Speaking of free-to-play World of Warcraft-ish games, Runes of Magic just punched through the one million registered users mark in less than two months past launch — enviable numbers, to be sure, until you return to earth and realize that you can’t compare player numbers from a F2P RMT MMO (too many abbreviations there?) to a subscription-based MMO. It’s why these sorts of games — Runescape, DOMO, Free Realms — will always enjoy player populations that make AAA-titles like Warhammer and LOTRO weep. People like the free junk, and are willing to settle for less, and play much more because of it. It makes me worry a bit for the higher quality (yet subscription-based) MMOs, as future developers might look to compare the seemingly instant success of the F2P models and start edging in that direction instead of pumping out higher quality titles that are far more risky to launch.
Speculative “what if?” question — what if past canceled MMOs, such as Tabula Rasa, had gone F2P in the first place, with RMT backing it up? It’s not hard to imagine NCSoft proudly announcing that Tabula Rasa just hit its two millionth “registered user” as they continue to rake in their operating budget plus profit in micro-transactions.
Anyway, I’ve yet to try Runes of Magic — not really willing to return to anything WoWish — but I hear it’s pretty solid and the content they dish out for free is impressive. I’d think this would be a day for them to celebrate pretty hard.