Online gamers are moving away from subscription models and towards free and free-to-play gaming, according to a research analyst at Parks Associates, a Texan consulting firm.
Revenue streams are increasingly coming from the sale of virtual goods, with report co-author Pietro Macchiarella naming FarmVille, World of Warcraft, and the Nexon Corporation (MapleStory, Dungeon Fighter Online) as notable beneficiaries of the trend.
According to the firm's new report 'Online Gaming: Global Outlook', the increase in the percentage of gamers who purchase in-game items has been matched by similar decreases in those who subscribe to MMOs (games like World Of Warcraft) and those who pay a monthly fee for premium online game subscriptions.
The new breed of social games make good use of in-game purchases, with companies like Zynga profiting from not only advertising revenue but monetary contributions that come directly from players or are split with platform host Facebook.
That's not to say that more traditional titles are being left behind either.
The upcoming Battlefield: Play4Free is to be free for all users, with an optional item store. The studio's general manager estimates that their money will come from just 5% of the game's userbase.
The hugely popular cartoon-style Team Fortress 2 received a September 30 update that added an in-game store, selling customization items to players.
Four competition winners had their creations included among the items on offer and were given a 25% share of revenues from those trinket sales.
After a mere three weeks, they were due between $39,000 and $47,000 each.
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