The Weekly Raid: Will Subscription MMOs Make a Comeback?

With a new World of Warcraft expansion on the horizon, we are once again reminded that the subscription based MMORPG business model is far from dead. While the ratio of free to play to subscription games continues to favor the former, there are a number of interesting releases worth highlighting.

Last week Rift announced the addition of a classic server that will be subscription-only. Rift originally launched as a subscription game back in 2011, but switched to a free to play model in 2013 due to a declining playerbase. Rift is not the first free to play MMORPG to offer a subscription server. Allods Online did the same, and even classic titles like EverQuest exclude their most popular progression servers from their free users.

In their latest quarterly financial report, Square Enix showed a 36% increase in revenue for their MMO division, which includes Final Fantasy 11, Final Fantasy 14, and Dragon Quest 10. All of these games require a subscription.

Many upcoming MMORPGs too will adopt a subscription model: Pantheon Rise of the Fallen, Camelot Unchained, and Ashes of Creation just to name a few.

Its clear the subscription model is still alive and well. In fact, many veteran MMORPG players still prefer it. The excesses of free to play may one day swing the whole genre back to its subscription based roots.

Lifelong gamer always looking for the next virtual adventure. I'm still waiting for the next big MMORPG. Until then, you can find me hopping between multiple games.