Tobold's Blog
Thursday, July 01, 2010

After I got 12 long comments in the previous thread from the same poster, out of a total of 25 comments (mine included), I turned comment display for that thread off as an anti-spam measure. Other readers were complaining that they couldn't get a word in any more.
Can't you just ban the commenter's IP address?
A) Blogger doesn't do that.


B) I don't necessarily want to ban him, I just would like him to not take over my comment section. If somebody has that much to say, I'd prefer he'd say his on his own blog, and just posted a link here.
Thanks Tobold.

Nils - please try to slow down on the posts. As my boss says to me, "you need to go and think in a quiet place before you submit your writing".
Your blog, your rules.

I wrapped up everyting I said on my own blog. I also added some info from the managing editor of

I have been a little bit furious, because you wrote
Unfortunately the numbers displayed on the graph are certainly completely wrong, and made up by somebody.

I do not link numbers that are 'made up'.
I don't understand how an active commenter prevents other's from commenting - they don't have to address his comments, they just need to read the blog post and write their thoughts on it. It's not like there's only a limited number of comments under each post and if one person uses 10 of them then other people won't be able to write theirs.
This comment has been removed by the author.
So in response to your accusations and cencorship I posted the sources on my site
Tobold's blog = Tobold's rules.

It is not censoring if he doesn't want you to express your opinion in HIS blog, it were only if he took measures to prevent you from expressing them on YOUR blog or everywhere.
Sure, his rules.

So perhaps we should continue the discussion on my site then :p
Well it's your own fault for going directly at Nils.

Did you expect that he wouldn't respond? You clearly wanted a response of some kind.

But I think this is a good time to stop following this blog. For a long time now I felt you were blogging, mostly, about things which you had no clue about. I don't get much out of that.

Also as a follow up, I doubt that YOU, Tobold, have any real math background. I couldn't really care, except that you seemed hell bent at insulting your readers in that last post.
Pity that the Numeracy post comment section evolved badly, and is now locked.
Comments about the other paragraphs could have been interesting as well. (everyone now focuses only on a part of paragraph 2)

Third paragraph certainly has truth in it, except the more educated people in regards to mmo numbers generally don't fall for that.

Still, even I got caught off guard once by Dofus, because Ankama used certain terms liberally and mixed up.

Can read about that here :
Haha, Nils and kaslammed Tobold and he's got his feelings hurt so he locked a thread. Its a sad day in the blogging world.
Stop blogging about how people are ruining blogging. It makes me sad.

@Malthan: They may crowd out other comments, making it harder to find them, harder to navigate the page. Given a bit more effort a person can get around them, but that's perhaps asking too much compared to a commenter shortening his posts.
@almost everyone: Calm down. Tobold made some assumptions that turned out to be false even though the point he was trying to make was correct. It happens. Stop with the arm-waving paniced, "OMGOMGOMG TOBOLD DISAGREES WITH ME," and have a civil conversation without spamming.

@Klepsacovic: If you don't like it why are you here? There are plenty of us who are interested in the topic and enjoy reading the posts. Just because you disagree doesn't make you right, and certainly doesn't give you the right to tell Tobold what/how to write on his own blog.
LOL @ thinking Tobold doesn't have a math background. Anyone who has read this blog for any ammount of time knows he is a scientist!

And yeah, seriously, when I go to this blog and contribute in a discussion forum I'm not looking to read 100 posts by one dude in the comment section with too much time on his hands whos going to shout everyone else down...
Where MMODATA is wrong is in saying that the Chinese servers were down for only a month. That is simply not true. The Chinese servers were shut down repeatedly, and for several months at some time. How many people would leave WoW over here if servers shut down for months and the second expansion was still not released here?

Basically what happened is this: Blizzard lost millions of subscribers in China. That doesn't hurt them much financially, because revenue per Chinese subscriber is much lower than revenue per US/EU subscriber. It does however stop them from launching press releases with new record numbers.

As any company would do, if the numbers don't look good, and you are under no legal obligation to report them, you simply keep mum about them. Thus any numbers you find after November 2011 are just vague statements from Blizzard which refer to their previous peak, their 11.5 million player game, without actually saying that the game *still* has that number. And you find gaming sites reporting simply "no change".

MMODATA took all this vague hearsay as real and plotted in in a graph. It wasn't them who made up the data, but journalists who didn't know better, and who hadn't got a clue about the China situation.

It is absolutely certain that the subscription number of World of Warcraft was highly volatile in 2009 and 2010. You can *NOT* shut out over 5 million players from your game for several months and not have any effect on subscriptions. Thus any graph showing a straight line is false and misleading.

And as I said, I don't mind Nils or Cyberwiz disagreeing with that opinion and linking to their sites on my blog. But if a single commenter writes half of the comments of a thread, he crowds out the other commenters.

This is NOT "Tobold's and Nils' MMORPG Blog". Nils must give my other readers some space too, that is all that I ask.
Linkage: Gamasutra reporting Chinese servers, which were shut down early June 2009, were still down end of July 2009.

And then the Chinese servers shut down again in November 2009, reopened in January 2010, and had to suspend new player registration in February 2010.
Thus any numbers you find after November 2011 are just vague statements...
Indeed, one woudn't expect data for November 2011 to be accurate before the end of next year. Or do you mean 2008?
Here is what has been said by Michael Morhaine during the Activision Blizzard Q1 2010 Earnings Call.

Thanks, Thomas. I'll start off with the review of our performance for the first quarter and then discuss what's in store for Blizzard Entertainment for the rest of 2010.

Q1 2010 was another dream [ph](47:29) quarter for us as we grew revenues and operating income over the prior year. The World of Warcraft business is strong and continues to maintain it's large and stable player base of over 11.5 million subscribers. And later this year, we'll be looking to bolster our business with the release of Cataclysm, the Cataclysm expansion set. I will talk more about this in more detail later.

Either they are lying, or this is accurate. But this is the basis of the 11.5 mio players in 2010.
November 2011

Sorry, typo, that should have been 2008.

large and stable player base of over 11.5 million subscribers

Call it lying, call it papering over the ugly details, call it using a different method of counting Chinese subscribers while the Chinese servers are down. But it is impossible for the subscription numbers to have been "large and stable" during June/July 2009 when the Chinese servers were down, and during the continued problems in China from November 2009 to February 2010.

You just repeat various quotes of the same number over and over again, without ever offering an explanation how the Chinese server shutdowns could possibly have had zero effect on subscription number stability.
Ooh, blog-drama!


I agree with several posters that it is probably possible to gather valid (if perhaps only to a degree) data on sub-numbers. I would be very careful though, since there can be all kinds of issues (ambiguous definition of variables used for one).

I agree with Tobold to never use those numbers to base (business) decisions or arguments on, and use the financial reports instead.
So you hid the comments altogether...?

It'd have been nice to have the comments as a reference for this post.
It'd have been nice to have the comments as a reference for this post.

Good idea, I turned the display of comments on that thread back on. You'll see for example that of the first 4 comments, 3 are from the same poster, while the 4th is very short. That continues, until there is the first complaint by another reader about the comment spam, at which point the thread somewhat derails, up to a point where another reader calls me a dick and I delete his comment.

Note that I didn't delete any of the spam comments and only shut down the thread to stop the spam, not to "censor" a different opinion.
Okay Tobold, if you thouroughly read the articles, you will see that the Gamasutra article says the game is back in closed beta on July 31 2009.
Closed Beta, where current players can play the game, but do not pay and where no new players can join.

But indeed, only in September 2009 WoW releaunched commercially ( Payed Open Beta, MMO Open Beta's tends to last very long in China, probably because of the government involvement ), this was with approval of the MOC. After that the GAPP disagreed with MOC, but meanwhile WoW stayed online, see your link of venturebeat.

Your last link of Massively only talks about that player registrations were stopped for 1 week, this was for the review of The Burning Crusade.

Finally The Burning Crusade did get approved In February :

Now all this certainly had it's impact on WoW, it lost around 100k subs just from that, after the drop from 12m ( the PCU numbers from the West support this ) to 11,6m ( because the novelty of WOTLK wore off ) it dtopped again to 11,5m.

On the other hand, I think the downtime of WoW did not make it that much less popular in China, people know it is the goverment's fault and people tend to like things even better if the government is against it.

Furthermore, like I already said, I will add an estimated datapoint, representing the WoW downtime.

Finally, it is clear that WoW numbers declined and are stagnating now.

I said my piece and will no go work on my next version of
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