Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Digital Dozen: 21 February 2012

The rankings of the top twelve MMORPGs as determined by the players of the Xfire community from play on Sunday, 12 February 2012.  For more details about the methodology, click here.

Rank Prev Week Game ScoreHours Played
11World of Warcraft 54.8 91,328
22Star Wars: The Old Republic21.635,943
34Eve Online3.15,105
46Lord of the Rings Online 2.84,697
63Star Trek Online 2.74,505
78Metin 2 2.54,140
87Guild Wars 2.23,687
99Need For Speed World2.23,596
1011APR: Reloaded 1.93,116
1112Rift 1.83,036
1210Maple Story1.72,810
Total MMORPG hours played Sunday: 213,883

Why the overall decline in hours played from last week?  Last week was a down week for the hours played in the twelve most popular MMORPGs on Xfire.  The overall decline of 5.6% was lead by four games that saw over a 10% drop in playtime from the previous week: Star Trek Online (-20.7%), Star Wars: The Old Republic (-14.4%), Maple Story (-12.5%) and Aion (-10.9%).  Those 4 games accounted for 82% of the overall decrease in time played.  Why?

Server stability issues hurt - Maple Story continued its decline from its 2012 high of 5,616 hours played on 15 January following issues that began after a game update on 18 January.  These issues required a rollback on 27 January back to a restore point on 24 January.  That was bad enough, but due to continuing issues Nexon made additional offers of free items to players on 30 January, 1 February and 3 February.  As CCP found out last year, the financial situation can get bad when the veteran players become disgruntled.  Maple Story apparently is facing its own problems with hackers, exploiters and bugged content.  CCP took months to recover and wound up laying off 20% of its workforce as financial issues forced the Icelandic company to scale back its ambitious plans.  Maple Story is in free fall, seeing a drop of almost 50% in the past month.

The new internet spaceship smell is gone - Star Trek Online led the decline in percentage terms this week as the game hit the one-month mark as a free-to-play game.  The popularity surged to a peak on 5 February when Cryptic celebrated the two-year anniversary of the opening of the servers by giving away free stuff.  The peak was short lived and players are moving on to greener pastures.

Converting from subscription to free-to-play - The Korean MMORPG Aion is in the process of converting from a subscription based game in the West to a F2P game.  Not only is the game changing payment models, it is also changing publishers.  NCSoft will hand over the running of the game to Gameforge, publishers of Wizard 101 and this week's #7 ranked game Metin 2.  This does pose some short-term problems for the game as some players don't like playing in F2P games.  A bigger issue may be the actual transfer of accounts between NCSoft and Gameforge.  Are players comfortable with the process?  And will new players hold off on subscribing until the changeover is complete?  The wait may be over as closed beta finished yesterday.  So while the numbers are down now, expect a surge from Aion in the very near future.

The fourth pillar is crumbling - I can explain what is occurring in the first three games fairly easily, but what can I say about Star Wars: The Old Republic?  This week's 14.4% decline in time played is just part of a larger decline of 49.1% in time played since 15 January.  15 January is a significant date as it is the last date that everyone who had purchased SW:TOR counted as a subscriber.  Starting on 20 January people could decline to subscribe.  If the Xfire numbers are representative of the entire player base, EA and Bioware are in danger of not having the 1 million subscribers they feel they need to be successful. 

Why is SW:TOR having the huge drop-off?  Don't blame WoW tourists.  Since 15 January World of Warcraft has seen a drop of 13% in hours played.  If I had to guess, the emphasis on the story, which I really liked when I played, isn't enough to keep people playing the game multiple times through.


  1. Easy Cause.
    SW:TOR has only static Content. Like all the other Games that are dropping Subscribers/Players.

    A game with long-term-sucess has to has some kind of sandboxy-gameplay where players can create content - and moreover: where players are affected by other players actions.

    I hate it when you can play a "MMOG" in Singleplayer. Go play Skyrim for that. Much more rewarding and better graphics.
    If you want real MMOG (and by that i mean PvE/PvP-Stuff with about 100-1000 People in THE SAME place (no instances or crap)) then you have real fun ..

    I always ask WoW-Players:
    Why do you raid? It cant be fun doing that 1000 times repeated .. They answer: To get more/better Equipment. I answer: And what do you use it for? - Better raiding!
    -.- Awww -.- I cant tell how that hurts -.-
    Where is the heroic "we conquer a Part of the Realm for our side"? Where is the "ow .. that lvl80-barbarian has some nice equip. Lets raid him with our 10 lvl20-char group and sell the loot in the auction-house"? Where is the "umm .. no PvE for me today .. i just scam some people here.. thats more fun"?

    That are all reasons for me to play EVE. Even if i WANTED another game .. there is nothing like it. And it seems like that is the way to go ..
    Since 8 YEARS they have rising subscription-numbers. I never heard that other "M"MOGs can keep up with that after the first euphoria is gone.

  2. Err rising subscription numbers, I think not. When I joined Eve over three years back I saw numbers rise to over 60,000 online at some times, now we are lucky if there are 45,000 online at any one time. That is a 25% drop, and a lot of that has been since last spring and the fiasco that led to a large number of canceled accounts.

    I am a WoW player and an Eve player. Play them both for different reasons none of which you have given in your inaccurate post. If you are going to quote numbers to back up your made up statistics make sure they are true quotes so you don't get called out.

    Quote "A game with long-term-sucess has to has some kind of sandboxy-gameplay where players can create content - and moreover: where players are affected by other players actions. Unquote" sandbox, WOW, long term success.
    Wow has no sand box and has a similar age as Eve but just from the figures above we can see that it has stomped all over Eve online for long term success. So whether you like it or not there are many more players of Wow than of Eve.

    You seem to be saying that raiding is the only game in Wow, you obviously haven't played the game then.

    There is a thriving economy, there is crafting, manufacturing, missioning (dungeons), questlines trading, achievement hunting, world events, pvp rated, Battle grounds and Arenas, as well as the pvp like dungeons the casual player can participate in. Thats just the PVE servers. If you like the ganking game you can join a PVP server or even an RP server of either PVE or PVP flavour.

    So I think you need to update your knowledge before drawing such erroneous conclusions, don't you?

  3. About the subscription numbers. Saying that Eve Online was seeing frequent days with peak concurrent user numbers of 60,000 3 years ago is not true. On 9 December 2009 the PCU record on Tranquility was only 54,181. We have only seen less than a handful of days with PCU over 60,000 since then, usually during the Alliance Tournaments. And the numbers dropped approx 10% after CCP Screegs started going after bots following last year's Fanfest. Then after Incarna we were lucky to see PCU of 45,000. One thing most people forget is with the increased hardware requirements a lot of people couldn't run multiple clients on their computers anymore. Well, the ones whose computers didn't melt, anyway. We don't really know how much of an impact that had due to Monoclegate driving away players.

    However, since Crucible launched we are experiencing PCU on Sunday's in the 50,000-52,000 range, which is comparible to the pre-Incarna numbers.

    Also, CCP just published a press release stating that Eve Online has over 400,000 accounts, which means that for the 8th consecutive year Eve Online has seen an increase in subscribers. Or at least accounts, since from the Incarna protests it appears that the average Eve player has 2.2 accounts.

    1. Just did another search. The first day Tranquility ever saw over 60,000 players on at the same time was 6 June 2010 during the Alliance Tournament.

  4. One point to consider, EvE may actually see a decline in people online at any one time while the accounts stay the same or rise. Why? The war on bots. Anyone online for 23x7 in a belt is grounds for ban hammering...