NewZoo, a gaming business analysis firm, has conducted and published a study showing that the overall free to play (F2P) market spending totals are up significantly over 2010 numbers. American spending money on F2P titles, the study shows, is up 24% to a total of $1.2 billion dollars.
That spending, however, is not uniform across gaming titles. With the market turning global, NewZoo cautions, the monetization model that works best in one market may not work well in another. Even large games with a lot of marketing and backing, like LEGO Universe, are not immune from failures in this regard.
“Success will also strongly depend on how MMO companies extend their unique gameplay and IP across other game platforms, specifically mobile..” says Peter Warman, CEO of NewZoo.
The 2011 Games Market Report also details that while the number of gamers and the money they’re spending on MMOs is increasing, the number of quality games for them to play is still over-large for the market, outpacing growth – every day of the year sees a new MMO launch, on average, though few are considered “quality.”
This breeds heavy competition amongst MMOs and is the likely reason that games like World of Warcraft, still considered king of the mountain for MMO games, is losing players in a snowball of desertion.
NewZoo stresses continuous marketing, rather than big boost at launch marketing, and predicts that F2P as a model is here to stay. The report sees that the Asian market is growing quickly, but that the most significant thing to note is the amount of Asian money being invested in Western game companies and products, which may prove to be a more significant trend for the gaming community.
In all, the F2P model in MMO is reaching the 50% mark in the U.S. and is well beyond that in most other markets. This is not insignificant and shows that the genre is growing fast, but with caveats that gaming developers need to keep in mind.
The report can be downloaded from NewZoo.