DC Universe Online revenue up 700% after free-to-play switch

DC Universe Online is making more money by not charging its customers a monthly fee than it did when it was wringing $15/month from its dedicated fanbase. While this might sound absurd, it's actually becoming more and more common when it comes to MMOs. Just about every fledgling subscription-based MMO is scrambling to offer a functional free-to-play model, and the move has helped many of them stay afloat. According to Sony Online Entertainment, DC Univese Online has taken particularly well to the transition. A few weeks back, CEO John Smedley announced that the game had gained over 1 million players, and now, he has revealed that their profits are up, too. 

And they're up a lot. Smedley said to Kotaku that the game has seen an impressive 700% increase in revenue already, with a 47%/53% split between PC and PS3 players. A majority of the money is coming from metahumans purchasing Vanguard of the Heavens character skins and additional character slots, supplementing those who are still deciding to keep everything unlocked with a monthly subscription. Other percentages thrown out by Smedley is that the playerbase is growing at a rate of 6% per day, and that 85% of logins are returning players.

All of these statistics reaffirm what we already know: the old subscription model is on its way out. There's room for it in certain cases, but a majority of MMOs serve their customers better with a hybrid model, allowing dedicated players to get the full experience for a monthly fee while offering bite-sized pieces of the game to those who aren't ready to commit to a subscription. That, or by keeping everything free and then charging them for custom skins until they're broke. Thanks, League of Legends.


DCUO mmorpg


  • SaintPinto - November 22, 2011 6:46 a.m.

    I can only speak for myself, but I had purchased DCUO when it first came out, and returned it immediately once I found out it was P2P (Got Uncharted 2 instead. Best. Move. Ever.). Once DCUO became F2P, I downloaded it, and now I am HOOKED. When I have enough money, I am definitely purchasing the Green Lantern DLC and the Flash DLC when it becomes available.
  • lancevance821 - November 22, 2011 4:47 a.m.

    I really enjoy this game. I hope that they bring more free to play MMOs to ps3 in the future.
  • Shinn - November 22, 2011 2:39 a.m.

    Is it bad that part of me wishes TOR will fall flat on its face so that it will swap to similar model and become affordable for people outside of the main countries? I'm looking forward to downloading this at the end of the month just before my incredibly expensive and restricted internet renews.
  • Mezolitik - November 22, 2011 2:24 a.m.

    And yet Square Enix are moving back to a P2P model for FFXIV. Genius.
  • Spybreak8 - November 21, 2011 9:49 p.m.

    Man, that is impressive and it makes me excited for MechWarrior online. Yeah free to play isn't Maple Story anymore.
  • BazyLastard - November 21, 2011 8:01 p.m.

    You know, every single MMO that goes to F2P boasts of what huge revenue gains they see... initially. What I want to know is, 3 months, 6 months, 1 year later, are they still making truckloads more money than they did when subscription-based or have they settled back to similar amounts of revenue. Don't know, that's why I'm commenting, but sure would be a nice article to read on in the not too distant future.
  • ManiacalET - November 21, 2011 6:57 p.m.

    I've been saying it for years and I'll say it again. Look at South Korea. They make a ton of hybrid f2p MMOs and they're all really good ones. For some reason, we interpret f2p as cheap here. I'm glad to see the subscription model is going out finally.
  • Wade D McGinnis - November 21, 2011 6:16 p.m.

    Custom skins are not bad but at least you get the option to buy almost 90% of the things in LoL by playing lol.

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