ArenaNet: Have subs MMOs been ridden to death?
"For all we know there is a type of game out there that will continue to benefit from a subscription model, I've just not heard of it yet"
ArenaNet's Chris Lye was warned MMO developers away from using subscriptions, suggesting that the model has been, "ridden to death."
In an interview with Polygon, global brand manager Lye claimed that some form of free-to-play model is preferable for the majority of MMOs.
"Any developer who wants to be successful in today's market needs to take a really hard look and say 'Do we really want to use a subscription, is that the best thing for this game?' In many cases I don't think it is," he said.
"For all we know there is a type of game out there that will continue to benefit from a subscription model, I've just not heard of it yet."
"I think that any developer who is looking to do an online game and wants to retain a long tail of an online community that they're going to continue to work with has to seriously consider is subscription the best model or has that really been ridden to death?"
The forthcoming Guild Wars 2 is using the same model as its predecessor, where players purchase a retail copy that gives them full and permanent access to the game. This up-front fee is then supplemented by micro-transactions.
However, Lye says he can "understand the psychology" of developers who have chosen the subscription model in recent years, even when the market seemed to have transitioned to free-to-play.
"Taking on the development of an MMO period is risky enough. So people go 'Well, we're putting all the risk into the development of this game, let's not double-down on our risk and also try to do a whole new business model.'"
Earlier this week, Bioware's Star Wars: The Old Republic - regarded by many as a test-case for the viability of the subscription model - effectively announced its transition to the free-to-play model by opening up the vast majority of game content below level 50. The decision was taken in response to its subscriber-base falling below 1 million users.