Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Digital Dozen: 4 March 2014

The rankings of the top twelve MMORPGs as determined by the players of the Xfire community from play on Sunday, 2 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 43.6 10,631-11.6
22Guild Wars 215.53,778-12.3
33Star Wars: The Old Republic8.62,108-12.0
45Final Fantasy XIV6.71,630+13.5
54EVE Online5.61,359-10.4
99Planetside 22.6629-16.2
1112Lord of the Rings Online2.1522-6.6
Total Digital Dozen Hours: 24,390

Sunday saw a dramatic falloff on the amount of time the Xfire community spent playing its favorite MMORPGs.  The 10.7% drop in the hours spent playing these games was led by World of Warcraft (-1396 hours) while the only game with a significant increase was Final Fantasy XIV (+194 hours).  For the second time this year, the same 12 games stayed on the list in consecutive weeks.

Technical Issues - Sunday's 10.7% decline was the largest decline in playtime since I started The Digital Dozen in February 2012.  I have to believe that technical issues were involved, but not necessarily on Xfire's part.  This past weekend saw ZeniMax hold a beta weekend for Elder Scrolls Online.  I know that Xfire has support but the game only recorded 142 hours played on Sunday.  Did players try to play the game and fail?  I know some streamers had issues during the weekend.  Of course, the game still is in beta, so things happen, especially during stress tests.  If so, the drop in playtime could indicate ESO's popularity at launch.

Moving Day - The game most successful in bucking the downward trend was Final Fantasy XIV.  I've never played a Final Fantasy game or played more than 30 minutes of a Elder Scrolls game, but I wonder if the two groups that play the games are really so different that the launch of ESO will not hurt FFXIV.  Also this weekend the barrier between Legacy and non-Legacy worlds lifted and players were allowed to transfer their characters so they can play with friends.  Either way, FFXIV leaped back into the number 4 position on the list.


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  2. I read these posts every week, and I wonder at which point you are going to give up or change the methodology.

    To me it appears evident that there is a combined effect of less people playing MMORPGs and less people using XFire, which in their sum have pushed your numbers to far below statistical significance. I am not convinced any more that they even represent approximate trends.

    I think you could get more accurate numbers of how many people played EVE on that Sunday and compare those with your numbers to see what percentage of the population you actually observe with XFire.

    1. Getting numbers of people logged on in EVE is easy. I just have to go to Chribba's Eve-Offline.net website. If I wind up deciding the methodology needs changing, that will mean the end of the column.

    2. Does Xfire show total hours played for all games on a given day? That might be an interesting comparison. You could at least test Tobold's theory that less people are using Xfire.

    3. I have read in the comments on Massively ( http://massively.joystiq.com/2014/02/07/the-daily-grind-who-the-heck-uses-raptr-and-xfire/ ) that XFire lost most users after a takeover in 2010. Raptr appears to be somewhat more successful.

      Anyway, my point is that given concurrent user numbers for any given day on Tranquility and Serenity together, about 1.5 million hours of EVE Online were played on Sunday, 2 March 2014. XFire shows around 0.1% of those. I would consider it very likely that the numbers aren't representative.

      As one example how number can become skewed, at one point you could get Rift for free if you installed Raptr, which to me suggests that if I checked Raptr for MMORPGs, I would find Rift over-represented on that service. And I can imagine other reasons why players of game A might be more likely to have XFire installed than players of game B, e.g. because XFire makes game B crash.

    4. Yes, there are a number of ways the numbers can get skewed. I have pointed out a couple of games, GW2 for example, where patcher operations get included. So my Raptr hours for GW2 are drastically over stated because I tend to patch games now and again even with out playing them. And on the flip side, when I used Xfire, it was notoriously unreliable at tracking EVE.

      This is why I think that the numbers here, while interesting, are only really meaningful in a "same game over time" point of view, and even then only in a general trend sort of way. But I think that, in and of itself, makes them a worthwhile venture.

      However, I think that the overall Xfire hours for the same day might be interesting from a general MMO genre health perspective. If MMO hours are down 10%, but so is Xfire as a whole, maybe it is just a slow week or a technical problem. If MMO hours are down 10% but Xifre totals are up 15%, then you might start to wonder if Bartle's self-referencing claim of MMO decline might have some merit outside of his particular point of view.

    5. @Wihelm - Xfire used to show total hours per genre. That could have been useful for comparing MOBAs vs MMOs. But that was removed about a year ago. That's why you see me record the number of hours of the games on the list and not the total hours like I used to.

    6. I should add that the reason for using Xfire and not Raptr is that I actually have access to all the numbers for all the games Xfire supports going back 30 days. Raptr only shows for the top 100 games, and then if you don't check on the day in question, you're out of luck.

  3. The problem with TESO is that it is a new game, and while Xfire and Raptr have support for it now, if you installed it before that support was put in place (as I did) you have to go back and re-scan your games to get it on your list. Or, if you are like me, and install in non-standard locations, manually add the game.

  4. EVE Offline shows concurrent users. If you could calculate an integral of those, you would have "real" hours played. I think it would be interesting to know how that compares to XFire hours played.

    1. That's a thought. I'd have to do it over a week, because the best numbers I can get out of the source code are the weekly ones. And Xfire keeps a 30 day graph running for each game, so I wouldn't have to log in each day.