Article published on Sunday, December 26th, 2010
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Another year is almost behind us as online gamers continue to witness a changing MMO industry. We have seen many subscription based MMOs defeated by financial problems or little anticipation from gamers. The MMO industry is undergoing an enormous change comparable to what the music industry was hit by when MP3s were discovered (except there is nothing illegal about publishing free-to-play games).

Here are some highlights this year:

After only two and a half months of its launched date, the company behind APB ran into financial problems and had to closed down their game. They sold their APB license to GamersFirst which will publish the next chapter of APB in the first half of 2011 as a free-to-play game.

Turbine, the developer and publisher of Lord of The Rings Online which successfully launched in 2007 suprised us when they announced that the game would be serviced as free-to-play earlier this year. Their transition from a subscription based game to a free-to-play game was successful.

Furthermore, one of the most successful Korean MMO publishers, Gravity Interactive recently launched WarpPortal in hopes to take over a large piece of this industry. Their classic MMOs like Ragnarok Online and ROSE online which used to have a monthly subscription fee are now free-to-play. They have also acquired F2P game publisher Ndoors and developer Barunson Interactive, for hundreds of millions of dollars!

We have also seen Bigpoint and Playboy Entertainment (Yes, Playboy bunnies) hop into the action with the free-to-play title PoisonVille. If you are more interested in a funny airport game Skyrama might be a great choice for you. Because of its funny and comic-like atmosphere this browser game is a big deal for the whole family. It is not only the game play which makes Skyrama so pleasant. The competitive story lets you experience the ups and downs of a regional airfield that you develop into a busy international airport with a lot of destinations to your friends who share the same enthusiasm online all over the world.

Sadly, there are still many subscription based MMOs who haven’t changed their business model as they continue to see a decline in their player count. Some of these game publishers debating on whether to change their model will find it hard to compete with already established companies and game titles in the free-to-play industry. Good luck to them!

We know that there are still a few successful subscription based MMOs like World of Warcraft (Is this the only one?). However, free-to-play MMOs are becoming the standard model for this industry and games that are suppose to be subscription based are now becoming free-to-play. This means that the quality of free-to-play MMOs are getting better and better each year and many leading game publishers in this industry are making hundreds of millions in revenue while reinvesting in the development of new game titles for us to enjoy.

With this said, it is very hard to launch a subscription based MMO successfully if the game isn’t known as a worthy title to pay for. As more and more online game communities pop up dedicated to covering free-to-play games, we can safely say that this F2P industry will be the standard model for upcoming MMOs in the near future.