I was listening to the ever-splendid VanHemlockAndJonCast last night, and they were talking about SirBruce’s MMOGCharts. I like a good graph, me, so I grabbed the Excel version for some hot spreadsheet action (with the added bonus that columns of numbers look a bit like work).
As suggested in the podcast, the “rising tide lifts all boats” theory doesn’t quite seem to have panned out for games launched since WoW. It’s more like the rising tide caused a TIDAL WAVE of TERROR, SWAMPING small boats in a FEARSOME WALL of DESTRUCTION, leaving behind only the DREADNOUGHT of HMS WARCRAFT. Since 2005 the charts show The Matrix Online, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Auto Assault and Vanguard launching, then dropping off rapidly to half the early peak number of subscribers, and unless I’m more vastly mistaken than a man who thinks Hillaire Belloc is still alive, they’ve all gone through server merges, The Matrix and Vanguard were sold off to SOE, and Auto Assault sadly shut down. Tabula Rasa and Pirates of the Burning Sea have few points of data since their recent launches, but the recent Pirates news doesn’t sound terribly positive. Then there’s stuff that didn’t even make it to launch, like Gods & Heroes. The biggest post-WoW success is Lord of the Rings Online, and the most similar game to World of Warcraft out of that lot is… Lord of the Rings Online. Hrm. Coincidence? Not sure it’s just the IP, with Dungeons and Dragons and The Matrix not faring nearly as well.
I was listening to what we said while editing it and the more I thought about it the more I’m convinced that a: The MMO market is not in a good way and b: Most WoW players will never play anything other than WoW and should be considered a separate set of numbers in the most part.
I have no idea what the solution is though. Sony will land another massive blow soon when they launch Home on the PS3 and decide to mention how many million “players” they have in and that will make the games we have now look even smaller to outside eyes.
Whether the problem is a real one or imaginary one though is another matter. It would be interesting to go through the far east and wow-less number on the charts and see what happens to the general numbers. I suspect that what’s really happening is that games are just stealing numbers from each other and it’s not growing fast enough to support all the new games as they come along.
Mmm; people must be leaving WoW (even if more still are joining), but like you were saying, they don’t seem to be going to other MMOGs. mbp might be onto something with his passing fad suggestion…
Or maybe they’re not leaving, me and Van Hemlock are the only people who’ve managed to let a WoW sub lapse (*glances at Melmoth*).
*looks at his fully paid up membership in WoW he’s not actually playing. How many other people have one of those? Be honest now!
Hey don’t look at me like that, I let my WoW subscription lapse once. For a whole day, maybe even two.
I think it was the point where Mrs Melmoth discovered me covered in a sheen of sweat in the lounge, wrapped in aluminium foil armour and trying to tempt the cat out from its hiding place under the sofa so I could dress it up as an epic mount and ride it to a raid on the fridge, that we concluded that it might be for the best if I just re-subscribed to WoW.
If nothing else, a six month WoW subscription is cheaper than the vet bill for repairing a cat that’s been sat on by a thirty-something man twirling a Wiimote around his head as though it were a medieval flail.