Do you remember CrossFire? John wrote about it back in 2008, when shortly before its western release some players noticed that the Counter-Strikey free-to-play shooter seemed to drop all pretense and include de_dust2 outright. John investigated, and its western publisher confirmed the map was included in the original release, but also that it would be removed before reaching our shores.
Anyway, that was back in 2008. Now CrossFire is the highest grossing free-to-play game in the world, according to a report by SuperData.
First off, I'm always a little skeptical of these kinds of reports. Where are they getting their figures from? Valve are apparently at #9 with Team Fortress 2 for example, but they're traditionally silent on the issue of earnings and profits. The small print underneath the list says that it's based on "estimated" earnings, so you should take the specific numbers with a pinch of salt.
Still, the gist of it is accurate: CrossFire is very successful. Here's a video of a recent Christmas update, including a microtransaction crate full of custom skins:
Which suggests it's also taking a few other games as its inspiration now. I've done my own research into why the game is so popular and put together a list of the top 4 reasons, with estimated percentages of how important each element is:
1. It's free - 50%
2. It runs on rubbish computers because it looks rubbish - 34%
3. You can "pay-to-win" with more powerful weapons - 28%
4. People like shooting things - 112%
I put the highest number at the end as a kind of surprise twist.