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.(opens in new tab)
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.