Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Xfire follow up - Questionable?

Well, it looks like there was quite a bit of discussion on my Xfire stats vs subs post the other day.

Tipa at West Karana took it up over on her blog about how the numbers may be "questionable" for certain games, like EQ, EQ2 and even WoW.
Example: When I did a calc for WoW, I noted that they have a new sub rate of over 6 million players. This is difficult to fathom, as most of the stats have been mainly for the "West" and does not include any Asian or Persian countries.

Could WoW really have 6 million in the US alone?

No. I do not believe this. Just like my EQ2 numbers may also be misinformed.

There does seem to be a commonality in all games that are older and numbers being skewed somehow. For example, I do not question the stats for STO, WAR or AoC...not even Aion. Yet, all of these games have launched recently. EQ2? WoW? At least 5 years old.

So, could age have some factor in numbers being skewed or even 100% wrong?

Could there be a recurring theme of actual data and recent launches compared to numbers and older titles?

Lets take another game we know about that is a recent launch and see how it jibes with the Xfire data.

Free Realms.

Hmm. 8 players on Xfire. Now, doesn't this add another conundrum to the stats issue. Could this be due to the fact it is mostly "younger" players whose computer has been set up by a parent, thus why would that parent load Xfire. As well, is the Free Realms player a "pro" at gaming or even understand or NEED Xfire? Or does it have something to do with the free part?

What I think we may need to note is there is going to be a select group of games that we can track this way, and that not ALL titles will work. Many factors will go into playing the Xfire game.
Take this example of how issues may affect our numbers here. Just look at STO. It was but a few days ago there was a drop in numbers, almost to the point of being zeroed out. Seems some outage on the server or with Xfire caused this problem. So, for those days, my numbers would have been wonky. But, as we can see, this week STO has normalized again.

If I continue to play with this, we may have to accept the fact that the game must be a "commercial" subs based game (which throws Free Realms, Runes of Magic, etc, out), must be less than 3-4 years old (I would say at least launched in 2007 or later, thus no more EQ2 or WoW for example) and the data has to be consistent for the week; No weird outages or buggy reporting by Xfire for the whole week. Finally, as a little fun, I will only report on some games if they decide to do an Xfire contest to see how many people are logging in due to prizes or giveaways. Funcom and Turbine have been notorious for this in the past, and it really makes the numbers wonky.

I really think this will be fun to watch for NEW launches. I would like to see how some games do when first opened. Final Fantasy XIV launches this year (according to most rumors...). How will they do here? Right now FFXI does about 30k subs according to the Xfire game. Yet, it does not meet our criteria, thus these numbers are most likely skewed.

So, for now, all we can see in the Xfire game is a bit of fun with some newer games that hopefully gives us a glimpse of how well they are doing.

Cheers

5 comments:

Scarybooster said...

Ouch! My head hurts with all the numbers.

Longasc said...

The method might not work all the time. But as we mostly get served bullshit or no info at all regarding subscriber numbers, it is doing amazingly well.

STO had some brutal bugs (negative xp, gimp your char to nothingness just by entering a pvp match in the cracked planetoid arena) over the weekend, that caused informed players to stay the hell away - XFire users probably heard word of mouth first.

How many WoW subs do WoW Europe/US really have... hmm... interesting question.

Then there is also the fact that high subscriber numbers do not necessary mean this is a high quality game hardcore gamers will like. Say hello, Zynga & Farmville.

This makes me wonder how extremely good OR extremely shallow Bioware's SW:TOR has to be to get the "2 million subs". Unless they count registered accounts or whatever as subscriptions. Everything seems legal nowadays, as long as it produces impressive numbers.

Stabs said...

Another value of your method might be comparing xfire values over time. Maybe EQ2 doesn't have the number you obtained from your method in reality but if the xfire method drops over time that almost certainly correlates to how the game is really doing.

Good work, very interesting analysis.

We may see some companies more inclined to publish genuine numbers if people start quoting your xfire-derived numbers and they're low.

Openedge1 said...

@Stabs

Nail on head my friend. I know we will eventually see some Aion data, and I can correlate Funcoms data with AoC and their financials...

But, we need to see more.

I agree in that we can see a trend as well. EQ2 before expansion had been dropping quite a bit on Xfire. The numbers we see now is a rise actually.
Now, go look at Vanguard and see what happens to a game when there is no foreseeable update in the future.

Ugly.

These may not be precise numbers, but it sure does show signs of weakness or the inevitable (cough - Vanguard - cough) death.

mmogamerchick said...

I've been following your Xfire stats posts and I find them very interesting. Anything that has to do with math makes me want to tear my hair out so I'm afraid I won't be able to chime in with any numbers, but I do admire the work you have put into trying to analyze them.