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Subscription MMOs 'are not dying'

Subscription MMOs are not dead, but firms must be more flexible with their pay models, an expert claims.

Subscription models for massively multiplayer online games (MMOs) are not dying, merely evolving.

That is the view of Adam Mersky, director of digital communications at Warner Brothers and director at game developer Turbine, the firm owned by Warner and responsible for producing titles such as Lord of the Rings Online (LotRO) and Dungeons and Dragons Online (DDO).

Star Trek Online and EverQuest recently became the latest MMO titles to switch to a completely free model, leading some commentators to suggest that the days of people paying to play MMOs are nearly over.

However, Mr Mersky disputes this, saying that gamers will still pay if the circumstances are right. What is changing, he told Eurogamer, is the flexibility of the business model.

"People now in the West expect to have full control over their entertainment dollar and spend it the way they want to," he told the publication.

"It's probably not right to say the subscription MMO is dying, it's probably more right to say the idea of forcing a player to only have one option for having to consume your content - that's probably dying."

However, Mr Mersky does admit that LotRO and DDO are now doing better than ever before, in terms of both player numbers and revenue, since they became two of the first titles to switch to a free model.

DDO producer Erik Boyer believes that the problem many companies have with free models is thinking of them as a future development.

"I would say the mistake that's going on out there is that people are thinking that free-to-play is something you do a few years after you do the subscription," he said.

Namco Bandai's Europe vice-president Olivier Comte, has vocally opposed the free model, saying the games are of poor quality and block development of higher quality titles.ADNFCR-1220-ID-801281477-ADNFCR