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Reader Comments (41)

Posted: Nov 8th 2009 4:24PM (Unverified) said

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I agree....GO GATORS!!!!! WoW is a lot like the Gators...love WoW or not, it is the undisputed king of MMOs in terms of subscriptions. A lot of people love to hate WoW, but is that jealousy? or is it actual dislike? Just like the Gators, many people hate them, but when it is all said and done...19 wins in a row, 2 national championships in 3 years (5 games from #3)...and like it or not WoW has millions of subscribers.

Posted: Nov 8th 2009 11:20AM Jesspiper said

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"12 million people can't be wrong" is the lamest logical fallacy possible. I'm honestly surprised thinking persons could make a statement like that in this day and age. Then again, maybe not. If true, it means by extension, NSYNC and Nickelback are vastly superior in quality compared to the London Symphony or Dream Theater. A more than laughable statement to anyone with a shred of musical knowledge. Or that McDonalds is superior to the local Steakhouse or Italian restaurant. Mainstream is mainstream. Numbers do not mean quality, superiority, or anything else like that. Remember, they are not called "the ignorant masses" for nothing.

The only time this changes is if it's a PvP game, because PvP games are a lot more dependent on having a healthy population for a ideal gaming experience.

Posted: Nov 8th 2009 11:21AM Halldorr said

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I take subscription numbers with a grain of salt. It wouldn't surprise me one bit if all of these companies pump them up a bit. I kind of wish there was an actual law for them to properly report the number of people subscribed.

Posted: Nov 8th 2009 11:45AM Cinnamoon said

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Don't really care about the sub numbers except in what they tend to mean in terms of server population and dev support.

Ironically it tends to be the medium-pop games that are least likely to maintain a relatively high standard of support. Low-pop games (under 50k) seem to accept and embrace their cult, underground status -- and because of that, they have no hesitation when it comes to great relationships with their customers, and willingness to do things like merge servers and make sweeping changes to keep their playerbase happy. Bizarrely, medium-pop (100k-300k?) games seem more likely to get cheap and sloppy, cutting corners, blowing off the players, refusing to merge servers. And the high-pop games see a return to professionalism -- even if that also means your subscription means less to them overall.

Posted: Nov 8th 2009 12:13PM Pingles said

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I am going to paraphrase several previous comments with "I care about subscription numbers the way that Tabula Rasa players cared about subscription numbers"

As long as a game isn't in the throes of death/shutdown I could care less.

Posted: Nov 8th 2009 1:26PM J Brad Hicks said

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First, a caveat: numbers are not even vaguely the only thing I care about. But to the extent I do care about numbers, I don't care about absolute numbers. Telling me 10,000 people play or 12 million people play tells me nothing of interest to me. Nor do I care about relative numbers. Telling me that one game has twice as many subscribers as another tells me nothing of interest to me.

What does tell me a lot is the trend line. If people are migrating out in a steady stream, however slowly, it tells me that huge numbers of people have seen the writing on the wall. If, on the other hand, a game is steadily growing a year after it came out, that tells me that the developer must be doing something unusually right.

Now, because I care about other things more than I care about numbers, I might ride a game that I really, really like all the way down; I did with Neocron, and I'm doing it now with City of Heroes. And while steadily rising numbers can intrigue me enough to give a second look to a game I initially didn't like, as I just did with EVE, it's not enough to persuade me to subscribe long-term if I just don't like the game play design. Numbers aren't everything.

But there is such a thing as an MMO death spiral: developer cuts cost to increase profitability, users notice that the MMO is no longer being debugged or improved adequately and unsubscribe, developer cuts costs further, repeat until the server goes dark. Mass migrations out of a game are a good early warning sign that the death spiral has begun.

Posted: Nov 8th 2009 2:19PM Sam not Spam said

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I personally don't care that much about subscriber numbers. It might be interesting on an academic level (I'm a fan of the business side of things) but as a player? It tells me nothing other than there's a lot of people playing. I found Tabula Rasa to be more fun for me than World of Warcraft, despite the fact TR was massively less popular. I've enjoyed City of Heroes for several years now, which is a relatively low-numbers game, and have no desire to try, say, Lineage or Lineage II (which are far higher numbered).

Numbers do not equal fun for me.

Yes, TR shut down, but knowing the numbers doesn't tell me how much they need to be profitable, nevermind how much they need to keep going. I don't think most companies will say what those particular numbers are, ether :p

Posted: Nov 8th 2009 2:28PM (Unverified) said

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i would be worried if my game was a NCsoft game and the numbers was slightly low cos they would close the dahm game remember tabula rasa and auto assault anyone?

Posted: Nov 8th 2009 2:28PM Evy said

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I care because it gives me an idea of how the game is doing overall. If no one's playing it, I worry that it won't be around for long. Nothing worse than getting into an MMORPG only to have it shut down soon after...

Posted: Nov 8th 2009 2:36PM (Unverified) said

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My only concern with sub numbers is that the Devs have enough subscribers to turn a profit and therefore continue to support their game.

Having 50,000 players or 900,000 doesn't make a difference to me.

Posted: Nov 8th 2009 3:55PM Minofan said

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For my game experience? Don't care at all - I gave 'sociable' gaming a fair go in WAR, and it IS fun... for a while. If I do ever wind up playing a game where PvP or co-op PvE is the main attraction, I won't be getting caught up in numbers because I'll be part of the play-two-months and drift off demographic myself.

For my gaming confidence? I do care - as I want a game I'm loving to go on and on and on - but with a few qualifications:

a] Budget relativity - small developer game any six-digit number quite heartening, monolithic megacorp game I'd be anxious below a quarter-million.

b] Anything over half-a-million is champagne and party hats - once future prosperity is secured the rest is just crazy maths. Plus; WoW pretty much shows there's a success-to-development-investment plateau - a zillion times the income of LotR or CoH clearly doesn't make the money men call for any faster rate of explaination (which I'll never understand).

c] While server queues are both a sign of prosperity and a sign of weak planning, I don't put up with them for long. If I regularly cannot play my game when I want to, I'll just drift away till the situation's resolved one way or another even if I'm gone for months/ever - a great game trumps a mediocre game, but a mediocre game trumps waiting in queues for a turn at a great game.

Posted: Nov 8th 2009 4:09PM Tom in VA said

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Subscription numbers matter to me for a couple of reasons--

(i) Games with lots of subscribers are apt to last longer. I hate getting involved in a game only to have the developer pull the plug on it due to an inadequate numbers of subscriptions.

(ii) It *can* be an indication of quality/polish (i.e., since a lot of people evidently like the game) and thus also better developer support.

(iii) If it's a game that requires grouping for certain things, it can indicate that you're going to have less trouble finding other players to group with.

Posted: Nov 8th 2009 4:26PM Faryon said

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I never judge a game based solely on it's number of subscribers, some games with relatively few subscribers have excellent communities that makes the game fun to play. On the other hand if the number of subscribers are low and most of the subscribers are spread thin between many servers or only the most devoted fans of the game remain out of pure stubborness then I would probably stay clear of the game.

Posted: Nov 8th 2009 4:46PM (Unverified) said

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A) I couldn't care less about sub numbers. I played EQ for so long, and its not like SOE has ever been really forthcomming with Sub number, have they? lol.

As long as a game has a good population per server/shard/whatever, that doesn't impede the progress of the game. I'm good with it.

Take EQ around December 2004, for example. WoW had launched in November that year, along with EQ2, FFXI was on the rise, Guild Wars maybe?..basically a bunch of soon-to-be AAA titles launched all at once and the EQ servers were barren. It sucked for a couple months, then they did the first round of server merges and all was good again. Less servers? No big deal as long as they take the steps to make sure each person's game experience doesn't suffer from their sub numbers.

And this was 5 years ago now, and they're still Going I might add.

So, Sub number don't amount to a lot unless you're dealing with a company that pulls the plug quickly on lowish sub numbers

B) Gators? Pfft. Better look out for those Longhorns sitting at #2, Gatorfans! But more than that, I'm superstoked my TCU Horned Frogs jumped Boise State to #4. BCS Bound? Tell ya ina few weeks :)

Posted: Nov 8th 2009 5:55PM Lionhearted said

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So long as my server has enough people that finding active guilds and people who you can group with and help each other with quests, I'm fine.

I actually think there's a thin line between having too many people and not having enough.

Posted: Nov 9th 2009 2:27AM (Unverified) said

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I do care about numbers and wish companies were more upfront about how many subscribers they really have. It should be legally mandated that release those numbers!

Any legislators on here?

Posted: Nov 9th 2009 10:08AM (Unverified) said

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Overall numbers mean quite little to me, considering I played Neocron 1 for a while which at the time the best it had was 500 people online, but that period was a blast. For however many subs wow actually has, you probably meet less than .5% of them, so what does it matter how many people actually play the game?

The ratio of subs : servers, however is much more important to me. Aslong as every server has a bustling community and the potential to help new players grow into games then I'd consider joining it.

Posted: Nov 9th 2009 8:11PM dudemanjac said

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The only numbers I care about are the ones that say there are still enough ppl subscribed for me to be able to play my game. It never matterd to me that CoX wasn't as popular as WoW. It bugged me a lot that Earth and Beyond went away.

Server consolidation for the win!

Posted: Nov 9th 2009 8:34PM (Unverified) said

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As someone who detests some of the most popular MMO and whose dear hope is that MMORPG improve vastly, I can only say that immense subscription is usually due to minor details.

We can say that presently WoW is a popular sports bar. We can also say that the second most popular bar is Runescape -- like a bar where non-alcoholic drinks are free or something. Just so that you know, Lord of the Rings Online isn't at all popular. It's dying. Turbine couldn't even keep Dungeons and Dragons alive. Both will soon be free to play. Hurrah for stupid people who can't do the two easiest theme games in the world?

Let us hope that Shadowrun Online and other MMO-RPG are well structured. Who knows, maybe some smart guys will do Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Online -- but they'll probably do Pathfinder or Mastercraft instead.

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