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Author Topic: NY Times Article  (Read 16120 times)
Signe
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Muse.


on: February 09, 2005, 09:38:09 PM

Someone posted about this on the board that must not be named and I remembered I had subscribed but never took out any of the newsletters.  Oh well.  It's worth the bit of typing and it's free.  www.nytimes.com

 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Quote
February 10, 2005
World of Warcraft Keeps Growing, Even as Players Test Its Limits
By SETH SCHIESEL
 
RVINE, Calif., Feb. 7 - It was 4:33 p.m. Thursday, and 263,863 people were reaching through cyberspace to explore the sprawling World of Warcraft.

On the windswept plains of the Arathi Highlands, priests and paladins battled creatures of elemental fire and water as they strove to free the spirit of an entrapped princess. To the south, leather workers and alchemists crowded around auctioneers in the bustling underground city Ironforge to hawk their wares while speculators sifted for bargains.

Meanwhile, high in towering Blackrock Spire, dozens of gnomes and humans, dwarves and night elves banded together to assault the legions of the fearsome General Drakkisath.

And in an unmarked building in a nondescript office park here, the builders at Blizzard Entertainment were assembling yet another challenge for the player-heroes of World of Warcraft, the colorful three-dimensional online fantasy that since its release 10 weeks ago has become one of the world's fastest-selling computer games.

From around a dark, windowless room, nine young men peered into the unfinished virtual interior of Karazhan, a haunted tower set in a forlorn mountain pass that will open later this year. "As you can see, the architecture is a little ornate, a little Gothicky," said Aaron Keller, a 29-year-old designer, gesturing to the 3-D model on the computer screen before him. "We're thinking about turning these arches into horse heads."

Twenty minutes of discussion ensued about animal heads carved into just a few spots of one segment of a tower that many users will never even see. It might seem self-indulgent, but it is just one example of the fanatical attention to detail that over the last decade has made Blizzard a premier developer of PC games and turned its Warcraft, Diablo and StarCraft universes into landmark game franchises. (The studio has a minimal presence in the console market.)

Not only have Blizzard's games sold more than 40 million copies over the last 11 years, but they have also inspired a level of enthusiasm that may most closely resemble an opera audience's rapturous devotion to a renowned diva.

Computer Gaming World, the game magazine, called World of Warcraft "a game world so insidiously addictive, so rich in imagination, so fun and beautiful and funny and charming that we have no desire to ever log out and resume our real lives."

Since massively-multiplayer games emerged into prominence with Ultima Online and EverQuest in the late 1990's, the genre has been considered the preserve of only the most serious players: young men with dozens of hours a week to spare grinding through repetitive virtual chores.

World of Warcraft has overshadowed EverQuest II, also released last fall, largely because it remains accessible for more casual players (say, by allowing them to accomplish meaningful quests in less than an hour) while also challenging the hard core (say, by including foes that require dozens of players to defeat.)

And unlike console games, which are basically finished once they are shipped, PC games played online, like World of Warcraft, can be enhanced and enlarged. In fact, users demand it.

Still, as stellar as Blizzard's track record has been, the company was set on its heels by the game's success. Overwhelmed by the sheer number of players, the game's servers conked out repeatedly in the early going, though performance has improved in recent weeks.

Like most massively-multiplayer online games, World of Warcraft requires a monthly subscription fee ($14.99 a month) in addition to the software ($49.99 in the United States for Windows and Macintosh systems; for ages 13 and older). Customer service has been one of Blizzard's hallmarks, but initially the company did not appreciate just how much more demanding customers become when they are paying a regular subscription fee, as opposed to simply buying a box with some disks in it.

While they almost universally loved the game itself, critics have slammed the company on the Internet over customer care and technical support issues.

Now, Blizzard is trying to remake itself swiftly into a full-throated customer service organization. The denizens of massively-multiplayer worlds are the most passionate and demanding gamers in the world. At the same time, successfully running such a game is one of the most technically complex and difficult tasks in cyberspace.

It all requires a tremendous amount of work behind the screens. Meanwhile, the company's executives are grappling with the wages of success: trying to accommodate growth without losing the informal-yet-disciplined flavor that made Blizzard such a hit factory in the first place.

"I think it's fair to say that we needed to restructure ourselves a bit in order to adequately support World of Warcraft's success," said Mike Morhaime, 36, Blizzard's president. "Normally when we ship a game it is basically done. We have worked really hard and we might want to fix a few bugs that have cropped up, but the work is basically over. In the case of World of Warcraft, we worked really hard and we shipped the product, but in some ways the work was just beginning."

An Unforeseen Scale

Most of the senior people at Blizzard seem to agree on the moment they realized that World of Warcraft had taken on a life of its own.

It was in the evening, right before the game was formally released on Nov. 23. Blizzard had arranged for producers and designers to sign copies of the game at midnight at a hangar-size Fry's Electronics outlet in Fountain Valley, not far from Blizzard's base in Irvine, 40 miles south of Los Angeles. The company had set up a similar signing for an earlier strategy game, Warcraft III, and about 700 people showed up. Planning optimistically, the company had about 2,500 copies of World of Warcraft on hand.

"So I planned to roll over there around 11 p.m., and as I tried to get off the freeway I look over and I see this gigantic, dark, surging mass around Fry's, and I'm like, 'What in the world is that?' " said Paul Sams, 34, Blizzard's senior vice president for business operations. It turned out that the pulsing was more than 5,000 people.

"The cars were backed up on the off-ramp," he said. "I parked like a mile away, and when I get there the line is looped around the building, and then looped around the parking lot. It was like a football tailgate, with the R.V.'s and barbecues in the lot and everything."

By the end of that first day, about 240,000 copies of the game had sold across North America, Australia and New Zealand, the product's initial markets. The game has now sold almost 700,000 copies in those markets, and at peak hours about 250,000 people from those areas are playing the game simultaneously.

World of Warcraft was introduced in South Korea, a huge market for PC gaming, on Jan. 18. At peak hours more than 100,000 Koreans are playing at the same time. This week Blizzard plans to begin selling the game in Europe, in English, French and German. It appears that World of Warcraft is on a pace to generate at least $200 million in subscription revenue this year, in addition to more than $50 million in retail sales.

"The happiness became terror on the first day," said Mr. Sams, adding that the company surpassed its one-year subscriber targets in less than a week. "We have a lot of high-class problems right now."

He sighed and leaned his elbows on his office's conference table, which was covered with building plans. The company started developing World of Warcraft in 1999, and two years later Blizzard still employed fewer than 200 people. Now that figure is pushing 750 worldwide. The company is bulging out of its 63,000-square-foot headquarters and is about to take over an additional 22,000 square feet in a building nearby to house its expanding customer-service department.

"I used to think that I knew everything that was happening in this company, and now there are so many pieces and so many elements that I go to meetings and I'm frustrated that I don't know all the answers," Mr. Sams said. "I keep asking: 'When is this going to slow down? When can I reduce the number of e-mails in my in-box below 2,800?' "

From Players, an Earful

Mr. Sams has it easy. At least he doesn't have people calling him an incompetent, lying, moronic hack every day. In public.

Just down the hall, Paul Della Bitta and Daniel Chin, both 28, have learned to cope with that. Every day, World of Warcraft players post more than 150,000 messages to the game's English-language Web site. As associate community managers, Mr. Della Bitta and Mr. Chin swim with the sharks and post to those forums as two of Blizzard's five official representatives to the World of Warcraft community.

"Let's just say that you develop a thick skin and a sense of humor," Mr. Chin said.

Mr. Della Bitta chimed in. "Our players are certainly very passionate about the game," he said, seeming to pick his words carefully.

Mr. Chin laughed and said, "Uh, that's an understatement."

World of Warcraft encompasses two huge continents, eight playable races, hundreds of monsters and thousands of quests. And the game's hundreds of thousands of players have questions, concerns, gripes and outright complaints about just about all of them. The players want answers now, and when they don't like the answers, the community managers are the ones who hear about it, loudly.

Whether it's a rant that the rogue class should be nerfed, or made less effective, or the latest discussion on the appropriate manner to tackle the Molten Core, the game's toughest dungeon, a single popular discussion topic will often be read more than 100,000 times in just a day or two.

And in sifting through all of the messages (or as many as they can get to), the community managers have developed a rich understanding of how people's real and game identities can intersect.

"You literally can see a 68-year-old doctor arguing with a 13-year-old about some obscure gameplay issue, like how paladins should be nerfed," Mr. Della Bitta said.

"The only real way to determine status on the message boards is the level of your character. If you're Level 60, what you say immediately has weight. But if you're only like Level 5, you could make a perfectly valid point on something and everyone will be like, 'Shut up, what do you know?' And if you're a doctor or lawyer or something in real life, you're probably not used to that, so we see the frustrations."

A World That Keeps Evolving

Ultimately, all of these passions, all of the money and all of the construction and new hiring have to be based on a game that lots of people just think is plain fun to play.

Back in the Karazhan design meeting, artists and developers were debating whether the horse heads' eyes should move to follow players exploring the area when Chris Metzen, Blizzard's vice president for creative development, poked his head in.

For 10 years, Mr. Metzen, 31, has been creating the rich stories and plotlines that have girded Blizzard's success. In his silver-rimmed sunglasses, shorts and hiking boots, he strode to the monitor as the others explained the concept of the horse heads.

"Well, I'm not so sure it makes sense just because it's a carriage house," Mr. Metzen said. "But check it out: in Warcraft 1 it said that Lothar was part of the Brotherhood of the Horse, and I thought that was kind of lame then, but maybe a horse head will work because of that. Yeah, that's hot."

Within a few minutes, Mr. Metzen determined that the history and culture of the tower's long-dead inhabitants decreed that the architectural animal motifs progress from horse heads at the tower's base to eagle heads a bit higher, culminating in lion heads at the grand opera house.

"But don't put these heads all over the place," Mr. Metzen told an artist. "Just sprinkling them in here and there will really sell the history to the players who are paying attention."

And if Blizzard has learned anything from its World of Warcraft experience, it is that the players are certainly paying attention.

"It's the difference between an immersive experience and a mechanical diversion," Mr. Metzen said. "You might spend hundreds of hours playing a game like this, and why would you keep coming back? Is it just for the next magic helmet? Is it just to kill the next dragon?

"It has to be the story. We want you to care about these places and things so that, in addition to the adrenaline and the rewards of addictive gameplay, you have an emotional investment in the world. And that's what makes a great game."


 

My Sig Image: hath rid itself of this mortal coil.
MrHat
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Reply #1 on: February 09, 2005, 10:05:10 PM

Thanks for the read.
Triforcer
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Reply #2 on: February 09, 2005, 11:26:47 PM



Quote

"You literally can see a 68-year-old doctor arguing with a 13-year-old about some obscure gameplay issue, like how paladins should be nerfed," Mr. Della Bitta said.


I laughed out loud. 

All life begins with Nu and ends with Nu.  This is the truth!  This is my belief! At least for now...
Dren
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Reply #3 on: February 10, 2005, 07:15:19 AM

Quote
Mike Morhaime, 36, Blizzard's president

That's one year older than me....

That should be me!!!  angry
jpark
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Reply #4 on: February 10, 2005, 07:58:11 AM

It's great news.  WoW may have only incrementally advanced the genre, but given it is one of the few games (e.g. CoH) to achieve this - such recognition by way of reveues is great to see.

The game is rich in depth - it really has atmosphere.

Maybe EQ2 will have a patch update to add "spirit" to its game :P


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HaemishM
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Reply #5 on: February 10, 2005, 09:14:27 AM

Wow, that's an awfully written story. I had to laugh at this, though:

Quote
Customer service has been one of Blizzard's hallmarks

In what world?

schild
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Reply #6 on: February 10, 2005, 09:24:36 AM

Wow, that's an awfully written story. I had to laugh at this, though:

Quote
Customer service has been one of Blizzard's hallmarks

In what world?

In the same world that David Bowman had become the richest man in the world off the breakout hit Horizons and Blizzard outsourced their customer service.
Sky
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Reply #7 on: February 10, 2005, 09:28:22 AM

Quote
Paul Della Bitta
Blizzabababooey!

SirBruce
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Reply #8 on: February 10, 2005, 10:44:28 AM

Well, they never mention subscriber numbers, unfortunately. I knew about the 700K figure a few days ago, as well as the fact it was getting lots of playtime in the Korean cybercafes.

I'd say there are at least 500K subscribers now. Potentially 100-200K more if you count Korea. But unfortunately, that's only an estimate..

I found more interesting this passage:

Quote
"It appears that World of Warcraft is on a pace to generate at least $200 million in subscription revenue this year, in addition to more than $50 million in retail sales."

$200 million / ($15/month * 12 months) = 1,111,111 subscribers per month on average. Now, that's probably not possible, because they only sold 700K copies; it's the payments from the cybercafes that distort this. So we still can't be sure how many people are playing in South Korea, but at least it's putting us in the ballpark.

Bruce
Dren
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Reply #9 on: February 10, 2005, 10:59:15 AM

Limited edition buyers got one free pass for a friend.

Number of boxes sold != number of accounts.
jpark
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Reply #10 on: February 10, 2005, 11:00:39 AM

$200 million / ($15/month * 12 months) = 1,111,111 subscribers per month on average. Now, that's probably not possible, because they only sold 700K copies; it's the payments from the cybercafes that distort this. So we still can't be sure how many people are playing in South Korea, but at least it's putting us in the ballpark.

Bruce

If I understand correctly you're basing your analysis on boxes currently sold - not taking into account further box sales that will occur throughout the remainder of the year?  I read the statement in the article as a forecast - which implicitly would include some growth from the current sales base.  Put another way, how many more box sales would be required beyond the 700K to make the projected revenue target realistic?


"I think my brain just shoved its head up its own ass in retaliation.
"  HaemishM.
Toast
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Reply #11 on: February 10, 2005, 12:30:16 PM

We can't be sure about the numbers. Either way, there is a remarkable combination of box sell-through and subscriber retention.

My guess is that Blizzard is building a backlog of demand for boxes. Until they can get the growth/capacity issues cleared up, I don't see them pushing for more box sales. A subscription saved is a subscription earned, so they are probably in fire drill retention mode.

Are there any more foreign markets left for them to enter? That could be part of the 1.1 M subscriber estimate to get to 200M in revenue.

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sidereal
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Reply #12 on: February 10, 2005, 12:48:28 PM

Quote
"You might spend hundreds of hours playing a game like this, and why would you keep coming back? Is it just for the next magic helmet? Is it just to kill the next dragon?

"It has to be the story.


Heh.
Newb.

THIS IS THE MOST I HAVE EVERY WANTED TO GET IN TO A BETA
pants
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Reply #13 on: February 10, 2005, 01:21:13 PM

Are there any more foreign markets left for them to enter? That could be part of the 1.1 M subscriber estimate to get to 200M in revenue.

Pretty sure they haven't actually launched yet in Europe - they're still in Beta.  Heck of a market there to expand into.
AOFanboi
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Reply #14 on: February 10, 2005, 01:30:32 PM

Pretty sure they haven't actually launched yet in Europe - they're still in Beta.  Heck of a market there to expand into.
*checks watch*

Correct - it's still two and a half hours until the first boxes will be sold from stores that open at midnight for this launch. At least one here in Oslo, Norway that I know of, selling only to preorder customers.

I'll wait until sometime tomorrow.

Current: Mario Kart DS, Nintendogs
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Reply #15 on: February 10, 2005, 02:16:18 PM

Well, they never mention subscriber numbers, unfortunately. I knew about the 700K figure a few days ago, as well as the fact it was getting lots of playtime in the Korean cybercafes.

I'd say there are at least 500K subscribers now. Potentially 100-200K more if you count Korea. But unfortunately, that's only an estimate..
So WHY you keep estimating BADLY?
700k of box sales are EXCLUSIVELY for the american release. You assume a 200k vanishing as a churn rate?
In Korea there are 100k loggin in at the same time. How it's possible that this number is EQUAL to ALL the subscribers?

A believeable estimate, right now and with the data we have, is that the american subscribers are at 600k if they sold 700k (and the box sales for the LAST WEEK still put WoW just behind HL2 and The Sims2). And 150-250k, at least, for Korea.

With the European release they'll break easily 1M.

Quote
I found more interesting this passage:

Quote
"It appears that World of Warcraft is on a pace to generate at least $200 million in subscription revenue this year, in addition to more than $50 million in retail sales."

$200 million / ($15/month * 12 months) = 1,111,111 subscribers per month on average. Now, that's probably not possible, because they only sold 700K copies; it's the payments from the cybercafes that distort this. So we still can't be sure how many people are playing in South Korea, but at least it's putting us in the ballpark.
No, it's probably not possible just because you have a very personal idea even of the basic math.
« Last Edit: February 10, 2005, 02:18:12 PM by HRose »

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Reply #16 on: February 10, 2005, 02:25:13 PM

Wait, isn't the general consensus that only 1/8th of all subscribers are logged in nightly? So if that is even remotely true, they would somehow have over 2 million subscribers?

Yeah, that number makes about as much sense as any of the other numbers thrown around here. HINT: WE DON'T KNOW HOW MANY SUBS THEY HAVE UNTIL THEY ANNOUNCE IT.

Right now, we know that number could be as high as 800,000, and as low as 250,000.

It's still a lot.

HRose
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Reply #17 on: February 10, 2005, 03:03:32 PM

Wait, isn't the general consensus that only 1/8th of all subscribers are logged in nightly? So if that is even remotely true, they would somehow have over 2 million subscribers?
Because I believe most numbers aren't correct.

I do not believe that each night 250k are logged in. Instead I believe they reached that at peak during the holiday. About Korea I don't know but it's not impossible to guess the numbers for NA and my bet is that they are at 600k.

In general the proportion is 1/4 - 1/5 anyway. Eve-Online has 13k at peak and 50k+ subs. DAoC, back then, 60k at peak and 250k in total
Everquest went above 100k logged in with 450k in total or so

All these examples are America+Europe, so the peak log ins are smoothed. While WoW has a good 95% of the playerbase completely focused in a few timezones. This means that there are MORE peoples logged in and less resulting total subs. So it's probably 1/3 - 1/4. With a rough 150k or more logging in at peak we have about 600k.

This is an estimation, but an estimation that makes sense. Plus the game is still on the top three, while, as an example, EQ2 *vanished* after the first week.

-HRose / Abalieno
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Reply #18 on: February 10, 2005, 03:12:26 PM


-Rasix
El Gallo
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Reply #19 on: February 10, 2005, 03:28:42 PM

Quote
"I think it's fair to say that we needed to restructure ourselves a bit in order to adequately support World of Warcraft's success," said Mike Morhaime, 36, Blizzard's president. "Normally when we ship a game it is basically done. We have worked really hard and we might want to fix a few bugs that have cropped up, but the work is basically over. In the case of World of Warcraft, we worked really hard and we shipped the product, but in some ways the work was just beginning."

An Unforeseen Scale

No shit.  Patch in some content now, motherbitches.  And hotfix the major bugs that should have been gone in beta, like the raid instance bug.  You reek of a company that had no clue what you were getting yourselves into, thanks for confirming that in this interview.

This post makes me want to squeeze into my badass red jeans.
Abel
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Reply #20 on: February 10, 2005, 03:41:35 PM

Quote
Pretty sure they haven't actually launched yet in Europe - they're still in Beta.  Heck of a market there to expand into.

WoW is going to be BIG in Europe and will completely dominate the market and remove DAoC from it's market leadership. According to Blizzard already in Euro Beta WoW had more players then all the other MMORPGs in Europe counted together.

I  heard that there are an unbelievable 330,000 preorders for WoW Europe, which seems to be on the high side. A couple of weeks ago the Euro WoW site stated 110,000 preorders and that the number would triple in a fortnight seems unlikely.

Nonetheless it's almost set in stone that WoW will break the 1 Million subscriber mark with it's European release.

EDIT : the release is friday 11/02 btw, or tomorrow for yankee time.
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Reply #21 on: February 10, 2005, 04:03:22 PM

The fun thing about the 1 million people around the world mark is that it's just not all that impressive. Maybe 10-20 million people around the world would be. But 1 million, nope, sorry buddy.

And yes, I'll say this about any MMORPG touting the one million user mark, but it's special in WoW's case since a 3 year old computer can run it near flawlessly. Proportionately to what EQ2 needs from a computer, WoW should have 10x the userbase considering the requirements and installed number of shitty computers around the world.
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Reply #22 on: February 10, 2005, 04:21:02 PM

Yah, ok.  1 million isn't impressive.   rolleyes

MORE CRACK, ISLE 5. We get that you don't like the game already. Really.

EQ2 doesn't have the user base, not because of it's bloated system reqs, but because to most people it's about as fun as popping zits with a needle nosed pliers dipped in bleach.  They can spew out 10 pages of patch notes a day, but until they patch in the the uber mob know as 'Not Bored to Fucking Tears", it means absolutely shit.   

« Last Edit: February 10, 2005, 04:26:01 PM by Rasix »

-Rasix
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Reply #23 on: February 10, 2005, 04:43:28 PM

Yah, ok.  1 million isn't impressive.   rolleyes

Seriously, given the system reqs and Blizzards past sales, it's not. The markets different from the last time Blizzard released a game. Domination is a little harder than you'd think.
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Reply #24 on: February 10, 2005, 04:45:24 PM

A MMOG making blockbuster-movie type money in one year is newsworthy.

Schild crying because WoW shrunk his e-penis is not newsworthy.

This post makes me want to squeeze into my badass red jeans.
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Reply #25 on: February 10, 2005, 04:52:56 PM

A MMOG making blockbuster-movie type money in one year is newsworthy.

Schild crying because WoW shrunk his e-penis is not newsworthy.


You people are positively deluded. I'm looking big scope at the whole industry with WoW as the prime (and obvious) example. I could care less which MMOG it is, if these people think 1,000,000 is the end all be all, they're barking up the wrong tree. They should be aiming for whatever the installed base of gamers is on a rig that can handle the game. Which I would guess is between 15 and 30 million (in North America and Europe, excluding Asia because of the pervasiveness of netcafes).
Abel
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Reply #26 on: February 10, 2005, 05:10:09 PM

The reason why WoW >>> EQ in Europe is certainly not because WoW has lower system requirements. It helps inflating the number of people who can join in, but it's not the main reason why WoW so easely outsells EQ2, not in Europe at the least.

The interest in Europe for EQ2 was simply limited, even among people without knowledge of it's system requirements. It seems Europes MMORPG market is more PvP-driven as the NA market. EQ, EQ2 and FFXI all had some succes, but were hardly smash hits. DAoC and WoW however have been the biggest names in the past years.

Even more so, most people who prefer EQ2 over WoW seem to do so exactly based on the graphics. But that's just an impression I have.
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Reply #27 on: February 10, 2005, 05:29:12 PM

The reason why WoW >>> EQ in Europe is certainly not because WoW has lower system requirements. It helps inflating the number of people who can join in, but it's not the main reason why WoW so easely outsells EQ2, not in Europe at the least.

The interest in Europe for EQ2 was simply limited, even among people without knowledge of it's system requirements. It seems Europes MMORPG market is more PvP-driven as the NA market. EQ, EQ2 and FFXI all had some succes, but were hardly smash hits. DAoC and WoW however have been the biggest names in the past years.

Even more so, most people who prefer EQ2 over WoW seem to do so exactly based on the graphics. But that's just an impression I have.
My impression is exactly the opposite. In fact I believe that SWG was quite successful around here. At least in Italy there's a HUGE boost for RPG stuff. Peoples loves world-like games like Ultima Online and while there's a lot of hype for WoW, many, many players don't like the arcade-ish approach and the bland roleplaying in the game.

I lurk various large guilds around here and one of the parts that is getting bashed is the quest system. They hate the fact that there aren't real dialogues and complex stories to follow and they definitely hate the lack of world-feel. They see WoW as the average Diablo where everyone runs around on its own without creating ties, relationships, roleplay.

Those are the elements that attract the public here. The depth of interaction, the depth of the setting, the events etc..

While it's a HUGE factor the system requirements. About 10% or less of the potential audience has a PC up to date and a huge slice has archaic hardware.

I agree, instead, on the PvP. That's another hot feature.

-HRose / Abalieno
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Reply #28 on: February 10, 2005, 07:30:43 PM

Which I would guess is between 15 and 30 million (in North America and Europe, excluding Asia because of the pervasiveness of netcafes).

I wasn't aware 30 million people played video games.
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Reply #29 on: February 10, 2005, 07:41:30 PM

Living in holes much? Do you KNOW a teenage boy that hasn't or doesn't play games? Do you know how many teenage boys there are in America.
MrHat
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Reply #30 on: February 10, 2005, 07:46:22 PM

Living in holes much? Do you KNOW a teenage boy that hasn't or doesn't play games? Do you know how many teenage boys there are in America.

Actually, I don't know a single american teenage boy that owns and games on a PC.
schild
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Reply #31 on: February 10, 2005, 08:00:48 PM

Quote
Microsoft Game Studios and Ensemble Studios today announced that the award-winning Age franchise has sold over 15 million copies worldwide. The Age titles, comprised of the Age of Empires and Age of Mythology series, have been consistently in NPD's top ten sales charts throughout the life of the franchise. According to NPD, Age of Mythology has been a top 10 best-selling PC game title for 26 consecutive weeks, 18 months after its initial ship date*. The latest Age release, Age of Mythology: The Titans expansion pack, will reduce its estimated retail price on May 12 to $19.95 (U.S.).

Let's be fair and divide 15 by 3. I know I bought AOE1, AOE2, and AOE2 expansion. Anyway, that's 5,000,000 gamers. Hell, cut that in half and you still have 2.5million. Point being. Lots.
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Reply #32 on: February 10, 2005, 11:20:02 PM

$200 million / ($15/month * 12 months) = 1,111,111 subscribers per month on average. Now, that's probably not possible, because they only sold 700K copies; it's the payments from the cybercafes that distort this. So we still can't be sure how many people are playing in South Korea, but at least it's putting us in the ballpark.

Bruce

If I understand correctly you're basing your analysis on boxes currently sold - not taking into account further box sales that will occur throughout the remainder of the year?  I read the statement in the article as a forecast - which implicitly would include some growth from the current sales base.  Put another way, how many more box sales would be required beyond the 700K to make the projected revenue target realistic?

Not taking into account any new *subscriptions* generated by new box sales, yes.  Box sale revenues themselves are supposedly outside the $200M according to the article.

For the sake of argument, if they have 600K subscribers in January, and they grow that at 100K/month, they'd have to have 1.7 million subscribers in December to average 1.1 million subs/month.  So you're talking, even at the high conversion rates they seem to be seeing, over 2 million copies sold.

But again, none of that takes into account the Korean revenue, so it's impossible to make any exact projections.

Bruce
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Reply #33 on: February 10, 2005, 11:28:20 PM

HRose, I tried to follow your posts, but it seems like all you did was attack me for being stupid, and then offered your own conclusion that was all of 150K higher in terms of subs.  So I say at least 500-700K, and you say at least 650-850K.  I don't see that there's a big dispute, there.

As for the peak-to-subs ratio, let me tell you it varies widely from game to game; I've seen anywhere from 10% to 33%.  But that peak is always going to be higher when a game launches because everyone is going to be playing it.  The peak number for February would theoretically be settled enough to be useful, but with Korean and European launches, it's going to get distorted again.

Anyway, I'm still baffled by the fact that if they've passed EverQuest in terms of subscribers, or gone over 500K, why haven't they SAID that?

Bruce
schild
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Reply #34 on: February 10, 2005, 11:31:29 PM

Anyway, I'm still baffled by the fact that if they've passed EverQuest in terms of subscribers, or gone over 500K, why haven't they SAID that?

Because they can't keep enough servers up to validate it? No, I'm not joking.
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