In case you are not aware, I call this the X-Fire game. If anything I think we can see how popular an MMO may be by using X-Fire and these game "results". The "game" part is important to remember, so as always I must deliver this with caveats, as many take issue with these results.
"The results here in no way equal a major scientific fact, and if anything shows a "trend" among gamers on the X-Fire network, who number in the millions, who may play an MMO in the list".
I add this caveat as I am sure some will take offense at these results...specifically fanbois of said games that are doing quite poorly. There are a few shocking results here when we compare them to past numbers.
Like Nielsen ratings on TV, the numbers given are an average of how well a game may be doing based on a specific set of results, or sampling.
Lets look at the Nielsen's. Boxes are placed into homes, and surveys are sent out to get an overall "ad rating" for TV shows based on a set number of viewers. For example, last notation is that "25,000 total American households" (WIKI) have a box. The number of U.S. television households as of 2009 is 114,500,000. So, we can see this percentage is pretty small compared to how many actual TV's are in use. Yet, ad prices and even the success or failure of any given show can be calculated based on this result. X-Fire I feel can work the same way (if major ads were used in these games, or the success or failure of a game was based on how well it did in the "ratings"...lol).
The Nielsen system uses a share result which usually helps set advertising prices. Like this share result, I created a system based on using the most popular game at the top of the list, and creating a calculation which helps average how many subs a game may have. That game, of course, is World of Warcraft.
Again, a warning with this. The numbers have changed since that time, and a new calculation needs to be done. So, today I will not do the "sub" calcs. Instead, we will just rate games in popularity based on their X-Fire result.
If you would like more of the history of the X-Fire game, here is an old post (which we will use as a comparison tool for how the games are faring) from March of this year. If you want to play the X-Fire game at home, by all means, head to that post, look at the calculation and see how your MMO is doing.
For now, lets get this started. A lot of games to cover. I will put the games in order of lowest rated (worst in the results) to the best of the bunch.
I really enjoy starting with this one. First up, we recently received the news that Champions Online is going "Free to Play". As I continue doing X-Fire charts, I think once that "switch" takes place, this will jump up in the charts. Next, it sits with my opinion that MMO's that are not "Medieval" fantasy and is not EvE or an FPS (like Halo or CoD), just does not rank well. Another note will be the number of players, as we will see further on. That number is not too bad, just that when they login, they don't stay logged in very long.
That is sad.
So, out of the games I am charting today, CO sits at the bottom of the barrel.
This will be the last time I place EQ2 on this chart.
It seems that there is an issue with X-Fire that when playing EQ2, the times either drop or will not calculate. I blame the klunky game client for this and not X-Fire. The client also has been noted to not add to X-Fire and has to be forced to show up in timings.
Another theme to note here may be that the "old farts" who play EQ2 just see no need for the X-Fire software...but, seeing that EQ2 has a free to play client now, this did not make sense to me. Most younger players will try an MMO if it has a free component.
Unless the game really is not doing that well.
So, instead of starting an overall flame war about this, I will blame the game client, as it has been corroborated that the results just don't work.
To see this in action, head to that previous X-Fire post and you will see the old results have EQ2 sitting higher at 293 players and #101 on the chart. The game should be much higher than that now...but is not. So, not playing nice means "bye-bye EQ2" from the rankings.
Star Trek Online
Talk about a major drop in the stats since March of this year. Cryptic had put out a press release at the time I did those calcs, stating over 100k players. Now, it looks to be a third of that (maybe a little more now that calcs have to be changed). Overall it IS dropping.
I will guess that if Champions Online jumps after the F2P IPO, that STO will follow suit. So, good to have this here for reference when the time comes.
I really think it is not expensive for Cryptic to run STO, and it could be profitable at this point...but, until I can do new calcs, I am not even sure how many are playing.At least it is not below #100 on the chart, and that to me looks good.
I should be shocked at these results, but I am actually not.
Mythic and Warhammer has had a lot of crap happen to it this year, and these results really show how people react to their mess.
From the billing fiasco earlier this year, to the EALouse blog hate, all the way to a total redo for the game coming this year...the game has no sense of direction.
Disappointing to see it cut almost in half since the March results where it had 621 players and was #67 on the chart.
Maybe the RvR packs can bring this game back up? But, I feel the damage is done, and it will not recover much further.
Age of Conan
Where WAR exists on the chart, there is Age of Conan just always a little ahead. Would that have anything to do with a more fleshed out and less buggy PvE playfield?
But, it sure is not far ahead...with 2 more players? LOL Whats important to note here is the minutes played. The jump is pretty big, and shows the AoC players do not mind staying logged in just a little longer.
Funcom has been resting on it's laurels since the Rise of the Godslayer expansion, where they had a hefty lead in the charts. Check out the results from May just before the expansion launch. WoW. 994 players and Ranking #42.
This goes to show that it is not a good idea to just let your MMO sit and hope the expansion keeps the player occupied. Unless your World of Warcraft that is.
Dungeons & Dragons Online
Still going at a decent clip, especially for a game meant for the casual player, DDO still keeps up. Especially seeing that the game was near death before going Free to Play. As can be seen from the March results as well, DDO has been keeping players running dungeons consistently. Only dropping a hair since those early results.
Nothing else to note here, except, great job Turbine.
Final Fantasy XIV
This one makes me want to laugh. There are several key factors here. First up is just how low on the list this game is, especially seeing it has just launched. Next, how low the "Highest" is. #37?. Look at all the other games in this chart, and you will see that at one time or another they have all been much higher than FFXIV ever got. Sales seemed to be dismal here.
Release your game unfinished, with no idea of what your community wants or cares about and reap the reward of low uptake.
Can this game recover? Maybe when it hits PS3, which will not chart here.
Good Luck Squeenix.
And now the top three I am charting...
The Lord of the Rings Online
Turbine has to be one happy camper. Talk about some great stats. Note the "Highest" result of #9? That was it's BEST EVER rating on the X-Fire charts. All thanks to Free to Play.
Turbine has proven that the Free to Play model can work for a "commercially" released game. And you do not have to be a low quality Asian Grinder to make it work.
Most everyone knows I am not a fan of LOTRO, but I AM a fan of what Turbine does for it's customers. All win there.
Keep it going...oh and take that cash you're making and hire a UI artist who understands DPI and an animator who knows how to use motion capture.
Ah yes. The game so many say failed...yet, X-Fire says different. Now, of note, based on March results, the number of players has dropped, and minutes played is lower. It still is consistently in the top 10 though.
Keep in mind, from all indicators, there has been a loss in the number of people using X-Fire, and this may show a lower result for all games. Time will tell.
This much I can say. Has no one ever wondered why Aion does NOT have a trial? Looking at these results can give us a good reason why.
This will be the first AND last time I will show Guild Wars, the original on these charts. But, lets get this straight. Guild Wars 2 will be a MAJOR hit. With over 6 million sales alone in GW1, and the curiosity of the current player base...how can it not be. And to top that all off, trying to play with the conventions of the standard MMO like GW1 did, GW2 if even having half of the changes they discuss, I would be remiss in thinking it would have the FFXIV fate.
These numbers also show what happens when you use a Cover charge model of buy in and play for no fee. Also, throw fun and exciting events, like the yearly Halloween extravaganza in GW, you can't lose.
I played during this time, and of note, the number of people wearing "purchased" costumes was huge. Can you imagine how much they made off the "Special" costume packs they sold?
There are very few MMO's that can say they compare to WoW in "subs", and even though GW does not have subs per se, they have the playerbase...eager to game and pay.
Now, I know a lot of games are missing. I realized when I started this endeavor, that it would be large. Especially with so many MMO's out there vying for the players cash. I will look to include some others since I will be dropping two off this list. EvE is one I wish to include down the road (thanks Ardwulf).
I am still working on the calc system now as well. WoW recently announced 12 million players, and as such, the percentages for X-Fire need a redo. Hopefully I can include that next round.
I will always watch Sunday numbers, as it is the highest listed day for MMO play times, so I will try and do these each Monday (wish me luck)
Any questions, let me know. For now...Enjoy!