Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Digital Dozen: 11 March 2014

The rankings of the top twelve MMORPGs as determined by the players of the Xfire community from play on Sunday, 9 March 2014.  For more details about the methodology, click here.  Historical data can be found here.

Rank Prev Week Game ScoreHours Played +/- %
11World of Warcraft 42.6 9,515-10.5
22Guild Wars 215.73,497-7.4
33Star Wars: The Old Republic9.52,120+0.6
45EVE Online6.21,377+1.3
54Final Fantasy XIV5.91,328-18.5
109Planetside 22.3513-18.4
1211Lord of the Rings Online2.2489-6.3
Total Digital Dozen Hours: 22,343

The Xfire MMORPG community continues to see a decrease in the amount of time spent playing its 12 most popular games.  Sunday's 8.4% decrease in time played was led by World of Warcraft (-1116 hours) and Aion (-326 hours) while Tera (+96 hours) was the only game that was a greater than 18 hour gain.

A Long Slide - For the first time World of Warcraft saw Xfire users spend less than 10,000 hours playing the game on a Sunday.  In comparison, the first week of The Digital Dozen saw the Xfire community spend 88,221 hours playing WoW.  The last Sunday in which players spent over 100,000 hours in Azeroth was 22 January 2012, when Xfire recorded 103,443 hours played.  While WoW has lost millions of subscriptions during the past two years, I think the decline really shows how players are abandoning Xfire for alternatives.

Anti-climatic? - Last week ArenaNet launched the final patch for the first season of Guild Wars 2's Living Story, the Battle for Lion's Arch.  Normally a release of a Living Story patch would result in an increase in the Xfire numbers the following Sunday.  This Sunday saw a decline.  Do players find the ending anti-climatic, or is something happening and players figure they have two weeks to run through the content?

Wild Card - I wonder what the effect of games in closed alpha/betas like Wildstar, Elder Scrolls Online, and EverQuest Next Landmark are having on the numbers for the existing games.  Guild Wars 2 had a huge impact whenever ArenaNet held a beta weekend and I can't help but feel the same is true today.  While ESO is supported by Xfire, I do not see any entries for Wildstar or Landmark, which makes judging the impact of events like Wildstar's Alienware closed beta event that occurred this past weekend.


  1. "[...] or is something happening and players figure they have two weeks to run through the content?"

    The last update is full with bugs, sadly.

  2. I tend to think that your methodology (which I'm not suggesting you change) makes it a bit harder to track GW2. GW2 updates roll out on Tuesdays, so by the time Sunday rolls around we are seeing day 5 of a 14 day event.

    In this case, the event in question had some bugs, had lower loot (so less farming) and was fairly quick and easy to get the story cinematics. So, there was less incentive to do the event repeatedly, which, because of timing, is what you normally track for it.

    I suspect the highest GW2 bumps in your data are for events that lead to constant zerg farming after the majority have seen the content once.

  3. @João Carlos - That's a shame. GW2's Living Story shouldn't have an ending marred like that.

    @jonreece - I picked Sundays because that is the day with the most users for all games, including GW2. For some reason, the industry standard is to release content on Tuesdays so it should work out the same for all the games.

  4. @Noizy - Oh, I understand! That's why I wouldn't suggest making methodological changes -- what you have works well, in general, has a lot of data in the bin already, etc.

    Where I think it intersects with GW2, though, makes it a bit less useful for measurement. GW2's 14 day cycle gives it a very different "tail" compared to most new content releases.

    A new WoW patch dropping means that you have this content as "leading edge" for the next couple of months, and it probably will be available forever. Sure, a few fanatical players will hit the new content first thing on Tuesday when it drops, but many more will choose to wait until bug fixes are in place. Waiting until the weekend is only a disadvantage if you are shooting for "firsts" -- you won't miss anything at all waiting for the weekend, or longer.

    A GW2 Living Story update is ephemeral -- it will be here only for two weeks, and then gone forever. This impacts the GW2 population's play style on an update by update basis, in part depending on two factors -- how difficult and time consuming will it be to finish the meta-achievement, and how much can be squeezed out of the events when farming them.

    A Living Story update that can be "farmed" will see zergs of players doing exactly that for two weeks straight. An update that has a complex or probability dominated meta will see people trying to finish these up, sometimes playing up until the wire of the end of the two week window.

    This update had a trivial to complete meta-achievement -- many players finished it on Tuesday night. And farming the event was high-effort for low-payout. So, for this update, more people were "done" by the weekend than on other updates. The net on this, I suspect, was that numbers were down by Sunday. But the update has been generally well received, and (outside of loot issues) I've heard less griping about it than many other updates. Anecdotal, I know.

    So, to your original question -- "is the ending anti-climatic, or is something happening and players figure they have two weeks to run through the content?" -- I suspect the answer might be neither. Instead, the answer might be "yeah, it was fine, but we did it. See you in two weeks."

    I think the 14-day cycle just makes it tough to track. You do a great job of it! But that two week cycle is brutal -- I almost think that you need at least daily checks to really get a handle on it. I'd love to see ANet's numbers.