Posts Tagged ‘runescape’

Free-to-play paying off big for Turbine

Monday, May 17th, 2010

This year’s annual survey of online gamers, as conducted by research firm the NPD Group, highlights some very interesting shifts in overall online gamer behavior. Recently acquired Turbine’s Dungeons and Dragons Online had overtaken long seated Guild Wars in the third place spot. As expected, Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft took the number one position, with Jagex’s RuneScape holding down second.

This past January, the NPD Group surveyed 19,000 online gamers and found that around 30 percent are regular WoW players, thus crowning the title king of online games (again). Around 10 percent of those surveyed indicated that they’re regular RuneScape players. According to Massively, both of these titles have held the top slots in this annual survey for quite some time now, with Guild Wars usually nabbing the number 3 spot.

Guild Wars’ percentage played has not changed this year (7 percent), and one would expect the results to remain the same. However, there’s been another player introduced to this highly competitive swimming pool, and it looks like this one’s a shark. Turbine’s Dungeons and Dragons Online: Eberron Unlimited has obviously struck a chord with online gamers, as the title’s popularity has doubled over the past year, enough so that it’s officially overtaken NCsoft’s Guild Wars. Even though DDO’s percentage was not given, it must be above 7 percent, but less than 10 percent, so for arguments’ sake, let’s say 8.5 percent.

If this isn’t the turn around/comeback/holy smokes story of the year, than I’m not quite sure what is. If you’ll remember, Dungeons and Dragons, while moderately popular, was at the phase in a product’s lifecycle where it either a) receives a major renovation, in one form or another, and is quasi-re-released, or…b) the title quietly subsides into the darkness where video games go to sleep. In DDO’s case, for many months it was looking like the later. Until … one (probably more, but let’s heighten the drama), brave individual at Turbine had the idea of converting the game to a free-to-play, and monetizing it through in-game sales, as well as offering a subscription plan to those that are interested (a hybrid, if you will).

Fast forward a few months, and it looks like the decision to take DOO to the free-to-play model has/is paying off handsomely. Not only has Turbine been acquired by Warner Bros., but they’ve now got a bona-fide hit on their hands, and on that was slated for the dustbin at that. The NPD report backs this supposition, as their data indicates that subscriptions are starting to lose their attractiveness to online gamers, down from 130 percent in 2009 to now a paltry 18 percent.


Runescape pulls down $58M in 2009 revenues, profits $27M

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

Given the rise in free-to-play gaming popularity over the past few years, it’s no longer a debatable fact whether or not the business model works. And while we’ve talked numbers in the past, additional information on the model and the industry behind it never hurts. It should come as no surprise that one of the most popular free-to-play MMO’s is bringing home some serious cash.

Recently unearthed by Games Brief’s Nicholas Lovell, British game developer Jagex, producers of Runescape, are bringing home revenues pushing £38.4 million (~$58 million), with profits of £18 million (~ $27 million), according to the Companies House, a requirement for all British firms.

Jagex’s revenues illustrate a 47 percent operating margin, including the tens of millions of pounds spend on the debacle that became Mechscape. 94 percent of Runescape’s revenues do come from subscriptions, but Jagex is still brining home over £2 million in ad revenue each year. Certainly nothing to sneeze at.

While over 10 million monthly unique users, 9 million of which play the game for free, 1 million of them subscribe to the service each month.

Also according to the Companies House, Jagex shareholders have cashed in over £31 million (~$48 million) in dividends over the past four years, and the company has an active £15 million (~$23 million) in the bank ready to be used for future development.

As Games Brief asks, “Still need convincing Free-to-Play works?”

We don’t.


Combat Arms Europe counts 800k, RuneScape 105 million!

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

Both Nexon and Jagex have recently released some impressive registered users numbers. Both free-to-play titles, Nexon’s Combat Arms is now counting approximately 800,000 registered users, while Jagex’s RuneScape has been recognized by Guinness World Records as the world’s most popular free-to-play title, with over 105 million registered users over the title’s lifespan.

Combat Arms saw a December ’08 open beta and February ’09 official Europe release date, and has recently surpassed the 800,000 registered user mark. Nexon Europe reports that their average CCU (concurrent users) number hovers around 12,000 player mark, clearly indicating that Combat Arms is one of the fastest growing and most successful free-to-play first person shooter games in Europe.

“We are thrilled by the figures and results that we see with Combat Arms Europe” said Sung Jin Kim, Director of NEXON Europe. “We receive great feedbacks from our players who love the great mix of fast-paced FPS and socialization features within the game. We are dedicated to providing an interactive and exciting gaming experience to all players at every level, and look forward to bringing far more new action through the updates we have in queue, and, consequently, to continuing with Combat Arms Europe’s great success.”

As with all Nexon offerings, Combat Arms is free-to-play, and is supported via in-game microtransaction based purchases. Titled the “Black Market” users can exchange real-world money for Nexon credits to purchase additional gear, items, clothing, etc. in order to customize their gaming experience.

And while 800,000 users for a title that’s not yet one year out on the marketplace is quite impressive, on the other end of the scale, information surfaced yesterday regarding Jagex’s RuneScape registered users numbers. According to the Guinness World Records, RuneScape is the world’s largest free game with 105 million registered users.

runescape-no-5In fairness, these numbers account for Runescape’s entire product runtime, some 9+ years. However, even if we’re looking at 9 years, that’s still on average 11.6 million users per year signing up. If that ‘somewhere around 12 million’ number is jumping out at you, yes, that’s the current estimate of active WoW players globally. And again, while this number is cumulative, according to Jagex’s CEO Mark Gerhard, approximately 10 million of those registered users are regularly logging in.

When pressed on the numbers, and asked if RuneScape is making more money than the industry yardstick, World of Warcraft, Gerhard comments that Jagex isn’t really measuring success based on financial returns. “The company is very strong financially, and it is thanks to RuneScape, but for us it’s all about active players. It doesn’t matter to us really if they’re free or paying for the expansion – as long as it’s going North we really don’t care.”
Looking to capitalize on RuneScape’s success, Jagex isn’t resting on their laurels. Currently in development at the Cambridge, England studio is MechScape, and sci-fi browser based MMO.