Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Age of Conan - Charting the progress of hate

What I find interesting is how the "HATE" wagon for "Failcom" is still rolling along at several forums...especially MMORPG.com. So many posts full of outdated information, constant attacks and jokes about the company...pretty sad.
Funcom does deserve some of it, but what is most amusing is when the information is so outdated or even totally incorrect.

A poster was recently attacking an OP of a post about the population increasing on the servers. Of course, the OP's proof, besides his own eyes, is using Xfire to track this data.
This has brought in the riders of the hate train in full force, ridiculing the data.
We have shown in the past that the data can be pretty accurate. Not perfect, but accurate enough to gauge a "trend" in popularity of a game.

A good example is for WAR. It of course has held a high spot on the Xfire charts for quite a while. But, if we study the data closely, we do see something of interest.
Here is a screen cap I got for WAR on December 19th. Note the number of users at 4234.

Now we can look at Feb 2nd (a Sunday, the most populated day for all of the MMO's on Xfire...), we see a new result. Not only has the game dropped on the chart several spots, but has also lost a player base of 335 players. This does not sound like a lot, but, when you use the system that compares WoW users vs. other MMO's, we take that number and multiply it by about 10 to 15 to get a total loss in players.

It is not rocket science, but gives us a "trend"

Now, using previous data I have used to track Conan's progress in the charts, something has started to take form. The work Funcom is doing to fix their launch issues (and thanks to Craig Morrison, who helped take Anarchy Online out of a fate worse than death...and is now working on AoC), we see something start to happen...
First I will start with an image I took when I started playing with Xfire data for AoC.

This image was taken on Dec. 7th of 08. We can see a steady track of data here, with AoC averaging about 1,000 users plus and hitting in the low to mid 50's.

Next up is an image I took Jan 9th '09, a Friday and we can see a small upward trend happening in the game. We could attribute this to new purchases for Christmas, time cards, gifts, buddy passes...whatever.

My third image is for January 15th, which is the first full day after server merges., and boy do we see some happy players...
A major increase took place in overall player base and time played to crank the game up to #45 on the charts. Except for outages, this has been pretty consistent as well.

Now, we have rolled into February, and we have the first Sunday to see how AoC is doing overall in the charts. Sunday pretty much can verify the overall popularity of a game, as the most users will post to that game.
And with that, we have this chart...

I think I would call that an upward trend...how about you? Seems the fixes are working and the merges have solidified a good user base who wants to play.

Thats all for now...may have to start watching the charts more closely for some games and see how they progress...eh?



Anonymous said...

It may be a trend. For AoC's sake, I hope it is. However, the reason people take such umbrage at anyone trying to use Xfire or other similar sources to indicate movement, or as a searious statistical indicator of anything is for a few reasons. It's partially because it's user-submitted. Systems should be completely random, or a diverse and well sampled section of a community. It also introduces more variables that have to be cloistered off to make the data worthwhile. Lastly, since the site is purely a data gathering system, it can't really tell us anything more than it does. For instance: 1,403 people play per day, and those people average 409,064 minutes total.

Drawing accurate conclusions from that is far more of a headache than I even want to start to think about. For trends to really be trends, they usually a much larger sampling pool than 3 instances, and over a far longer time period than slightly over 2 months, of which 3 of the 4 samples were taken in the back half.

Openedge1 said...

I think we can conclude that it is NOT rocket science and never will be, thanks to the fact the data is skewed at times.
But, an example of the argument about using Xfire is the "People who have been playing, just started using it"...Ok...and yes, that will affect time..
And why not? These people have been playing, and their times count...they just have not counted in the past.
All we do know is we can tell when times are skewed, like in the example for LOTRO, where it is currently at #13...but it is because they are running a contest for prizes...i.e: log in, and you could win..
This makes me feel that any data for LOTRO will be inaccurate for sure.
AoC will just have to be watched in the long term.
But, I have come back again and I can physically see the players now, when before I left I started to see the emptiness.
People ARE playing, and the merges has helped create a more community oriented setting..and I do believe the times and number of players is an indicator of either new players, or returning players.