SOURCE: Xfire

Xfire

July 06, 2011 07:30 ET

Xfire Announces New Free2Play Games Are Outpacing Legendary Titles

World's Leading Gaming Site States Free2Play Games Are Gaming Industry's Future

LOS ANGELES, CA--(Marketwire - Jul 6, 2011) - Xfire (http://www.xfire.com), the world's leading social gaming service for PC gamers, announced today that the monolithic World of Warcraft is officially dethroned as the #1 game on its popular game-tracking service; the new most-played title is Los Angeles-based Riot Game's League of Legends. In addition, Xfire's findings provide insight into what was once thought of as a niche business model but now proves to be where the gaming industry is headed: Free2Play titles are winning the game of thrones.

World of Warcraft held Xfire's coveted top spot from 2005 to June 17, 2011. Although there was a brief increase in World of Warcraft players at the end of 2010 and beginning of 2011, this was largely due to the Cataclysm expansion pack release, as the surge quickly declined thereafter. This decline showed that World of Warcraft gamers were quickly finishing the game but not returning to re-play it. In September 2009, there were 60,000 daily active unique (DAU) World of Warcraft players on Xfire; today that number is approximately 30,000 DAU players -- a 50 percent decline, while League of Legends grew to more than 34,000 daily active unique Xfire players because of several key factors, including its Free2Play business model. World of Warcraft costs $20 to purchase, in addition to paid expansion packs and a $15 monthly subscription fee.

"Our 19 million users have avidly played World of Warcraft for the past seven years; we knew it would eventually be overtaken but what really surprised us was the rapid ascension of League of Legends and Free2Play games in general," said Xfire President, Mark Donovan. "The Free2Play model is becoming much more prolific in the gaming industry, and one major trend we're seeing is that there are a vast number of games initially developed as subscription titles that failed to gain critical mass, then re-launched with aFree2Play model with great success. Results from many Free2Play games, including GamersFirst's All Points Bulletin: Reloaded and Turbine's Lord of the Rings Online have been extremely positive."

All Points Bulletin: Reloaded shot to number six on Xfire after its Free2Play beta re-launch, which also showed a 200 percent increase over its most-played day as a paid title. Turbine, the publisher of Lord of the Rings Online, announced that the game quadrupled its active user-base and tripled revenue when it switched to the Free2Play model. Other early success stories have prompted many games to announce shifts to the Free2Play model, including:

  • Cross Fire: First-person Shooter MMO
  • Lego Universe: Children's MMO
  • Fallen Earth: MMO RPG
  • Hellgate London: Action RPG
  • Age of Conan: MMO RPG
  • City of Heroes: MMO RPG

There is no better example of the successful Free2Play model than in Asia, specifically Korea, Southeast Asia and China. In the Korean market, which many consider to be the PC gaming capital of the world, there are hardly any publishers left that charge up-front fees for online games, and the primary revenue model is micro-transactions. Freemium and micro-transaction models have also become standard in the social gaming space. Companies like Zynga are generating massive revenues by giving their games away for free and monetizing small amounts of their player base.

"Free2Play games continue to gain rapid user adoption and retention, and we believe this freemium revenue model will own the lion's share of the overall gaming market in the long run," continued Donovan. "As traditional console game sales stagnate, even incumbents like Activision and Electronic Arts are paying attention and are being pressured to develop their own Free2Play titles."

Quick Xfire Facts/Stats:

  • With Xfire, users can text and voice-chat with their friends and even browse the Internet directly inside more than 2,300 titles, so players do not have to leave their game

  • Gamers can capture and share screen shots and videos; in fact, Xfire users recorded more than 20 million screen shots in 2010 and has the world's largest cache of gaming content

  • Xfire users can broadcast live game play on the Internet; they currently stream 75 million minutes of live game play each month

  • Xfire users can track their game-play through an automatically generated personal gamer profile.

About Xfire
Xfire™ is a free tool that automatically keeps track of when and where gamers are playing PC games online and lets their friends join them easily. Xfire also allows players to capture and share in-game media like videos, screen shots and live game broadcasts. It works regardless of game type, server browser, or gaming service that a player is using. Xfire eliminates the hassles of running multiple programs like IRC, instant messengers, or in-game friend lists to keep track of when and where a gamer's friends are playing. It supports the best and the latest online PC games including server and non-server-based MMOs, First Person Shooters, Real Time Strategy, and Role Playing Games. Xfire is located in Santa Monica California.