If you've been on the Internet for any amount of time, you've probably heard of MMORPGs. They are similar to RPGs (Role playing games) but exist on a much larger scale. That is why they are called Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games. Where does the term "massive" come from? It comes from the fact that hundreds or even thousands of people can be playing at the same time in the same virtual environment. It's the closest thing to a virtual world that we have in the modern gaming era. You can read more about MMORPGs here.
The first major MMORPG that became widely adopted by people of all ages was World of Warcraft. The game came out in 2004 and quick garnered millions of users, who paid $15 a month to play the game. This ended up being a lucrative model of Blizzard, the company that created the game. A recurring revenue stream ended up making the company a ton of money, and was much better for the bottom line compared to charging just once for the purchase of the game. The recurring fee was not without justification since the company did have to spend money managing the hundreds of servers that allowed people to play the game worldwide. But some people were unhappy about having to pay monthly. Despite this, World of Warcraft's membership eventually ballooned to over 12 million subscribers.
Nowadays, MMORPGs have a different subscription model. Most of them these days are free, but charge you when you use a store to buy items or upgrades. Is this as profitable as the old model? Probably not, but consumers these days have become accustomed to being able to play games for free, so game makers don't have much of a choice. By making games free, however, more people are likely to try out a game since it costs them nothing upfront. In the end, this may help a game gain wider exposure and ultimately a greater number of players.
So what does this all mean for regular games? Have then gone out of style? Not by any stretch of the imagination. Console games remain popular as ever, but unlike MMORPGs, they can't be played for free. You'll typically need a bigger budget to play console games given that you must buy the game console as well as the games. If you join a service like Gamefly, you can rent unlimited games for a modest monthly membership price. I prefer to use Gamefly for my console games for this reason. Incidentally, a Gamefly monthly subscription costs $15 a month, which is the same amount as a World of Warcraft membership. $15 seems to be a popular price point for gaming subscriptions!
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