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This applies to mobile games, not our core F2P MMORPGs, but I think it's entirely possible that there is some cross over going on. Basically, only 1.5% of people playing F2P mobile games admit to buying anything, and 0.15% of the mobile market actually pays for 50% of mobile revenues. "Whales" indeed. Also of note is that once the first purchase is made, a second purchase is often made soon after. It's the first step that's a big one.
This might explain EA's methods used in their cash shop. They know that very few people really want to pay anything for a game, so getting that first purchase in is really important. It breaks some kind of barrier and leads to future purchases. Games that don't rely on aggressive purchase plans will have very few spenders, and if they don't land any "whales", they aren't going to make money.
Again, this information is from the mobile market, but I think it's definitely something MMORPG developers are keeping an eye on.
Here is the unavoidable "infographic".
I can not remember winning or losing a single debate on the internet.