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Posts with tag population

Gamers on the Street: Thaurissan and transfers

Gamers on the Street logs onto U.S. servers to get the word from the front on what's going on in and around the World of Warcraft.

This week there was only one choice for where to go and interview players -- the Oceanic realm of Thaurissan has been at the center of realm population issues in the last week, as Blizzard opened up transfers from PvE to PvP realms for the first time ever. I rolled a Dwarf on the Alliance side (where Horde reportedly outnumbers players at huge ratios) to see what things were like and if I could find some people with opinions on the transfers.

Things seem to be better than they were before at first glance -- we'd heard reports that only double digits of people were playing during even prime time, but when I logged on (about 6AM server time), there were quite a few people in the /who list. Ironforge was far from bustling, but I saw groups running around the Isle of Quel'danas, as well as running Magisters' Terrace.

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Filed under: Realm News, Analysis / Opinion, News items, PvP, Raiding, Gamers on the Street

Latest MMO pop report shows a WoW growth spurt

This is old news really: we all know that there are 10 million of us playing Blizzard's MMORPG juggernaut. In MMOGChart's latest report however, there appears to be a little growth spurt in the early part of this year.

This is surprising when we consider the fact that WoW is three years old. In the video and computer game business, three years is considered "old", even for a game that is constantly updated. Other games would usually see a tapering off in terms of population growth at this stage. Not only is market-dominating WoW bucking the trend, it's actually enjoying a surge in its population!

Is this growth spike the result of anticipation for Wrath of the Lich King? Probably so, according to MMOGChart: "There appears to be a slight acceleration of growth a month or two before the release of an expansion, which then continues for approximately 3-6 months afterwards." With the unprecedented size of WoW's playerbase, we can probably expect the hype to be built up a lot sooner than "a month or two".

The report has gone on to break down WoW's existing 10 million subscribers by territory:

  • North America: 2.5 million
  • Europe: 2 million
  • Asia: 5.5 million (primarily China)

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Expansions

Do you read your realm forums?

Do you read your realm forums? Simple question, eh? Personally, I make sure I at least take a look at my realm forums once a day, even if I don't post.

Admittedly, realm forums are quite often just a pile of drama. Who cybered who, who ninja'd from who, who ganked who. Blah blah blah. Hidden behind all of that, though, there is usually a lot of helpful information. Patch note discussions, recruitment notices, maybe even server progression lists or charts of who on the server has rare crafting recipes.

I've been amazed a few times by people that desperately search for raiding guilds to join on the server, but have not once looked at the official realm boards to see who is even recruiting. Plus, as an officer in a raiding guild, it's just a little bothersome to find out there are so many people that may have been interested in that open spot you had for two months, you just had no way to reach them or know about them.

I've been under the impression that most people who play more than a few hours a week read their realm boards, but I'm not so sure that's the case. That would be a lot of people, when you think about it. So what about you guys? Do you read? Do you post?
Patch 2.4 sounds great, but what's in it for you? Find out on our Sunwell Isle page where we list the impact on classes, professions, PvP, Raiders and many other playstyles and interests including walkthroughs on the new Sunwell Daily Quests. Looking for more great info? Check out the WoW Insider Directory for the best of our guides and analysis.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Forums

Hail to the (Lich) King, baby

Believe it or not, World of Warcraft is the most popular massively multiplayer online roleplaying game in the world! Our super blogger Mike Schramm shared this report over our sister site, Massively. It probably comes as no surprise that WoW is topping the chart. There are more active accounts on WoW than all of the competition combined.

I didn't know there were quite so many MMORPGs active on the gaming market. WoW is unique among this video game genre because of it's continued growth. The player base for other games have leveled or tapered off. I couldn't even guess where the population will top out. With the popularity of the Burning Crusade and anticipation of Wrath of the Lich King, I would not be surprised to see more than fifteen million WoW players.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Ranking, Odds and ends, Blizzard

Ever-enlarging WoW realms spell continued success

In a forum post about the ultimate downfall of WoW, Drysc pops in to explain that WoW still has a long lifespan ahead of it. People who say that the lack of new servers proves there are fewer and fewer new players in the game are missing the big picture. Back before The Burning Crusade was launched, Blizzard did a series of server upgrades that left each realm down for a few days. At the time, they said this was to make things ready for the expansion, but little did we know it would be to such an extent.

Apparently these upgrades allowed Blizzard to keep pushing the maximum realm population up all this time, as more and more players joined the game. There are some relatively "low" population realms, of course, but only in comparison to the new much-increased maximum limit. As Drysc says, "aside from literally a handful of realms (I could count them on one hand), every other realm has a population that would have been considered high to overpopulated before the launch of Burning Crusade." Only recently have certain realms become truly crowded enough to merit free transfers to other realms.

People always like to talk about the eventual downfall of the strongest player in any arena, but the steady growth Drysc is talking about continues, it looks like WoW will be the biggest 800-pound gorilla in the MMO jungle for a good long time to come.

Filed under: Realm News, Odds and ends

WoW's population hits 9.3 million in Q3 2007

Blizzard's publisher Vivendi is rolling in the cash-- they just announced their their quarter videogame numbers, and they're up a whopping 19%. They claim that World in Conflict gave them a nice boost, but c'mon, do you know anyone who's played World in Conflict? Didn't think so.

No, the boost came from our favorite game, World of Warcraft-- Blizzard raised their subscriber numbers by just under a third of a million, making their population now 9.3 million, a raise of over a million in the past year. Burning Crusade's release in China definitely helped, too, and Vivendi's games division raked in $315.2 million.

Now, far be it from us to call a number like 9.3 million "disappointing," but it doesn't seem like WoW will hit that 10 million mark we all expected in 2007. Then again, patch 2.3 could bring a lot of folks back to the game-- is there a chance that .7 million people will sign back in, or will we have to wait for the next expansion to see a big boost?

[Via Massively]

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, News items, Economy

The return (of Tobold and others) to World of Warcraft

Well he doesn't think he's news, but since we reported on his exit way back when, we might as well bring the whole story full circle, and report on Tobold's return to World of Warcraft. Patch 2.3 (and the Scroll of Resurrection deal-- which is a great one, I don't blame him for filling out a form to get 40 days free) is bringing him back as, he says, a casual player only.

Now of course, the story's not really about Tobold-- with apologies to him for the unwanted attention we sent, it never was (so leave the guy alone, already-- if you've got comments about his decisions, leave them over here). But he is a big, influential MMO blogger, and his leaving WoW was part of a trend back then. In the dark days before 2.2, progress on the realms was stagnant, and there was nothing new to keep folks interested. Even with patch 2.2, voice chat wasn't a big draw for players (and in fact, now that I think about it, I haven't used it at all since it debuted-- my guild is still on Ventrilo, and no one has invited me to use the voice chat system).

But now we're at patch 2.3, and the times, they are a-changin'. There's new midlevel content (!), Engineers have a purpose in life, Hunters have no dead zone, and there's a brand new 10-man instance in the game (almost guaranteed to quickly become the most popular endgame instance out there). Tobold's back, and, just as before, we've got to wonder if he's part of an early trend. Are all the players who took a break this summer coming back to Azeroth?

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

Latest Armory population figures from Okoloth

Okoloth has dropped an update to his Armory analysis, featuring the latest and greatest information on about half of the World of Warcraft's denizens. He surveyed 4.6 million characters on the Armory, and while that sounds like a lot (it sounds like half of WoW's population, except that Blizzard's 9 million figure is supposed to be players, not characters), it's not actually that much of a representative sample. Still, compared to the table scraps that Blizzard gives us, it's something, so let's get what we can from it.

He finds that the biggest majority of players are at level 70 compared to the other levels, but there are still only about 40% of the characters there (adding fuel to the fire on both sides of creating midlevel and endgame content). Mages and Warriors are the standouts on the class breakdown at level 70 (with 13.5% and 14.3% respectively-- what tank problem?), while Shaman are the biggest losers-- only about 7% of level 70s he surveyed were Shaman. Sounds about right. Across all levels, Warriors still have the biggest percentage, while Hunters follow them up. And on the low end, it's Druids, Pallys, and at rock bottom, Shamans. People just don't like playing the totem class.

He's also got new stats on realm balance, but remember that these numbers are not much more than guesses. They're pretty close, though, even for that. Drysc told us that Agamaggan's Alliance/Horde balance was about 1.1:1, and Oko's figures have it at about 1.09:1 (by my math), which is pretty darn close. Big ups to Oko for putting these numbers together, always interesting to see the figures on how and where people are playing in Azeroth.

[ via WoR ]

Filed under: Shaman, Warrior, Realm News, Polls, Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Blizzard, News items

Tracking realm population and how Blizzard does it

Once again, I would really love to see all the statistics Blizzard has as to when and where players play. When a player complains that his realm, Agamaggan, is too low population, Drysc replies that actually, Agamaggan isn't even in the bottom 25 realms. Agamaggan is seeing a 55% nightly population (which means 55% of the realm's normal population is logged on at night), and Drysc says Coilfang (which drops all the way down to a 30% nightly population) could use more help.

He also says that about 200 out of the 225 realms aren't even "hitting capacity" (they've had no queues on them for a month or more), and that most of the realms fall into a "middle area" of population size, where there are enough players to keep up raiding and an economy, but not so many that it's overcrowded. It's also interesting that "overcrowded" isn't actually based on any feelings the players have (at least in this estimation-- who knows what other factors Blizzard examines to keep players happy). Instead, it's all based on the number of players each realm can hold, which was increased in the Burning Crusade. So realms that were "high pop" before BC are actually "middle pop" now-- even if you feel your realm is crowded, as long as they're no queues, Blizzard says things are fine.

And Drysc can even look up the Alliance to Horde ratio on Agamaggan-- it's currently about 1.1:1. Warcraft Realms has a pretty good guess-timation at where realms and numbers are at, but the numbers Blizzard is collecting are probably so accurate they'd make grown statisticians weep. We've gotten small peeks at what they're tracking, but like I said, I'd love to see everything they know about us and our behavior.

Filed under: Realm News, Analysis / Opinion, Ranking, Virtual selves, Blizzard, Economy

The draw of DPS classes

Keen and Graev have a good post up about why (according to them) players prefer playing DPS roles. Statistically, it appears to be more or less true-- according to Warcraft Realms, four of the five highest class percentages are traditionally DPS classes: Mage, Rogue, Warlock, and Hunter. Warriors also have a higher population, but it could be argued that only 1/3 of the Warrior specs (Prot, as opposed to Arms or Fury) out there are actually meant for anything other than DPS.

So why do players seemingly prefer to play DPS? K&G give three main reasons. They cite something they call "Big Number Syndrome," which is the idea that unless you're dealing big damage, your class is worthless. They say that doing DPS requires less responsibility-- tanks and healers have to pay attention to everything, but DPSers choose a target and kill it. And they say that DPS classes level faster, which seems anecdotally (at least) to be true-- more damage means a faster kill, which means XP more often.

In general (very generally, in fact), I tend to agree. For these reasons, some people are definitely drawn to the DPS lifestyle. But I don't think that these reasons are why people chose these classes in the first place. Hunters, for example, have pets, and I think that's a much bigger draw to the class than "big number syndrome" ever was. And let's not forget that these are more or less the most archetypal classes in the game-- someone who's never played the game probably would immediately know what a "Mage" or "Rogue" could do, whereas a Shaman (the lowest class population, according to the census) is a little harder to explain.

So I think K&G are putting the chicken before the egg-- these things may be true about DPS looking back (and they may in fact be reasons people choose DPSers as alts). But when people first choose a class to call their own, I think it's a little simpler than that.

[ via Hardcore Casual ]

Filed under: Hunter, Mage, Rogue, Shaman, Warlock, Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Blizzard, Classes

Realm mergers are a last resort

Realm population problems don't affect me too much, thankfully -- my server has neither too many people nor too few, and the faction balance tilts in my favor. But some people complain that their servers are ghost worlds, with not much at the auction house and not many to group for quests and dungeons. The "Recommended" tag Blizzard is using to help out low-population realms sometimes just doesn't do the trick: people play there for a while, see that no one is home, then decide to go somewhere else.

So, while some people say the only way is to combine two low-pop realms into one, Drysc says that such mergers can only be a last resort:
There are a couple issues with merging realms though that we would need to take into heavy consideration if one were to be considered. As many of the lower population realms are PvP, faction balance has to be taken into careful consideration. Would a merge worsen, improve, or leave any faction balance unchanged? Would a merge move the population up too high, queuing or leading to queues for the realm after that point? Do we have realms of the same time zone and type that would merge well under these conditions? There also many logistical issues with merges which ultimately effect the end user, such as conflicting character and guild names. So, in the end, a merge would only be considered if all other possible options have been completely exhausted.

We're not just throwing recommended tags up on realms, and calling it a day. The recommended tag has done a lot of good for a lot of realms, but if we're seeing that they're no longer helping reach the type of population numbers we would like to see, then we would investigate alternate means. That's sort of where we're at now.
So, what is there to do besides merge realms? Drysc calls that the "million dollar question," which I figure means that Blizzard doesn't know for sure, though at least a couple ideas come to my mind: They could have some kind of incentive to players who join low-population realms (that's what the Army is doing, I hear), or perhaps all but force new players to start out there unless they have a referral from another player. Of course any solution to this problem is going to create still more problems of another sort. What do you think would work best?

Filed under: Realm News

How to find a new guild

Zodo from LFG KZ recently sent us a link to a post on his blog about "guildshopping on a new server" (yes, I know it's spelled wrong on his site, give the guy a break). If you've recently transferred servers or have just rolled up a new character and are looking for a good guild, it's definitely worth a look.

There are a few things I disagree with in there-- I find it really hard to believe that small servers don't have high level raiding guilds, and in my experience, a bigger population may theoretically mean lower prices, but in practice that's not always true. But his later steps are good ones, especially making sure you put in the research on where a guild's at in terms of progression (some guilds will help you get to their level, but most really high level guilds would rather you're already up there with them), and what classes they're interested in recruiting. Even if a guild says they're not recruiting, being nice and chatting with someone from the guild (in a city, as Zodo says, not in a raid), can clue you in on at least how you might get a trial run with them.

And applying for guilds is something very basic that everyone trying to get into a great guild should be more than happy to do. I used to be in the camp of "lol it's just a game i'm not applying," but the fact is that the guilds that seriously ask for (and consider) applications tend to be the better guilds to be in, and so the few minutes spent filling out a form intelligently is more than worth it in the long run. If you're about to face this situation, Zodo's guide is definitely worth a read.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, How-tos, Guilds, Raiding

How Blizzard monitors realm populations

This forum thread from Pepe on Zuluhed is a little more than a "QQ need moar realm pls" post, but only a little-- he's wondering why a relatively empty realm like Zuluhed isn't added to the "Recommended Realms" list. Drysc answers to say that while Zuluhed might be low population, there are others which need more help. And then the conversation get a little deeper, and Drysc reveals more about how Blizzard monitors and controls realm population.

First, another player quotes the Warcraft Realms stats page, and says that Zulu actually has less players on it then Azuremyst, a realm that was chosen as recommended. But Drysc answers that by saying Blizzard doesn't take "total players created" on a realm as a sign of population-- they're looking at percentage full (actually logged in) on any average night. Azuremyst is 35% full on average peak, and Zulu is 45% full on peak. He says once they fill those lower pop realms up a little more, they'll change the recommendations, and try to keep player populations as even as possible.

He also says (and he wouldn't lie, right?) that player numbers are actually seeing a "steady increase" since the expansion, but with the free transfers before the expansion and all the new landmass, servers might seem a little emptier. If you're cynical enough to think Drysc would twist the truth about player population, then you basically just heard him say "up is down."

But the strategist in me sees a mischievous idea here-- if Blizzard is watching actual logins during peak and not just created characters, reroll locusts could affect the recommended realms list. If you somehow got a big group to jump off of Zuluhed during peak, and on to Azuremyst during peak for a week or so, would Blizzard switch the two servers around? Could you actually game the realm population system?

Filed under: Realm News, Analysis / Opinion, Tricks, Realm Status, Blizzard, Expansions

China Predicting 61 Million MMO Gamers by 2010

And you thought Blizzard had population problems? According to this report at, citing reports from Instat, China, already one of the largest bastions of online gaming in the world, will see more than 60 million of its citizens hop on board the MMO train by 2010, with a market value estimated at 2.1 billion dollars. That's a lot of microwave burritos & Mountain Dew...

Then again, they probably won't have the same problems that Blizzard has with their customer base; those communists tend to keep things running pretty long as you don't petition a GM; that could be considered treason.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, News items

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