World Of Warcraft Still Top Earning MMO In The World According To Annual Research Report; WoW Commands Bigger Market Than All Others Combined

By Steve Buja , Updated Jul 18, 2014 01:07 PM EDT
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Rumors of World of Warcraft's death have been greatly exaggerated.

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The world's most popular MMO may not have the subscription numbers like it once had, but the fantasy game is still the top earning entry in the genre with over $1 billion in revenue in 2013. In fact, the other 9 games in the top 10 just barely beat out WoW in terms of market share (a combined 38% vs WoW's 36%).

The group SuperData compiled a full list of the top 10 best earning MMOs by monitoring the spending habits of 36.9 million gamers, "collected from a mix of developers, publishers and payment services."

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In a distant second, NCSoft's Lineage, the South Korean fantasy title launched in 1998 earned $253 million in revenue. Which is absolutely mind-blowing considering that, let me stress this again, the game can now legally drive and is only available in Korea. Lineage 2, the sequel set 150 years before the first game, pulled in $45 million last year, enough for a solid #9 showing.

NCSoft itself claims four of the top 10 positions. Aion and Blade And Soul come in at #7 and #8, respectively, for a tidy $88 and $65 million apiece.

Only four of the top 10 games are from North American developers. EA's Star Wars: The Old Republic (#4), Lord of the Rings Online (#5) from Turbine and RIFT from Trion (#10). The Old Republic is holding strong, netting $165 million in revenue for the developer after a shaky start. The introduction of the freemium model has helped bolster both revenue and player numbers.

It will be interesting to see what happens this year with the introduction of two new MMOs: The Elder Scrolls Online and Wildstar. TESO has already netted nearly three quarters of a billion subscribers as of June, and with the recent introduction of Steam availability, that number should soon swell. Wildstar is another NCSoft title that launched last month and has "seen "four to five times" as many concurrent users than during its open beta stage. Combined with NCsoft's expertise, having four titles in the worldwide top 10 for subscription-based MMOs last year, Wildstar is a strong contender in the current market."

Subscriptions are falling away heavily. Thanks, Obama. And microtransactions, the things we all love to hate are making up the ground. From SuperData: "In the past five years, the percentage of revenue for subscription-based MMO generated via additional in-game microtransactions has roughly doubled from 14% for 27%. In addition, the average digital spend, in addition to the monthly fee, has tripled from $16 to $46, worldwide. Despite the overall decline, this category has so far managed to maximize their ability to monetize a shrinking yet loyal player base."

It will be a long time before World of Warcraft surrenders its spot. What do you think will be the death stroke that will bring the MMO giant to its knees?

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