It’s amazing how many low budget free to play MMORPGs come out in South Korea and China. Games like Crazy Tao, Deco Online and Galaxy Online. These games aren’t terrible but I find it interesting that so many games developed in Asia cost a lot less to develop than games made in the United States and Europe. That’s probably because so many Western Developers are still focusing on pay to play games. The upcoming Star Wars MMO is rumored to have over a $100 million dollars budget! Now that’s expensive. I wonder how much it cost to develop an anime MMORPG like Dragonica Online? I mean, it’s a fun side scrolling MMORPG and all, but I doubt it cost that much to develop. It’s being published by a western game developer, THQ, but I don’t think it was developed in North America.
It’s also interesting to compare free to play MMOFPS games like Alliance of Valiant Arms and K.O.S Secret Operations to big budget FPS games like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and MAG. I’m not saying that the free to play MMOFPS games are ‘better’, but I would argue that they’re more bang for the buck, as it’s hard to compete with free. Alliance of Valiant Arms for example has graphics that are ON PAR with Modern Warefare. I wonder how many console gamers even know about Alliance of Valiant Arms. I bet if you could play it or any other MMOFPS on consoles for free, these MMOs would be much more popular. I could see it working… All game developers have to do is port their games to consoles. I can’t imagine MMORPGs running smoothly on consoles, as the concept of a console MMORPG just scares me, as a gamepad wouldn’t really work in an MMORPG. You’d definitely need a keyboard.
It’s hard to find exact numbers, but I bet if you compare development costs for most free to play MMOs, you’d be surprised at how cheap some of them are to develop. Obviously major games like Perfect World, Runes of Magic and Atlantica Online which ‘catch on’ cost much more to develop, but the average game probably costs peanuts compared to traditional console games. The low budget model works really well in my opinion, as game developers don’t risk too much if a game fails. If a game catches on, then you can pour more money into developing content updates and expansions.