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In App Purchases Boost Gameloft to Record Earnings. What Does It Mean For Order & Chaos Online?

This week, Gameloft announced that they had record revenues of 50.4 million Euros ($62 million) in Q2 2012. They credited the record on the successful implementation of IAP-fueled freemium and paymium games in the past year.

Gameloft’s descent into the freemium model is something I’ve had my eye on for awhile. It began just after the release of Order & Chaos Online , their premium-model MMORPG; in fact, one might say that OnC just barely avoided it. Which is a good thing as far as I’m concerned, after seeing how the freemium model changed (or, in my opinion, ruined) such franchises as Let’s Golf! and Dungeon Hunter.

Platinum, Star Legends

However, there’s no denying that, for long-term play games like an MMORPG, the freemium model is becoming de rigueur. Outside of OnC, every successful MMORPG on iOS is freemium based, including titles like Celtic Heroes, Seven Swords, and the Legends games. Even in the realm of more hardcore PC MMORPGs, freemium models are starting to become the norm. Just this week, Star Wars: The Old Republic announced that it was switching to a free-to-play model; and even old stalwart World of Warcraft — once a $50 initial purchase — gives a 20-level free trial. The list of current MMORPGs is dominated by freemium games.

Which begs the question: when is the freemium model coming to Order & Chaos Online?

Runestone, OnC

Parts of it are already there in the presence of IAP, and as we’ve previously noted, those IAP sales seem to be fairly brisk. But right now the runestones and gold for sale in OnC are pretty low-key compared to the way, say, platinum and vanity gear is pushed in the Legends games. But if OnC were to switch over to a freemium or paymium model, the IAPs will have to get more numerous and more persistent.

Personally, I think it’s going to start with the PvP update (whenever that comes — right now we’re all just banking on “soon”). It will be either straight-up IAP to purchase access to the PvP expansion, or some sort of IAP-connected limit on how much PvP a toon can participate in, similar to the dungeon exhaust meters. Or both. Who knows? But PvP is the most anticipated feature not yet available in OnC, and I can’t imagine Gameloft implementing it without at least some incentive to spend.

Platinum sales, Celtic Heroes

Just as likely, I can also see Gameloft introducing a version of the game with a free trial, as they have already done other games — play the first 10 levels for free, but pay the premium price to go further. In fact, I’m stunned that they haven’t done this already, considering how much that $7 buy-in is a deterrent to attracting new players. Going to this model would also allow them to emulate World of Warcraft, something OnC is already very good at.

Then there’s the more insidious possibilities, like them introducing new races or classes and making those additional options IAP.  I call it insidious because it would be horribly successful; new races and classes would be something any dedicated player would want, and so there’s a real opportunity for profit there.

This is all speculation, I admit. But I have no doubt that a more freemium-fueled Order & Chaos Online is coming before the end of 2012. And unlike the Mayan apocalypse, this is one future prediction that I’m confident will actually happen.

What do you think? Will a freemium or paymium model Order & Chaos Online be a good thing, or a bad thing? Or do you even think it will happen at all? Come on over to the Facebook page and let us know! 

For more about pocket-sized MMORPGs, check out the Massively Portable podcast


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