Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, March 01, 2011
How long to judge the success of an MMORPG?

Looking at what is going on in World of Warcraft at the moment, I can only conclude that today's release date for Rift has been perfectly chosen. With the level 80 to 85 content of Cataclysm being on the short side, and the "flow" from reaching level 85 via dungeons, heroics, to raids being somewhat bumpy for a large population of WoW players, the time is ripe for a game like Rift to tap into this pool of frustrated and/or bored World of Warcraft players eager to try something new.

Having said that, I must nevertheless remark that other MMORPGs started strong as well, only to decline quickly afterwards. No, I have no reason to *predict* such a fate for Rift, but on the other side I also cannot exclude it. Which brings up the question at what point in time it is safe to say whether Rift is a smash hit or failed to live up to initial expectations.

Most certainly the honeymoon period of any subscription MMORPG is at least one month long. That is simply due to the business model which packs one free month with the box. Even if players actually stop before that time, the game company would still count them as "subscribers". Going from "playing a game from a box" to actually paying a subscription is a significant step, which gives some players reason to pause and consider whether they actually want to continue playing. On the other end of the spectrum I don't think you need years and years to say something about the success of a MMORPG. Sorry, WoW-Haters, but in whatever terms you describe your projections of WoW's future doom, it is too late to erase the impression of "most successful MMORPG ever" after over 6 years.

Thus I'm falling back on the wisdom derived from when two people who tend to strongly disagree with each other about everything manage to agree on something. Syncaine and me once bet whether Blizzard's next game would or wouldn't be a success, and we set a criteria for measurement of over 1 million subscribers after 6 months. I'm not holding Rift to the million subscribers number, but I do think that the 6-month period was wisely chosen. After 6 months player tend to know whether this is a game they want to stick with, and the period is long enough to make possible hidden flaws with e.g. the endgame apparent. So let's reconvene here on September 1st and discuss whether Rift was the game of 2011, or whether it tragically petered out after a few months.

What do you think? Is six months a good evaluation period for a MMORPG?
I've had the same experience myself (referring here to the honeymoon period) with several MMOs. I played Fallen Earth, which I found to be absolutely excellent, until the endgame, which was terrible. Then the expansions focused mostly on PvP, which I have no interest in, and I bailed out. LotRO was similar; I found the endgame dungeons/raids to be terrible. DDO, the same. The first raid in the game was a Red Dragon (awesome), but you only got 1 attempt on him every 3 days, which is terrible, terrible design.

I think six months is a fair number. The only one I played more than that was WoW. Great post, and I'll certainly be back in September (and often before then) to see a follow up.
Yep I think six months is a pretty reasonable timeframe to declare something a success.

Of course, you can declare a failure a lot quicker than that! :-)

For a game to not have contracted after six months, it must have an endgame which is successfully captivating players; and it must have a new player flow which is balancing out the natural attrition. For a game to be growing after six months, it must be.. well, it must be one of only a handful of games that have managed that feat.

Also, a lot of people are fond of the complete fallacy that a $50 box sale = $50 into the developer's pocket, and it's interesting to note that six months of subscription, minus the free first month, even at a discount multi-month $10 rate, really IS $50 into the developer's pocket.
As you have pointed out, there are two games in every MMO: the leveling game and what comes next. Most MMOs have released with a leveling game that was diverting for a few months. IMO, WoW was one of the few (the first?) to have a second game grafted to it that was diverting for years. (to me, anyway).

So I think 6 months is enough for players to hit the "second game" and judge whether it works long term.
I predict (!) that enough people will still subscribe to Rift after six months for them to declare the game a resounding success and for an equal number of people to consider the game to have "tragically petered out".

My prediction does not extend to whether you, Tobold, will be in either group :)
@Keith WoW end game in vanilla (40-main raiding) was practically non-existent for majority of the players. I think the trick was that the leveling game was long enough to keep casual players occupied beyond 6 months or even a year. At the same time leveling game was very well done and engaging and didn't feel tedious at all. Since WoW attracted millions of first time gamers majority of the player base didn't discover the end game (or absence of thereof) until the end of vanilla. So brilliantly done leveling game was imo the main driver behind WoW success.
I'm thinking six months is good. I'm even thinking it's good enough that I signed up on the six month plan. We'll see if I re-up after that.
It's a loaded question because the observation changes the observed.

Simply agreeing that a game is failed is enough to dissuade many of the most fickle from sticking with it. After all leveling in a MMO is a considerable investment of time and effort, if it's not going to be worth it because everybody's leaving then best not to commit.

So as someone who is loving Rift as far as I'm concerned it's a success now, I'll tell all and sundry to come play. It's in my interests to hold this position.

I also genuinely believe it's true but few of us don't have a personal stake which dilutes our objectivity. One thing I would say - I do think that what fans feel is a success is different from what games companies feel is a success.
MY criteria for (financial) success are very simple.

1. Has the game taken more than it cost to make?

2. Does it continue to run profitably after doing so?

Satisfying criterion one makes it a success.

Satisfying criterion two makes it an ongoing success.

There, of course, many other kinds of success apart from financial.
I know a lot of people who buy every new MMORPG, play it for a month or two, and bail out. They'll go through 4-6 MMOs a year, occasionally returning to an old favorite.

But with MMORPGs so similar these days, it seems to me like they're just playing one game, UberMMO, and every MMORPG released is just an expansion pack for it.

Your nickname is now Peggy Hill, for obvious reasons =P
6 months is a good arbiter. I signed up for the 6 month pricing plan for Rift so if I renew it in 6 months, that's a pretty good sign.
Yes, its a heck of a lot better than a month which is all the gaming news people give an MMO before "reviewing" it usually. I do wonder how "sticky" RIFT's endgame will be. Wow's certainly has been. Other games, less so.
Six months is a good time frame for an MMO. Most I have known in the first month, because most have been unfinished crap for the past few years. Often also, within six months of Blizzard releasing an expansion, it has become boring once again. Cataclysm got boring faster than any other.
WOW's problem was timing...
Back when they shelved the Path of the Titans (and moved the concept to Titan??) they realized they were short content. BUT, it is my conspiracy idea that Wow wanted to get content out to beat Star Wars to the punch not Rift. So they gambled that with a mediocre content update pre-star wars release, Star Wars would not get All the Wow playerbase due to SciFi fan vs fantasy fan differences.

Funny thing, that is why Rift is such a threat. It's like it's 2004 and Wow is being compared to EQ/EQ2 and people dropped EQ like a cheap lady of the evening. And Rift appeals to the core Wow player base of fantasy dragon gamers.
Only this time it's Wow that is looking old and busted and Rift is new hotness.

Having said that,,, (gosh do you think you could "just say that"... really tobold this equal time thing makes for tepid debate - take a stand already)

Rift will change games folks. All you have to do is play in the teen levels and you will see it. I will try to explain. Imagine a world where a "raid" environment can spring up at any time. AND this raid environment allows ad hoc groups to just form and down bosses at all levels in any zone!

There is no rolls except on random drops. And everyone at the event gets tokens... tokens for purchasing blues at like level 14.

So... wait (what a concept) Rift actually ENCOURAGES players to work together, not make the game with more rivalry for limited drops.

I just can't stress this enough. I have canceled my Wow accounts and will convert to Rift full time. The game play is paced completely different in Rift vs. Wow. It's like being in an Action Movie vs. a Drama Chick Flick. I seriously doubt that many players will be sitting around trade chat in Sanctum (their Stormwind) trolling on trade. Imagine a game that punishes you severely if you do just sit around and do nothing but griefing or trolling. Oh and no EJs yet no one knows where all the mailboxes are... we all be equal in knowledge right now.

If you are mad at Blizz about short changing Wow content and game play to make Titan (Metzen leaving etc)... this is your game folks. And I didn't even get into the souls...

Stay Angry my friends
Stay Angry
(gosh do you think you could "just say that"... really tobold this equal time thing makes for tepid debate - take a stand already)

People only say "take a stand already" as long as they believe the other person is likely to take a stand they agree with. If I had taken a stand a came out *against* Rift, you would have told me to wait 6 six month before judging the game. ;)
Considering the fact that people have already been asking blues (in WoW) for when the next expansion is due, I would say that 4 months is plenty of time :)
If Rift was successful, I'm going to official resign for this "MMORPG" genre because finally I will realize I'm looking at the wrong gaming genre.

Rift is just another WoW with your "Kill 10 foozles" game mechanic going on. It's too much like WoW, it's not even a clone.
Errr...1 million subscribers after 6 months? That's a bit high considering how many MMOs actually have 1 million subscribers right now...

Lets list them:

? (Some Asian MMO like Lineage 2?)

GuildWars/Aion have high numbers, but i'm not sure it's a million.

In terms of ignoring the subscriber count and just going with 6 months, what's the measure here? "The game is still running after 6 months = success? " .

That would make AoC/Warhammer/FFXIV/Champs/STO....every MMO that has not shut down = success. Or how do you judge it? The odds that you would return after 6 months?

I suggest for a followup blog posting, why not make a list of MMOs that came out since 2004 and lets rate them "Fail" or "Success" and maybe add a reason that ignores their current subscriber base.

Anyway as for RIFT, i'm playing it, timing is perfect since i'm done with Cataclysm. It is a well rounded game with a few novelty tricks thrown in, i don't see myself playing it longer than 3 months.....BUT

any game that i clock 100 hours+ on i consider "massively successful" . Simple. Single Player games almost never go above 50 hours with me, and they're still considered extraordinary [Mass Effect 2 = 35 hours avg completion according to Bioware stats] .

So if i just look back STATISTICALLY to "how long does an MMO really last" for a dedicated player? 2-4 months. WoW = Facebook = a bit of a social-viral-freak of nature and not a good measure for "Average MMO Success" . I'm sure in statistics WoW would be excluded in the results as it's a complete outlier.

Therefore using WoW as any kind of "Measuring Stick" is a huge mistake. I think this has given us a wrong indication of what "success" really is, i wouldn't be surprised if 100K subs on a year old MMO is considered financially successful.
I'd think about a shorter timeframe. I expect either a bell curve around 3 months, or, if wow fails to provide better content, a major success.

Why? Rift is VERY casual oriented, you can get epics just by showing up and hitting random keys in rifts. M&S paradise :)

If the wow paradigm keeps the same (the game becomes "hard" after you cap), providing there is no hole in rift content (craft broken or useless, nothing to do after 40... etc) Rift will get the majority of the wow "casuals" (in the depreciative AND appreciative sense)

To resume, if you're not a competitive player and you already played wow, you'll play rift, and from what i've seen, you'll like it. From that point, blizzard and trion are both full of gevlons trying to milk your money from your pocket, so blizzard WILL do something to keep their casuals, majority of the paying players.

I still think the success test is NOT on rift (it has proven capabilities), it's on wow!

Warhammer and Conan failed because they had huge issues, i didnt see any so far with rift.
as my post was a bit optimistic, here's the reasons i can see for a bell curve :)

- total class imbalance (how will they balance dozens of specs anyway?)

- no endgame, or hard endgame (wow will always do it better unless they implement something original - didnt see anything)

- PvP borked (no idea there, but warhammer did suffer from that)

- major wow content release (not 4.1!), ie, blizzard puts 10x the money trion does on content
Like many of the other posters, I have to question the choice of >1m as the yardstick for success, particularly when you consider that many of the major players in this market are free-to-play and therefore can't be measured in this way.

I have to echo what Oscar has said - I believe that in 6 months time Rift will be hailed as both a success and a failure, much in the same way that people have continually said that "WoW is dying" ever since Vanilla.
6 months sounds fair but I cant see Rift lasting even that long really, I'd be interested to see how its doing in 3 months. Angry Gamer summed up the reasons why for me it will fail - its too high octane to be a long life MMO. It seemed like an attempt to hybridise WoW & WAR to me and lost the best of both in doing so because of the pace it sets. I only lasted to level 17 in beta before uninstalling so this opinion may not be entirely fair. I was also a bit put off by the community in beta, some really horrible people in it. As a Darkfall player that is quite a statement.

BTW, the 3 games I've played for more than 6 months are WoW, LOTRO & DF.
Since the beta was free, you had real morons (i dont like the term but it applied in that case) in general... i remember a discussion comparing COD/BF and rift, ending in "i pwn u in COD, lolz" ... now that you must have money to play rift, it's a lot better :)
The reason I don't like to put a fixed subscription number as success criteria is that the number of subscribers you need to break even depends on how much money you put initially into the game. Thus it is perfectly possible to have Rift and SWTOR ending up with the same subscriber number, and considering Rift a success and SWTOR a failure, because SWTOR was far more expensive to make.

Having said that, Trion said they already sold over 1 million copies *before* the March 1st release date. Thus if they have significantly less than 1 million subscribers in 6 months, they would have lost large numbers of players, which is never a good sign. Successful MMORPGs keep growing for quite a while.
"Successful MMORPGs keep growing for quite a while."

But, we only have one MAJOR AAA release to base this on. I cannot think of any other major MMO that has had growth after release (unless we count EQ also in this bunch).

If we instead look at what we will call AWoW (After WoW; since this has pretty much ruined all other AAA MMO's from gaining a foothold)...a game that retains 300k subs is considered a keeper (but yet so many truly have less than that based on figures from financial reports and what not).

For me, if using my "top 10" criteria on my blog from game services (like raptr and xfire) shows Rift racking up a top 5 spot consistently after 6 months...I will call it a success (with games like EvE, LOTRO, and Aion).

I don't think any MMO will be able to last as long anymore as EQ or WOW do. Our whole culture is changing to bite sized entertainment. 10 years ago I played CIV III for months on end. I played CIV V for a week and put it aside for i-don't-know-what. The same is happening in MMO world. Very few people will stick around for more than 4 months. I think even the new MMOs are build and designed on that notion. So I don't think 6 months is a good measure at all. I think the folks at Rift can declare success or failure within three months. Anything after that is icing on the cake.

This "changing to bite sized entertainment" argument is so old by now it's lost a great deal of its appeal. Ten years ago, people were saying the exact same thing. Ten years before that: same thing already.

Fact is, ten years ago I played Civ III for months on end. Now I've played WoW for years on end ;)
It would be ironic if after 6 months Rift has 1m+ subs, especially since whether I'm active or not, I'll be counted towards that total (1 free + 6 month sub deal).

I'd say after one month is a good time to look at stuff like server activity and 'buzz', although neither are very scientific.

Then 6+ months later we will see if servers are being merged, or like WoW, being added.
You pretty much know by the end of the first month. If it grows the second month, it's going to be a success. If people don't buy that second month, if it doesn't keep growing past that initial "new shiny" phase, it's probably going to be a flop.

Actually you could probably look at the beta forums or NDA drop and you'd have a 95% chance of knowing. (Hint: if the game is about to release a "miracle build" it's going to flop.)
I'd say 6 months and stable at over 100k subscribers might be considered a success. But then that depends on what you're comparing it against. For headstart Rift had over 1 million accounts, I doubt that number raise more than 10% on release day due to the headstart and how it was implemented. So in Rift's case if they are just around 100k subscribers after 6 months they should consider the game a failure. From what I've seen and heard though, I don't think that will be the case. There is something about the game that feels like WoW did when it was originally released. Partly the new world to explore, but also some of the gameplay that is an improvement upon what WoW is now.
@Angry Gamer, see, that's exactly why you need to wait some time before declaring a game a success.

It's easy to say now "ad hoc groups to just form and down bosses at all levels in any zone". It's east to say now "Rift actually ENCOURAGES players to work together, not make the game with more rivalry for limited drops". It's easy to say now "I seriously doubt that many players will be sitting around trade chat in Sanctum trolling on trade".

But you'd have to be Nostradamus to say any of those things will definitely be the case a few months down the track. And if you did, you'd be wrong as often as Nostradamus was, probably.
My own criteria would be for the average player to experience the endgame for 3 months. They will then decide if the game is worth sticking to or not.
If what you say is true, Rift just became the WoWkiller, or WoWeakener at the least. Rift going to well will be impacting how Fonline, Neverwinter, WODMMO and others will be percieved. Some plans will be held back, decisions changed. If Rift will be the young giant it'll make entering the market even more diffcult.
@ Tobold

"People only say "take a stand already" as long as they believe the other person is likely to take a stand they agree with. If I had taken a stand a came out *against* Rift, you would have told me to wait 6 six month before judging the game. ;)"

Maybe... You are far more experienced in this environment than myself so I will defer to your wisdom.

What I think I was intending to say is maybe make _more_ of a stand. That is to say sometimes you seem (and other bloggers too) appear to be 50/50. What about 75/25? kind of lean into it so to speak. A position could be calibrated by word count, emphasis or even by colorful adjective.

On Rift... I would make no statement in opposition to your initial judgment on Rift. Rift is too awesome to need defending at this point.

99 servers and counting agree

Just read the comments on this article if you don't believe me.
@ Carson 63000
"@Angry Gamer, see, that's exactly why you need to wait some time before declaring a game a success. "

I don't usually get into comment table tennis so forgive me if I make a faux pas.

Your assertion is: "But you'd have to be Nostradamus to say any of those things will definitely be the case a few months down the track."

Well actually I am Nostradamus... You see I am paid professionally to plot future product trends for a well known technology company.

What I see in Rift is exactly the kind of evolution in gameplay in the dragonslayer game genre that I would expect from a disruptive competitor.

When EQ/EQ2 was the big kid on the block the innovations that Wow included (opposing factions, soloable content etc - oh and no zone loading screens) were disruptive to the EQ playerbase. Hence causing a huge defection of frustrated EQ players to Wow. In essence Wow did EQ better than EQ did.

Rift is doing Wow only better than Wow does it.

You see as a player I played Wow because it was the best. AND up until Cataclysm it appeared that Blizzard was committed to investing the resources to KEEP IT THE BEST.

That is no longer the case. Blizzard made a business decision to put all of us Wow players on "farm" and go raid elsewhere. And to be honest that WAS A GREAT GAMBLE. I really believed that in a pure business case analysis that Star Wars would have Wow market penetration issues. So... Wow could cheapen the content expense (Ghostcrawler anyone?) near term and not get hit in sub numbers (especially if Star Wars slips - which it did).

BUT, as always happens when you have a huge market share that everyone is eyeballing... You can expect competition to come from left field.

Rift is just such a competitive threat. Think of it Rift came into existence with everyone I mean EVERYONE saying that doing Wow only prettier is a sure fail. Only MMO that can take on Wow is one that has different genre like Star Wars. So in reality if you don't have Droids go home.

Rift stuck to it's guns due to I think one simple fact.

Folks just want to play Dungeons and Dragons on their computer with other people.

THAT'S IT. They only played a Wow Belf because it used to be the best recreation of an ideal. When a better game comes they will play that game instead. It's all very Platonic in a philosophical way.
As you say, six months feels like a good time frame to assess the game. In fact that what I have done for myself. I signed up for the six month plan and will decide whether or not the game is a success (for me).

I am wondering though, is if this can be considered a measure of success for the game. The Founder Pricing is so attractive that I suspect many players will be doing something similar. I guess the measure will be how many of *those* subscribers re-sub. Perhaps October or November would be a better time to evaluate it as a success or not
Interesting question, as usual.

I submit that your question is two parts: the million and the 6 months.

My way of looking at the six months is that is a proxy of "what is the life span?" E.g., college text books sell for years and pre-teen girls fashions sell for days. For games, WoW is the former and console cartridges more the latter. If RIFT were to get to a couple of million subscribers and keep them for a few years, it doesn't matter as much whether they hit a million at 6 months or 12 months. (But I do think 6 months is a good number.)

This is also whether you consider "RIFT" to be the brand or the initial game. i.e., a business could say we are going to launch X and it will lose money, the second release will be in 6 months and be about break even, the 3 release will be popular and the 4th a cash cow. And over the product lifecycle, the RIFT brand will generate considerable profits. In that scenario, the business could consider it a success while the pundits do not. I.e., is it a good idea for companies with 1% 5% w/e of Blizzard's resources to stake their success on how their first release does? The way game reviewers go, probably so. But it sure would be a more believable business model to say we want to release a solid bug-free game that has enough intriguing aspects/hooks and over time evolve it to be a "success"

The unknowable is the publishers goals; it could be that if there are not a million subs by 4 months they cut the ad budget and chase the new shiney - facebook or iphone or F2P/RTM/MT. Or it could be they will evaluate the game after the first expansion.


Let me clarify "cost" re Bhagpuss. There is the opportunity cost of capital. I.e., if you spend $1000 on a factory and it sells $200 a year of goods than cost $180 then it is not "profitable" since the $20 in "profits" does not cover the opportunity cost of the investment. Its better than selling $200 of goods that cost $215, but it is still not good.

So for business perspective, success is intimately related to expenditure. If the one person developer of tale of the desert got a million dollars a month in revenue I bet he would be happy while the new SWTOR publisher would be very sad.

On the surface, you may not care whether the publisher is making money. But if the publisher considers it a financial failure, especially if they are a public company, they are much less likely to continue to invest in the brand. In the above example, the Desert publisher would work very hard to update its content. While the replacement employees on the SWTOR team would not suggest investing more in it.
Angry Tech Story Time
Ok kids gather around it’s time to tell you a story of high geek adventure.

Once upon a time there was a company called Sybase that made Relational Database software. Now Sybase at the time was about the size of another company called Oracle who also made database software.

Sybase was on version 4.9.X and was literally kicking ass taking names. Everyone loved the speed and ease of use of Sybase. Oracle with its rules based queries just looked old and busted by comparison.

Well Sybase wanted even more geek glory and decided to embark on a new version of software that would be revolutionary! They were going to go even faster be even cooler. To make sure that Sybase version 10 (yes they skipped numbers) was really really cool they decided to ONLY talk to the customers who were really really stressing the current 4.9.2 version. These elite users were at Wall Street investment banks and they really really used Sybase to its fullest.

The elite Banker techies told Sybase “go faster”, “more transactions”, “does not have to be user friendly”, “we know what people will need”. So Sybase did this and coded and coded to their most demanding customer base. [listening to elite customer base – Sound familiar???]

A funny thing happened on the way to System 10. All the Kool coders at Sybase wanted to work on the “new hotness” System 10 project and left old and busted 4.9.X. [sound familiar???] Another big impact that existing customers noticed is a decrease in bug fixing and updates on the existing 4.9.X codebase. Microsoft was partner with Sybase in porting 4.9.X to this new OS called Windows NT. Microsoft voiced their concerns and reminded Sybase of the million dollar investment that Microsoft made. Microsoft was worried about 4.9.X being obsolete and wanted Sybase to continue working on 4.9.X.

Net result is that Microsoft and Sybase agreed to part ways. Microsoft took with it a copy of 4.9.x code and about 200 Sybase engineers to Redmond. Later this came to be known as Microsoft SQL Server (more on this later). And Sybase kept it’s best and brightest on new hotness System 10. Leaving customers frustrated, but they eagerly awaited System 10.

Long story short Sys 10 was a disaster for Sybase. It turned out customers really did not need Elite sys 10 features. What they needed was a STABLE database system that was supported with extensive updates.

Many customers stayed at 4.9 or migrated to Oracle … some even experimented with Microsoft SQL Server (on gasp! Intel Servers running windows gasp!) Turns out that Microsoft did Sybase databases better than Sybase did [Sound familiar???]

Net net Sybase runs about 1.1 Billion a year, Oracle makes about 100 Billion a year… remember they were about the same size in the early 1990s.

So when I talk about being Nostradamus… I speak as one who has seen these things before. It does not take a genius to see what was going to happen at Blizz when they decided to pull resources from Wow. What I (and Blizz apparently) did not expect is that someone would be able to use the Dragonslayer genre ideas to do Wow only better. And who can blame them… with crap like Final Fantasy, Aion etc who would have guessed someone would have put it together.

Oh and by the way… it didn’t take 6 months in the 90’s to see Sybase was doomed. These days I would say that we don’t have to wait that long either.
I also consider the 6 month time frame long enough to prove success (or failure), and short enough for the discussion to be meaningful.

@angry gamer: I'm surprised that, as a professional, you don't seem to be able to consider that you might be wrong. (I am not saying that you are wrong, I agree that rift is promising on day 1. However first days success and long term success are not necessarily highly correlated).
@angry gamer : ahhh, the memories :)

So far, i'm level 22 in rift, and i indeed think it does everything wow does better *for casual play*

Will this be i game i will play over wow? dunno yet. Will the endgame content be better than wow? dunno yet. I expect to have an opinion in about 2 months :)

oh, and btw, there is currently a major bug and disenchanting is disabled since three (!) days. hmmz.

One thing i find interesting is at launch (headstart), both the PVP and PvE/RP servers capped first, not the standard PvE ones. Perhaps indicative of the audience.
If i were a MMO developer i would judge it on a simple criterium, the bottom line, did we make money? I read somewhere that Trion spent about 50 million on making Rift and developing server structures. They also announced they had 1 million "accounts" (whatever that may mean), if these are paying customers Trion are already a long way in making a profit. I once predicted 4 million subscribers for WAR so i wont be making any predictions for Rift..:) If you can make a tidy profit with an MMO which only lasts a few months, why not. The sustainability of WOW is probably best considered a fluke.
if they spent as little as 50M, they'll break even quite soon. What will matter is the subscription amounts against the running costs (servers, bandwidth, salaries, marketing...)
Sorry guys, but 50$ per box does not equal 50$ for Trion. More like 20$ for Trion, rest is eaten up by the distribution.
Good news then, it's 60€ (not $), and a higher margin, because of numerical downloads. From the number of turtles i see, 50% of players did buy the collector edition.
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