Subscriber revenues for PC MMOs and multiplayer online games in the US and Europe "declined for the first time ever in 2010, marking a historic shift in industry emphasis away from subscriptions and toward microtransactions", according to a new research from Screen Digest.
Subscription revenue totalled $1.58 billion in 2010, down five percent from $1.66 billion in 2009, contrasting markedly with ten percent annual growth in 2009 and 21.6 percent growth the year before that.
"The 2010 decline in subscription revenue - the first annual contraction experienced by the market since our coverage of this segment started in 2002 - represents an inflection point for the industry," said Piers Harding-Rolls, senior analyst and head of games at Screen Digest.
Balancing things out is increased revenue generated from microtransactions, which totalled $1.13 billion in 2010, up 24.2 percent from $909 million the year before.
"This more than compensated for the decline in the subscription area and caused total Western MMOG/MOG market revenue - both subscriptions and microtransactions - to rise to $2.7 billion in 2010, up 5.3 percent from $2.57 billion in 2009," said Harding-Rolls.
"Microtransaction revenue will continue to rise during the following years, expanding to $1.8 billion in 2015. This will drive up combined MMOG/MOG revenue in North America and Europe to $3.13 billion in 2015."
The combined MMOG/MOG market accounted for a 9.6 percent share of US and European spending on all games content in 2010, Screen Digest added.