SOE's John Smedley Talks the Free Future of Online Gaming

SOE President John Smedley offers a new OP/ED that explores the future of free-to-play gaming and the decreasing popularity of the subscription model.

Like it or not, the Freemium hybrid model is growing in popularity with many publishers and Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) President John Smedley believes that this new free-to-play model is the future of online gaming. In a new opinion piece for, Smedley offers some insight into the industry from the business side and where he sees the online gaming business model trending.

SmedleyÂ’s article is a good read for anyone thatÂ’s looking to learn more about the thinking on the business side and why the free-to-play gaming trend that took so long to catch on in North America has been so big in Asian countries since the dawn of online PC gaming.

Despite the free-to-play trend, Smedley doesnÂ’t believe that subscriptions are going away any time soon and that theyÂ’ll still play a key role in generating revenue for online games for some time to come, but he believes that will decrease over time. Smedley also cites BioWare's Star Wars: The Old Republic as what he perceives to be the final major MMORPG that will utilize a pure subscription model, noting that he sees a potential for the game to achieve 2 million subscriptions, though some analyst have estimated that the game could sell as many as 3 million copies in its first year, that doesn't mean that they will all subscribe.

That's a game that I think has a legitimate shot at a 2 million subscription user base and I believe they will stick with the subscription method. In my opinion this is going to be the last large scale MMO to use the traditional subscription business model. Why do I think that? Simply put, the world is moving on from this model and over time people aren't going to accept this method.

SOE is already trending many of its games towards the free-to-play hybrid model. EverQuest II has a free server option with Extended and Free Realms launched as a free-to-play title from the start. The companyÂ’s newest title, DC Universe Online, has already announced that it will be going free-to-play in October.

Check out SmedleyÂ’s full article for more and tell us what you think of the future of online gaming below.


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