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While the MMO crowd has mostly been bombarded with medieval fantasy MMOs all trying to cash in on Blizzard's World of Warcraft success, the reality is that many American gamers actually prefer free-to-play science-fiction MMOs over any other pay-to-play MMO sub-genre.
According to NewZoo, 36% of the near 40 million active MMO gamers in the United States like to play games with a sci-fi theme or overtones...14 million gamers to be exact. What's more is that out of the 39 million MMO gamers in the United States less than 16% of those gamers actually pay-to-play MMOs online, which would explain the upsurge in former P2P MMOs being quickly converted over into F2P MMOs. Even more than that, 68% of all MMO gamers in the United States prefer free-to-play games, while the remaining 16% are undecided and will go either way.
It's kind of the opposite in the Asian territories where 52% of the MMO gamers prefer over there prefer pay-to-play games, but the rest are still quick to jump into free-to-play MMOs as well, showing a rapid growth in the F2P market just the same as the North American market.
Unsurprisingly enough 80% of all gamers in Russia, Brazil, Mexico and also prefer free-to-play games. That kind of ties into the whole market research suggesting that 75% of all Russian gamers get their games for free...or eh, illegally.
Peter Warman, CEO Newzoo, shared a few comments on the date saying...
“You will not catch me making any predictions about StarWars: the Old Republic. But I am very curious to see how much F2P SciFi gamers EA will be able to convert to P2P gamers and what part will come from outside the current pool of SciFi gamers, being complete newcomers as well as the subscribers to EveOnline, WoW, Rift or any other triple A P2P MMO game. With big F2P SciFi titles also scheduled to launch pretty soon I expect to see significant differences in uptake of the various SciFi titles in US, Europe and Emerging markets.”
It will be interesting to see how a pay-to-play game like Star Wars: The Old Republic will do in the long run, especially with all the other big-budget free-to-play titles on the horizon like FireFall. Initially I imagine a lot of Star Wars fans will blindly hop onboard the SW:TOR train, but the real question is if BioWare has enough repeatable content available in the game to keep gamers coming back for more, sort of the way CCP handles EVE Online.
You can learn more about the research and market data regarding the sci-fi MMO market and free-to-play titles by paying a visit to the Official NewZoo Website.