League of Legends (Riot Games’ hit MOBA) continues its hugely successful run, having earned $624 million during 2013 (its 4th year in the market). The game is free-to-play, so the earnings came 100% from in-app purchases. However, that number wasn’t enough to make it the most lucrative online PC game, as it was surpassed by CrossFire, SmileGate’s first-person military shooter, which earned $957 million during 2013.
If we divide the top 10 free-to-play earners by publishers, the Chinese giant Tencent is the clear winner, having a combined annual gross of $1,581 million and holding the top 2 spots. The South Korean developer Nexon comes second, with 3 of the top 10 slots and an $873 million annual income.
- CrossFire (Tencent/SmileGate) – $957 million
- League of Legends (Tencent/Riot Games) – $624 million
- Dungeon Fighter Online (Nexon) – $426 million
- World of Tanks (Wargaming.net) – $372 million
- Maplestory (Nexon) – $326 million
- Lineage (NCSoft) – $257 million
- World of Warcraft (Activision/Blizzard) – $213 million
- Star Wars: The Old Republic (Electronic Arts) – $139 million
- Team Fortress 2 (Valve) – $139 million
- CounterStrike Online (Valve/Nexon) – $121 million
It’s important to note that the study doesn’t include paid subscriptions, so World of Warcraft and Star Wars: The Old Republic have even bigger earnings.