Gamasutra talks to Colin Johanson to understand the business model used by AreneNet/NCSoft for Guild Wars(and made profits) and is going to be used by Guild Wars 2 also. They seek an answer to the question “Do AAA MMORPGs require a subscription fee to make profits?” What are the subscription fee for in the first place? Server maintenance and bandwidth costs? They are actually very cheap, definitely not worth $15 per person per month. Development costs? Don’t they charge for expansions anyway? One extra raid that is released once every three months? Would you pay $45 for a game that has one raid and a few miscellaneous quests in it? I am clueless really.
“The market is going to go where all the major games are going. If Guild Wars 2 is extremely successful, you’re going to see other games going without a monthly fee.” Which would almost imply that this has been a racket, all along. What, exactly, have we been paying for? Servers?
Apparently, not. “There’s an incorrect belief out there that it’s more expensive server-wise to run a giant open world game than it is to run an instanced game such as Guild Wars.” There’s a confidence about Johanson when he talks about the way MMOs are, an assured-ness that’s almost akin to an investigative journalist blowing open some great story.
“The server bandwidth now is getting reasonably inexpensive enough that you don’t need to charge a fee for online games,” he explained. “We made plenty of profit off Guild Wars 1, and that’s what we’re going to do with Guild Wars 2.”
From playing the game, I can’t see if there’s a con to going without a subscription fee.