Here Be Graphs: MMOGChart Updates

By Kieron Gillen on February 13th, 2008 at 11:01 am.

Bruce Woodcock’s MMOGChart.com has updated with his latest tracking of MMO subscriptions. You may be able to guess what the bright green line disappearing into the sky is.

I have invented the purest green. You may not get that joke. In fact, if you do, I'm sorry. Quoting other people is rubbish.

His graphs can be found here along with analysis over here. And I pick at the highlights beneath the cut…

To be honest, the first graph of games with over 200,000 subscribers is difficult to get anything more than a single bit of information from. That is, that single proud green line reaching for the heavens, and a rainbow of colours trailing along the bottom. Frankly, you can’t even decipher them. The message being, WoW has a lot of subs, and no fuck else.

Which is why, when you’ve got past that piece of perpetual industry wisdom, the 70,000 to 700,000 graph is a lot more useful. If only because it uses some of that lovely Y-axis for more than World of Warcraft. In terms of big games last year, Lord of the Rings online – extrapolated from statements from Turbine – floats in at around 200K, as of the middle of last year. He extrapolates from NCSoft’s financial reports that as of December, Tabula Rasa had 125,000 subscribers – which is, to my eyes, not quite as disastrous as everyone was saying if true, though clearly a disappointment. NCSoft’s prediction for 2008 is between 80,000 and 100,000 users, so by that I’d speculate that 125K is falling. In terms of pre-existing games, there’s patchy reporting on some of them, but RPS beaus City of Heroes and Eve caught my eye. Eve continues its steady climb, with an impressive 224,942 subscribers – though you have to wonder how many are Jim’s multiple accounts. There’s like a Ozymandias-from-Watchmen wall of monitors up there, y’know. Meanwhile, City of Heroes 136,250 continues its slow descent – but it really is a slow one.

I suspect the pair of them are evidence that when a game has no obvious competitors, it tends to buy an impressive degree of loyalty. Jim’s oft heard to lament that there’s nothing he can play other than Eve if he wants his Eve-like kick. I suspect he’s not the only one, and – looking at what’s in development – you can’t see those City of Heroes or Eve-fans emigrating elsewhere.

Oh, and linked to that, to finish – MMOGChart’s breakdown of games by genre. That big slice is “Fantasy”.

BUT I DON'T WANT TO BE AN ELF

That’s just depressing.

, .

35 Comments »

  1. Optimaximal says:

    That first chart is madness. WoW has been increasing it’s userbase by just over half a million every six months!

  2. Seniath says:

    Look on the bright side, it the rumoured StarCraft MMO is announced, that should take a big slice out of the fantasy chunk.

  3. Morte says:

    Why is Sci-Fi in the same bracket as superheroes?

  4. Butler` says:

    Loving that green line, even though it has made practically everything on the PC platform a minor distraction in comparison.

  5. espy says:

    Blizzard must really be swimming in money. Insane amounts of money. I wonder whether they’re going to do anything interesting with it.

    Also interesting that Lineage still has slightly more subscribers that it’s successor.

  6. Meat Circus says:

    Anyone want to take a bet on what and when the green line’s peak will be?

  7. Jim Rossignol says:

    Arguably most superhero worlds are science fiction.

  8. Del Boy says:

    So Blizzard are taking over a billion pounds a year?

    Sweet zombie jesus!

  9. Rook says:

    Thank god Second Life has plateaued, now maybe the media will start to shut up about it.

    The main thing to remember is that the vast majority of the subscribers in WoW are not EU or US but Chinese who pay a fraction of the amount western subscribers do per month.

    I’d be interested to see how the non-subscription MMOs do on this, I mean many of these games offer free subscriptions anyway don’t they?

  10. Nallen says:

    What you have invented, if indeed it has a name…

  11. SirBruce says:

    Hey guys, thanks for the link. :)

    Morte, superheros are in the same grouping as sci-fi because there’s only one superhero game and I had to put it somewhere. :) Given the emphasis on high technology and aliens in most superhero universes, I think it certainly qualifies as sci-fi, although to be sure it is very much it’s own genre. Perhaps if there was a Victorian-era superhero MMOG I’d have to classify it as something else. Or perhaps I should create an Action/Adventure category; right now Pirates is stuck in the “Other” category.

    Yeah, Lineage is still surprisingly strong; there was a recent crackdown in Asia on pirate servers that helped boost the official game as people had to go back to playing it instead.

    I’m predicting that WoW will peak at 12 million in the next 1-2 years; let’s see if I’m right.

    WoW’s China players don’t pay *that* much less than those in other markets; it depends on how much they play: they pay $3.72 to activate an account and another $3.72 for 66.67 hours of play. And right now the percentage is about 55% China / 25% NA / 20% EU. So if the average hardcore Chinese player buys two gametime cards a month Blizzard is still making over $10 ARPU.

    I’m still working on methods for tracking non-subscription MMOs; I might have to start gathering data from another source and making estimates of popularity based on that. Currently, if there’s a game on the chart that offers free play, I chart *only* the premium subscribers.

    Finally, if you have trouble reading the charts you can always download the Excel file and fiddle with them yourself. :) I am working on some free charting software to do this all dynamically but I’m not a web guru so this isn’t something I can implement overnight.

  12. quamper says:

    If you can figure out how to track non-subscription MMO’s I’d love to see how Guildwars fits into the overall mix as it seems to have a pretty strong base.

  13. Yhancik says:

    SirBruce, you might have a look at
    http://services.alphaworks.ibm.com/manyeyes/
    http://code.google.com/apis/chart/
    http://www.trackngraph.com/
    :)

    And I think your Excel graphs might look a bit better/clearer if you used just slightly thicker lines, instead of thin lines with markers.

  14. matte_k says:

    Interesting… I’m a player of Final Fantasy XI, according to the graph it’s one of the higher subscriptions outside of WoW, levelling out at approximately 500,000 for the last two years. so that’s either no-one new joining (which can’t be right) or equal amounts of people are leaving and joining over the last two years (which is more likely).

    Also, the pie chart displaying market share by genre is shocking-more sci-fi/steampunk/non-fantasy MMO’s please, developers!

  15. SirBruce says:

    Yhancik,

    Well, the first one is a horribly slow Java thing, and the latter two don’t seem to allow the easy import of existing data file.

    Right now I’m looking at
    http://www.amcharts.com/

    Bruce

  16. SirBruce says:

    matte_k,

    If you check out the comments in the Analysis section, for the past few years all they’ve said regarding FFXI is “over 500,000″, so I’m sure there has been some variation during that time, and the actual number of subs may even be higher. But I can’t get anyone at Square-Enix to even return my inquiries. If I could get ahold of Sage Sundi (the guy who makes their census reports) I’m sure those numbers could be cleaned up.

  17. matte_k says:

    Ahhh, that makes a bit more sense. I see new players all the time, but I do know a handful of people who have left (usually to WoW, more’s the pity). Would there be a way to track subscriptions through copies sold? As far as i’m aware, FFXI doesn’t do digital download, at least not for the main game client (PlayOnline). But don’t quote me on that :)

    Also, thanks for rapid reply, wow!

  18. Matt says:

    This interests me for 1 game only. On the 0-120000 graph ‘Neocron’ can be found (if you look closely). This is the only MMOG I got sucked into for long periods of time, and I think it’s great to see that at it’s peak, it had only 1,000 subscribers. These few slowly drifted off when Planetside arrived (I was one of them.)

  19. SirBruce says:

    matte_k,

    A lot of people who buy copies don’t become subscribers. And a lot of subscribers who leave the game later come back and re-sub again. So it’s hard to know without the actual date from Square-Enix.

    Matt,

    If you played Neocron 2, they got up to 6,000. :)

    Bruce

  20. Rook says:

    I thought The9 actually gets the majority of the money Chinese players put into the game. I remember piecing together the numbers awhile ago from financial reports but I certainly don’t have the background/resources that you do.

    As for Guildwars, I’m fairly sure you’re they’ve released numbers that have been online during some of their “event” weekends, as well as total accounts. It’s not going to put a dent into WoW though.

  21. SirBruce says:

    Actually, the deal with The9 is actually quite fascinating. They sell the game time cards, but that revenue goes to Blizzard. Blizzard then pays The9 back a portion of that revenue, based upon how much the players actually play the game. The9 has no way of knowing that data, so they’re actually subject to Blizzard faithfully reporting how much the Chinese players are playing and paying The9 appropriately.

    NCSoft reports Guild Wars total registered accounts only; 4,878,000 as of December 2007. But how many of those are actually active is unknown. Besides which, I don’t consider Guild Wars (or Hellgate: London) to be true MMOGs since they are so heavily instanced and have no persistant world beyond the character level.

  22. Arnulf says:

    “Seniath says:

    Look on the bright side, it the rumoured StarCraft MMO is announced, that should take a big slice out of the fantasy chunk.”

    To benefit who?

  23. Matt says:

    SirBruce:

    I didn’t play Neocron 2, thank the lord!

    Neocron 2.2 Evolution (what’s with all the 2s?) mind you, was played for one day as a kind of nostalgia trip with good friend and fellow Wombateer Mike. We soon got bored with that though, we must have seen one other player in the whole time we were online.

  24. BrokenSymmetry says:

    I may be wrong, but I think that NCSoft reports the number of Guild Wars game units sold as 4.5 million , not the number of registered accounts. As there are now 3 stand-alone games and 1 expansion, I would guess that the number of registered accounts would probably be around 1.5-2 million.

  25. SirBruce says:

    You’re incorrect. 4,878,000 is the number of accounts activated to date.

  26. undead dolphin hacker says:

    blizzard: the wal-mart of MMORPGS.

  27. Rufus T. Firefly says:

    I’d be really curious to see where free MMOs like Maple Story fit into this chart.

    Not sure where’d you stash Kingdom of Loathing, either.

  28. SirBruce says:

    Non-sub MMOGs like Maple Story really need their own charts and their own metrics; you can’t compare them to subscription-based MMOGs.

  29. Noah says:

    “Not sure where’d you stash Kingdom of Loathing, either.”

    Clearly, you stash it in your Colossal Closet.

  30. Sum0 says:

    It’s slightly bemusing to see the amount of attention Second Life gets in the media, compared to barely – well, literally nothing about WoW. Because WoW is a confusing geeky computer game and there’s no way the general public could get into that. Ten million subscribers? Surely you jest!

  31. Stick says:

    “Eve continues its steady climb, with an impressive 224,942 subscribers – though you have to wonder how many are Jim’s multiple accounts.”

    Heh. I’ve heard the theory there are only about 500 people playing EVE. It’s almost believable, what with everyone seemingly having alts for probing, mining, trading, shooting NPCs with missiles, shooting PCs with blasters, shooting PCs with artillery, manufacturing, electronic warfare, random scamjobs, flying big shiny golden bricks of dubious PvP effectiveness, infiltrating enemy corps, managing player stations and even more scamjobs…

    I’m glad CCP seem to be doing well – if other devs get the message that you don’t have to attempt WoW-cloning in order not to go broke, more interesting stuff could get made.

  32. ShawnyD says:

    hey SirBruce, good job. Getting non-subscription info would be great, as this seems to be a model for the future.

    From what I heard, and I can’t seem to find a link, Ragnarok Online has an insane amount of players, I heard around 20-25 million players, not sure how one would even track that, but all the microtransactions are never accounted for. Unless companies give up their financial data, we’ll never really know what they generate.

  33. DigitalSignalX says:

    Have to partially agree with ShawnyD, practically every MMO player I speak with has at some point tried or been an active member of Ragnarok Online.

    Nice to see There.com still on the charts after almost 10 years of obscurity. I too would be interested in seeing free to play stats on 2moons, perfect world, 9dragons, etc. More pie charts! lol

  34. SirBruce says:

    While I agree that we’re going to see more F2P MMOGs with microtransactions, I don’t think subscription based MMOGs are going away. They may layer microtransactions on top of the subscriptions, or offer a free part of the MMOG and a subscription part, etc. But I think the majority of AAA MMOG titles will still be subscription-based.

  35. jbrandt says:

    Oh, poor old ATITD, limping along with just around 1000 players… I remember the glory days of Tale 2 and the mad land-grabs of early Tale 3, but where are the Egyptians now?