Representatives from Chinese publisher Shanda Entertainment have announced that the company’s hugely successful massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) Legend of Mir II will now be available free to play to all its customers, alongside newer Shanda-created RPG Magical Land.
In addition, Shanda will gradually adopt this new model for its other existing MMORPGs, including brand-new MMO The World of Legend, which is "recommended by the [Chinese] Ministry of Culture to teenagers", an important step as the Chinese government continues to crack down on MMOs in the region.
Instead of relying on an in-game advertising model to help generate revenue, though, such as has been partially adopted by Western MMORPGs such as Anarchy Online, the company will now generate income by charging for “certain in-game items and premium features”, a concept that continues to flourish in Asia and is being prepared in the West by companies such as Sony Online.
Tianqiao Chen, CEO of Shanda, has commented of the change: "After several years of operating our casual games under the similar revenue model and after extensive research into the Chinese online games market, we believe that adopting the Avatar-based revenue model for more games will benefit the company in the long run. However, it might have a negative impact on the short-term revenues of our MMORPGs."