Monday, May 30, 2011

X-Fire Game: Raptr has left the building...

So it is, with glee, that I say goodbye today to Raptr.

Thanks to a new system in place this past week converting Raptr into a news style RSS feed service, data for games has been lost in the shuffle. But, as I said...happiness ensues. The numbers have been a thorn in my foot due to calculations showing oddities not matching the norm. Like when a game has anecdotal evidence, like free play time or trials and then having losses on Sunday, while Saturdays being higher in player counts; Raptr just fell apart.

So, using X-Fire's data, hopefully we can take time to discuss why games are changing in numbers. Better commentary on the state of the current MMO's should help us understand why the game is ranking where it is.

So, lets get to this weeks numbers. Previous rating comparisons are from 5/16/2011.

  1. Rift - 2835 ( 3325 ↓ )
  2. EvE Online - 2159 ( 2005  )
  3. Aion - 2039 ( 1988  )
  4. Lord of the Rings Online - 1623 ( 1800 ↓ )
  5. Age of Conan - 402 ( 287  )
  6. Dungeons & Dragons Online - 288 ( 277  )
  7. Star Trek Online - 279 ( 327 ↓ )
  8. Champions Online - 182 ( 217 ↓ )
  9. Warhammer Online - 139 ( 133  )
  10. Final Fantasy XIV - 119 ( 112  )
  11. DC Universe - 32 ( 57 ↓ )
Lets start with our mover shaker award this week. 

Age of Conan takes a major jump and lands in the top 5 this week. Thanks to promotions about the movie tie ins, free account restoration for older players and the final piece of free to play coming down the pipe...AoC may just start to look good on the charts and become a winner.

Rift took a small plunge, but as has been happening...week by week Rift fluctuates. The numbers are still tops to make it our number 1 game.

EvE had some major movement in numbers this week. One report though is CCP is fighting a bot infestation, so not sure if the major jump is real. The fact they were at around 1900 last weekend is suspect. Still good to hold number 2.

Aion continues to climb. Patch 2.5 is here with the graphical upgrades, and reactivations were also key here. As a side note, I did get an email from Nvidia offering me a FREE copy of the game AND 15 days (odd, I know). So, not sure how many will try that offer.

Lord of the Rings Online has been showing some losses the last few X-Fire games, so not sure what is happening. Maybe the koolaid is wearing off? A recent update should have shown growth here, so it is confusing. Of course it could be a client issue, and the game runs like crap with X-Fire on...hard to say. I will continue to watch this one, as this has proven to be of interest.

Star Trek Online and Champions Online both fell. Wonder if this has anything to do with the news about Cryptic being flushed by Atari? We will continue to watch this and see if any repercussions are to be felt.

This weeks big loser is DC Universe. How SOE can even recover from the damage of their hacks is beyond me. I for example would never touch another of their products. But, people are odd...especially MMO players, so we will see if DCUO can recover.

It was a holiday weekend, but seems numbers did not move that much. Overall steadiness in most titles, but a few surprises as well.

Lest we forget...the elephant in the room, lets see how Blizzards monkey on everyones back is doing.

World of Warcraft X-Fire chart May 30th - players  31,533 (33,787  )

That is a bit of a drop. Again, may be the weekend or is the behemoth finally showing signs? Hard to say. The fact growth was shown after the initial Rift launch, this may just be a holiday fluke.

Overall, our main games hold strong. Rift still rocking the new launch, Aion and Eve both growing and Age of Conan showing that it could still have life.

Can't wait to see how this all plays out over the summer.

Cheers for now.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The X-Fire Game: Trial (s) and Errors

What a great title for this weeks X-Fire game.

Trials due to Rift's push to be the best #2 MMO out there, and SOE's error and their progress to be the lowest dev on the totem pole.

The previous results we're comparing are from the weekend of 5/1/2011 - Lets see how the 2 weeks have changed.

  1. Rift - 3325 ( 2973  )
  2. EvE Online - 2005 ( 1928  )
  3. Aion - 1988 ( 1929  )
  4. Lord of the Rings Online - 1800 ( 1859 ↓ )
  5. Star Trek Online - 327 ( 345 ↓ )
  6. Age of Conan - 287 ( 280  )
  7. Dungeons & Dragons Online - 277 ( 324 ↓ )
  8. Champions Online - 217 ( 235 ↓ )
  9. Warhammer Online - 133 ( 155 ↓ )
  10. Final Fantasy XIV -112 ( 122 ↓ )
  11. DC Universe -  57 ( 25  )
First off, nice job to Rift. The upswing this week is something most of the MMO's from the last few years have NOT been able to do. New content, new updates, new trials all add up to a game that is flourishing.

Looking at the graph for Rift, we can see the standard drop most MMO's experience. But, we also see a stabilization there. Then the upswing toward the end. Will see how this looks in two weeks.

Other games of note: EVE broke 2000. First time in a while. Aion over takes Lord of the Rings Online to become this weeks #3. Excitement must be building for Aion thanks to the paid transfer service and the upcoming patch 2.5 with major graphics enhancements and new content.

I really need to note here: Sub games are NOT dead, and Free to play, though a help to games suffering, is not the panacea of sub-dom some believe it to be. Just IMO.

Age of Conan has also moved up the charts. Major buzz is going on with this game, with the upcoming movie reboot, discussion of new land masses and overall satisfaction with the new engine changes. We will watch this one in the coming months.

SOE games are back, but of course, DC Universe still trails the bottom. But, note more players. I assume that free time is helping. Not going to help much when someones ID is stolen though. 

Overall quite a few games down this week.

  1. Rift -  2366 ( 2394  players
  2. EvE Online - 803 ( 1010  ) 
  3. Lord of the Rings Online - 771 ( 766  )
  4. Aion - 418 ( 530 ↓ )
  5. Champions Online - 232 ( 192  )
  6. DC Universe - 182 ( 136  )
  7. Dungeons & Dragons Online - 167 ( 173 ↓ )
  8. Final Fantasy XIV - 142 191  )
  9. Star Trek Online - 110 ( 96  )
  10. Age of Conan - 83 ( 89 ↓ )
  11. Warhammer Online - 56 86 ↓ )
What drives me nuts right off the bat...Raptr has Rift with MORE players on a Saturday (2426)...I mean, WTH? Raptr and reliability of stats is really starting to irritate me. But, I will still post them....just expect me to bitch about them EVERY time also.

Ah well, lets take a look at what else is happening.

As we can see, Raptr still plays "Opposites" day of X-Fire with their stats. EVE and Aion are both down, yet LOTRO is up. Of note, like Rift, Aion is UP on Saturday...just down on Sunday, which has not been par for course for ANY game.

Champions is up? LOL. And look at how many slots DC Universe moved up. Interesting bunch of users, these Raptr players.

The biggest travesty here is Age of Conan. All anecdotal evidence points to a rise in activity, yet in Raptr it still runs at the bottom of the pack, with even a LOSS this week. Raptr is just not telling the full story here.


Before I forget, lets take a look at Blizzard and their beast of an MMO.

World of Warcraft X-Fire chart May 15th - players  33,787 (33,611 ↑ )

So, WoW is still on the rise back up. People just cannot let this game go, and it is truly sad to see no other game even has a chance.

Nuff' said here


So, some good numbers for several games, with Rift really showing it can hold on, and could be our number two game in MMO's for a while.

Raptr though is becoming suspect in tracking, and I am about ready to throw it out. It keeps having strikes against it in regards to how their numbers work. When games we know show anecdotal evidence of upswings, yet fall on Raptr...I have to question their systems. Time is ticking down for Raptr stats.

Until next time...Cheers.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Continuing this series of articles on how Rift approaches aspects of gameplay compared to other MMO's. Today I am touching on content. What is it? Does Rift offer enough?

Like yesterday, I wanted to get an idea of what "content" means, so lets start with our Dictionary term. Note, this one is hard, as several terms could be used here...

"something that is contained: the contents of a box."

This first description is interesting, as it basically means ALL inclusion of items. If a box has a manual, a DVD, a map, etc...for an MMO, this is the boxes "contents". Does this work for what is IN the actual gameplay? What does content equal?

The BIG Twitter discussion of quite a few MMO heads had some variations on this topic.

Rowanblaze - "Yes I say "content" is the reason for doing something in-game. IOW, the story. Everything else is grind."

Adarel -"I think story is just one form of content though. The world is full of activities, all of which are content."

Ardwulf -"Even social tools can be content. Depends on the game."

Three different perspectives right off the bat. How does one player look at content as one item, yet another player requires differences in their game for it to equal "content"?

I had remarked how Rift had about as much content as WoW...after it's first expansion, which some would disagree with. Why is that? What MORE did WoW have at that time? A larger world? More "quests" and "dungeons"? I do not remember invasions on a regular basis in WoW. I do not remember Guild Leveling or Guild quests, shinies hunting...the list goes on.

But to me, this is a form of content.

If a player logs into the game, decides to shop on the Auction House, then will craft, then logs off....did they do content? Or did they do something else....features? mechanics?

Again, another perspective. What if the word meant something different...

How about we look at the meaning of "content" as another form of it's definition...

"satisfied with what one is or has; not wanting more or anything else."

Here is where the game changer is. Is the player "content" with what the game offers. This I think describes our MMO's more than what the game gives you to do.

If there is not enough "content" (whats inside the box) then the player is not "content" (happy?). But, this is perspective. What one player will see as con-tent, another will not be cun-tent with.

Phentari stated "I dont know I think they are nuts, that means they ran out of new things to do including features"

"Features" was one word that was used to describe everything that had no "story" to it. Was it then that the player exhausted the "story" and the "features" would not make this player cun-tent?

A slippery slope here.

Lets use the latest news for Rift as our example of new "content" (according to Trion). A new event coming called "Spoils of War" prelude will be offering daily quests to gather various items to purchase unique items, etc.

Is that content?

"As the name implies, the Spoils of War is related to the River of Souls event. Telarans and the Ascended successfully overcame Alsbeth and her minions and now the rewards have arrived. The prelude offers players four new daily quests centered on the mysterious treasure-like items literally falling from the sky in some cases."

What is interesting here is it seems to be a standard "stuff to do" type of event, or features if you will...but also is a continuation of the story from the first big event Rift had, River of Souls. So, we have a story, but it is just "daily" questing to get items to get more items.


mythokia "Producers think they can get away with disguising dailies as new content."

Ouch, clearly mythokia thinks adding in dailies...even for a NOT new content.

Do we see the pattern? We can note that each player has their own opinion on what content is. Just look to that link about "Spoils" (and try not to burn your eyes out, thanks to the MMORPG readers commentary) and see what is being said...

"Just dumping a couple daily repeatable collection quests in the game you need to do a horrible amount of times and increasing the frequency of Rifts and call it a Live Event is not what I call original nor very attractive in my book.

Rift was great at launch. Very polished and fun to play for a short while.

But so far these so called live events just end up being nothing more than an ordinary boring grindfest!"


"It sure beats other games. You don't have to wait, sometimes years, for content."

Within the first few postings, we see two varying viewpoints.

So, is Rift lacking in content? Or is a specific player not "cun-tent" to play what is offered.

As I saw on twitter, there was not an end to the conversation, and so many roads were taken by various players. But, it is mans junk is another's treasure. To even think there is not enough content in specific MMO's...especially Rift, is subjective to each players outlook.

I will use my family of an example of how Rift is approached each day.

My wife is the one who does the daily "shinies" hunt and craft runs. My son will login and is working on leveling, and feels questing is where the game is at. Myself, I feel running zone wide invasions, rifts and dungeons are fun (but, I try to do a little of EVERYTHING).

We are CONTENT to play with the CONTENT as it is...and just see another patch with more to do as even more fun to be had.

If only others could do the same.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


After spending an awesome weekend running massive events in the various zones of Rift, I started to wonder about an issue. Several of us in the community (of bloggers) and, of course, the infamous "forums for haters" have had an ongoing discussion about Dynamics.

Does Rift really have dynamics?

I think mostly people are expecting something different from the actual word, and are not using it in proper context. Lets take a look at the word itself, and see where THAT leads us. If we head to, I find this little bit of information.

"pertaining to or characterized by energy or effective action; vigorously active or forceful"

This is interesting. When we look upon the complaints of most, dynamics is suppose to harbor change. Nothing is indicating that "change" must take place. The actual meaning of the word describes Rift more readily, and shows just how dynamic the game can feel.

So, for something to be "dynamic" it is not that it has to change, or be UNIQUE or must be an effective action. When an EVENT takes place zone wide, this is "forceful" and needs "effective action" to take care of or else it causes issues in the zone. When invasions happen a player must become "vigorously active" to take care of it. I could go on and on (for example, thanks to mob density in Rift compared to most MMO's, there is more vigorous activity than most games).

The facts remain. Rift is a more dynamic MMO than we have normally dealt with.

So, how did the concept of dynamics come down to something affecting the world we play in and must equal change to happen? When we look upon the descriptions for Guild Wars 2, a game being touted for it's changing world dynamics, we see...

"Dynamic events evolve and cascade across the world in response to how you, the player, interact with them,"

So, somehow, Arenanets description looks to "evolving", but not "changing".

Yet, Guild Wars 2 is one of the games most people look to for "Dynamic" events, because somehow it can "change" how the world works. But, GW2 does not really say major or even minor change is the key. It is the ripple effect. Something happens that leads to another...thus causing the dynamic gameplay.

Rift does have the same effect. The "ripple" from an event leads to hubs being shut down, roads overrun, specific quest areas being inaccessible due to rifts. These may happen regularly and may even be the same event from yesterday...but, is still "dynamic" enough to cause the "ripple" effect.

So, what about "scipting". This was one argument I read that really led me here...

"Yeah, really? DYNAMIC.....where is the dynamism? Is it those mushrooms that randomly pops here and there spewing out scripted npcs? "

Can a movie not be dynamic? Is it because a movie has a script that it is not dynamic? I would beg to differ on this and would see how a movie can be vigorously active. One sequence may be a car chase....but another may appear later on that has a different aspect to it (example: Bourne Movies - thanks Matt!). Is this not dynamic because it is the same thing; a car chase?

We need to look over all of the MMO's released to this day and see...How dynamic have they been? And just how dynamic is Rift compared to them?

When a game makes me drop everything and run to defend a hub, take down a major colossi or forces me to make a decision about the area I am questing in due to being blocked by a rift or foothold...this feels dynamic, to me. If I must do something that is NOT scheduled, how can that not be dynamic?

So, maybe the next time you wonder what is dynamic about Rift, lets look to what "dynamic" really means....and then we can see that Rift is truly (and hopefully) the first in a line of dynamic MMO's.

Monday, May 2, 2011

X-Fire Game: The one week reprieve

So, I am back with another installment of our much loved (hated?) game of statistics (voodoo?) using our all time favorite (reviled?) tools...X-Fire and Raptr.

From this point, I will pull back reporting these to maybe every two weeks. This should allow us to see if any drastic changes are happening in the market...and lets me try and write a bit more "commentary" (arguments) on a regular basis.

Lets get started. First off, all data listed is from two weeks ago and will be versus this Sunday's numbers.

(KEY: Click the logos to understand what X-Fire or Raptr is. For the symbols...↓ Means the game had a loss; and the game is in green text, means it had more players. Thank you.)

  1. Rift - 2973 ( 3982  )
  2. EvE Online - 1928 ( 2017  )
  3. Lord of the Rings Online - 1859 ( 1892  )
  4. Aion - 1929 ( 1878  )
  5. Star Trek Online - 345 ( 287  )
  6. Dungeons & Dragons Online - 324 ( 326 ↓ )
  7. Age of Conan - 280 ( 245  )
  8. Champions Online - 235 ( ??  )
  9. Warhammer Online - 155 ( 130  )
  10. Final Fantasy XIV - 122 ( 131 ↓ )
  11. DC Universe -  25 ( 41 ↓ )
So, as we can see here, Rift still has not found the floor. What will it's actual ceiling be?

We could look at how drastic this loss is and do this little bit of fun...

World of Warcraft X-Fire chart April 18th - players  33,611 (32,822 ↑ )

And of course find out where most everyone went.

Rift does still have a large lead over the number 2 game, and with patch 1.2 coming in less than 2 weeks, I expect my next report to see some added player action.

The rise of players in other games were minimal (except for a few stand outs)...

Aion had a big jump. I could look at this as the bonus of "paid transfers". I also think accounts were activated over the weekend too (I got an email about it). So, this may most likely be temporary. Or is this a sign that the game may hold a few new subs?

Star Trek rocked some nice numbers, with a great leap, making it our #5 game on the chart.

Several; other small triumphs was Warhammer, who has been patching their screw ups recently, Champions client was fixed and is reporting again (last report, CO was broken and reporting ZERO players) and Age of Conan also seeing some numbers increasing.

A pretty good week for the games considered failures by a contingent of players.


  1. Rift -  2394 ( 2705  players
  2. EvE Online - 1010 ( 967  ) 
  3. Lord of the Rings Online - 766 ( 751  )
  4. Aion - 530 ( 457  )
  5. Champions Online - 192 ( 225 ↓ )
  6. Final Fantasy XIV 191 ( 152  )
  7. Dungeons & Dragons Online - 173 ( 159  )
  8. DC Universe - 136 ( 179 ↓ )
  9. Star Trek Online - 96 ( 101  )
  10. Age of Conan - 89 ( 94  )
  11. Warhammer Online - 86 ( 84  )
And as is normally the case, Raptr tells us a different story.

Rift's drop is not as harsh as for X-Fire. And if we look around we can see where some of these players are heading to.

Of course, Raptr is also BIZARRO world, where Final Fantasy XIV...probably the worst rated MMO in a long time, has a huge jump. Oddities indeed.

The one thing we can always count on here is our top 4 though. Rift, EvE, LOTRO and Aion seem to hardly budge from their respective slots. Rift as we can see here has over double what EvE is showing and EvE is almost doubling Aion's numbers.

I think we can safely say that players having such an abundance of MMO's have more places to go and play around in to try various new worlds.


Whats clear here is the hold World of Warcraft has over it's player base. Hard to pull players out and into other MMO's. With the news that most of the newer MMO's coming down the pipe, specifically Star Wars, a noted WoW killer, being too much like WoW...where does this leave the genre?

This report is pretty much a statement on the sad affairs of our market. We have quite a few good games here, but WoW truly holds sway over all of this domain, and could color the future of every MMO until someone decides "Lets give up".

For now, players need to accept that the genre has been built, thanks to WoW ingenuity (/snicker) and that all MMO's to come will try their best to mimic it until they get one that has all 7 years of content, can be 100% polished and ready at launch with a whole new endgame that no one can describe, but REALLY want to be meaningful.

I'm out...