Shortly after confirming that its DC Universe Online MMO is going free-to-play, Sony Online Entertainment president John Smedley talks about the future of online games and how the upcoming Star Wars: The Old Republic might be the last big title that employs monthly subscriptions.
Massively Multiplayer Online games have increased in number in the last few years, what with the huge success of Blizzard's World of Warcraft, but many have either been forgotten, closed down or went completely free-to-play, failing to replicate WoW's monthly subscription strategy.
DC Universe Online from SOE is the latest example, as what started as an online title with a monthly subscription is now preparing to go free-to-play next month, even if players still have an option to pay a monthly fee for special features.
Speaking in an editorial for Games Industry, SOE president John Smedley believes that Star Wars: The Old Republic is the last big MMO to use a subscription model and actually succeed.
"There's another large juggernaut coming out soon in Star Wars: The Old Republic from EA/Bioware. That's a game that I think has a legitimate shot at a 2 million subscription user base and I believe they will stick with the subscription method," he said.
"In my opinion this is going to be the last large scale MMO to use the traditional subscription business model. Why do I think that? Simply put, the world is moving on from this model and over time people aren't going to accept this method. I'm sure I'm going to hear a lot about this statement. But I am positive I'm right."
Smedley believes the harsher economic times make people more wiling to eliminate monthly expenses like MMO subscriptions, so free-to-play alternatives are more attractive and, with the right strategy, might push players to spend some actual money through microtransactions.
What do you think? Are you still willing to pay monthly subscriptions for MMOs or should they all go free-to-play and allow you to spend money whenever you feel like it?