April 9, 2010 at 2:40 am | Posted in free to play, mmorpg | 3 Comments
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numb3rsNo not the sub-par CBS drama about a mathematician who solves crimes, I’m talking about the number of players all those MMO companies claim to have. For some reason they put a lot of work into convincing us they have a certain number of players. I guess they don’t want to look like failures in the eyes of potential customers.

Unfortunately, this leads to a lot of misinformation. To appear as though they’re doing better than they are, or to get a mention on various MMO websites, they pad those numbers to a ridiculous extent. They count the number of registered accounts, regardless of how many are real people there are. They count hits on their homepage, fans on their facebook, tweet followers, numbers of mobs killed, bosses killed, and stuff done. As long as it’s a big number and they can misrepresent it in some way, they write up a press release and get it out there.

Runes of Magic for instance, claims to have 3 million registered users. The problem with this is, there’s no limit to how many times you can register. Gold sellers love free-to-play games because of this feature. Instead of paying for a new box after you get banned, or hacking someones account, just register for a new hotmail address and go. How many are gold sellers alone? There’s also a long standing tradition in RoM of registering dozens of accounts to farm cash shop items. Dozens per person.

I don’t believe for a second there are 3 million active users. The forums in America are dead, the American PvP servers are highly under-populated. I can believe there’s plenty of players, but 4 solidly populated servers in America doesn’t scream giant success to me. A solid money maker for them surely, especially considering Europe, where it seems about twice as popular, but does that translate into 3 million people?

There’s a whole other post to be written about how Bioware says Star Wars: The Old Republic needs 2 million subscribers to succeed and 1 million to break even. How much revenue do those millions of Chinese World of Warcraft players really bring in? Not to mention guess work at the current populations of the most popular western games, but I’ll stick to generalities and wild numbers.

I was reading Heartlessgamer and he pointed over to this article on massively. 197 million registered users. Way to go Dungeon Fighter Online! That’s really good for a game that is only available in South Korea, China, and Japan.

Heartless and commenters on the actual post did the math, so I’m just repeating them here when I say, “Lets take a closer look at that article shall we?” 197 million people have killed 1.6 billion monsters. That’s around 8 monsters per character.

Here’s some math I did on my own. Japan has a population of about 130 million, South Korea is at about 50 million, and only about 400 million Chinese have internet access. Here is how Nexcom would tell it. “THIRD OF ALL ASIANS ARE PLAYING DUNGEON FIGHTER ONLINE!@#

Thing is, when you register for any Nexcom game, you register for DFO as well. So if you’re registering your 50th account to sell gold in Maplestory or Mabinogi, you must be one of those 197 million DFO players.

In truth, Dungeon Fighter Online is a very popular game, it’s televised in Korea, and it wouldn’t be coming to America if it was a failure. Why do they falsely publicize their numbers then? Because they can.

Massively doesn’t exactly question anything they’re sent. I believe Justin Olivetti is Syp from Biobreak, and I hold nothing against him or anyone else at massively for making a living and posting these stories (far from the first and won’t be the last) but I am getting sick of it.

It’s an unfair comparison, but isn’t this why CNN is unpopular? They interview people and don’t question them on their crazy assertions, they report on non-stories, celebrity stories, instead of questioning what they’re presented with and providing informed critique about actual news.

Informed critique, that’s all I’m asking for. Go ahead and post whatever ridiculous number they want you to post, it’s your job to maintain a positive relationship with the people you’re reporting on. Is it at the cost of any kind of integrity?

Furthermore if these kinds of posts aren’t looked at with a level head, their next press release will be just as brazen or more so. They already seem to have the idea they can announce whatever they want and any generic MMO site will repeat it.

This whole post isn’t because I hate Nexom, it’s because I read Massively and would prefer to respect them rather than categorize them as irrelevant.


  1. Problem is, many companies really don’t want to tell the public real their numbers, probably because they’re nothing impressive to brag about. As you can see, if they do reveal their numbers, it’s always an inflated and not-entirely-accurate version. Even if MMO news sites like Massively decided to question them, I doubt they’d be getting anywhere, no matter how much they poked and prodded.

    Anyway, here is where I talk about Cryptic and the harebrained decisions they’ve made in the past, but say what you will about them, at least they come clean with their figures. Remember that 1,000,000 accounts comment? People questioned and Cryptic immediately clarified.

    • yeah that’s true i suppose. out of all mmo companies blizzard. cryptic and possibly CCP are probably the only ones who release some accurate information, even if it doesn’t tell the whole story.

      • That and I think those numbers are something for their companies to be proud of, so no problems with releasing them since they can only make their game look good LOL

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