Earning reports are currently putting League of Legends as the top earning online game in the world. With revenue of just under US$1 billion, it is easy to forget that the game itself is still free-to-play. Its nearest competitor comes from Korean first-person shooter Crossfire which earned US$897 million; and is also free-to-play game.
Subscription based online games are not exactly losing money either, with World of Warcraft actually gaining some 600,000 new players with the launch of the Warlords of Draenor expansion pack. However, the Blizzard MMORPG has been bleeding players for years now, and the latest surge of new players only appears to be a temporary measure to keep the game afloat. Whether it will be able to retain these paying customers is a completely different story.
League of Legends direct competitor, Valve’s Dota 2, only took in US$136 million from January to September 2014. The large difference in revenue is largely unknown, although it is likely that the relatively smaller market share affects the outcome. Which is odd considering the amount of noise that both sides make when talking about their preferred game.
Overall, SuperData says that MMOs are on track to generate US$11 billion in revenue for this year, with Asia being the main source of income. It appears that Asians are simply more likely to spend money in online games than anyone else; although it should be mentioned that most free to play titles are relying on a tiny percentage of players who actually spend a significant amount of money. With that in mind, it looks like free-to-play games are still very much the way to go for creating a sustainable MMO.