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While surfing some sites that monitor player activity for some information I was after, I noticed a worrying trend. It looked like all the AAA MMO's showed signs of decline in player activity. I did some comparisons with saved data I had, and yes, this seemed definitely the case:
- WoW showed an activity decrease of 40-50% compared to its Xfire and Raptr numbers in March of this year (18-20k players versus about 35k in Xfire)
- Aion, LotrO, GW, heck, even EVE showed a decline although not as much as some other MMO's.
- The worst was maybe Rift: where in March Rift in Xfire showed like 30k player hours/day at its peak and 5k players, to now barely 3k player hours/day and 600 players in Xfire. Raptr and Steam show a sortlike trend for Rift, albeit somewhat less drastic (a current 20% of Rift's launch month activity level in Raptr)
I did some cross verification to further check the data: overall Xfire activity showed a slight drop compared to earlier this year, but nothing that could justify such significant decline to those MMO's, also other games like LoL and MW series showed quite an increase in both Xfire as well as Raptr.
I also checked the Rift server list, even at peak times as good as all of them stay on medium setting, with a number of them never even changing from their Low status, and Low status for a Rift server has been shown to mean that the player population doesn't reach higher than 300-400 players logged in. A Rift server can have 403 players logged in and already get the Medium status, in other MMO's a Low status server usually still reaches 700-800 concurrent users at peak times. I also did some head counts in some servers of other MMO's, and the PCU figures (peak concurrent users) seem to show the same drop in player activity that Xfire and Raptr already showcased.
I can only conclude that across the board player activity and sub numbers for the main MMO's are in decline, even of the ones that seemed to do well, with maybe an exception for DCUO who has jumped to fairly high activity levels after its F2P move, at least for now.
This is even without any major AAA MMO title arriving on the scene for the past 6 months.
Which makes me wonder: if all those current MMO's show signs of decline now already, how will it be when SWTOR launches? And after SWTOR, followed up by a TSW, a Firefall, an ArcheAge, a GW2, a TERA, a Blade & Soul, and a Planetside 2 in 2012?
I think the MMO landscape will look radically different in its top segment at the end of 2012.
So, what do you people think? How much do you think the current MMO's will suffer in player activity and sub figures after SWTOR's launch and in the months that follow?
The ACTUAL size of MMORPG worlds: a comparison list between MMO's
The ease with which predictions are made on these forums:
Fratman: "I'm saying Spring 2012 at the earliest [for TOR release]. Anyone still clinging to 2011 is deluding themself at this point."