Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Spectating Rift:Is that a decline in your pocket or...

So, reading a post on the MMORPG forum turned up this little ditty...

"XFire shows a 20% drop of played hours [on Rift] compared to the peak one month ago. So as predicted this latest "great" game is starting to lose ground.
How much you wanna bet that by next month it will be at 50% of peak?"

Why would you believe that? Unless you want it to be so.

It is almost like the players are ready to pounce at ANY bad news and turn it into the ultimate doom. Using any tool at their disposal, they can predict the closure of Rift within a years time. Sales? You bet (look at VGChartz...OH NOES, Rift only has sold less than 200k copies), X-Fire? Shard lists? You name it.

I would prefer to look at it differently.

Right now, the MMO market is flooded with good titles (and yes, some pretty bad ones), but the fact remains; you want to play an MMO, you have some choice now. Throw that stick, don't poke your eye out, and there...hit another MMO.

Of course, the overall "sales" or "success" situation is not helped by the elephant in the room (World of Warcraft) that has this horrible addiction issue for most players. When I hear that a person cannot leave WoW due to how much money and time they have invested into it, then yes...it will be hard to get this type of player to move on to a new title.

Why is it that a game is not allowed time to prosper and grow, and must be a huge success out of the gate. The market was never this way to begin with. Again, back to VGChartz and their WoW numbers. Note the steady decline of sales. Yet, it WAS persistent sales, but fell by volume week after week for it's 10 week first run.

But, then it happened. Word of mouth took the game to the next level. People wondered what the hubbub was about. What was this whole MMO "thang". The growth of WoW could be noted as the growth of the genre and not so much this one game.

Right now, Rift or ANY launch MMO will immediately be given to the WoW bear to eat, and players expect as much content, stability and playability as a six year old game. And we cannot change that mentality.

Really, is a 20% decline from a single gaming service like X-Fire indicative of the overall market share? The fact it is just one piece of the pie tells me no. Look at the Raptr numbers, which show a less than 10% loss. Look at the shard listings and see how a majority of servers are still at high...and even some queues.

Decline will really not be noted until we see merges or closure of servers.

But, can even servers being shut down announce the end of Rift? All we need to do is look at the anecdotal evidence to the contrary to see that Rift can stick around and have great success...if they just persist.

Lord of the Rings Online is our perfect example of a major success story. Indie style developer, went big time with LOTRO. But, if we would note LOTRO success, it was not hopping to begin with. When it launched in 2007, it did not get further than #24 on the X-Fire charts. By near the end of 2008 it was laying off staff and free to play was but a whispered secret that no one wanted their game to be. On launch, LOTRO only sold 172,000 copies in it's first quarter...THATS IT.

Yet, 4 years later, Turbine is lauded as a major progenitor of the Free to Play for Triple AAA products.

Now, if Rift was a major "wreck" of a game, then yes, I could clearly see them falling and tumbling. For that example, look to Age of Conan. This was the game everyone required to fail. Predictions were pasted all over the blogs, various websites, forums...aw, heck, Kotaku actually SHUT THEM DOWN due to posting a fluff piece by a hater.

"Suckered in by the newbie zone, 700,000 souls subscribed. Faced with the rest of the game after level 20, they unsubscribed. It all lasted a bit over two months."

Using this criteria, AoC should have been long gone in Year One. Three years later, and still moving along with another MMO in development.

Aion is another "hated" MMO. Many a player wrote the game off as the biggest failure of it's year. YET, the game still pops into our top 5 of listed MMO's, and even has times where it spikes higher on X-Fire and Raptr, due to returning players. NCSoft financials list the game as stable...and if anything, was the game that gave them help in moving Guild Wars 2 forward and money for NCSofts next development title, Blade and Soul.

The MMO market, if anything, has become like the music market. More artists, more songs, equal more players vying for the kids dollars. Why can't all MMO's co-exist?

Play the game you like, but if anything, if you feel Rift is on the downward spiral, maybe it is you the player that is actually done with the genre?

Let me tell you about Dragon Age and Consoles...

6 comments:

Dink said...

The wind is dieing in Rift's sail. It was fun while it lasted.

Jaded MMO players are finding Rift has the same problems WoW has. Some find out quicker, others slower.

Elementalistly said...

@Dink

Yet, as has been calculated, Rift is still cruising along at anywhere between 750 to 950k subs, players, etc.

That is not a number to sneeze at.

As to WoW having a problem...I do not call 6 million subs a problem.

All your commentary is strictly personal opinion and has no bearing in fact.

Lets revisit in 6 months...shall we?

Stabs said...

I think everyone expected a dip due to the business model.

My impression from being an active player is that a lot of people pre-ordered or bought around launch day, there was a steady increase up until headstart + 1 month, then (quite predictably) a proportion of players decided not to pay more to continue.

This is standard in monthly sub games. The point at which people decide whether or not to pay is a point where quite a few will leave.

It applies to every MMO, for instance WoW gets good numbers when it releases an expansion then loses players until the next content launch.

Saylah (Lauren) said...

Players seem ready to piss-n-moan about anything. I'm so over the garbage. I like Rift. I will keep my money where my mouth is and continue subscribing because I have fun every-single-time I log-in. And some days, I'm so dog tired I don't expect to stay or get anything done other than checking mail or the AH, then BAM! Something kicks off and I'm engaged even when I'm really too tired.

Saylah (Lauren) said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Carson 63000 said...

Stabs, that is standard in unsuccessful monthly sub games.

Successful monthly sub games, like EverQuest, Ultima Online, Asheron's Call, Final Fantasy XI, Eve and WoW, do not steadily increase over the first month and then drop off as a proportion of players decide not to pay more to continue.

Successful monthly sub games have more new players coming in than they have players deciding not to continue. Successful monthly sub games have more players after a year than they did after a month.

I agree that Rift seems to be following the predictable curve set by virtually every MMO in the last five years. But this really isn't the only direction a game can go, and it's not one to aspire to, even if a bunch of box sales and a one month "churn and burn" is enough to pay for your development.