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Salient shortcomings from Oct 2011, why Funcom thought TSW was ready, and guesstimate player numbers

AborAbor Denver, COPosts: 59Member

http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2011/10/the-secret-world-mmorpg-absorbing-lore-wooden-characters/

  • "The game looks incredible"
  • "We know MMORPGs have sometimes gotten a pass when it comes to combat, and maybe the Filth don’t react because they’re undead, but multiple shotgun rounds at point-blank range to the face seem like they should register."
- Comic Con October 2011
 

Ars is a good aggregator of digital news and quite objective in their reporting IMO. Think of it as a more indepth Engadget. The initial impression from Ars foreshadows many negative reviews of the game at release. It's beautiful but combat seems lackluster. 

Moreover Funcom 2012 Quarter 2 Investor presentations gives a glimpse into the business minds at Funcom and why they might have potentially miscontrued and misused outdated metrics to gauge game interest. 

http://l3cdn.funcom.com/funcomportal/pdf/investor/2012/funcom_1Q12_presentation.pdf

  • "Currently well over 1 million gamers have signed up for the beta programs of The Secret World and the number is increasing rapidly. This is significantly higher than for Age of Conan before launch."
This doesn't matter. Ever since WoW lost it's luster people have been actively searching for the next big thing. Having a large beta userbase doesn't necessarily translate into active subscriptions. I think this is an outdate metric that cannot accurately measure retention. Look at SW:TOR for the second example. 
 
  • "The indicators on fun factor and retention for TSW are positive, based on the betaprograms. Login numbers among invited players, playtime and return visits are all significantly higher than for Age of Conan."

AoC garnered a lot of interest but Funcom dropped the ball when it came to keeping players interested. TSW seems slightly better but the same issues are popping up again. This seems more like a trend in which Funcom is blind to the game's faults due to perceived interest and enthusiasm. 

  • "A large number of press previews from press across the world have been published, with positive feedback centering on setting, story, graphics, content, dungeons and innovative role-play system."
This doesn't matter. If they have not played the game, everything is pure hype. A great idea for a movie does not necessarily translate into a great motion picture.
 
  • "Through beta surveys Funcom has gotten broad feedback....feedback is very positive...over 80% beta testers stated they would buy game." "But it may be that postively inclined players are more likely to reply to surveys."
Unrepresentative testers may have given them skewed statistics. Or, according to multiple players on forums, initial gameplay is fun but later gameplay and especially end-game aren't as polished. People in the beta have based their opinions on the most complete/polished areas and not the end-game content that determines the longevity of most MMORPGs.
 
Lastly if we look at Xfire statistics we can see a general trend in the player population which, unsurprisingly, correlates and corroborates peoples' experiences posted on both the official and non-official forums. The small sample size of xfire users playing TSW can be used to extropolate the general population numbers of the game. The same statistical manipulations are done when a 200 people phone call survey can be extrapolated to determine the general voting trends of a district +/- margins of error. 
 
 
One can see playtime is high at release which gradually diminishes. Based on that trend it was in Funcom's best interest to put on a free weekend to try to reverse the decline. But although the free weekend did enable a lot of people to try the game, the general trend continues. There is no reason to put on a free weekend when the last free-play time was less than 6 weeks prior, other than to reverse declining sales, subscription numbers, and waning interest. Once you release a new game, you've got to capitalize on the first wave as successive waves will always be less dramatic. 
 
Lastly I'll attempt a little fuzzy math to try to guesstimate the current TSW subscription population.
Xfire Stats for WoW = 11,382 players per day
SW:TOR = 1,416
TSW = 542
 
The current number of WoW worldwide is at 9.1 million subscribers as of Aug 2012, of which they stated most losses were from Asia.
 
Based on http://mmodata.blogspot.com/'s 2010 data, I'll guesstimate the current NA/Europe WoW numbers are around 4.9 million out of the total 9.1 million. I'll also assume that most Asian WoW players will not be using Xfire, thereby eliminating them from the calculation.
 
4,900,000/11,382 = 430.5 players are represented by one xfire user. 
Given this SW:TOR = 1,416 x 430.5 = 609,594 SW:TOR users.
 
We know SW:TOR has dipped below 1 million, but they have not given us the exact number. However we also know they stated in their earnings report that they were well above 500,000. So 600,000 is probably in the ballpark. Looking at the graphs from MMOData we might infer that general MMORPG numbers seem to logarithimcally increase upwards at release, then gradual tapering decline after an apex point. Based on that observation one can infer that SW:TOR West is hovering around 600-700k subscriptions, which is in the ballpark figure mentioned above. If another point was drawn on their graph for mid 2012, it would probably hover around these numbers. A more accruate estimate would be a line of best fit through multiple data points.  
 
TSW = 542 x 430.5 = 233,331. This could be a good reflection of the actual number of players playing. If you look back at Funcom's Q2 2012 Presentation you can see they wanted 490k subscribers but were prepared for a lackluster launch similar to AoC's. The AoC scenario outlined states 280k average subscriptions with a profit margin of 43%.
 
Yet the game is falling short even on that predictor. Moreover the only relatively postive review of TSW comes from MMORPG which also just so happens to have an ingame item you can redeem.
 
Additionally the reviewer, Suzie_Ford, calls the game "The Magum Opus" of Funcom but has seemingly scant posts related to the game in his/her post history. If you truely enjoyed the game as much as you say you do, wouldn't you contribute to its community more? Considering the website is used by enthusiasts from all over to research potential games I'd like to see more posts from him/her. 
 
In conclusion I think TSW is not meeting Funcom's expectations. People are rightfully upset because the game is not polished. It seems the game was released due to Funcom's unrealiable indicators of game interest; they thought the retention rate would be much higher than it actually is. The game will be patched and fixed, however it may be too late to regenerate interest in the game. Spending more time in development rather than releasing might have garnered a larger and more stable subscription base. Regardless Funcom is still making a profit even if subscriptions drop below 200k. I suspect as much as Funcom wanted to  avoid a repeat of the AoC imbroglio, it'll still happen, and that would be a sign that the company has certain habits it needs to break out of if it wants to avoid another future repeat with their next MMORPG. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Comments

  • NilenyaNilenya TMIPosts: 364Member Uncommon
    I enjoyed reading this. And your xfire correlations were interesting, although I still think the number represented is too high, because I doubt swtor has more than 500k users, but who knows.
  • oGMooGMo Seattle, WAPosts: 89Member


    Snipped long text in which facts are excused and numbers are invented.

    All I can say is that the servers have been packed since launch, they've added more since launch, and there are large crowds every time we're on. You can see a few hundred people standing around in Agartha alone, which rather belies the prior "fuzzy math".

  • KuppaKuppa Boulder, COPosts: 3,292Member Uncommon
    Im sure we will know the numbers soon enough. The only real data from all of that post is that xfire users have been playing it less and that the general xfire population for TSW is very small. The other things are more so opinions.

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  • Segun777Segun777 Jade Dynasty Correspondent Lemont, PAPosts: 97Member

    I don't like to rebut posts but lets just go easy here. MMORPG.com is not the only site that has reviewed TSW well. Ten Ton, Vandal, Strategy Informer, EGM, and lasty Gamestop did as well. Your post was midly informative but unfornately total wrong. Attacking a reviewer with that weak sauce is at best disingeous.

  • AborAbor Denver, COPosts: 59Member
    Originally posted by oGMo

     


    Snipped long text in which facts are excused and numbers are invented.

     

    All I can say is that the servers have been packed since launch, they've added more since launch, and there are large crowds every time we're on. You can see a few hundred people standing around in Agartha alone, which rather belies the prior "fuzzy math".

    I don't think 233,000 thousand players would represent depleted servers. 

  • bcbullybcbully Westland, MIPosts: 8,277Member Uncommon
    Xfire has not been recording for about 3 weeks. 
  • KuppaKuppa Boulder, COPosts: 3,292Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by bcbully
    Xfire has not been recording for about 3 weeks. 

    ???

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  • bcbullybcbully Westland, MIPosts: 8,277Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Kuppa
    Originally posted by bcbully
    Xfire has not been recording for about 3 weeks. 

    ???

    Yeah it's broke again for TSW.

  • AborAbor Denver, COPosts: 59Member
    Originally posted by bcbully
    Xfire has not been recording for about 3 weeks. 

    Is that why their graphs correlate and corroborate TSW activity before, during, and after the weekend event?

  • jdnycjdnyc Long Island City, NYPosts: 1,696Member

    EVE online started with 250k subs didn't it and has since grown to about 600k?

     

    I think anyone whom expected huge sub numbers from TSW is fooling themselves.  To begin with the game has been overshadowed and most advertising has been word-of-mouth.  /shrug

    I figured around 400k subs at best...thought 250k subs was possible for a niche game like this.

  • KuppaKuppa Boulder, COPosts: 3,292Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by bcbully
    Originally posted by Kuppa
    Originally posted by bcbully
    Xfire has not been recording for about 3 weeks. 

    ???

    Yeah it's broke again for TSW.

    There are stats for Aug 6 on that chart. You can even see the bump of the weekend event. Is there a link to what you are saying?

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  • bcbullybcbully Westland, MIPosts: 8,277Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Abor
    Originally posted by bcbully
    Xfire has not been recording for about 3 weeks. 

    Is that why their graphs correlate and corroborate TSW activity before, during, and after the weekend event?

    Not sure. I do know that previous users prior to this weeked and for about three weeks since one of the updates have not had their time recorded.

     

    I'm one of them.

  • BeansnBreadBeansnBread PshPosts: 5,501Member Uncommon

    Wasn't Bcbully saying August 8th was the day they will announce 750,000 subscriptions?

     

    Here it is.

    http://www.mmorpg.com/discussion2.cfm/post/5186772#5186772

     

    Where's the beef?

  • OrphesOrphes TrePosts: 3,048Member

    You just described all mmo's release. Just change some details and you can use the same text for the next game.

    I'm not sure that it is bad though that games don't garner more than 50' 123' or 230' subscribers in general after release.

     

    MMO's as fun as they are... they are not the end all game games. (Ehm)

     

    Because you are as it may seem so, you are not only on about making out as much negative spin as you can about Funcom (although well written).

     

    wb to mmorpg.com, cya next Funcom release?

    I'm so broke. I can't even pay attention.
    "You have the right not to be killed"

  • bcbullybcbully Westland, MIPosts: 8,277Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by colddog04
    Wasn't Bcbully saying August 8th was the day they will announce 750,000 subscriptions?

    28th I think it is.

     

    600-750k yeah that's what I think.

  • KuppaKuppa Boulder, COPosts: 3,292Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by jdnyc

    EVE online started with 250k subs didn't it and has since grown to about 600k?

     

    I think anyone whom expected huge sub numbers from TSW is fooling themselves.  To begin with the game has been overshadowed and most advertising has been word-of-mouth.  /shrug

    I figured around 400k subs at best...thought 250k subs was possible for a niche game like this.

    Eves got 600k subs?? can you link?

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  • jdnycjdnyc Long Island City, NYPosts: 1,696Member
    Originally posted by colddog04

    Wasn't Bcbully saying August 8th was the day they will announce 750,000 subscriptions?

     

    Where's the beef?

    Where would that number and date come from?  I haven't heard any indication of an announcement.

  • AborAbor Denver, COPosts: 59Member
    Originally posted by bcbully
    Originally posted by Abor
    Originally posted by bcbully
    Xfire has not been recording for about 3 weeks. 

    Is that why their graphs correlate and corroborate TSW activity before, during, and after the weekend event?

    Not sure. I do know that previous users prior to this weeked and for about three weeks since one of the updates have not had their time recorded.

     

    I'm one of them.

    Not to bash your experience but anecdotal evidence is at best, interesting at worst, misleading. 

  • bcbullybcbully Westland, MIPosts: 8,277Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by jdnyc
    Originally posted by colddog04

    Wasn't Bcbully saying August 8th was the day they will announce 750,000 subscriptions?

     

    Where's the beef?

    Where would that number and date come from?  I haven't heard any indication of an announcement.

    Investor relation Aug. 28th.

  • BeansnBreadBeansnBread PshPosts: 5,501Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by bcbully
    Originally posted by colddog04
    Wasn't Bcbully saying August 8th was the day they will announce 750,000 subscriptions?

    28th I think it is.

     

    600-750k yeah that's what I think.

    Well, you said the 8th.

    http://www.mmorpg.com/discussion2.cfm/post/5186772#5186772

     

    And then made a bet with Celcius over it.

  • KuppaKuppa Boulder, COPosts: 3,292Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by bcbully
    Originally posted by jdnyc
    Originally posted by colddog04

    Wasn't Bcbully saying August 8th was the day they will announce 750,000 subscriptions?

     

    Where's the beef?

    Where would that number and date come from?  I haven't heard any indication of an announcement.

    Investor relation Aug. 28th.

    And he had a post with his "guestimage" of 750k. Pretty far fecthed if you ask me though.

    I think they will vaguely say we have more than X amount no real numbers.

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  • jdnycjdnyc Long Island City, NYPosts: 1,696Member
    Originally posted by Kuppa
    Originally posted by jdnyc

    EVE online started with 250k subs didn't it and has since grown to about 600k?

     

    I think anyone whom expected huge sub numbers from TSW is fooling themselves.  To begin with the game has been overshadowed and most advertising has been word-of-mouth.  /shrug

    I figured around 400k subs at best...thought 250k subs was possible for a niche game like this.

    Eves got 600k subs?? can you link?

    You're right.  It's 400k.  Thought for sure I read somewhere that it was 600k.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eve_Online

  • bcbullybcbully Westland, MIPosts: 8,277Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by colddog04
    Originally posted by bcbully
    Originally posted by colddog04
    Wasn't Bcbully saying August 8th was the day they will announce 750,000 subscriptions?

    28th I think it is.

     

    600-750k yeah that's what I think.

    Well, you said the 8th.

    http://www.mmorpg.com/discussion2.cfm/post/5186772#5186772

     

    And then made a bet with Celcius over it.

    typo and the bet is in my sig. well what he said is there, if you call that a bet.

  • OrphesOrphes TrePosts: 3,048Member
    Originally posted by jdnyc

    EVE online started with 250k subs didn't it and has since grown to about 600k?

     

    I think anyone whom expected huge sub numbers from TSW is fooling themselves.  To begin with the game has been overshadowed and most advertising has been word-of-mouth.  /shrug

    I figured around 400k subs at best...thought 250k subs was possible for a niche game like this.

    EVE Online perhaps started with a 250 subs and have grown to a bit over 300 000. (Notice the lack of k for kilo.)

     

    Still why not move past the constant fixation at the tits, errr, subscription numbers.

    I'm so broke. I can't even pay attention.
    "You have the right not to be killed"

  • jdnycjdnyc Long Island City, NYPosts: 1,696Member
    Originally posted by Kuppa
     

    And he had a post with his "guestimage" of 750k. Pretty far fecthed if you ask me though.

    I think they will vaguely say we have more than X amount no real numbers.

    If it's that many, I would be so pumped and happy for them.

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