A new GamesBeat event is around the corner! Learn more about what comes next. 

LOL League of Legends gameplay

Sure, tons of people canceled their monthly subscriptions to big-budget massively multiplayer online games, but they aren’t saving that money. Instead, gamers are shifting to free-to-play games like League of Legends and World of Tanks.

That shift will stimulate a continued growth in worldwide MMO revenues, according to financial analyst firm SuperData Research. The think-tank expects the industry, specifically on the strength of free-to-play, to reach $9.5 billion by 2015.

massively multiplayer online financial data


Three top investment pros open up about what it takes to get your video game funded.


“I recognize that there is some debate over including League of Legends [in our data] since you can only build characters within a short timeframe and play with a more limited number of players,” SuperData business development manager Sam Barberie told GamesBeat. “But for research and competition purposes people tend to group it with MMOs, especially because you are still building and leveling up a character. Our data come directly from publishers and developers, so it’s sort of a two-way street of both them and us considering a game to be MMO.”

SuperData pointed toward 2012, where F2P games out-earned pay-to-play titles in all 12 months. This new model is here and it’s where the money is at.

League of Legends, a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) from developer Riot Games, is the best example of how lucrative free-to-play is for some companies. Riot sells players different skins for their characters — along with other in-game goods — to help personalize the player experience. This paired with the game’s popularity as a competitive eSport, which is always bringing in new players, generates major profits for the developer.

World of Warcraft still makes more money than just about any free-to-play game, but it also has pushed out all competing subscription-based titles. So while the traditional $15-a-month games have a clearer path to big revenue gains, it is also a market that’s nearly impossible to crack.


GamesBeat's creed when covering the game industry is "where passion meets business." What does this mean? We want to tell you how the news matters to you -- not just as a decision-maker at a game studio, but also as a fan of games. Whether you read our articles, listen to our podcasts, or watch our videos, GamesBeat will help you learn about the industry and enjoy engaging with it. How will you do that? Membership includes access to:
  • Newsletters, such as DeanBeat
  • The wonderful, educational, and fun speakers at our events
  • Networking opportunities
  • Special members-only interviews, chats, and "open office" events with GamesBeat staff
  • Chatting with community members, GamesBeat staff, and other guests in our Discord
  • And maybe even a fun prize or two
  • Introductions to like-minded parties
Become a member