The worldwide massively multiplayer online role-playing game market will grow to $8 billion in 2010 thanks mostly in part to Asian online game companies, according to a new study by Strategy Analytics Digital Media.
Its $8 billion forecast is an approximately 60 percent increase compared to the firm's $5-plus-billion estimate for the global MMORPG market in 2009. That $5 billion represents a 17 percent growth over 2008's amount, which Strategy Analytics attributed primarily to "the momentum of Asian online game companies".
The report, "The World of MMORPG: a Tale of Two Regions"
, argues that the MMORPG industry can be essentially considered as two regions, with Blizzard Entertainment dominating the "slowly growing" Western market, and publishers such as Shanda, Netease, Nexon, and NCsoft driving most of the MMORPG market's growth in Asia.
Strategy Analytics believes MMORPGs in the Western market are showing signs of a slowdown due to competition with console video games and the rising popularity of social games. It also says that the traditional subscription model in many Western MMORPGs has "lost traction and growth momentum."
Indeed, several Western MMORPGs that initially launched with subscriptions have switched to or incorporated a free-to-play/microtransactions model, such as EverQuest II, Dungeons & Dragons Online, The Lord of the Rings Online, Global Agenda
, and Alganon
"Contrary to the flattening Western market, the Asian MMORPG market has grown immensely since 2007, due to the successful virtual items-based revenue model," says Strategy Analytics Digital Media analyst Jia Wu. "As more Asian online game companies target US and European markets, they will become a formidable force in the global gaming industry."