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Posts with tag audience

Is WoW's audience still increasing?


I'm not sure how much of this is legit, but stick with us for the information first, and then stay for the debunking. Edward Hunter over at Gamasutra decided to do some poking around in comScore's MediaMetrix application (which can track, based on a survey of a few million users, access to various applications on a computer -- which programs are run when), and he found something that surprised him: despite the economic downturn and the emergence of a few other popular MMOs recently, World of Warcraft's audience is estimated globally at 13.1 million. In other words, it's still growing from the last official numbers (11.5 million players worldwide) we heard.

Now, the first issue we'd have with these numbers is the situation in China -- Hunter doesn't mention it at all, and in fact his graph (from comScore) doesn't have any dips at all in it, even though the game, and presumably its millions of players, went offline over there earlier this year. That right there throws a wrench into all of these estimations -- it's very likely comScore's information is just plain wrong.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Rumors

A WoW player's guide to Free Realms


Our good friends at Massively have written up a post just for you WoW players about the new hotness in MMOs lately, a game called Free Realms. I haven't gotten a chance to play it, but it's all the team over there can talk about, and the game itself just hit a whopping three million players. It's a free-to-play game (with more premium memberships getting more features -- the minimum is about $5 a month) put out by Sony Online Entertainment that aims towards a more casual audience, with extra content placed in for more hardcore gamers. The questing and leveling itself is very forgiving -- you have a dotted green line leading you to quest targets, and combat only takes place in instanced areas. But the crafting and other various minigames (in order to do mining, you actually play a Bejewelled-style matching game, and there's even a "Kart Driver" profession) can get pretty hard. Just like WoW, those who want to collect pets or build skills can do that, while those who are more interested in dungeon crawling have that option as well.

I've been meaning to pick up the game and check it out (on the free level, of course -- with my WoW subscription running, I'm not made of MMO money), and Massively's guide is an excellent first overview to how the game relates to our favorite MMO. If you're getting a little bored in Azeroth waiting for the next expansion announcement and are looking for something else to try, Free Realms might just be it.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Instances, Quests, Leveling, Classes

Nielsen: WoW is most played core game by 25-54 females


Here's an interesting bit of info from the Nielsen folks: over 400,000 women are playing World of Warcraft in the US, which means it's the most-played "core" game for that gender. And even more interesting, females 25 years or older make up the largest block of PC game players overall, and they account for 54.6% of all gameplay minutes in December of last year. Girls don't just play WoW -- they're quickly becoming one of it's main demographics.

You can read the report in PDF form over here -- the chart above might be the most interesting piece of information, as it shows that though males still make up a huge part of the PC gaming audience, many of them have now moved on to consoles, and women (especially older women, over 25), during the last month of last year, are making up a huge audience for PC games. Later in the report, you can see what kinds of games women are really playing: Solitare, Freecell, Minesweeper, and all of those other little attention grabbers on every PC. But among those widespread casual games is our own World of Warcraft. And while the 25-52 male audience of 675, 713 for that game still remains larger than the female audience in the same demo, the ladies aren't far behind.

Neilsen also calculated some base stats for WoW, including the fact that 1.8 million unique people played the game, and the average time of gameplay per week was 744 minutes, just over 12 hours (slightly up from last year's average). Additionally, of those who play World of Warcraft, their second most-played game was Solitaire, followed by Warcraft III. Fascinating stuff. Remember that these are statistics, so they are more general trends than anything else, but it's definitely true World of Warcraft and PC gaming in general is no longer only the domain of the male demographic.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Virtual selves, Blizzard, News items

The strange style of patch notes, real and fake

I don't know if you could call this "Guide to Writing Fake Patch Notes" hilarious, but I think it is at least chuckleworthy. Flibble of Draenor (the realm, not the shattered world) has put together a quick guide on how to trick sites exactly like this one into believing your patch notes. And in doing so, he hits upon some of Blizzard's more conspicuous quirks, i.e. that you should "at least try to glance at the Under Development page, so that you can convincingly lie about the things Blizzard convincingly lies about on their website."

He also notes that every patch includes at least one change to a Mage spell icon (well, there are just so many of them), adding "several new items and recipes" that don't really exist, and has (faked, of course) bugfixes that "preferentially affect the 0.1% of WoW players who make no contribution to society [and] live in mom's basement at age 37." See what I mean? Chuckleworthy.

Truth be told, I really like the way patch notes are written. I'm not sure who writes them (I doubt it's an actual dev, but it has to be someone associated with the dev team), but they are both formal and at the same time seem to have a lot of cool mystery and design behind them. Caydiem hit on this note to extremely comic effect with her fake patch notes (I like that the grass in enemy faction zones is "exceptionally green"), but even the real patch notes read like a kind of otherworldly poetry: "Cabal Zealots are now more threatening while under the effect of Shape of the Beast." To players who know what they're talking about, they import a very technical message. But for someone who doesn't know about that section of the game or the game itself, that's a pretty mysterious statement. As a student of audience and media, I find patch notes pretty fascinating.

Filed under: Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Blizzard

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