SuperData Research and Newzoo released a study on the growth of the MMO market, finding that the global market will rise above $12 billion in 2012, and is set to reach $17.5 billion in 2015. The year-on-year growth in the West ranges from 14 percent in the U.S. to 24 percent in Germany, totaling $2.9 billion and $700 million, respectively.
Despite this growth, individual MMO game revenues are sometimes struggling as the number of available MMO games has almost doubled since the beginning of 2011. The analysis shows that in Germany, with a stable monthly ARPPU, the growing share of paying players is the main driver, while in the U.S., ARPPU figures for individual titles in a single month are down, but higher annual spend per paying gamer pushes the market upwards.
For the 50 million MMO gamers in the U.S., 23 million spend money on free-to-play or subscription MMOs, a 3 percent increase from last year, and will spend $127 for the full year, 11 percent more than in 2011. The ARPPU for individual titles in May 2012 was $17 compared to $27 in October 2011, which can be explained by an increase in purchase frequency, a lower average transaction size and spending on a number of different games.
In Germany, a larger share of MMO gamers spends money than in the U.S. (59 percent versus 46 percent) and the number of paying MMO gamers has jumped an impressive 37 percent year on year. With so many new paying players, the average annual spend has dropped slightly with 9 percent to a total of $100 expected for 2012, while the ARPPU in May 2012 was stable at $25 compared to the $26 in October, indicating higher transaction size, lower purchase frequency and more paying players.
“The current market saturation forces MMO publishers to compete over a finite gamer population,” comments Joost van Dreunen, CEO of SuperData. “This makes it of critical importance to closely monitor conversion rates and ARPPUs on an ongoing basis well as keep track of changing consumer behavior. Together with Newzoo, we are able to provide better insight into the mechanics of this growth market.”
The share of revenues coming from free-to-play MMO games continues to rise, increasing to 50 percent this year, up from 39 percent in 2010, while German free-to-play spending already passed the 50 percent mark in 2010 and is expected to grow above 60 percent in 2015. Increasingly, companies are putting free trials and in-game purchases into pay-to-play games, blurring the lines between MMO business models.
“MMO players are very dedicated gamers,” adds Peter Warman, CEO of Newzoo. “As the majority already plays games on other screens, it will be interesting to see if publishers succeed in extending and monetizing their MMO experience across all screens. Working together with SuperData adds enormous value to both our own insights as well as those of our clients.”