Best grossing F2P games of 2013 – CrossFire and League of Legends in the lead

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By Teo Borconi – 20th January 2014
Best grossing F2P games of 2013 – CrossFire and League of Legends in the lead

A recent report from SuperData showcased the top earners of 2013 for Free-to-play games. The report shows that “The US digital games market grew 11% in 2013, reaching $11,766 million in sales across all segments, up from $10,582 million a year earlier.”, and that 25% of this market share is held by F2P games. That’s just slightly lower than the quickly growing mobile market segment, which makes up for 26% of these numbers. So F2P games are definitely doing well…but which are the games that are doing best? Let’s see!

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Leading the top 10 list is CrossFire, the surprisingly popular Counter-Strike clone, which brought in $957 million. Next in line is Riot’s popular League of Legends, which has seen an impressive $624 million in revenues. League of Legends is doing surprisingly well in the esports scene as well, which would explain why it’s doing so well financially. Interestingly, League of Legends developer Riot Games’ main shareholder is Tencent, the very same publisher behind CrossFire, making Tencent a leader in the Free-to-play segment.

Nexon is also taking up lead positions with its games, having Dungeon Fighter Online in 3rd place and Maplestory in 5th. The first brought in $426 million in revenues, while the latter made $326. In between the two is Wargaming.net’s World of Tanks. The extremely popular tank simulator took 4th place with $372 million, and these revenues will most likely grow in 2014, considering the company has invested heavily into a competitive scenery for its game, as well as an aggressive marketing campaign.

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Surprisingly, 6th place is taken up by NCSoft’s Lineage with $257 million. Considering how old the game is (and the fact that NCSoft has sequels and more recent F2P titles out there), it’s amazing to see it do so well. Blizzard’s World of Warcraft follows in 7th place with $213 million, and while the game is not Free-to-play, we’re strictly talking about revenues from micro-transactions here. Considering that Blizzard is releasing a new expansion pack for the game this year and that it is expanding its micro-transaction system, we’re sure these numbers will continue to grow. In addition, Blizzard has revenues from subscriptions as well (estimated at around a monthly $50 million currently) and is hiring for its new “Microtransaction” unit. Last week we’ve discussed Blizzard’s decision to introduce paid level 90 boosts in World of Warcraft.

In 8th place, we have the Bioware/EA Star Wars: The Old Republic with $139 million. These numbers aren’t great, but at least they are a good sign that the game is recovering from the initial financial failures it has originally seen. Considering the game cost a stunning $300 million to produce, it was considered to be a major flop when released. Combined with subscriptions and sales of the recent expansion Galactic Starfighter, it’s safe to assume the game is well on its way to becoming profitable in the future. Valve is also in the top 10, with Team Fortress taking 9th place with $139 million and Counter-Strike Online taking 10th with $121 million.

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These numbers go to show that free-to-play models continue to be highly profitable. According to data, the F2P segment has seen a 45% increase in 2013, while social gaming and subscription-based models dropped a staggering 22% and 21% respectively. This is not to say that subscription-based MMOs can’t make profit, but it will definitely be a challenge for upcoming MMO giants Elder Scrolls Online or Wildstar to keep up. We’ve recently debated the pros and cons of Elder Scrolls Online‘s financial aspects, and these recent statistics show that the Bethesda/Zenimax game will be up against tough competition.

Are you surprised by how these games have been performing financially?

Source: SuperData