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A Look At the Growth of MMOs In 2008

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the world-of-evertabconanhammer-online dept.

Role Playing (Games) 122

Zonk writes with news of a collaboration between Massively and GamerDNA to analyze the state of MMO player bases for 2008. Sifting through the data brought out several interesting trends. For example, Age of Conan took a substantial hit when Warhammer arrived on the scene, but none of the other major MMOs were significantly affected. Also, it seems Lord of the Rings: Online got a big shot in the arm from its Mines of Moria expansion — even moreso than World of Warcraft from Wrath of the Lich King, relatively speaking. The article also asserts the following about the recently-canceled Tabula Rasa: "... until the cancellation announcement in November, numbers were trending in the right direction, however slightly. Players were growing more interested in the sci fi MMO shooter, and logins were on the rise. If its development had not been so long, so expensive, and so vastly overhyped and mismarketed, this title could have been left alone to find its legs and found some small measure of success in a long tail environment akin to the Sony Station Pass."

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Funny to see (3, Interesting)

Aranykai (1053846) | more than 5 years ago | (#26278309)

I think its quite amusing to see exactly how bad AoC failed. Just wish I could say I wasn't one of the people who fell for the hype and bought it on release.

Re:Funny to see (0, Offtopic)

Francais Troll (1442059) | more than 5 years ago | (#26278321)

Je pense que les MMORPG ne sont rien de plus qu'une perte de temps épique. Je les éviter comme la peste l'assassinat des enfants qui ils sont.

Re:Funny to see (1, Redundant)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#26278375)

I think that the MMORPG are nothing more qu' a epic waste of time. I to avoid them like the plague l' assassination of the children who they are

How can they be wasting your time if you avoid them?

Re:Funny to see (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26278441)

A better translation would be:

I think MMORPGs are nothing more than an epic waste of time. I avoid them like the child-killing plague that they are.

Re:Funny to see (-1, Troll)

bigblacknigger (1440657) | more than 5 years ago | (#26278805)

DAMNIT, my first-gen Zune just died!

Re:Funny to see (0, Troll)

Erie Ed (1254426) | more than 5 years ago | (#26280223)

sad this is that this comment really isn't a troll

Lot harder to sense trolling in non-mother lang. (-1, Redundant)

Mathinker (909784) | more than 5 years ago | (#26278379)

While reading that post (and I understand French fairly well) it suddenly hit me, hard, how I suddenly felt like I had totally lost several of my meta-senses (e.g., the ones which sense trolling and sarcasm). On the other hand, it seems to me that there are a few errors in the French, also --- is this troll really really a native French speaker? (Not that that would have helped me, I think).

Re:Lot harder to sense trolling in non-mother lang (1)

Edzilla2000 (1261030) | more than 5 years ago | (#26278917)

Yeah, the french in that post is fairly bad. I'd say it comes from some translation engine. (I'm french)

Re:Lot harder to sense trolling in non-mother lang (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26279015)

... or some kid.

Re:Lot harder to sense trolling in non-mother lang (1)

Angeliqe (1390757) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279671)

(I know, off topic) If you take "I think MMORPGs are nothing more than an epic waste of time. I avoid them like the child-killing plague that they are." and put it into google French->English, you get exactly what Francais Troll posted. The name also gives you an idea of what he is. :) The key to translation engines is not to use idioms and keep the wording as simple as possible. For example, taking the horrible French translation and setting it to French->English in google, you get "I think MMORPGs are nothing more than a waste of time epic. I avoid them like the plague killing of children who they are." That should give the pure English speaking people an idea of how bad the French is.

Re:Funny to see (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26278385)

Pourquoi ce poste a été modérée en panne? C'est une honte que les Slashdot modérateurs ont des préjugés envers le peuple français.

Re:Funny to see (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26278511)

Ahhh vai tomar no seu cu frances filho da puta!

Re:Funny to see (1)

Francais Troll (1442059) | more than 5 years ago | (#26278607)

Comment le cas, vous vous battez comme une vache.

Re:Funny to see (1)

db10 (740174) | more than 5 years ago | (#26280741)

je m'appelle jean luc picard de bateau l'etoile enterprise! Engage!

Tip to all Arabs around the world (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26278553)

If your next door neighbor has aircraft with guns and bombs and you don't, DO NOT pick a fit with your neighbor !!

Re:Tip to all Arabs around the world (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26278733)

Pick a what you idiot American bastard?

Re:Funny to see (1)

Saysys (976276) | more than 5 years ago | (#26278697)

As in any market there are "needs" that are being filled. The need for a hobby extends well past games and games extend well past MMOS.

That said the particular desire for a hobby MMO with a PvP focus is served quite well by Age of Conan... the only problem is WHoL fills the exact same need and desire a bit better.

PVP focus (1)

boarder (41071) | more than 5 years ago | (#26281879)

AOC has absolutely the most fun combat mechanic of any MMO I've played. It was an interesting experiment in social gaming to have free for all PVP, as well. The problem AOC had was it didn't have a good mechanic for leveling up besides PVE, and PVE was completely ignored by the dev team after around lvl 60. There were no instances and no quests for me to do at lvl 64, so I quit the game. The instances they had pre-60 were pretty awful anyway, so I didn't hold much hope. They did so many things right (PVP was level independent with no +hit and no resists, you could apprentice a lower level player so they could play higher level content with you, separate bag for quest items, fast travel options), but with no content but grinding I had to quit the game.

WAR is a great game that allows leveling purely through PVP, has a solid combat mechanic, has a wealth of content for both PVP and PVE (except for a major lack of instances), and decent fast travel options. Their crafting is so unbelievably awful, though, and the timing of the game meant the WoW expansion took all the players out of the game.

Re:Funny to see (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26279249)

I remember shortly before launch, a couple of jokers from AoC beta were running around Guild Wars fansites insulting all the players and basically claiming that if they didn't switch to AoC they were just little kids playing kiddie games and they would soon by left behind as AoC crushed all the competition and took all the other players from other MMOs.

I don't know how widespread that behavior was on other sites or game forums, but it immediately shut down any interest I had at the time in the game. Now, when I think AoC, I basically think of a bunch of pimply CS:S rejects yelling racial slurs at each other and trying to keep their braces from getting caught in the little foam covers on their microphones.

Re:Funny to see (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26279569)

It's also quite amusing to see all the rampant exploiting rebuilding interest in the game ... I swear the game is more fun now that you can trade no-trade items and solo T1 and T2 instances. Funcom really needs to learn how to write code. Eventually they will catch on now that people are starting to abuse the same bugs in PVP and everyone is reporting each other, but it was fun while it lasted.

I really need to FRAPS this before it goes away.

Massive growth (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26278373)

Bigger than this [goatse.fr] .

Niggers did 9/11.

With all the failing MMOs on this chart (2)

ZeroSerenity (923363) | more than 5 years ago | (#26278387)

Why does nobody post statistics for Final Fantasy XI? Seriously. The game still kicks with over 500,000 subscribers according to the last census and in this list are at least three MMOs probably doing nowhere near that lately.

Re:With all the failing MMOs on this chart (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26278429)

Yes, but how many of those are chinese farmers trying to sell in-game money to the 4 americans that play?

Re:With all the failing MMOs on this chart (2, Informative)

ZeroSerenity (923363) | more than 5 years ago | (#26278437)

Practicaly ziltch thanks to the STF. The kind of people that ban about 3,000 RMT a week.

Re:With all the failing MMOs on this chart (5, Funny)

ubrgeek (679399) | more than 5 years ago | (#26278569)

> Why does nobody post statistics for Final Fantasy XI?

Because just like in the game, it takes too long to travel from the article to the statistics.

Re:With all the failing MMOs on this chart (2, Insightful)

falcon5768 (629591) | more than 5 years ago | (#26278869)

The charts from them are extremely American centric. I would just chalk it up to a western bias and have it at that.

Re:With all the failing MMOs on this chart (4, Insightful)

Talderas (1212466) | more than 5 years ago | (#26278961)

Honestly, I'll give FFXI kudos for staying alive all this time, but personally I found that requiring players to party in groups of 6 to level up was a bad idea. When you can log in, and want to be leveling dragoon, then sit at the zone entrance with your looking for party tag up for 30-60 minutes before you get a message for a party invite, then travel out to the party only to have it disband after 1 kill. Yeah that's pretty dumb.

FFXI major flaw, in my humble opinion, was the inability to do anything on your own if you wanted to. There is no progressing your character if you can't find a group.

Re:With all the failing MMOs on this chart (1)

LandDolphin (1202876) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279713)

Had the same problem with DDO. TO compelte many of the instances you had to have a complete group. No fun to stand around LFG.

Re:With all the failing MMOs on this chart (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26279925)

This isn't such a big deal now considering they recently implemented the Fields of Valour addition which assists lower to middle level players in leveling up. What previously could've taken the average player say, a week to get to level 20, it merely takes a few good days of play time.

I use myself as an example, rather then the typical 6-person party, I grouped with one other person at level 1, and we worked our way up duo without the hassle of finding 4 more members to join the group.

Re:With all the failing MMOs on this chart (2, Informative)

b1t r0t (216468) | more than 5 years ago | (#26280465)

How many expansions and updates ago did you stop playing?

First of all, there are the constant campaign battles from WotG (and the infrequent Besieged battles from ToAU) which work rather like a "group solo" kind of play, though mostly intended for level 60+. Then there was the introduction of Level Sync back in September, which meant that you weren't endlessly LFG just because nobody wanted your level range (FFXI needs a tight level range in a party to get decent XP). At the same time, they increased XP for "easy prey" monsters, making them worth soloing for the squishier jobs that couldn't handle even the "decent challenge" monsters. And, as someone else has mentioned, they just added Fields of Valor, which gives you extra XP for killing a certain number monsters from a list (one set per hour), most of which can be done solo, and being 5+ levels above the "recommended" range doesn't nerf the bonus XP.

Also, while it may be difficult for many jobs to solo many monsters without perfect gear and weapon/magic skills capped from a previously leveled job, duos and trios work very well for many jobs. Duo blue mage can really kick some ass.

And then, of course, there's the whole point of why you apparently could never find people to party up with from a linkshell. Though admittedly this was much harder before Level Sync, it would still have been easier to find a duo or trio in a linkshell. There's more to leveling up than forming a party of 6 and going to the same overcamped areas that everyone else does. And there's also crafting, which is very solo. I have as much fun playing the economic game as anything else.

Thanks to the campaign battles and Besieged (both of which favor white mages at levels much lower than every else), I've been mostly soloing white mage as my first job, up to 61 so far. Experience points for healing FTW. I turn down the random party invites I get with my LFG flag off because guerilla healing in campaign battles is much more fun than sitting in the back row in trying to keep people alive, while trying to not attract the monster's attention by healing too much, lest it come back and smack me down. And WotG areas are much nicer looking than the infinte mud and shrubbery of ToAU areas.

Re:With all the failing MMOs on this chart (1)

Talderas (1212466) | more than 5 years ago | (#26280755)

I quit during Treasures. The problem with grouping with your LS is that your LS had to want to level jobs around your level. When you're stuck at lv30 something and your LS is all trying to get lv60 ish leveling done, you're kind of SoL.

The thing is, adding new features to make it easier isn't likely going to attract old players back, it's going to make new players easier to integrate in and match up to the old players that still play.

Actually, the most intriguing leveling feature I've seen so far has been added in the newest issue of City of Heroes. It's called Leveling Pact, the system allows you and a friend to create new characters and have your XP be permanently in sync, whether both characters are online or not. You will always be the same level, even if your friend plays ten times more often than you do! It's sort of like "Extreme Sidekicking."

Essentially, you split all your experience rewards with your friend.

Re:With all the failing MMOs on this chart (2, Informative)

moose_hp (179683) | more than 5 years ago | (#26283565)

Level sync was introduced a couple updates ago, it basicly makes you able to sync down all your party (2 to 6 members, I never tried on alliance) to a level of one of them, even sync you down your weapon and equipment to fit the options for that level (which is great in rpinciple, but in reallitty is not that good, correct level equipment is usually better). You can basicly make a party from people with any level and just go level sync to the lowest member and have a good exp party.

Anyway, I havnet played in a month, work schedule and a new Wii may have something to do with it.

Re:With all the failing MMOs on this chart (2, Informative)

Psmylie (169236) | more than 5 years ago | (#26281131)

Ok, sorry, but I can't leave this one alone.

First of all, that was never true. The game never required you to level in a group of 6. It's just that the player base wasn't willing to try anything else, because they always insisted on fighting critters 5-10 levels higher than they were.

While I agree that, for most jobs, soloing to 75 was a task not worth contemplating (especially a few years ago) that doesn't mean that you needed six people to gain decent XP. Really, any damage dealer job + a healer job working together could duo their way up with little difficulty. Granted, a full party CAN be more efficient gaining XP, but I've actually had better xp gain in some duos and trios.

And there are jobs designed to solo as well. I'm not just talking about Beastmaster. You were actually on one of the jobs (Dragoon) that could solo pretty much from the beginning. Slap on a mage sub and go fight piercing-weak creatures like birds and crabs. I took Dragoon to 75, mostly solo, in a couple of months of casual leveling. With status bolts, Thief can level pretty easily to 75 solo. Red Mage and Black mage, also, by picking the right targets and using the nuke/sleep/bind method of killing. And these days, any melee job can solo indefinitely with a Dancer subjob.

In addition, SE has made solo play much easier, especially in the last year. XP rings, lowered XP requirements, boost to XP given by weaker enemies, Signet/Sigil XP bonuses given to parties of less than 6 players, and things like Campaign and the new Fields of Valor. I wouldn't say that FFXI is as solo-friendly as WoW, but these days, it sure isn't hard.

Now, most quests and missions, especially final missions, require a group. Nothing wrong with that. Those are epic fights.

Re:With all the failing MMOs on this chart (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26282807)

Square-Enix made the grave mistake of assuming that a player's interest in a massively-multiplayer online game would be to interact, cooperate, and compete with the other players. That's only because FFXI is ancient, though.

Today we realize that a player's interest in a massively-multiplayer online game is to solo and collect gear to show off to the other players.

While Square-Enix is making baby-steps in that direction (much too slowly for everyone's tastes, apparently), you'll find much quicker satisfaction in other (even free) MMOs.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to get back to the collective experience of FFXI before the collective part of it is all gone.

Unrepresentative sample (5, Insightful)

Andy_R (114137) | more than 5 years ago | (#26278451)

The sample of players used for this article (only GamerDNA members with profiles) is so skewed that the second biggest MMO of all (Runescape) doesn't feature in the article at all.

This is probably an excellent article if you are interested in what GamerDNA members are up to, but it's not very relevant outside that.

Re:Unrepresentative sample (1)

powerspike (729889) | more than 5 years ago | (#26278645)

While true, the question you should be asking is "was their sample big enough?"

because the other option is to get all the gaming companies to tell you directly, which well, isn't going to happen....

Re:Unrepresentative sample (1)

pjt33 (739471) | more than 5 years ago | (#26278943)

mmogchart.com seems to get some figures from the companies directly (and others from anonymous sources inside the companies). Unfortunately for the purposes of this discussion it doesn't seem to have been updated for months.

Re:Unrepresentative sample (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26279433)

Sample size doesn't help you if your sampling is biased. It is like trying to find out how much people in the US are male by making polls on porn sites. Even though you probably have a huge sample it just doesn't represent toe population very good.

Re:Unrepresentative sample (1)

Saint Gerbil (1155665) | more than 5 years ago | (#26278703)

The author acctually says that the increase in WOW''s share is probally not due to rising useage rather increase in GamerDNA registrations. He also said that GW has a higher than average users with GamerDNA.

so take it with a pince of salt.

It was quite interesting to me since I play WAR and was considering going back to WOW since the population is dwindling. Its intresting to see that it seems to be a bigger problem.

Re:Unrepresentative sample (1)

Pollardito (781263) | more than 5 years ago | (#26280529)

The author acctually says that the increase in WOW''s share is probally not due to rising useage rather increase in GamerDNA registrations. He also said that GW has a higher than average users with GamerDNA.

it's a she actually, the article is posted by Michael Zenke but it says at the top "Written by the highly talented Sanya Weathers", which perhaps ought to merit a mention that she worked at EA/Mythic for 6 years [linkedin.com]

Re:Unrepresentative sample (1)

Daisako (1165423) | more than 5 years ago | (#26278919)

I also feel that the market of MMOs is under represented, especially considering that none of the MMOs I have ever played are on that list (FF XI, Lineage 2, Ragnarok Online, Dream of Mirror... the list goes on) which means they are only looking at a sample of the market. I know Lineage 2 may not be extremely significant in America but I do know it is one of the more popular MMOs world wide. Of course their sample group is the group that was willing to go with the gamerDNA system.

Re:Unrepresentative sample (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26281493)

Don't forget Dungeon Runners [dungeonrunners.com] , I mean, if a game that has upwards of 400 users simultaneously online [dungeonrunners.com] can't get a mention, the list is essentially worthless.

Tabula Rasa failed ... but why? (4, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#26278705)

TR was a very interesting experiment. It offered a completely different and new gameplay (in terms of MMOs), it offered a kinda-sorta-FPS experience which created, at least in my opinion, a much better immersion experience than the various other MMOs. It had a good storyline that offered the player a little more freedom in his choices than the average MMO out there when it comes to quests. The quests themselves were usually a touch more interesting than the usual "kill X of Y" treadmill. It had a lot of new and exciting features that appealed to some people, so the question why it failed regardless should be asked.

Is it that people don't want any other gameplay than the usuall point-n-click style the usual MMOs offer? Now, I doubt that. I did a few interviews with people who played (some of which quitted), and usually the interface was either the feature that kept them playing for as long as they did, or at least they thought it was interesting. It never was the reason why people quitted.

It was the usual, people. It was the same reason why all the other failed MMO projects sunk.

1. Being barely beta quality. Frequent crashes, buggy quests, buggy skills, buggy everything. Until well into mid-2008, the game was barely playable.

2. Broken balance. Actually a subset of the first reason, but you can see long time successful MMOs fail when balance goes out the window. And for the longest time, balance was a huge problem for TR. Some classes could solo base attacks (something that should be "hard" in this game, akind to boss battles in normal MMOs), some classes could barely do equal level quests. Some classes would get fantastic rich without trying, some could barely afford their standard ammo. And so on.

3. Quick leveling and no endgame content. This straw actually broke the camel's back. It's trivially fast to get to top level in TR. An experienced player needs less than two weeks of more or less dedicated playing (faster even when he can start from a clone, a feature of the game that allows you to start at mid level under certain circumstances). And there isn't anything to be done when you're 50. No item harvesting, no boss runs, no nothing. You can just shelf your top level character and start over.

In my opinion, and from what I gather I'm not alone with this feeling, TR failed not because it dared to be different. If anything, this difference allowed the game to stay alive for as long as it did. The slow but steady increase in subscribers (until the announcement of its demise) showed that people did come back when the devs started to iron out the problems and add "stuff to do" for the top level players.

It's sad to see this game go. It's one of those things where you know it could've been great if they just hadn't committed the cardinal sins of MMO design.

Re:Tabula Rasa failed ... but why? (2, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#26278867)

Oh, I almost forgot another cardinal sin of TR: No sensible grouping. For the longest time, it was virtually impossible to heal sensibly because of targeting issues. Now it's "better", meaning that you're almost as successful when you heal as you are when you just continue firing and hope the mob dies first. Grouping mostly means that you split XP, not that you're actually able to get too many synergies. Which, in turn, is mostly also due to people being too used to playing solo simply because there is no compelling reason to do any sensible group play.

And, honestly, why bother paying monthly for a single player game?

Re:Tabula Rasa failed ... but why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26279653)

The shooter interface and apparent blend of MMO and FPS is why I tried Tabula Rasa, but I quickly realized that it was hardly any different from every other MMO. Instead of clicking on a bad guy to target them, you had to place a target reticule over them. Then everything else was exactly the same.

Re:Tabula Rasa failed ... but why? (1)

immcintosh (1089551) | more than 5 years ago | (#26282467)

Well, that's an interesting list, because it makes a kind of intuitive sense, but doesn't seem to actually pan out when you compare it to games that are successful. For example, when WoW was released, it was horrendously guilty of both #2 (as of 1 year ago when I quit it still wasn't balanced, but it was really bad in the beginning) and #3 (all of the big raids were added after release). Then again, it had so much polish that it avoided #1 and perhaps made up for it on that front.

On the other hand, RuneScape, easily one of the world's most popular MMOs, was extremely rough around the edges at first (and still is from a technical standpoint, although the core gameplay is well developed).

Which is all by way of saying, I don't think it's any one or two factors or qualities, but rather than whole gestalt of the experience that sees these games either float or sink.

Re:Tabula Rasa failed ... but why? (1)

hypergreatthing (254983) | more than 5 years ago | (#26282607)

It failed cuz it sucked ass. There was economy, the storyline was thrown together haphazardly (collect x,y,z runes, for no reason!). Customization was a joke, quests were boring.

Even the whole part of it being like a fps was a joke. Aiming doesn't matter for crap in that game, it was just select a target and smash fire in fps mode, or just turn on autoattack like in every other mmo. You could be facing the complete opposite direction and hit your target as well.

It was one of the most unpolished turds ever. I think conan sucked right after the starting zone, but TR just sucked overall.

Re:Tabula Rasa failed ... but why? (1)

S77IM (1371931) | more than 5 years ago | (#26282999)

Here are the main reasons I quit; I have anecdotal evidence to suggest they apply to others as well:

1. Lousy controls made the game inaccessible. (You allude to this in your self-reply about "No sensible grouping.") The controls were the sort of clunky memorize-15-different-keys system used by most MMOs, but the gameplay was the fast-paced and action-oriented fare we find on consoles. It was a poor match. I played to level 37, and spent the entire time wishing they had gamepad support. (You could hack it, but it was clunky.) I've talked to people who tried the game and barely got out of the tutorial zone because of the weird controls.

2. Hard to find decent people to group with! This is a lament of every MMO player, but some games make it easier to find good PUGs and guilds than others. TR's community support was shockingly bad. They're trying build up their player base to hit "critical mass" while competing with the WoW juggernaut, and all they have is an LFG channel? They didn't even have a message board system! Where is the Web 2.0? The only real difference between an MMO and a single-player game is the community. How many people played Oblivion for more than a few months? Not enough to support an MMO. The reason people play MMOs for years on end is to hang out with the other players. Tabula Rasa made it really easy to solo and really hard to find other players worth grouping with and once you were in a group the experience really wasn't much better than soloing.

It's a shame because TR was in many ways one of the best and most innovative games to come out lately. I feel like they dropped the ball at the last minute -- someone gave them a hard deadline and they cut too many corners towards the end.

Re:Tabula Rasa failed ... but why? (1)

Mojo66 (1131579) | more than 5 years ago | (#26283453)

Replace TR with AoC and the text would still be true.

mod SUp (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26278707)

Are you a NIGGER

MMOs are Hobbies and a great value. (1)

Saysys (976276) | more than 5 years ago | (#26278715)

Do you have a hobby that costs less than $20 a month?

Re:MMOs are Hobbies and a great value. (3, Funny)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#26278723)

TODO: insert masturbation joke here

Re:MMOs are Hobbies and a great value. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26278923)

MMOs are only cheap if your time has no value.

Except that's the whole purpose (5, Insightful)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279467)

Newsflash, buddy: the whole purpose of gaming is to waste some time in a pleasant way. Same as virtually any other hobby.

Yes, I know, people like to pretend that _their_ hobby is some great building skills... which they are only going to use the next time they do that hobby. Whether it's mountaineering, or going camping, or going out in the woods with a compass, or whatever, guess what? You're only going to use those skills at all the next time you go mountaineering, or camping, or going out in the woods with a compass. Chance to actually ever actually need to find your way in a city with a compass and/or by seeing which side of the tree has moss... zero. Actual RL value gotten out of it... zero. They too are just killing time in a more pleasant way than staring at the walls.

Or to quote Publilius Syrus: "Everything is worth what its purchaser will pay for it."

The whole "if your time has no value" only applies if you were, indeed, planning to sell it. Otherwise, without a purchaser actually paying for it, it has no value whatsoever. I.e., it applies if you were otherwise going to take a second job and get paid. (Self-employed crafting does count, but, again, if you were actually going to produce stuff you sell in that time.)

The same applies to installing Linux, OSS, and god knows where else that retarded meme pops up: only if you were going to otherwise get paid for doing something else in that time.

Were you? No? Then get a brain and find something more productive to do than repeating memes. It's only intelligence if you came up with it, not if you're the 1234567'th guy who parrots it verbatim.

Re:Except that's the whole purpose (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26281473)

Interesting perspective.

Here's a list of the hobbies I tend to engage in: exercising; gardening (mostly foodstuffs); cooking; writing software; making music; watching movies; reading; and the occasional video game - usually vocabulary-based ones, except for the Wii Fit or Wii Sports game at a friend's house. I would argue that most, if not all, of these hobbies provide something of value - health benefits, cost savings, building useful skills, broadening or informing one's perspective. Sitting around on your ass playing a MMO likely has a few benefits, but, barring those games being fundamentally different from when I was familiar with them, the benefits drop off quite quickly after the first few hours.

Even though I'm not a big fan of driving out somewhere to go walking in wilderness along with a bunch of other people, it at least provides some fitness benefit when you come back for your fortieth multi-hour-long session; coming back to the same MMO that many times is, as far as I can tell, just trying to whittling away the hours 'til you die.

Re:Except that's the whole purpose (1)

falcon5768 (629591) | more than 5 years ago | (#26281823)

and who is to say MMO players DONT do this as well?

I garden (well ok its a aerogarden being a apartment and all lol) go to the gym 4 times a week for 1+hours depending on the routine that day model, read, cook, clean my apartment, AND play FFXI about 2-3 hours a night. I hang out with friends, I go to work, have a wonderful wife who also games, and in general have no problems with things. So this idea that MMO players ONLY play MMOs needs to die. I am sure there are people like tha but in general all of them I know have NO issues in their lives if they are over the age of 21 and thus able to manage their time.

Re:Except that's the whole purpose (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26282501)

I didn't say that people who play MMOs don't do other things, or can't have other hobbies; that's completely beside my point. My previous post could have been talking about most dedicated sports fans instead of MMO players without much editing. I will add, though, that sports spectators are generally more accepted than MMO players, which isn't fair.

Except you still don't have a dollar value there (4, Interesting)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 5 years ago | (#26282703)

Here's a list of the hobbies I tend to engage in: exercising; gardening (mostly foodstuffs); cooking; writing software; making music; watching movies; reading; and the occasional video game - usually vocabulary-based ones, except for the Wii Fit or Wii Sports game at a friend's house. I would argue that most, if not all, of these hobbies provide something of value - health benefits, cost savings, building useful skills, broadening or informing one's perspective. Sitting around on your ass playing a MMO likely has a few benefits, but, barring those games being fundamentally different from when I was familiar with them, the benefits drop off quite quickly after the first few hours.

1. I think the keywords there, are "if not all." Unless you can tell me that _all_ your hobbies are chosen purely for utility value, then you too have some time simply "whittled away". Same as an MMO player, as falcon5768 was pointing out.

But, more importantly:

2. You still don't have a dollar value there, to make that silly "if your time is worth nothing" meme work in a topic about a $15 a month MMO subscription. Sure, you broadened your horizons, but what is the dollar value of that? Exactly how many more dollars will you be paid for those horizons, to make the comparison to MMO subscription costs?

Ok, you've learned some skills in walking in wilderness or in doing silly tricks with a Wii. How much will you be paid for those skills? Dollar value, please.

Cost savings? Exactly which of your hobbies save costs? Even the health ones, actually, according to recent health insurance data, it's the healthy, lean, non-smokers which cost the most money in treatments during their life time. Just because they live more and end up for 20 years on lots of expensive medicine at the end, while the obese smokers died earlier and cheaper. So in the long run, the dollar worth of that time is actually a negative one.

_That_ is the problem I have: that meme trying to shove some supposed "value of your time" in a discussion about _money_, _costs_, that kind of thing.

I could swallow other arguments about that time, like your health benefits above, but "if your time is worth nothing" is simply the awfully stupid thing there. Unless your whole day, from waking up to crashing back in bed, 7 days a week, 366 days a year, is spent doing _only_ paid stuff -- or heck, let's even include stuff which is arguably useful in some vague way, like in your argument above -- you too have some time which you whittled away, and its value was exactly zero. You too have time worth nothing.

3. If you still want to argue that, do you pick those pastimes to maximize utility per minute? Do you pick exactly which novel will broaden your horizons the most? Do you make an analysis of the benefits of 1 hour with the Wii vs 1 hour at the gym?

Because, if not, you too have more wasted time indirectly. If you need 6 hours with a Wii to get the same equivalent workout as 2 hours at the gym, then you effectively wasted 4 hours in achieving the same result. Same as buying a $20k car for $60k is a waste of $40k. You can do the same maths with time to achieve something, if your time is that valuable. So, really, if your time is worth that much as to judge other people's hobbies by it, why _do_ you waste it like that?

Or maybe, just maybe, we're coming back to the fact that the real purpose was to have fun, and the utility value is secondary at best.

Re:MMOs are Hobbies and a great value. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26282553)

They just think they could score with a hot elf chick.

Re:MMOs are Hobbies and a great value. (0, Troll)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 5 years ago | (#26278993)

Do you have a hobby that costs less than $20 a month?

I take it you're not including the $150/week you'll be paying your shrink in about 5 years when you realize that the obsessive/addictive disorder that's led you to become a complete recluse from the "real" world has forced you to seek help because you can't finish school/hold a job/maintain a healthy family life.

Sure, this may not be you, but it probably sounds like someone you know. Are they fun to play and use? Yup. Are they the best of hobbies that have great value in the end? Er, not really. More of a brain-disengaging time-killer if you ask me.

This is why I kind of prefer small FPS games instead. Need a quick break? Get in, FRAG, get out. Done.

Re:MMOs are Hobbies and a great value. (1)

CannedTurkey (920516) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279399)

If you've got an addictive personality, you'd be paying for that regardless. MMO's for me have supplanted TV and movie watching, which is far more brain-disengaging (if you ask me). As far as entertainment goes, they're pretty darn cheap.

Re:MMOs are Hobbies and a great value. (1)

LandDolphin (1202876) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279771)

More of a brain-disengaging time-killer if you ask me.

Kind of like TV then?

I take it you're not including the $150/week you'll be paying your shrink in about 5 years when you realize that the obsessive/addictive disorder that's led you to become a complete recluse from the "real" world has forced you to seek help because you can't finish school/hold a job/maintain a healthy family life.

This person you speak of sounds like they would have social issues no matter if they played mmo's or not. They are obviously looking for an out for life, instead of living it.

Hell, because of things like team speak and ventrillo, they are probably getting more social interaction because of playing MMO's then they would if they were not playing them.

Re:MMOs are Hobbies and a great value. (1)

LandDolphin (1202876) | more than 5 years ago | (#26280091)

Hmm. Might have to edit my sig to say "and now html errors too!"

Re:MMOs are Hobbies and a great value. (1)

Lightwarrior (73124) | more than 5 years ago | (#26280117)

"Are they the best of hobbies that have great value in the end?"

Out of curiosity, what are the best of hobbies that have great value in the end?

Re:MMOs are Hobbies and a great value. (1)

JakusMinimus (49854) | more than 5 years ago | (#26281767)

Out of curiosity, what are the best of hobbies that have great value in the end?

Making ass pennies [youtube.com] .

Re:MMOs are Hobbies and a great value. (1)

kv9 (697238) | more than 5 years ago | (#26280291)

... led you to become a complete recluse from the "real" world has forced you to seek help because you can't finish school/hold a job/maintain a healthy family life.

whenever I get any thoughts like that, I just shoot up some heroin and I'm OK again.

Re:MMOs are Hobbies and a great value. (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 5 years ago | (#26280573)

4 years into WoW - I'm playing around 12 hours per week right now, my social life is better than it's ever been, I got a promotion at work less than 6 months ago, and my credit score has improved quite a bit (up to 740 now). The reclusive gamer whose life was destroyed by an MMO is a tired stereotype that happens for more often in the mind of some self righteous complainers than it does in reality.

Re:MMOs are Hobbies and a great value. (1)

sou11ess (942999) | more than 5 years ago | (#26281645)

Seriously? You're gonna try and attach a $150 therapy bill to obsessively playing MMOs? You really think that's a likely outcome?

I would say you are far more likely to get injured doing a physical hobby and then you'd have to spend a lot more going to the doctor and then having to do physical therapy.

MMOs can be done in small breaks if you want to as well. I used to be a hardcore WoW person, but I experienced the whole "Why am I doing this still, I'm not having fun" and decided to stop. So I stopped playing, but then I started playing again because my wife still wanted to play. So I play with her now, maybe like once a week for an evening. We take it slow and I enjoy playing.

Re:MMOs are Hobbies and a great value. (1)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 5 years ago | (#26281989)

I don't have that problem. I play for a while, then get bored because you have to run everywhere unless you are level 40 or higher. Stupid arbitrary rule.

I also get tired of quests where you have to 387 critters just to get the 10 drops you need to complete the quest.

Re:MMOs are Hobbies and a great value. (1)

LMacG (118321) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279327)

Yep. Photography. And since the camera I'm using was a gift, there wasn't even an initial cost. Oh, and sometimes I even make a little practicing my hobby.

Re:MMOs are Hobbies and a great value. (1)

falcon5768 (629591) | more than 5 years ago | (#26281749)

but I am sure you have bought batteries, memory cards or film, case, lenses other than your initial one, transportation costs to go to the places you do, print being made etc. Average that out and see what you get.

Re:MMOs are Hobbies and a great value. (1)

falcon5768 (629591) | more than 5 years ago | (#26281709)

Well my modeling hobby costs WELL more than 20 a month when you average i out. Just building my Enterprise refit alone will be costing me around 100-300 dollars depending on how cheap I can get some of the chips for the lights and other parts, not to mention paint, airbrush supplies, and a few other parts I need. So really thats a bullshit comment because EVERYONES hobbies cost them something, be it in a sporting item, gas for travel, maybe paint paintball gun and safety device. Etc.

Statisticians, avert your eyes... (1)

Snufu (1049644) | more than 5 years ago | (#26278717)

The gesture is appreciated, and some real analysis/comparison of game populations would be genuinely useful to the consumer. But this article is another example that registering a domain does not make one a professional journalist, or market analyst in this case.

There is a reason companies do not publish MMO subscriber numbers, and when forced to do so for shareholders liberally inflate the true count. The article cites xfire as their data source. I've been playing Warhammer since launch. This is my first MMO and I had never even heard of xfire before reading the article. The sampling methodology is not described. And what is the x axis in those handy graphs? Bunnies eaten?

Ultima Online. (3, Informative)

Grimbleton (1034446) | more than 5 years ago | (#26278809)

Hey, it's still hanging in there! Don't forget the granddaddy of MMOs!

Re:Ultima Online. (1)

kindbud (90044) | more than 5 years ago | (#26280839)

You young whippersnappers crack me up.

http://meridian59.neardeathstudios.com/ [neardeathstudios.com]

That's the great-grand-daddy of (graphical) MMO games, still up and running after 15 years.

Re:Ultima Online. (1)

kindbud (90044) | more than 5 years ago | (#26280891)

OK, 12 years. My bad.

Re:Ultima Online. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26280985)

Don't forget the granddaddy of MMOs!

You must mean Meridian 59? Which is older than UO and also still running.

Re:Ultima Online. (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 5 years ago | (#26283617)

Which is actually astonishing to me - UO has had so many "here, hold my beer and watch this" moments, I'm surprised it continues to survive and thrive.

Me? I finally abandoned Moonglow for Paragon City and have never looked back.

Did they count.. (2, Insightful)

Thyamine (531612) | more than 5 years ago | (#26278903)

Did they figure in me canceling my WoW account twice? I'm not sure how that counts, except in my loss of sanity. I need a new MMORPG so that when I start the inevitable grind I don't feel like I've done it 500 times before. Unfortunately, few of them seem to have native OS X clients.

Re:Did they count.. (1)

Talderas (1212466) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279041)

Have you tried City of Heroes/Villains?

The amount of customization they throw at you for your character (character model not included in this) is staggering.

For example, with just 10 character classes (5 heroes, 5 villains), there's 1150 different possible Lv1 characters. Halve that number for the possible number of primary/secondary power set combinations. You'd need a mathematician to figure out how many unique characters can be made with their system once you factor in ancillary powers and the lv40 power sets that become available.

I have a friend who had a lot of low level characters because of that level of flexibility.

Re:Did they count.. (1)

Hausenwulf (956554) | more than 5 years ago | (#26281467)

I'm going to wait for Champions Online. The guys doing that are the same guys that did CoH/CoV, only this time they get to do what they wanted to do from the beginning, create a game based on the Champions rpg.

Re:Did they count.. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26283339)

I had the opportunity to play Champions Online at GenCon.

Don't waste your time on it.

Re:Did they count.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26284025)

Out of curiosity, how many of those combinations are actually viable? I mean, Final Fantasy XI has 20 different character classes, and the job/sub-job system means that you could have 380 different job combinations (1900 combinations when you include race), but probably about 80% of those job combinations will get you laughed out of any decent party...

Re:Did they count.. (2, Informative)

cthulu_mt (1124113) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279079)

EVE Online will run on OS X and Linux.

Re:Did they count.. (1)

bastion_xx (233612) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279469)

...like crap (under OS X). CCP should be lauded for having a 'native' client (albeit under WINE), but the last 6 months under both Empreayn Age and Quantum Rising have horrible graphics bugs.

Oh, and the current "quit game" works, but "log out" doesn't.

Still a great game with different aspects than WoW and similar ilk.

Re:Did they count.. (1)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 5 years ago | (#26282247)

I'm not sure I'd call what it does on OSX "running." Its windows emulation is so good it crashes once every hour or two. Don't expect to be able to PvP effectively or tank for a corporation with the OSX client. Also you have to log out of OSX and back in after you quit the game. The cedega client lingers like herpes once you exit the game, and will cause your system to be very unstable unless you logout to clear it from memory completely.

I know I should be thankful that it works under the OS at all, but after playing with Blizzard's flawless game client, the EvE support is a real disappointment.

Re:Did they count.. (1)

Andy_R (114137) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279885)

While we are still waiting for the first decent iPhone MMPORG, which will quickly dominate the world, I suggest giving Runescape a go.

While it's traditionally been thought of as a kids browser game with shoddy graphics, it's starting to grow up a lot, especially the high level content - there are jokes in 1 recent quest that you wouldn't get unless you know Brecht's Threepenny Opera for example.

It runs in any Java equipped browser, and the recent addition of a full-screen mode with graphics accelleration means that on a fast machine with a decent graphics card and all the options turned on, it looks great these days - not quite up to WoW quality, but then again it's about 1/3 the price to subscribe, with no initial outlay and no paid expansions.

The best thing about it is that updates are very frequent, there is new content at least twice a month, often in the form of large and complex quests, full of detail and humour. There is a lot of milage in the free (ad-sponsored) version before you get to the point where you really have to make the decision to pay for the full game or not. Just turn chat off when you start to filter out the 8-year-olds and beggars, and you might have a lot of fun. Search out the more adult-oriented forums for advice and guides (I recommend truthscape for grown-up game discussion and sal's realm of runescape for guides).

Re:Did they count.. (1)

Ocker3 (1232550) | more than 5 years ago | (#26281355)

World War II Online (www.playnet.com) is a Really sweet World War II (really!) MMOFPS, 1/3rd scale map of western europe, very realistic damage models, been going for 7 years now, and they Do have a native Mac client, it works fine (they've even had a poll about a Linux client). They're having a promo deal right now, I can send you a free 2 month trial (no credit card details necessary). I'm a huge fan, if you're interested, reply and we'll work out a way to exchange e-mails.

Re:Did they count.. (1)

TibbonZero (571809) | more than 5 years ago | (#26281801)

Your account isn't counted twice. Blizzard might count your account twice (I still wonder about that 11.5M 'users'), but not GamerDNA. These numbers are mostly counted from Xfire data, and partially from WoW Armory data. Its counting if you actually played, not if you registered an account.

Also, all numbers are from 'actual' measurement, not estimates of what the larger population is doing. You can potentially make assumptions about what the larger population is doing, but there is little/no error in the measurement of what is actually happening here among GamerDNA users. As there are more, and more diverse, GamerDNA users then there will be more accurate data.

Disclaimer:I work for GamerDNA

Maybe it's because of DRM full me-too games (3, Insightful)

Aceticon (140883) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279013)

I think part of the reason why MMORPGs continue to increase in popularity in the PC gaming space is that latest crop of non MMO games is composed mostly of "me-too" titles (games based on previously successful games) and ultra-extreme-DRM filled games (which often won't run because of the DRM or even make your PC unstable because the install buggy drivers).

Personally in the last year I went back to MMORPGs (in the past I used to play EVE-Online and WoW) with LOTRO because I felt that most newer PC games were too simple, too much alike games I had played to death already and/or too risky to install (due to their rootkit-like DRM and the instability problems that often come with it).

Successful MMORPGs like LOTRO and WoW have a huge value for money to gamers because their content is enormous (they're huge virtual worlds) they support multiple playing forms (PvP, solo PvE, cooperative PvE) and they keep getting expanded: to keep people playing and paying their monthly fees, games with a PvE side must continuously expand with new areas/items.

About LOTRO:
Before Mines of Moria, LOTRO was indeed getting a bit stale and the number of players online at any time was dwindling. This was visible both in PvE and PvP.

Immediately when MoM came out the number of players online increased a lot (doubled or tripled). At the moment most people are more or less done with exploring the new areas and are starting to do mostly group instances to acquire the necessary kit to go do the single new Raid area that came with MoM (most LOTRO players are casual players, hence the number of power-players that went trough all the new content in 2 or 3 weeks is very low).

To keep momentum going more content will have to start being released in the next month or two (Turbine, the makers of the game, usually release free expansions - "books" - about once every 2 months). As pointed above, the continued success of a MMORPG depends a lot on keeping a steady stream of new content coming out to keep players playing (and paying).

EVE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26279535)

Sheesh, Nobody notice the 200% growth rate of EVE Online?

I'd figure that's comment-worthy.

Re:EVE (1)

cbhacking (979169) | more than 5 years ago | (#26285019)

TFA mentions it at some length, but only on the second page. It was rather shocking, though... Empyrean Age is a great expansion, having the game be available through Steam probably helped, etc, but I still hadn't expected such meteoric growth. It could just be a statistical anomaly - I certainly haven't seen a tripling in number of players online when I log on (it has been trending upward, but not nearly so fast). They also did (just recently) ban a number of very wealthy and influential (in-game) players for massive exploits, which may cost them a few logins from those individuals but also open up power vacuum for those who want the corporations they used to lead, or the space that those corporations can no longer afford to hold.

WaW (1)

speroni (1258316) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279733)

I know its not really an MMO, but sometimes I think of it as a Mini-MMO (MMMO or MO?)

Anyway Call of Duty 4 and Call of Duty World at War both have great online play. Its a FPS but as you get kills you gain XP and you level up an unlock perks and new weapons.

Also its cool because you don't have to have a huge time investment at any given time. You can sign in, kill stuff, get some XP and be on your merry way.

Re:WaW (1)

Samah (729132) | more than 5 years ago | (#26281811)

Anyway Call of Duty 4 and Call of Duty World at War both have great online play. Its a FPS but as you get kills you gain XP and you level up an unlock perks and new weapons.

Except for that fact that (with CoD4 at least) your rank is stored client side so you can just go and manually make yourself rank 50 or whatever the max was (I haven't played it in ages).

WAR is niche MMO (1)

Jeez01 (1442147) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279779)

WAR had a good start but its shine has worn off Due to faction imbalance Races/Classes do not look that good compared to Destruction counterparts this was major mistake. Mythic believed that people will mostly choose the Good guys rather than going for coolness factor like you saw in WoW but forgot that reason why most people choose Alliance pre BC was because it was the pretty race :p not because they were the good guys. -As a result RvR is pretty broke in servers like Ironfist, Dest. zerg pretty much takes most keep easily as a result none of Order players even bother defending or taking Keeps during active server time. And simply cap everything at 4 am to 10 am. So much for RvR... The game lacks in PvE content. -Most people just queue up for scens over and over again rather than do any PQ or even RvR to level. -Crafting is non exsistant. -Aldorf and Inevitable city are a dead zone as a result there is very little social aspect to that game. Heck it took them 2 months just to fix the chat even though i noted that issue in beta (Too many chat channels within even one region).

Re:WAR is niche MMO (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26280455)

I disagree. I think the classes are rather well balanced for an initial launch and even more so after the last patch. I've made a point of playing different classes, primarily the so called overpowered ones, and I've concluded that, for the most part, a skilled player can typically win 1v1 regardless of class and a coordinated group can win regardless of group composition.

As far as faction imbalance, Magnus has pretty active open RVR where players will actually defend keeps (a lot of this had to do with the fact that many players are only now becoming aware of the superior influence you get for defending versus taking keeps).

Perhaps it is a niche MMO, but for me WAR solved the majority of the problems that caused me to leave WOW.

Re:WAR is niche MMO (1)

Tridus (79566) | more than 5 years ago | (#26281239)

Facton imbalance is a cosntant problem when wide open PvP is supposed to be the goal. It happens in every game. If they don't do something to force the populations to be balanced, you will find some server where the game is totally broken over it.

They really should instance stuff so they can enforce population limits on the fights. You might have to wait in line to get in, but that beats a 200 vs 35 battle.

Missed one of the biggest games (1)

NineNine (235196) | more than 5 years ago | (#26280235)

Nice article, but they missed one of the biggest MMOG's in the world (and one of the older ones, as well): Ogame [ogame.org] !

Re:Missed one of the biggest games (1)

TibbonZero (571809) | more than 5 years ago | (#26281861)

(Most) browser based games aren't tracked currently. This will likely change in the future, but for the moment most MMO tracking comes from data feeds from the companies (WoW Armory) and Xfire data. Other sources such as Xbox Live and Steam are also supported.

Disclaimer:I work for GamerDNA.

Still Waiting for a MMORGY (3, Funny)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 5 years ago | (#26282339)

I mean other than Second Life. I'm sure the first graphical MMORGY will make a BILLION dollars. No questing (Just grinding,) top: level 69, armor choices: leather or latex. Weapon choices, whips or riding crops. Oh yeah!
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