The free to play revolution isn’t killing premium subscriptions, Turbine believes, but it’s forcing providers to give consumers flexibility.
“It’s probably not right to say the subscription MMO is dying, it’s probably more right to say the idea of forcing a player to only have one option for having to consume your content – that’s probably dying,” digital communications chief Adam Mersky told Eurogamer.
“I would say the mistake that’s going on out there is that people are thinking that free-to-play is something you do a few years after you do the subscription. If we were going to release another MMO, we would not come out and – from my perception – launch it as a subscription game. The right choice would be to make it a player-choice of subscription or free-to-play,” he said.
Mersky said the free to play revolution has broader implications and manifestations that online gaming.
“People now in the west expect to have full control over their entertainment dollar and spend it the way they want to,” he explained.
“While we certainly pioneered [F2P changeover] in the online game space, and the industry is adopting it – this is pretty prevalent throughout the entertainment industry. You can choose to subscribe to your satellite or cable television service, or you can buy an IP box like a Roku or an Apple TV, and get your TV shows by paying per show versus paying a monthly fee for all the TV you can watch. This is going on across entertainment.”
Turbine’s major MMOs, Lord of The Rings Online and Dungeons and Dragons Online, both saw significant revenue spikes after converting to free to play; Mersky said DDO is now “doing better than at any time” and that 2012 will be its “biggest year ever”.