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Posts with tag million

There could be up to a million Chinese gold farmers

A new report on MMO gold farming claims that there are about 400,000 working in China on gold farming and trading, and that there could be as many as 500,000 to even a full million. Of course there's no way to tell exactly how many people are employed in the business (and the number almost certainly doesn't stay constant for long), but according to interviews and surveys done of business there, that's the number they've come up with. They also claim a $10 billion a year turnover, however, and that number seems way high, though remember that they're talking about all MMOs, not just World of Warcraft. The report has some other interesting information about how China does gold farming: there are a number of brokerages staffed by English speakers in the larger cities that handle the actual transaction, and then the farms themselves are usually outside the cities, where cheaper labor is available. Typical pay in the farms is about $140 a month plus food and board, working in about ten hour shifts, while pay is higher in the city-based brokerages. Most employees are younger guys, who play while drinking beer and smoking cigarettes, and lots of their ingame tasks are automated with custom-made and adapted software.

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

Study: MMOs bringing in $1.4 billion a year

If America's bankers want to get back into Moneytown, apparently they could do a lot worse than designing a hit MMO -- a study by a group named Screen Digest says that the MMO market is hotter than ever. After dropping down to a total of $701 million in 2008, games like World of Warcraft are seeing their revenues rise again, up to a total of $1.4 billion. And not surprisingly, WoW is still leading the charge -- while their overall market share is dropping very slightly, from 60% of the market down to around 58%, they're still making more money than ever. And while other games are picking up some numbers, according to Screen Digest, they're not really stealing players from Azeroth -- they're actually pulling new MMO players in.

Which is understandable -- during times of economic downturn, online games like MMOs are actually positioned to do very well. Why spend $15 on one night at the movies when you can spend it on a whole month of entertainment? World of Warcraft may have brought the MMO monster to the surface, but according to numbers like these, this is a game genre that's going to be extremely popular (and profitable) for a long time to come.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Economy, Making money

Northrend's Gross Domestic Product: 719 million gold

Our friend The WoW Economist started a little project the other day: he added up, according to the top items lists, all of the products sold from Northrend across the servers, and then multiplied each by what he calls a "median" price (though exactly how that's reached, we're not sure), and landed on a huge amount of gold: 719,918,239.7. Obviously I'm not a WoW Economist (I'm not even that good at math), but that sounds to me like Northrend's gross domestic product: players are creating an economy of 719 million gold in Northrend from week to week.

Unfortunately, that number alone doesn't tell us much, except that there's a lot of gold moving around in Northrend (it would be interesting to compare this to, say, Azeroth or Outland's equivalent, though the more useful numbers would probably be Outland before the new expansion hit, when everyone was still farming and selling items from there). And it will be interesting to see this tracked in the future: the real GDP is usually used as an indicator of both standard of living and a country's economic health, and while there are drawbacks to using that number to gauge both of those qualities, it's probably fair to say the economy in Northrend is booming. Maybe tracking this in the future will let us see how new content patches or item or even class updates can affect what the economy does there.

Very interesting. EVE Online's creators, CCP, have actually hired an economist to help run their ingame economy, and while WoW's isn't generally seen as quite that complicated, there are still plenty of big numbers to play around with..

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

Activision doing well, Blizzard has spent $200M in upkeep on WoW

Activision Blizzard (the parent company of Blizzard Entertainment) held an Analyst's Day earlier this week (in which a bunch of stock analysts sit down to crunch numbers and predict the future), and they came out of it really well -- according to those in the know, Activision Blizzard is set to do very well in the future. Buoyed by Blizzard and their other big franchises (do we have to name them by now? Call of Duty, Guitar Hero, etc.), 99% of analysts give the stock a "Buy" or "Hold" rating, and many were impressed with what Activision told them about their releases in 2009.

And we got another interesting insight into just what kind of money Blizzard is looking at -- they reported on the call that since 2004, they've spent $200 million on the upkeep of World of Warcraft alone. That includes things like payroll, customer support, and hardware updates, of which there have been plenty of those. $200 million does seem like a lot, but of course when you consider just how much revenue they've pulled in via subscriptions (ten million players paying up to $15 a month, though Blizzard has all kinds of different subscription plans around the world), $200 million over four years isn't all that much.

We're told, though, that that money doesn't include any development costs (pre-release, and we're not sure if it includes patch/expansion development or not, either). And it certainly doesn't include Blizzard-wide costs, like their new HQ, or what they spend on advertising, promotion, and those big events held around the world. There's no question, however, that there's plenty of money coming both in and out of Blizzard's doors.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Expansions, Making money, Hardware

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

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