Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
 
Kingdom of Loathing announces 2 million accounts

And now for some free advertising. The guys from Kingdom of Loathing want me to let you know that recently the 2 millionth account was opened in their game. They also announced KoL Con 6, the annual gathering of players in Mesa, Arizona, on September 19th-21st. I'm not posting all the press releases I get, but this one was signed by the "Director of Propaganda" of KoL, so how could I possibly refuse?

I kind of liked their formulation of "For those keeping score, that makes the free-to-play KoL only 2/11ths as popular as World of Warcraft, yet it remains infinitely less expensive.", because you can feel it is tongue-in-cheek. Free accounts never expire, and as far as I remember you need several accounts if you want to play several characters. So if you'd really want to measure "popularity", you'd better look at numbers like peak concurrent users, where Kingdom of Loathing like most other free games ends up looking a lot smaller than 2/11th of WoW.

This reminded me of an old question I had, for which I never found an answer: How many boxes of the basic game (as such, or as part of a pack with expansions) of World of Warcraft did Blizzard sell overall? I know that WoW still regularly appears in the top 10 of PC games sales charts, which makes me believe that they still sell tens, if not hundreds of thousands of boxes every month. We always hear about those fabled 11 million subscribers, but if everyone who ever had a WoW account would resubscribe, how many players would we have then? 20 million? 30 million? 50 million? More?
Comments:
Even more interesting, I think, would be what the average subscription time is. Do players generally play for 6-8 months or are subscription times widely varied across the board?
 
Assuming that a company will increase the price for their product to a level that they will earn the most profit and also assuming that the price people pay is an indicator for how much they like the game, the best indicator for how good a game is, is the revenue a company achieves with the game.

Now, the assumtions are very theoretical (which means wrong in reality) and even if they were true there are still some artificial arguments why this could still be wrong.

However, it's as good a measure of success as I can think of. It basically multiplies the number of pople who play with the fun they have while playing.
 
A minor correction: KoL accounts DO apparently expire after some undetermined interval. I quit playing for a couple of years and had to re-roll my pastamancer from scratch because the account was gone.

The good news is that the starting areas had been reworked since my retirement so it was a whole new vibrant game.
 
It would be an interesting statistic to know. I am not sure that this day and age the charts are that great given digital content distribution and faster internet. Still it seems like companies want to share one or the other. WoW tells about sub numbers. GW tells about units sold. Etc.
 
With regard to box sales, I remember reading this article which says 8.6 million boxes of WoW have been sold since its release. These stats include sales of the expansions so I guess the actual number of "original" boxes would be much lower.
 
Am I missing something here, or shouldn't the number of boxes with the base game sold be higher than the number of subscribers? Maybe I should rephrase my question to number of accounts opened, to be more comparable to KoL.
 
Remember only 5m or so of those currently playing are in the US/EU. Do asians ever buy the box to play, and if they do, do they pay anything close to $50?

It is an interesting question though, and my guess is WoW has more inactive subs than actives, so that's at least another 11m or whatever people who played at one point, but don't play now.
 
I wonder how many boxes are sold to gold farmers due to the ban waves..
 
Do Chinese subs buy boxes? And why do people still act like that 11 million number represents something real? It doesn't. Chinese players simply ARE NOT SUBSCRIBERS. They pay HOURLY. They do not SUBSCRIBE. Also, the game is currently banned over there.

8.6 million total sold sounds about right to me. People place way too much faith in the 11 million number, which was always grossly inflated. WoW has about 5 million accounts in NA and Europe paying a monthly subscription fee. Do you own math as to how many people have two or more accounts, how many are in the hands of gold farmers or are being traded on the secondary market at any given time, but we can rest assured the number of players is substantially less than 5 million.


WoW isn't half as popular as people want to make it out to be. It's a very very big fish in a reasonably sized town.


Also, you can direct download the game, and experienced players might skip actually buying a box.
 
@Grimmtooth-
KOL used to do that, recently they stopped deleting accounts that had been inactive.

Also @Tobold- You dont have to roll a new character to play another class, as you can ascend and become another class (holding on to one of the skills from your previous class). Some people do this to either test the class, or because they dont want to go through the ascension questline (which is uber easy at the level range you should be at). Most people I played with however would Ascend and change classes and settle with the one they loved. Then would get to some insane level with it ;)
 
KoL accounts *used* to expire after a month of inactivity, with the exception of people having donated to get an Item Of The Month (or they could have borrowed one to have in inventory during any nightly maintenance period aka rollover). That still made a lot of people who couldn't expire.

A couple of months back they changed it -- now nothing expires, period.

Almost worth of mention is that you can't have multiple toons per account, unlike WoW and most MMOs.. so for KoL one account = one character. I have 3 accounts myself :P (kmail txster to say hi!)

So they hit 2M.. I have a userid in the 1.4M range, and that was created over three years ago.. but still, for a funny free game, it's still going strong! I'd guess most days peaks reach around 1300 concurrent users.. During special events and holidays, it gets nuts easily over 2000..
 
Half the planet, Tobold. Half the planet :)
 
So if the total boxes sold is 8.6 million, and there are 5 million US/EU players, and the current grand total is 11 million, then the answer is... 14.6 million?

How would you measure retention in the Asian market anyways? Are the 7 million or so accounts attributed there basically everyone who ever tried it once, since you don't have to subscribe? If so, 14.6 million is about right.

I seriously doubt that excluding multiple account holders and gold farmers will affect that number much. Especially not the multiple account holders, WoW is not exactly rife with them last I heard.
 
Justin said: "Even more interesting, I think, would be what the average subscription time is. Do players generally play for 6-8 months or are subscription times widely varied across the board?"

I played for about 20 minutes, and that's probably going to be the only 20 minutes I ever play.

On the other hand, I played ProgressQuest for several weeks, on and off and still remember it fondly. I'm still waiting for someone to come up with a full 3d graphic version of PQ. That would wipe WoW off the map.
 
WoW never had 11 million subscribers.

Wolfshead took a look at it on his blog and after looking at the press release I made this comment:

“World of Warcraft’s Subscriber Definition

World of Warcraft subscribers include individuals who have paid a subscription fee or have an active prepaid card to play World of Warcraft, as well as those who have purchased the game and are within their free month of access. Internet Game Room players who have accessed the game over the last thirty days are also counted as subscribers. The above definition excludes all players under free promotional subscriptions, expired or cancelled subscriptions, and expired prepaid cards. Subscribers in licensees’ territories are defined along the same rules.” (from the Blizzard press release linked in the original post).

A few notes:

1) If you bought the game in 2004 and never installed it you count as one current subscriber.

2) If you don’t play but own a prepaid card that hasn’t gone past its Sell By date you count as one current subscriber.

3) If you play having bought the original game then picked up the two expansions in the form of collected editions you count as three subscribers.

4) If a copy is used for an internet game room that has a hundred people playing in a month that copy counts as a hundred subscribers.

There’s probably other loopholes too.

Lies, damn lies and statistics!


http://www.wolfsheadonline.com/?p=2943
 
Directed at Stabs.

Did you read the definition at all that Blizz gave for their definition of subscribers?

1) If you bought the game in 2004 and never installed it you count as one current subscriber.

The above definition excludes all players under free promotional subscriptions, expired or cancelled subscriptions, and expired prepaid cards.

That really doesn't make much sense.
People that purchased the game in 2004 and never installed it don't have a valid subscription.
Correct me if I'm wrong.

edit: correct grammar typo
 
According to http://www.vgchartz.com/games/index.php?name=world+of+warcraft , World of Warcraft has sold 11.84m boxes: 4.12m in the Americas, 0.15m in Japan and 7.57m "Other" (I assume this is mostly Europe and Russia).

More numbers from them: The Burning Crusade has sold 6.42m units, Wrath of the Lich King 5.24m. These numbers are 1 to 2 months old, but I believe them, and the site in general, to be trustworthy.
 
"I seriously doubt that excluding multiple account holders and gold farmers will affect that number much. Especially not the multiple account holders, WoW is not exactly rife with them last I heard."

I kind of disagree. When I quit, I ended up selling two accounts to Toonstorm. All that character transfer between accounts is designed to facilitate multiple account use. Later on a short lived return trip, I played the semi-abandoned account of a friend of a friend because the fof was playing a totally different account of unknown provenance.

Basically, it seemed to me like there were a fair number of accounts that had a weird semi-collective, no clear owner type of account. And lord knows about the gold farmers, but Warhammer had banned 14,000 accounts for gold farming TWO MONTHS AFTER LAUNCH And that is for a game that was nowhere near as large... so we are easily, easily, talking hundreds of thousands of WoW accounts that have been in the hands of goldfarmers.
 
I've bought i think three boxes of the starter and two of burning and one of wrath. My vanilla discs got wrecked twice (and while i know i can download the client, it was just more convenient to buy) and with burning i thought an online order was canceled so i picked up a box in store. Turns out it wasn't and i had an extra, which i sent to someone who didn't have it.

I'd be more interested in unique players playing. That would be interesting to see how many multi box (side note, all the players i know who play EvE at least dual box that, and say that's the only to play). Accounts and boxes sold is more interesting moneywise but not so much in how many players.
 
[quote]
WoW never had 11 million subscribers.

Wolfshead took a look at it on his blog and after looking at the press release I made this comment:
[/quote]

So you are saying a publicly traded company is lying to its shareholders about its user base?
 
"Assuming that a company will increase the price for their product to a level that they will earn the most profit and also assuming that the price people pay is an indicator for how much they like the game, the best indicator for how good a game is, is the revenue a company achieves with the game." - Nils

Or profits = revenue - cost might be better measure; I wonder how some ultra-cheap games might fare comparatively under a profits measure, like Maplestory.

Or another possible measure might be rate of return (revenue-cost)/(investment)
 
tobold

do you know the official breakdown for WOW subscriber ? from US , EUR and other regions ?

whats your opinion on the upcoming SW:TOR based on the latest trailer ? and do you have opinion on STARTREK ONLINE ?

Could you write about AION online (Western edition/beta) from the perspective of an MMO vet, comparing it to Warhammer PVP mmo and Age of Conan PVP/PVE mmo ? also from the perspective of one who played WOW from 1-80 (PVE/PVP) ?

thanks
 
[quote]
WoW never had 11 million subscribers.

Wolfshead took a look at it on his blog and after looking at the press release I made this comment:
[/quote]

So you are saying a publicly traded company is lying to its shareholders about its user base?


Kind of. More like they have a very technical definition of a subscriber that does not really reflect the definition of subscriber that is commonly used in these discussions; i.e. somebody dropping 15 bucks or so a month so they can use the game in non-commercial applications.

Adding the guy in Beijing who put a couple yaun on a prepaid card in the same hopper as the guy who is dropping $180 a year is misleading.
 
________________________________
Kind of. More like they have a very technical definition of a subscriber that does not really reflect the definition of subscriber that is commonly used in these discussions; i.e. somebody dropping 15 bucks or so a month so they can use the game in non-commercial applications.

Adding the guy in Beijing who put a couple yaun on a prepaid card in the same hopper as the guy who is dropping $180 a year is misleading.
_______________________________

They are talking subscribers, not profit from subscriptions. How much is KoL making from its 2 millions "subscribers"?
 
I tried it, to be honest I found it really boring. There wasn't enough of a game for me to go with the humor to keep playing. The whole "spend actions to do stuff" thing kept me from being immersed.
 
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