Representatives from Chinese publisher Shanda Entertainment have announced that the company’s hugely successful massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) Legend of Mir II
will now be available free to play to all its customers, alongside newer Shanda-created RPG Magical Land
In addition, Shanda will gradually adopt this new model for its other existing MMORPGs, including brand-new MMO The World of Legend
, which is "recommended by the [Chinese] Ministry of Culture to teenagers", an important step as the Chinese government continues to crack down on MMOs in the region.
Instead of relying on an in-game advertising model to help generate revenue, though, such as has been partially adopted by Western MMORPGs such as Anarchy Online
, the company will now generate income by charging for “certain in-game items and premium features”, a concept that continues to flourish in Asia and is being prepared in the West
by companies such as Sony Online.
Tianqiao Chen, CEO of Shanda, has commented of the change: "After several years of operating our casual games under the similar revenue model and after extensive research into the Chinese online games market, we believe that adopting the Avatar-based revenue model for more games will benefit the company in the long run. However, it might have a negative impact on the short-term revenues of our MMORPGs."