Friday, December 12, 2008

Sales, Xfire and...oh yea...Birthday

First off, let me get this out of the way. I am now officially a 46 year old hippy aging rock star.
I can put myself along the lines of the Stones, Sting, Led Zeppelin, etc...

But, I ain't making no comeback..lol.

To celebrate though, later I will pop up some of the instrumental work I have done over the last year, and give you an idea of what is inside my head when I play music.
I sometimes miss what I did in the old days, but I also played during the hair band era, and really, does anyone listen to that 80's stuff? (oops...sorry Wifey, as she indignantly looks at me, and pops in her Bon Jovi CD.)
If I have a chance, my mother sent me an old .45 (yes, REAL VINYL) of the single we released in my old band. I thought any of that material lost, but I have the exclusive A/B side love from happier times...
Then computers took over..

Enough about that, today I have more fun with numbers.
It seems some do not enjoy crunching and research..yet, thanks to it's mathematical equations, and coming up with formulas...it is like music, which is it's own math heaven.
I am mostly interested in how the popularity of some titles relate to their sales and subscriber base, and it gives us a birds eye view of the overall structure and health of the MMO.

Luckily I ran into a nice post on MMORPG (which now eludes me...if I find it later, I will post it...old age I guess...) that has a good breakdown of the equation of XFire users compared to player base numbers.
It is quite impressive, so lets look at how the commenter came up with his data.
His argument was in regards to Age of Conan, which so many joke has roughly 10-30,000 users. People are like that (not unlike a certain person reviewing the game, and when prodded noted he had never PLAYED the game...and to top it off, his review was picked up by Kotaku and plastered all over the net....stupid people...)
But, he wanted to show that even though numbers are not good for the game, it also is not of Tabula Rasa proportions.
For his calc he stated this...

"As of this moment:
* Xfire for WoW = 362,977
* 11,000,000 / 362,977 = 30.3
That gives us a multiplier that we

can use against the AoC number, assuming that there are statistically
as many people running Xfire with WoW (as a percentage) as those who
run Xfire with AoC. Xfire for AoC = 3,687 3,687 * 30.3 = 117,734"

Which I noted started to skew some numbers horribly, with LOTRO having almost 2 million players...as the times were markedly skewed thanks to hours of people playing the latest expansion.

Then he showed this method, and it really worked...

"Using the same logic, but this time with the reported number of users:

* WoW = 11,000,000 / 91,628 = 120.05
* (www.xfire.com/games/wow/World_of_Warcraft/)

Using 120.05 as the multiplier...

* AoC = 942 * 120.05 = 113,087
* (www.xfire.com/games/aoc/Age_of_Conan_Hyborian_Adventures/)"

Why does this seem more feasible? Lets take this equation and apply it to other games.

Guild Wars = 8,236 * 120.05 = 988k overall players within a month period (would be subscribers...)

Ok, so Guild Wars is tough due to the non-sub system they use...

Lets move on...

WAR = 4,284* 120.05 = 514k subscribers...

As we can see here, WAR seems to be in line with how many people have bought the game, and still continue to play according to various evidence.

EvE Online = 3,612* 120.05 = 434k

Is this possible? Could EvE possibly have more players than once thought? It has been noted as one of the 250k+ games.
If we go to Wiki, the last noted data is
"As of March 31, 2008, Eve Online has 236,000 active subscriptions and 45,000 active trial accounts."
It could very well be possible that growth in the subscriber base along with trials going could equal a larger base.
If we look at anecdotal evidence, for example in 2005, CCP noted 60k players. So, we have seen roughly a 4.6% increase in players. So, maybe 1.5 % growth per year. So with almost a year under their belts now, it could be possible to see maybe another 50k? Maybe more?

This one is still questionable, so lets move on.

LOTRO = 2,296 * 120.05 = 276k (always rounding up here folks...)

This still shows the calculation to be workable. So, actually, the numbers still look about right.
It has been noted many times that LOTRO is a 250k game, and this shows that data to corroborate.
It is disappointing it has not grown though is my only issue. The market share is flat for this game. No loss, but no gains either.

But, like everyone says...who cares, it is profitable.

Everquest 2 - 413 * 120.05 = 50k

Interesting set of numbers here. Is it possible the population is that small? With a minimal number of servers, this could be true. Lets say on average 1k-2k per server at any given time, and then average it over a 30 day period, this could be true.
It has been discussed before, and has actually been a sore point (even with Grimwell, who got into an argument with Mr. Woodcock, another number cruncher, when he stated they had less than 100k players...and Grimwell called him a few choice names, and said it is not so, but never gave real numbers.), and even wiki has absolutely no notation of subscribers.
Just for the heck of it, what if we used the first way of calculation noted in my post, based on minutes...

Everquest 2 = 2003 * 30.3 = 61k...

Still about the same area. Quite low, but quite possible.

Interesting to say the least. And it looks quite accurate based on various evidence of sales/vs players, discussion on forums, and popularity.

At least SOE got a good bump thanks to their new expansion Shadow Odyssey.
The latest month end sales charts for November just showed up with this little goody...
  1. World Of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King / Blizzard / $36 (Average)
  2. World Of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King Collector's Ed. / Blizzard / $50 (Average)
  3. Call Of Duty: World At War / Treyarch / $50 (Average)
  4. Spore / EA Maxis / $48 (Average)
  5. Fallout 3 / Bethesda / $49 (Average)
  6. World Of Warcraft: Battle Chest / Blizzard / $34 (Average)
  7. The Sims 2 Deluxe / EA Maxis / $19 (Average)
  8. Left 4 Dead / Valve / $48 (Average)
  9. The Sims 2 Apartment Life Exp. Pack / EA Maxis / $21(Average)
  10. Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 / EA LA / $49 (Average)
  11. World Of Warcraft / Blizzard / $18 (Average)
  12. The Sims 2 Mansion & Garden Stuff Exp. / EA Maxis / $19 (Average)
  13. Nancy Drew: The Haunting of Castle Malloy / Her Interactive / $20 (Avearge)
  14. EverQuest II: The Shadow Odyssey / Sony Online Ent. / $40 (Average)(Average)
  15. Far Cry 2 / Ubisoft Montreal / $50 (Average)
  16. World Of Warcraft: Burning Crusade Expansion Pack / Blizzard / $29 (Average)
  17. BioShock / 2K Boston, Australia / $14 (Average)
  18. Spore Creepty & Cute Parts Pack / EA Maxis / $19 (Average)
  19. IGT Slots: Little Green Men / Masque / $20 (Average)
  20. Assassin's Creed / Ubisoft Montreal / $11 (Average)
Cool. And with the RMT push, who knows...SOE could continue to stay profitable, thanks to a VERY dedicated player base..

Anyways, thought this looked pretty good, and quite workable. I will probably come back when a new game charts (Spellborn? Anybody even heard of that game? Acclaim who?) and see how this compares.

Final caveat. This is North American audiences...maybe UK and AU as well. It is strictly pay for games (why I will probably avoid the awesome and great selling Guild Wars from now on.)
My main reason to do this is simple. 2008 proved to be a bad year for MMO's, and I still wonder if this market is tangible, or if developers are just throwing money out the window.

We will see...and please comment on your thoughts..

Cheers.

12 comments:

Brendan said...

The sales update is interesting -- 5 out of the top 20 are WoW titles. Blizzard is just ridiculously successful as a company, to be honest.

On the xfire, some figures there are surprising. I doubt EVE has 450k accounts at this point. They have continued to grow, but not that much. On EQ2, that number does seem terribly low. I wonder, though, whether the Station Pass games are going to be harder to track using this kind of approach, given that people could be splitting time between a number of Station Pass games that they would not be doing if they had to pay a sub for each one separately.

adingworld said...

Congratulations on your birthday :)

I must agree with your wife, there are some of us that includes some 80s rock in our listening habits ;)

(Although I probably pop in more ZZ Top, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, AC/DC than Bon Jovi)


Comparing XFire user count with actual subscribers is the only comparision that makes sense I think, although it is not clear to me if the number shown is an average and over which period - although a guess would be the period shown in the window.

What you can do also is compare your XFire numbers with official numbers in the case of NCSoft and City of Heroes/Villains + Lineage 2.

CoX actual numbers seem a bit higher than XFire according to your formula and the other way around for Lineage 2. But time periods are different and the XFire numbers might be different if they reported montly access also.

Tabula Rasa woukld be down to about 5K players with the same formula, BTW.

There may be some correlation between the XFire numbers and actual player/subscriber numbers, but I think it may be a bit risky to read too much into it. But it interseting to play around with and think about what other factors may be relevant.

Copra said...

Ha! Beat you by a few days, bugger, but I'm still some 6 years behind you! Watch out, I'm coming right on your heels to the dementia-age!

Congrats!

Hudson said...

Happy birthday

brenda said...

Happy birthday!

Scott said...

Happy New Year, Edge! (I love when gamers are older than me hahaha)

Interesting numbers that formula comes up with, especially EQ2! Holy crap! Is it any wonder hardly anyone publishes actual numbers?

Oh and yes, I still listen to 80's a LOT. Especially the hair metal. But then, I was a wannabe hair metal guitarist in wannabe hair metal bands back then. *Sighs then cues up some Poison and Ratt MP3s* LOL

Openedge1 said...

Thanks everyone.
Wait until I post later what I am having for my B-Day supper...hehe...

Yes, there seems to be a few discrepancies with this method, but the fact it is so close, makes me wonder if there is some way to get more detailed information to compare.

As well, we could make it a margin of error of 2-4% as well (just like a poll), and then wer may actually see better results.
The EQ2 number is the least believable, but to be honest, it could be possible.
The game has been running on a bit of empty, and Woodcock I think at one point quoted between 75-90k...which would make this data believable..
Hard to say..
But, it does keep the ratings in place of the top 10 MMO's if we wished to use this as comparable data.

Cheers...off to eat!

Lars said...

Happy birthday!

I don't think Xfire usage is really accurate for coming up with conclusions BETWEEN games. Players of different games are not equally likely to use XFire.

For example, many people use XFire for its voice chat feature. That wouldn't be necessary for EQ2 or Eve Online where its integrated into the client.

Xfire statistics can show a trend over time for a specific game (expansions bringing back players or if its dying, etc.), but I don't think you're going to have much luck coming up with a formula that lets you infer subscriber numbers from it.

Scott said...

Well, WoW also has integrated VOIP but that isn't stopping people from sticking with TS/Ventrilo or even Skype. Same with LOTRO/DDO which has had a much higher (from what I gather) success rate than WoW in getting people using the integrated over 3rd-party VOIP.

Hellgate integrated Xfire for VOIP somehow. I've heard Xfire's quality is rather poor (I hear the same about WoW's) so I can't really say how popular it is. I use Xfire but I don't have a single Xfire friend to chat with so basically it's doing nothing but taking up RAM and tracking my game times.

Danshir said...

Happy Birthday! incase your were wondering ThaShirow = Danshir

Copra said...

What I find very disturbing in the WoW statistics is the fact that the subscriber amount is the active subscriptions, not the actual subscribers. Taken into account the current craze of invite a friend program with extended experience gains and multiboxing, I find it very hard to believe that there are 11 mill. subscribers. The heavy users are multiboxing their new toons to the cap, taking advantage of the exp bonus and when the craze cools down, the additional accounts will get frozen. We'll see a huge drop in the subscribers in the beginning of next year, latest.

Someone took the VoIP's into the discussion. I didn't know EQ2 had it integrated? Anyhow, WoW's ingame VoIP sucks big time: the voice gets very distorted if there is a patch download in the background and/or a lot of action on screen. Of course, it depends on the bandwidth, but I have no sound problems with Vent or TS to speak of, so the integrated systems are currently a no-go.

I still have XFire to test, but I doubt it is no better than the integrated one.

Cheers.

Copra

Longasc said...

Happy Birthday! In ancient times people used intestines or watched the flight of birds to predict the future, let's see if X-Fire and statistics can beat them. :)