An independent analyst has speculated that the time may be nearing for Activision Blizzard’s World of Warcraft to make the jump to free-to-play.
A report by Superdata Research claims that the highly successful MMO has experienced a drop in revenues of 54 per cent in the last seven months. This is based on a supposed April revenue of $93 million – down from the $204 million recorded seven months previous.
The report states: “In a market where players are increasingly used to – and spending money on – in-game items, the lack of micro-transactions beyond pets and mounts looks like it’s starting to hurt.”
“What we generally see after a switch to free-to-play is an influx of new players and a spike in revenues, which, if the cards are played right, can be sustained.”
However, the firm who published the report does warn that for a game that has been so successful for so long using subscriptions a move to F2P might prove more problematic than it would for other titles.
“To switch entirely to F2P is currently too much of a jolt for WoW, and doesn’t make sense with the current metrics,” it added. “For example, in order to have sustained the US revenues the game saw in 2011, it would have had to convert 53 per cent of the total free-to-play audience in the US at the time.
“However, there are now more F2P gamers in the country – and worldwide – so it’s becoming easier to capture this audience. But there’s also more competition.
“With a dedicated player base and relatively stable MAUs, WoW would need a convergence of factors to make the switch beneficial. It looks like those factors are starting to stack up, but haven’t hit critical mass.”