KAPOW! DC Universe Revenue Up 700%

By John Walker on November 22nd, 2011 at 8:32 am.

Revenue POW!

Just in case there were any doubt left that the owners of Lego Universe were completely bonkers to just close down their subscription game without trying a free-to-play model, DC Universe is reporting a slight increase in revenue since they made the switch. The small matter of an extra 700% per day. Eurogamer spotted that the very enthusiastic Sony Online Entertainment president, John Smedley, tweeted his good news. News that will surely be yet another blow to the subs model.

Explaining that they’re having to deal with large queues with the substantial demand brought by new players (a 1000% increase since 1st November), Smedley apologises for the issues and explains that “we’re on it”. But he then goes on to demonstrate exactly why the lines are so long. The playerbase is growing at a ferocious 6% a day, and for those poo-poohing the numbers as experimental accounts from those just having a sniff, he adds that 85% of daily logins are returning players. That’s a very significant number, proving that people are sticking around.

Of those new players, perhaps a surprising number are on the PS3 version. I still find it hard to square away the idea that console players will take part in an MMO, but then I’m probably just being racist or something. Because that 700% in increased revenue is coming only 47% from PC players, while PS3 users are forking out 53% of the profits.

Which only makes the decisions by EA, BioWare and Funcom, with The Old Republic and The Secret World, to stick to the subscription model a more interesting one. Clearly WoW and its 10 million plus subscribers proves there’s a way to do it, and clearly both those new games believe they have what it takes to take a slice of Blizzard’s pie. But what are the chances that either will make it through their freshman year without making the switch?

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28 Comments »

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  1. Juan Carlo says:

    I actually decided to give this a go. But then I realized it’s an 18 gig download, which changed my mind.

    I’m not surprised about the PS3 numbers, though. Isn’t f2p still a novel concept on the consoles? I imagine it’s new and exciting for them.

  2. Lobotomist says:

    I said it back than when LOTRO went F2P : “Subscription model is dead”

    Ever since it was a landslide.

    Today. Its real hard opting for subscription when so many quality MMOs are F2P.

    Looking at SWTOR, it is going to have hard time dealing with such competition.

    Especially once GW2 and Diablo 3 are released

    • Valvarexart says:

      How does Diablo 3 relate with MMO’s?

    • Zakkeh says:

      The fact that it is permanently online and has in the past had a large amount of trading interaction I guess. it’s a time sink like an MMO, but like Guild Wars 2 it won’t cost money per month.

    • Lobotomist says:

      “How does Diablo 3 relate with MMO’s?”

      With all “CO-OP” games being branded MMO these days , no reason not to qualify Diablo 3 as MMO.

      You will need constant internet connection. You characters and saves are stored on Blizz servers. And your game will be open to join in by anyone (unless you lock it)

      So its not much different from let say “Rusty hearts” or Vindictus”

      And those are branded MMO

    • -Spooky- says:

      Diablo is Action RPG *nuff said*

    • johnpeat says:

      Diablo 3 borrows heavily from the MMO technical model – Diablo 2 contained many elements of it.

      Guild Wars is often referred-to as an MMO but it’s technical model is identical to Diablo 2 (lobbies and instanced worlds unique to players/teams).

      Truthfully, for me an MMO is a shared and persistent world which has a large player cap and Guild Wars/Diablo aren’t that.

      Over time tho – the distinctions between games always fade – D3 is likely to remind players as much of WoW as of D2.

  3. Hoaxfish says:

    I wonder if the real business model isn’t “P2P for release, then F2P for longevity”… that initial con returns a chunk of their investment straight away (and with pre-orders/early subs they can pre-empt “release” review negativity), but then they switch to F2P to keep up a constant flow of income.

    Just going straight to F2P is obviously a cleaner decision than weird bait&switch economics, but they run into those people who equate F2P with negative effects, and there’s no immediate investment from the playerbase.

  4. Pardoz says:

    Figures like 700% increase in revenues and 1000% increase in new players certainly sound impressive…until you take into consideration that SOE closed 22 of the 26 servers six months after launch because they were completely empty. When you start out that deep in the hole, bringing in any revenue (or new players) shows up as a massive spike in the graph without actually having much real meaning.

    Something similar applies to LotRO, where the servers were quite comfortably full…of people who’d bought $200 lifetime subscriptions, meaning that Turbine’s monthly revenue from them was nil, so again, any revenue they got after the switch had a disproportional effect when reported as a percentage.

    • trouble_gum says:

      Plus, those “85% of logins are returning players” – does that actually mean anything? Beyond that 85% of logins are returning players. Not 85% of people who created new accounts since it went F2P have stayed with it.

      Equally, it went F2P on Novemeber 1st? That’s a mere 21 days ago. Three weeks is plenty of time for most people to continue to play a game before deciding “Eh, not for me anymore.” If a large percentage of new accounts are still logging in 6 months from now, then that might be impressive.

  5. cliffski says:

    People should just make games and sell them. The minute you have an ongoing subscription (tied to time spent ie: grind) or a need to sell items on a constant basis, your game design becomes compromised.
    I never even download a ‘free’ (HAHAHAHA) to play game, because I get enough of people demanding money from me all day without it happening when I’m trying to relax.
    I’m quite happy to see a game I like (anno 2070 for example) and then *gasp* buy it outright.

    • DiamondDog says:

      “I’m quite happy to see a game I like (anno 2070 for example) and then *gasp* buy it outright.”

      So are a lot of people. It’s not like you either have to buy all your games outright or only play F2P, it’s possible to mix. If a game is free to play (not sure why you’re laughing at the use of that word) why wouldn’t you give it a try? That’s the whole appeal, there’s no risk in trying it out.

      I hate to phrase it this way but your statement of “people should just make games and sell them” comes across as very closed minded. Like an old record label man that can’t understand why artists give away free songs on Bandcamp.

    • Premium User Badge

      Carra says:

      I’d rather pay a monthly fee like in WoW than playing a game where others can just buy their way to power. That’s sadly what usually happens with free to play games;

    • cliffski says:

      I laugh because the games are not free. nothing in life is free. The game is free if you want to play as cannon fodder for the guys who bought better guns, or if you want to grind away, spending time the game designer has known is not worth it, in order to avoid paying.
      F2P games are deliberately designed to be unsatisfying to play for free, in order to encourage payment. Anyone who thinks otherwise is a liar or crushingly innocent.

      Games cost a lot to make, they have to earn revenue somehow. I like the honesty of Anno 2070 and Battl3efield 3 just setting a price for the game, then making a good game.

    • Novack says:

      @cliffski, in essence, I agree, but is hard not to feel that your opinions are expressed in a really harsh way.

      I’ve played F2P games and found them a good experience, and I dont consider myself a liar or crushingly innocent.

      Edit: your bussiness model opinions are obsolete no news, imho. You’re just commending a model, without any substantial improvement since the middle age.

    • DiamondDog says:

      Well I don’t know about any other F2P game but as I’ve said on another League of Legends article, I’ve played that game for a while now without spending a penny. A friend of mine that started playing at the same time has bought a couple of skins, probably worth about £10. Everything you need can be earned through playing the game. It’s not grinding because you get points for playing in a standard PvP match. In LoL nothing you buy unbalances the game because you all have access to the same stuff. It just lets people buy things without waiting, or spend money on cosmetics.

      Also, I wouldn’t say LoL is unsatisfying to play for free. They make their money through people willing to spend cash on skins, or getting champions without having to save points. The game is the same with or without spending cash. I am not a liar or innocent. Please don’t insult my intelligence.

      The fact that you state “they aren’t free” and then “they’re only free if you want to be cannon fodder” suggests you’re just railing at this without thinking about it. Are they free or not? And why would you be cannon fodder? As someone who plays Battlefield I would have thought you’d realise the best guns don’t equal winning, it comes down to player skill more than anything. If you really thought having better guns compromised the game you wouldn’t be playing Battlefield.

      Don’t misunderstand me and think that I’m suggesting F2P is a perfect model, that would silly. I just want to point out that you’re being strangely hostile towards a system that has the potential to work well for customers and developers.

    • johnpeat says:

      The problem with cliffski’s views is that

      a – they tend to come from some idealised point-of-view and don’t always reflect reality or much experience of the topic
      b – he tends to change his mind :)

      Cliffski mocked sales and low-priced games as ‘self destructive’ – then created a DD website and had a sale :)

      Saying all F2P games are “not worth your time” or that free players are “fodder for those who pay” is utter nonsense and shows a complete lack of experience of them.

      Not every F2P game allows people to be ‘more powerful’ with money – most simply reduce the amount of time you need to spend – and time is something different people have different amounts of to spare so you cannot make a sweeping judgement of that.

      Some F2P games are really just ‘big trials’ or ‘free demos’ of course – but the content which is ‘free’ is often more than some people ever play of them anyway so, again, it’s fine for some and those who carry-on, pay-up.

      In some ways, the ‘upfront payment’ model is cheeky because it expects you to pay a large sum for a game you may not actually like/may not actually contain as much content as you thought it would. I, personally, think ALL games should be ‘pay as you play’ because that way, the developers of the great games which capture people’s time will be best rewarded (but it’s a tiny bit impractical – I realise that).

      Gaming is now in a situation where there are far, far more games than people have time to play and so allsorts of tricks are required to attract people to your game – from low pricing to large amounts of free content.

      Mobile gaming has shaken things up a lot – it’s literally wiped-out the market for PSP/DS-type systems and it’s eating into PC indie/XBOX Arcade/PSN titles market share fast too.

      If you’re going to sit there with your feet firmly planted in the past decrying everything else people try to do as ‘wrong’ then you’ll probably end-up buried and forgotten back there – basically – the shark needs to keep moving to survive – whales are close to extinction…

    • D3xter says:

      It’s not really such a black/white issue as he is making it out to be… there are games that make a good use of the F2P model (like League of Legends, DC Universe Online or Team Fortress 2 – although I highly dislike the hat-business and outright stopped playing the game after that), which give you the complete game/game content actually for free and either only sell visual accessories for money (e.g. akin to “Donate here” button or DCUO that gives the paying players a few more inventory slots and money they can collect, which (as far as I can tell getting a character to Lvl30) doesn’t have much if any real impact on the gameplay itself, I actually paid for that Green Lantern DLC cause I wanted to make one of those chars and I thought the game was worth it and there’s “bad” F2P games that want to make you pay if you want to level normally or win against other people in battle etc.

      There’s also a mix of both, Battlefield 3 for instance will have DLCs offering new weapons for people, others that didn’t Pre-Order it (or won’t buy them) will have the disadvantage of not having those items… also Diablo 3, which is just the worst model I can imagine for a game, where you have to pay up-front to buy it for like 60$/€ and still get a Pay2Win environment from which they will make lots of money…

    • Urthman says:

      cliffski, are you saying anything other than “I don’t like MMOs” here? Cause I don’t see what relevance your comments have for a game like DC Universe Online.

  6. Premium User Badge

    jezcentral says:

    Re the 18Gb download: I should think a lot of PS3 players had the game originally, and are only now coming back after cancelling their subs when PSN got suspended. I hope the devs got a LOT of money from Sony as compensation, as otherwise this would killed any MMO stone dead after that fiasco.

    • Pardoz says:

      Not really an issue in DCUO’s case, since it had already died on its own merits, or lack thereof, before the PSN outage happened.

  7. fn8rd says:

    i think a big part of why the ps3 is so big with DCUO is that on this platform there is no competition at all to it, while basically any pc mmo is better. heck, even the two superhero-mmos are each better, whatever people might dislike about them.
    hm. i think nobody dislikes CoX, just Champions. and even that is not everybodies opinion, as, for instance i myself prefer champs to CoX. my opinion is probably a little atypical here, of course, as i’d much rather like to plug my perennial favorite WAR than those two other games i visit no more often than once every year or so :o)

  8. diamondmx says:

    Freemium games are great for the company, as far as I can tell.
    They are shit for the gamers – it is a model which encourages horrific game design and squeezing the customer for as much as they will bear, and it creates a decidedly hostile environment between the developer and the customer (I have to make sure that these free guys don’t enjoy the game too much, so they feel compelled to pay, and that these paying guys have fun relative to the amount they spend)

    Vanity MTs – almost pointless and not always profitable, but not evil
    Convenience MTs – only work if there is inconvenience (non-fun) to start with
    Power MTs – Game balance, ~Destroyed~!

    As a gamer who could easily buy cheap and medium priced MT items (no monacles for me, please) – it is not that I cannot play in a game which requires me to throw cash towards it from time to time – it’s simply that I don’t want to play in that environment. I don’t want to play with my wallet out.

  9. Radiant says:

    £1 to £7

  10. johnpeat says:

    Well I downloaded it through Steam and I couldn’t even get the Launcher to work, let alone the game.

    If I’d paid for it, I might have slogged through the endless “things which could be wrong with it” websites (yes, whole websites) which exist – but as it’s a freebie I didn’t bother.

    Seriously tho – if your launcher doesn’t work – you’re a fucking idiot, please stop making games – thanks

    • hypercrisis says:

      ots worked fine for the rest of us in the 1000%, maybe the problem is *gasp* your computer!

  11. Jonjonz says:

    Perfect World is perhaps a perfect example of F2P gone horribly wrong. Free to Play, but there are players who spend in the neighborhood of $20,000 to outfit a top of the line end game character.

    Either they are making a bundle, or they are very creative with sock puppets or schills.

    Check it out to see the dark side of F2P. Oh and they add gambling to the mix as well.

  12. Snorez says:

    I preordered DCUO and played at release.

    It was lacking in Content and you could max level in 3 days.

    Only 2 cities that you could fly across in 3 minutes. No crafting system. Just repeatable instanced fights again and again.

    PvP servers can be fun for a bit, till you realise you REALLY need a controller to compete with the animation glitchers out there. This is a dedicated console MMO. The port to PC is very basic and the menus feel a bit clumsy.

    It is entertaining for a month or two and I understand how they are getting the massive numbers, but I fear that SoE needs to get a lot more content into thier endgame.