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Massively and GamerDNA chart the MMO market in 2008


Our good friends over at Massively have teamed up with the GamerDNA site to come up with some stats of MMO playtime this year, and the results are very interesting. Unfortunately, those results are buried under some pretty confusing charts (and these are all approximations of what's happening from GamerDNA information, not actual subscription numbers), but we'll see if we can pull out the salient points for you.

In (very) short, WoW rules. Two games that most pundits thought might affect WoW playtime, Warhammer Online and Age of Conan, in fact, didn't affect WoW logons in the least, according to this data. And while guest contributor (and GamerDNA writer/analyst) Sanya Weathers says she may have spotted a short decline in WoW playtime right around the release of WAR, that was quickly overshot by the release of Wrath, as WoW's numbers jumped right back up.

But while Blizzard has weathered the competition this year, things might not be so hunky dory for them in the future: while games like Lord of the Rings Online and EVE Online are showing sharper increases, WoW's population seems to be leveling out. It's still growing, sure, but not at the rate that it has been (and perhaps at the slowest rate in the game's life). And you have to think, as we said on the podcast last week, that whatever other expansions Blizzard can come up with, none will be as interesting to their players as finishing off the story of Arthas Menethil and the Lich King. WoW is still the undisputed king of MMOs, but the stats say we're closer to the end of its reign than the beginning.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Economy, Making money, Wrath of the Lich King

Edge talks Morhaime on Age of Conan

Same thing, right?We made mention of Mike Morhaime's surprising words regarding Wrath's launch date during a recent conference call, but there's one thing we didn't really look at that Edge did. Mister Morhaime says Age of Conan's release a couple of months ago did manage to pull some subscribers away from WoW, but unsurprisingly, almost half of them came back pretty fast. Around 40% of them have come back so far.

This does not surprise me, really. That's usually how most MMO releases go, even if Age of Conan was the most heralded release since WoW. I'll admit, I haven't played it myself but I had ten or so guildmates of mine go and try it out. All of them ended up not playing the game after a month, saying that something was 'missing.' How delightfully vague, eh? They all came back.

A thriving, pre-existing community really helps a game's launch, and WoW had (and has) that in spades. You've gotta hand it to Age of Conan, though. For being a game that seems so niche in a market that has only moved out of nichedom in the last few years, they're putting up one hell of a fight. 40% of players have come back so far, sure, but 60% haven't. Yet.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard

Funcom: WoW is McDonald's, AoC is steak

It's just in the nature of game developers to talk a little trash -- whenever you work on something for so long, you'll pretty much say whatever you can when someone asks you to compare your game to someone else's. So we'll forgive Funcom's Gaute Godager (game director of Age of Conan) for what he says about World of Warcraft in this Eurogamer interview.

WoW comes up first at the beginning of the interview, and Godager gracefully accepts props for AoC having the biggest launch since World of Warcraft. Which is true -- AoC has shipped over a million copies since launch (though Warcraft has gone on to sell nine million more, and AoC hasn't quite gotten there yet). But at the end of the interview, Godager really brings out the big guns -- he says that playing WoW is fun and all, but "if you've been to McDonald's for four or five years, and had your burger and your coke, sometimes it's great to just have a great steak and a glass of good wine."

Apparently Age of Conan is supposed to be that steak, and our little critically acclaimed and history-making game is supposed to be the culinary equivalent of McDonald's. Which isn't a bad comparison -- we can definitely see Age of Conan being called "steak." Especially since it was served so undercooked.

Filed under: Odds and ends, Blizzard, News items, Humor, Wrath of the Lich King

WoW Moviewatch: Under Contract

Gnomechewer is back with a brand new movie, Under Contract: The Explorer's League, but for all we know, it could be his last WoW machinima. According to his video page, he's rather attached to Age of Conan now. Come back to us, Gnomechewer! You don't need AoC!

Under Contract is about two dwarves and their friends that are contracted by the Explorer's League to carry out missions. Unfortunately, I'm not sure that Gnomechewer properly conveyed the story that he had in mind this time. He mentioned that he rushed through a lot of it, and he seems to have mixed a jumble of things together so that it makes no sense. Well, at least it looks good visually.

If you have any suggestions for WoW Moviewatch, you can mail them to us at machinima AT wowinsider DOT com.

Previously on Moviewatch ...

Filed under: Machinima, WoW Moviewatch

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