A recent report by Screen Digest titled “Western World MMOG Market: 2006 Review and Forecasts to 2011” has produced some bold predictions for one of the fastest growing segments in gaming. Some of the findings are obvious (World of WarCraft is the most popular subscription game), while some of the breakdowns are more interesting (the European market, particularly France, will grow faster than North American market over the next five years).
While the report states that 87 percent of MMO revenue is generated through subscriptions, new business models that rely on virtual item sales and in-game advertising are on the rise. New business models and new customers that aren’t traditional gamers will be a continuing trend through 2011. The report’s author, Piers Harding-Rolls, says, “During the past few years the Western landscape for massively multiplayer online games has become increasingly fragmented following the introduction of new genres of games including social networking, virtual pet rearing and virtual world building titles. These new games and platforms have brought with them many new gamers and also new business models that are generating revenue that is largely incremental to the incumbent subscription business.”
The full report consists of 76 pages and 82 charts. It is available in print and PDF format, costing $2,045 for the former and $4,090 for the latter. Here are some of its key findings:
- Market value for MMOGs in the West hit $1bn for the first time in 2006. Market growth has been helped by the introduction of more casual MMOG experiences and new business models.
- The North American subscription market was worth $576m, while Europe was worth $299m.
- By 2011 the MMOG subscription market will be worth over $1.5bn and Europe will enjoy the stronger growth between the two Western regions.
- Over the five year period, Germany will remain the largest subscription market in Europe, followed by the UK.
- World of Warcraft is by far the most popular subscription game, accounting for 54% of the subscription market in 2006. Its next nearest competitor was Runescape from UK developer/publisher Jagex.