The death of subscription MMOs has been profecized a lot, especially since SWTOR announced it’s transition to F2P.
The explanations mostly focused on things like insufficient content to justify ongoing monthly fees or the competition from subscription-free MMOs like Guild Wars 2.
The real reason, however, is simple. There’s only so much stupid money to burn on making carbon copies of World of Warcraft. Between the demise of 38 Studios which burned 150 million and the 300 million spent on SWTOR, even the stupidest money has no more illusions about making a killing on MMOs.
Enter social and mobile games!
A full 57% of all investment in 2011 went into social gaming and 30% went to mobile games. So what is the result of this overspending?
One result is that copying games is rampant. If it has worked for Zynga, it surely works for startups that have been funded to the hilt. Case in point: Tiny Company ripping off Dragonvale in a way that is very Zynga-esque. They copied all the game mechanics and interfaces but replaced the dragons with monsters, so they are not sued for copyright infringement. FYI, monsters are still hatched from eggs, apparently this was something they couldn’t replace.
So instead of copying WoW at anywhere between 100 and 300 million a pop, stupid money is now betting on copying casual games for only a couple of millions each. Is it the smart thing to do? It’s probably smarter than copying WoW, that’s for sure.