NOV. 4, 2011 • Sony Online Ent. announced that two days after taking its DC Universe Online MMO free-to-play more than 120,000 new registrations had flooded in – a four times concurrent increase. After one week it was reported that 330,000 new players had joined the game. By the end of November, the user base growth rate had settled at 6% per day. The influx has led to long queue times to join servers. Additional servers were set to be added to handle the load. Until then, anyone with a $14.95 per month Legendary account receives log-in priority. As for daily revenue, it has increased 700% since the switch to F2P as players buy additional character slots and new skins for their heroes. SOE says 53% of this purchasing activity is coming from PS3 players.
Impact: Obviously when you give a game away for free usage will soar. However, for many MMOs, the free-to-play model actually provides more revenue than a mandatory subscription. The biggest issue is the limited number of users that are willing to pay monthly subscriptions. The business model for online games is still extremely tight and this obviously impacts the amount of money that can be budgeted for development and ongoing support. What is interesting about DC Universe Online is how strong it has been for the PlayStation 3. The console user base now needs to be considered for the appropriate products.