Tuesday, January 4, 2011

X-Fire Game: Got Math?

Almost three years ago I started playing what I called the "X-Fire game". I used a calculation sometimes to show an average number of subs an MMO may have. You can read more about the calculation here - X-FIRE GAME.
As time has progressed, of course the numbers on X-Fire have also changed. Less people use it, thus, the calculation seems to be a tad off.
For the X-Fire game, we would see the number of players for WoW, which is our benchmark game, and use it to gain our total sub counts. When I started the game, X-Fire was around 90k WoW players. Now, we are getting around 50-60k.

Time to make an adjustment.

This system of "calculation" follows the same benchmarking that Nielsens use. Nielsens in the USA tracks the number of viewers in an age demographic who watch TV, based on a number of viewers who use "set top boxes" to watch various shows. As well, there is also a write in campaign, and secret viewers as well (it has been noted that colleges will have boxes unknowingly setup in dorms).
You can read more about Nielsens HERE.
As you can see, roughly 25k houses will hold a metered box, which tracks the viewers watching habits. Yet, it calculates for over 114 million households with TV's.
So, with the X-Fire game, we take an X-Fire "player" and it will be noted as a number for an average of subs.

You can understand why this also leads to criticism. Same with my X-Fire game.

But, if you go through the historical postings here you can see how at times the "game" has actually matched actual numbers noted by companies for their MMO's. For example, a post I did last year when Star Trek Online announced the number of players HERE. Talk about a close match.

So, for 2011, I wanted to rework my calculation.

Blizzard had recently posted a new average for subs, with 12 million being the sub marker. Now, we know this does not mean EVERY single one of those 12 million are true "subs". With Asian markets offering per hour gameplay, it is quite hard to get an exact.
Using my original system, I have played with some new calcs, with a 215.5 getting me a number that seems reasonable.

Now, using this past Sunday, X-Fire had an average of 53k players in WoW.

53000 x 215.5 = 11.4 million

This drops some numbers so we can alleviate the anomaly of players who may be hourly.
Now, of course, the last calculation did a total of 11 million players (i.e: the total listed by Blizzard). This may have caused some variations to be off for MMO listings, and actually giving games more players. We may never know. Just like this new "game" may never be accurate until we have someone else say "We have X number of subs" and I can use the X-Fire calc.

So, why don't we use the new calc on a game listed from yesterdays post and see how the numbers work out.

Star Trek Online
386 players x 215.5 = 83,183 subs

Now, lets say we account for "loss" over time as a game ages, STO really has not lost that many subs, and still seems to be doing well. The last time I did the calc STO had 117k subs. So, over 30k subs lost. 

Does that feel accurate?

Lets try a bigger game.

Lord of the Rings Online
2825 X-Fire players x 215.5 = 608,787

Now, lets look back. Turbine had announced a 100% increase in overall subs. At the time of my last calc, the game had 213, 689. Double that and then account for a variance in "FREE" players who do not sub...and I think we again can see a fairly accurate listing here.

We will never know how accurate this is until we do hear "real" numbers. But, we can see some trends AND we have a way of trying to find out how the market is being affected by either new launches or changes in pricing structures.
Champions Online is one game to watch who will be changing to Free to Play. How will their numbers look when they change over? Is Age of Conan and Warhammer Online still failing to retain it's audience? Is Final Fantasy XIV truly a major failure? How will DC Universe or Rift do when they launch?

Lets play the game...

1 comment:

Longasc said...

This X-Fire game is more interesting than some MMOs! :)