Top 10 Most Profitable MMOs and MMORPGs
Anyone ever wonder what the top 10 most profitable MMOs are? How do free to play games stack up against pay to play subscription games? You might be surprised. The games below are ranked by total revenue generated world wide. Here are some other fun numbers though in case you're curious. "Pay-to-play" subscription based games generated $2.7 billion in revenue in 2014 while "Free-to-play" games made $7.8 billion. The free to play market is over 3x larger than the pay to play one. Revenue numbers below are for the full year 2016.
Note: This list includes all free to play and subscription based online games. MMORPGs, MMOs, MOBAs, FPS games, etc. In fact spots #1-9 are the not only the highest grossing MMOs and MMORPGs, but they're also the highest grossing PC games in the world.
#10 - Dota 2
2015 Revenue: $238M
With Dota 2 rolling out in China and having hit over 1 million concurrent users, it's no surprise that Valve's hit MOBA is gaining share. The game's integration with Steam Workshop allows content creators to design their own cosmetics and sell them to players, which creates a constant stream of unique cosmetics available to players. Dota 2's cosmetics are also available in a much more detailed fashion than other MOBAs, as players can purchase individual weapons, hairstyles, hoods, armor, etc for their heroes rather than one skin.
#9 - MapleStory
2015 Revenue: ~$253M
MapleStory was one of the first mega successful free to play games in North America and despite its success in the West, it's a much more profitable game for Nexon in Asia. The game has an enormous Chinese playerbase and remains popular in South Korea as well.
#8 Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
2016 Revenue: ~$300M
CS:GO regularly sits at the #2 spot on Steam's most played list after Dota2 and even giving it a run for its money from time to time. The game has consistantly rocked the Steam charts and although gets less users than DotA 2, it monetizes better on a per user basis.
#7 - Lineage
2016 Revenue: $327M
It's amazing how a game released back in 1998 can still be so successful even today. Despite the game's closure in Western markets, Lineage continues to be a moneymaker for NCSoft in Asia. Lineage 2 doesn't come close to the original game's success. Revenue data sourced directly from NCSoft's earnings reports.
#6 - Hearthstone
2016 Revenue: ~$395M
Despite only launching in early 2014, Hearthstone is one of the most successful online games of all time. The game has already shattered Blizzard's most optimistic assumptions and continues to perform extremely well. With continuous updates, a growing e-sports scene, and mobile compatibility, Hearthstone continues to grow rapidly.
#5 - World of Tanks
2015 Revenue ~$446M
Wargaming's World of Tanks took the world by storm after first launching in Russia in August, 2010. The game has been remarkably successful in every country it's launched in being a smashing hit in Europe, North America, and Asia.
#4 - World of Warcraft
2015 Revenue: ~$814M
I don't think anyone should be surprised to see World of Warcraft make this list, but it may be surprising to some to see it in the #4 slot. World of Warcraft has been hugely successful in both Western and Eastern markets. It's actually the most successful pay to play subscription MMORPG in the world, but has been edged out on this list by free to play titles. World of Warcraft has been one of Blizzard's most profitable games ever, if not the most profitable game. Despite its original launch in late 2004, World of Warcraft continues to remain a dominant force in the MMORPG space.
#3 - Dungeon Fighter Online
2016 Revenue: ~$1,200M
Dungeon Fighter Online, called Dungeon & Fighter in Asia, makes the #3 spot. This one may be surprising to some, as Nexon shut the game down in the West due to a lack of a playerbase. Fortunately for Nexon, there's no lack of players in Asia, as the game is immensely popular in China. Dungeon Fighter Online reaches over 2 million concurrent players in China alone, making it one of the most popular free to play MMORPGs ever.
#2 - Crossfire
2015 Revenue: ~$1,200M
Despite being only moderately successful in the U.S, Crossfire remains a juggernaut of a game in China and South Korea. It's the most popular FPS game in Asia and has quite a large e-Sports scene.
#1 League of Legends
2016 Revenue: ~$1,800M
This one shouldn't be too surprising, as Riot Games' League of Legends took the world by storm since its original launch in late 2009. League of Legends is one of the few free to play games on this list, along with World of Tanks, that's extremely successful in both the East and West. Despite its age now, League is still growing its playerbase. As of September 2016 the game boasted over 100 million monthly active users.
I understand that revenue is not the same thing as profit, but since it's impossible to obtain profit numbers, revenue is the best proxy. Revenue data cited from SuperDataResearch.com and is updated yearly. This list of most profitable games will be kept up to date as new data becomes available. We all use data from investor presentations, which are reports produced directly by some of these game companies.