Everyone keeps bringing up SWTOR. Yes, that will probably be a VERY good game. Lasting? Too soon to tell. But just in the next 6 months you have FFXIV (FFXI #2) and DC Online. FF has a HUGE Japanese following so I'm not sure that it would be too poor. FFXI STILL has a dominating group of individuals to play. I don't mind microtransactions but please don't take the MM out of the ORPG. Instancing (like in the original GW) was for the birds. I almost miss having to wait out beast spawn spots and compete for the right to kill things. It was SOOOOOO aggravating at the time but this instancing thing has been played out. Just my opinion.

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lucas182

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well.. this is because no one has made an excellent mmo in 6 years. nothing has come close to stealing WoW's crown, and that game has been out for so long that pretty much everyone has played it. There's no "new player" market. I myself played it for 2 years, then quit, and am soooo not coming back

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Isti01

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I really don't get how are the micro-transactions better for companies, because if I played a game that has microtransactions I wouldn't buy a thing... unless you need those items to keep up with others, but I wouldn't even touch a game that asks for money for necessary items... I really don't get it xD

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Raide890

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Anything that follows the Guild Wars payment model is a pass in my book.

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neogeta8

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@Subyman Blizzard have already started rolling one out. You can already get a number of in-game vanity pets and mounts which you buy from the Blizzard store.

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SamiRDuran

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yeah it got nothing to do with the fact that all recent big mmo releases ( aion, wahammer, age of conan) proved to be horrible games.

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MuffintopX

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Lots of new MMOs on the horizon which will bring me back in, I've been done with WoW for years now.

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subyman

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Don't be surprised if Wow adopts a microtransaction system sometime in the future, at least on certain servers.

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RockySquirrel

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MMO communities have been turning into punk-fests for years... It is no surprise to me that gamers with good social manners are abandoning today's MMOs and leaving the crappy communities in favor of single-player adventures. Of course, there never seems to be a shortage of MMO nerds, they are spawned by other nerds, so the Western punk-fests will go on and on...

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1nitram2

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I am happy i am purely a sinleplay player so i dont have to worry about all this stuff. Just give me a good game with a story, with a start and a finish and i am happy. =)

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lmsthecleaner

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Anything that lasts as long as WoW has is doomed to lose revenue. Got to admit it's done extremely well since it's release but after WOTLK content just got too repetitive, of course people are going to get bored of the same old thing and seek something new and exciting. SWTOR is coming up, thats going to put a lot of stress on Blizzard, no doubt they will jump on the F2P bandwagon to try and milk WoW as much as possible. SWTOR's going to be the next MMO dominator.

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00ooPolarisoo00

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I don't get how going F2P, MT heavy is more popular than the cheaper route of a sub fee a month. cheaper cuz companies will build around making needed items to be bought which makes the average cost a month over $15... I just don't get how that's more popular oh wait, ppl are dumb. now I understand. bring on the Microtransactions!!! can't wait to see em in The Old Republic!! can't wait to spend double a month on it cuz of F'n microtransactions fail

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Reuwsaat

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freakin money factory

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