China’s Tencent scored big with free-to-play games in 2013, with its CrossFire shooter holding the No. 1 position of the year and its League of Legends holding the No. 2 spot in revenues, according to market researcher SuperData Research on the communist nation’s multibillion-dollar PC game market.
Meanwhile, in the U.S., digital games grew 11 percent in revenues to $11.8 billion thanks to the rise of mobile and free-to-play games.
China’s top 10 free-to-play games, where players play for free and pay real money for virtual goods, generated $3.6 billion in revenue in 2013. CrossFire, made by SmileGate and published by Tencent, made $957 million in revenue, while League of Legends (developer Riot Games is now a Tencent subsidiary) came in at $624 million.
SuperData chief exec Joost van Dreunen said in a statement that “Tencent continues its dominance in the space with CrossFire and League of Legends, good for a combined annual gross of $1.58 billion, and staying ahead of Nexon, which holds three of the top 10 slots with a combined worth of well over $800 million.”
Wargaming came in at No. 4 with World of Tanks, which generated annual revenues of $372 million. NCSoft’s Lineage I, now in its 14th year, generated $257 million in revenue.
“Despite its chronic subscriber loss, World of Warcraft managed to generate $213 million in micro-transaction sales in 2013,” he said, in addition to its subscriber revenue.
Electronic Arts’ Star Wars: The Old Republic earned $139 million in additional revenues in 2013. In December, U.S. digital game sales hit $1.2 billion, up 36 percent from $862 million.
In the U.S., free-to-play online games grew 45 percent from $1.99 billion to $2.89 billion in 2013. Subscription revenues were $1.12 billion, down 19 percent from 2012. The U.S. mobile game market was $3.06 billion in 2013, up 28 percent from $2.39 billion. In December, mobile games were $317 million in December, up 16 percent from November.
The social games segment shrank 21 percent to $1.81 billion as social gamers shifted over to mobile. And the downloadable content market for bot PC and console games was $2.87 billion, up 13 percent from a year earlier. December DLC sales were $379 million, up 71 percent from a year ago.