Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Digital Dozen: 2012 Final Rankings

This week I look back on 2012 and the popularity of MMORPGs as played by the Xfire community.  Instead of just taking the total hours played I took the Digital Dozen score for each week and averaged them together.  If a game was not among the top 12 games it received no score for the week.  The average score is listed after the name of the game.

I should add that because The Digital Dozen began in February the first five Sundays of the year are not included in the rankings.  I have noted where this would have affected a game's ranking.

Those looking for the normal weekly rankings can find them at the bottom of the post.

1.  World Of Warcraft: 48.4

Weeks Ranked: 48
Developer: Activision/Blizzard
Publisher:  Activision/Blizzard

World of Warcraft continued to dominate the MMORPG scene in 2012 but the game showed signs of weakness with the successful launch of Guild Wars 2.  WoW actually trailed GW2 for five weeks until the launch of the Mists of Pandaria expansion.  But with a subscription base of over 10 million expect WoW to continue to lead all western MMORPGs for the foreseeable future.

2.  Guild Wars 2: 13.6

Weeks Ranked:  22
Developer:  ArenaNet
Publisher:  NCSoft

The only game on the list that launched in 2012, Guild Wars 2 and its buy-to-play model took the gaming world by storm when it launched in August, topping the Digital Dozen for most of September.  The long awaited sequel succeeded in the same situation where EverQuest 2 failed.  With no end game gear progression grind, a level system that means that players cannot just outlevel a zone and three server PvP ArenaNet's design will influence future game design.

3.  Star Wars: The Old Republic: 10.8

Weeks Ranked:  48
Developer:  Bioware
Publisher:  Electronic Arts

If The Digital Dozen had begun in January Star Wars: The Old Republic likely would have claimed the number 2 slot in this year-end list.  It is hard to believe that a game that probably had 500,000 - 700,000 subscribers nine months after launch is considered a failure, but that is the reality.  With Electronic Arts implying that Need For Speed World was a more important title to the financial health of the company during an investor call, the leadership of Bioware retiring and server merges critics had more than their opinions to justify the charge.  The game switched to a free-to-play model that many consider poorly thought out and overly punishing to F2P players.  EA/Bioware look to have an interesting year ahead of them.

4.  Aion: 5.0

Weeks Ranked:  48
Developer:  NCSoft
Publisher:  NCSoft

Korean exports to the western market usually do not perform well and Aion struggled as a subscription game.  A change to the free-to-play model in March gave the game a boost that carried it over its nearest competitor Eve Online and the number four position.  But by the end of the year the NCSoft product had lost its lead and the question remains if the F2P model will carry the game throughout 2013.

5.  Eve Online: 3.8

Weeks Ranked:  48
Developer:  CCP
Publisher:  CCP

The top sandbox MMORPG of 2012 Eve Online continues to defy gravity as a relaunch in China saw the sci-fi game end the year with 450,000 subscriptions.  In The Digital Dozen rankings the Icelandic game just chugged along as a steady performer from week to week.  The question CCP faces in 2013 is whether the link to the console shooter DUST 514 will lead to another increase in popularity in the game's 10th year.

6.  Metin 2: 2.8

Weeks Ranked:  48
Developer:  YMIR Entertainment
Publisher:  Gameforge

Another Korean export to the western market, the game is a PvP game featuring a 3-faction war and a harsh death penalty when compared to most other games that includes experience point loss and the dropping of items when defeated.  The game was a solid performer during most of the year but began to slump in December.  The question remains if the game can maintain its popularity with the wave of new games due in 2013.

7.  APB: Reloaded: 2.5

Weeks Ranked:  48
Developer:  Reloaded Productions
Publisher:  GamersFirst

APB: Reloaded's performance this year as the Xfire community's top driving MMO is extraordinary considering its history.  The game shut down in 2010 when RealTime Worlds declared for bankruptcy and was picked up and reopened by Reloaded Productions as a free-to-play game.  The game never approached the top of the rankings but its steady performance made it one of six games that stayed on The Digital Dozen for all 48 weeks this year.

8.  Lord Of The Rings Online: 2.3

Weeks Ranked: 40
Developer:  Turbine
Publisher:  Turbine

The game based on the works of J.R.R Tolkien encountered a rough June and July when it frequently failed to make The Digital Dozen but the game made a strong comeback in the fourth quarter as the Xfire community jumped into the Riders of Rohan expansion.  Some are questioning the longevity of the game as some of the recent cash shop decisions have faced some criticism.

9.  Guild Wars: 1.7

Weeks Ranked:  30
Developer:  ArenaNet
Publisher: NCSoft

Guild Wars 2 may have benefited from the success of the original Guild Wars.  The game remained popular enough at the beginning of 2012 that it found itself ranked 9th overall despite not appearing on The Digital Dozen rankings for the final 18 Sundays of the year.  The future of the game remains uncertain but its days as one of the most popular MMORPGs in the Xfire community are over.

10.  Need For Speed World: 1.6

Weeks Ranked:  42
Developer:  Quicklime Games/EA Singapore
Publisher:  Electronic Arts

The second EA entry on the list spent most of the year near the bottom of the list before falling off entirely for the last 4 Sundays of December.  Another driving game that launched in 2010 the EA offering has experienced problems remaining ranked as new games enter the market.

11.  Star Trek Online: 1.4

Weeks Ranked:  38
Developer:  Cryptic Studios
Publisher:  Atari

Another game based on a popular IP, Star Trek Online's switch to the free-to-play model briefly made the game more popular than Eve Online amonst the Xfire community early in the year.  That attraction was short-lived and the Cryptic Studios' game has now missed appearing on The Digital Dozen 6 of the last 10 weeks.

12.  Maple Story: 1.4

Weeks Ranked:  35
Developer:  Wiznet
Publisher:  Nexon

Maple Story is another game whose ranking was affected by The Digital Dozen starting in February.  If the rankings had begun in January the game would have outperformed Star Trek Online.  As it was, Maple Story needed a strong December to beat out Tera for the final position on the year-end list.  The game experienced issues in December 2011 when hackers accessed the personal information of 13 million Maple Story accounts and then in January when the game experienced severe issues following a patch.  Is the game ready for a rebound a year after its big problems?

This Week's Rankings:  The rankings of the top twelve MMORPGs as determined by the players of the Xfire community from play on Sunday, 30 December 2012.  For more details about the methodology, click here.  Historical data can be found here.

Rank Prev Week Game ScoreHours Played +/- %
11World of Warcraft 39.3 30,336+4.9
22Guild Wars 219.615,158+0.6
33Star Wars: The Old Republic11.08,487+1.2
44Planetside 24.43,423-18.5
65Eve Online4.33,328+1.4
78Lord of the Rings Online4.03,090+6.1
87The War Z3.42,630-15.9
T99Maple Story2.51,943-10.0
T910Metin 22.51,943-6.1
11--The Secret World2.31,779+16.6
1212APB: Reloaded2.21,710-3.6
Total MMORPG hours played Sunday: 101,120


  1. Fantastic to see Eve continuing to do so well. Reports of its decline earlier this year were premature.

  2. Interesting to see that WoW-usage is growing among the Xfire community since the start of December.

    MoP launched in September, so it would have been a fair bet to expect a nosedive by now.