Jeremy Liew at Lightspeed Venture Partners has put together a nice collection of data
for people looking at the virtual worlds and MMOG market. Reviewing the
free-to-play virtual worlds Second Life , Habbo Hotel, Club Penguin,
and Runescape, Liew found ARPUs ranging from about $1 to $2, averaging
at $1.40/monthly user. Commenters Matt Mihaly, CEO for Iron Realms, and Nabeel Hyatt, CEO for Conduit Labs,
chimed in to add that the numbers seem about right for Web-based casual
MMOs, though may be significantly lower than the ARPU for downloadable,
free-to-play games. For example, Hyatt estimates an ARPU of about
$5/month for MapleStory. Daniel James, CEO for Three Rings, added his own figures, pointing to an ARPU of about $1.50/month for Puzzle Pirates.
The sample may be too small to take the number as the final measuring
stick, but Liew says it matches up with what's he's been told in
private conversations about other virtual worlds and MMOGs as well.
He's asked readers to contribute any data points they may have, and I'd
second that request. I'll certainly be checking back to see if any new
info comes out.
[via Lightspeed Venture Partners]
UPDATE: Based on numbers from Wagner James Au and others, Liew upgraded the Second Life ARPU to something closer to $9.30/month, or, as he points out, roughly 5 times casual MMOs, but closer to "hardcore" free-to-play MMORPGs.
I'm personally not sure which genre is closer to describing Second
Life. There's certainly elements of both, and plenty more aspects of
Second Life that fit in to neither. With the increased focus on
organizational use and attention from enterprise and education users,
it might be even more applicable to compare Second Life's ARPU to that
of various productivity tools.
I, though, am absolutely horrible at math, so I'll be leaving that to anyone else who thinks it's a worthwhile comparison.