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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.

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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.

Hollander Cooper was the Lead Features Editor of GamesRadar+ between 2011 and 2014. After that lengthy stint managing GR's editorial calendar he moved behind the curtain and into the video game industry itself, working as social media manager for EA and as a communications lead at Riot Games. Hollander is currently stationed at Apple as an organic social lead for the App Store and Apple Arcade.