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Is the bad retention rate that new MMOs suffer from upon launch really new?

ozmonoozmono Not tellingPosts: 1,211Member

Some people like to predict doom and gloom and some even go so far to claim the genre is dead or about to die. Yet there are more people playing MMOs now than ever. The only validity I can see in such claims is the bad retention rates MMOs have when they launch. I've seen some figures and experienced first hand bad retention rates over the last couple of years but it dawned on me that it might not have ever been better. So did older games retain there playerbase any better in their first few months?

Comments

  • STAUDERWALKIESTAUDERWALKIE sinking sprung, PAPosts: 18Member
    Not sure there is a way to prove it between years ago and now tbh..but with the large influx of people into this marketplace over the last decade or so it's much easier to notice when people are leaving a game.  Percentage wise with "larger commercialized" worlds most of the time a zone/hub will become a ghost town, but there are a lot more game options than in the past so players are torn between products(ftp makes this harder for the consumer to decide to stay with just one product. Just my perspective there:)

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  • timtracktimtrack StockholmPosts: 414Member Uncommon

    Something is really wrong when having 50-100k paying costumers is considered bad.

  • LoktofeitLoktofeit Stone Mountain, GAPosts: 13,643Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by ozmono

    So did older games retain there playerbase any better in their first few months?

    Older MMOs not only retained their playerbase better but saw growth for a longer period of time.

    Here is a graph that shows how older MMOs had a period of growth whereas the newer MMOs are pretty much spike and drop:

    There isn't a "right" or "wrong" way to play, if you want to use a screwdriver to put nails into wood, have at it, simply don't complain when the guy next to you with the hammer is doing it much better and easier. - Allein
    "Graphics are often supplied by Engines that (some) MMORPG's are built in" - Spuffyre

  • LoktofeitLoktofeit Stone Mountain, GAPosts: 13,643Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by timtrack

    Something is really wrong when having 50-100k paying costumers is considered bad.

    Something is really wrong with the assumption that there is a One-Size-Fits-All subscriber count.

    There isn't a "right" or "wrong" way to play, if you want to use a screwdriver to put nails into wood, have at it, simply don't complain when the guy next to you with the hammer is doing it much better and easier. - Allein
    "Graphics are often supplied by Engines that (some) MMORPG's are built in" - Spuffyre

  • ozmonoozmono Not tellingPosts: 1,211Member
    Originally posted by Loktofeit
    Originally posted by ozmono

    So did older games retain there playerbase any better in their first few months?

    Older MMOs not only retained their playerbase better but saw growth for a longer period of time.

    Here is a graph that shows how older MMOs had a period of growth whereas the newer MMOs are pretty much spike and drop:

    Thanks that's exactly what I was looking for.

  • STAUDERWALKIESTAUDERWALKIE sinking sprung, PAPosts: 18Member

     I agree there, the industry is concerned more about market share and putting out "summer blockbuster style" games that have huge budgets (SWTOR I'm looking in your direction!) and don't have a lot of depth to them. I'm thinking that game devs are looking at development on smaller, more user created games with tools built in for the future since players eat through content rather quickly and user created content never hurts to entertain (a redeeming factor in the lobby game that is NW).

    The next round of games (next 6-12months ) will be interesting to see how after SOE releases EQN how Blizzard responds.

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  • shingoukiehshingoukieh Fayetteville, NCPosts: 125Member

    u also had to think back then there were less mmorpgs as well. now everyone wants to make one or publish one from asia to make a bit of cash. 

    just take a look at the game forum....so many mmorpgs on the list. and out of all those mmos the only pay ones i believe are wow, eve, and ff11 and 14. so one could go years and never spend a dime on gaming (granted you get what u pay for but still)

  • DoogiehowserDoogiehowser ParisPosts: 1,873Member

    Didn't have many choices back then really so players used to stick to one MMO for longer times.

    And i really don't need to see a graph to know that a game like warhammer online had one of the worst retention rates in history of MMORPG's.

    "The problem is that the hardcore folks always want the same thing: 'We want exactly what you gave us before, but it has to be completely different.'
    -Jesse Schell

    "Online gamers are the most ludicrously entitled beings since Caligula made his horse a senator, and at least the horse never said anything stupid."
    -Luke McKinney

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  • STAUDERWALKIESTAUDERWALKIE sinking sprung, PAPosts: 18Member

    Yes there are more games now than before with the genre having lot of exposure (and will only grow once the new consoles start turning every PS4/XB1 game into mmos) and the barrier to entry into games due to FTP has made jumping around almost too easy. These are also alot of the games that are made to capitalize on the consumer  rather quickly  with monetizing almost every item( not a fan personally of this system but I digress).  These games come across as cash grabs rather than a sub or BTP game but monetization has a lot to say about why people jump around mmos and why the community as a whole act as a bunch of gypsies. I wish more companies would go back to free trials/make it a sub based game, that also would require that your product was worth subbing to. Only 3-4 games are actually that decent to give you a free trial and have a sub fee that people are willing to pay for afterwards, sad that although the marketplace is much bigger, we STILL have the same amount of Quality titles out as we did in the past. That being said, seems like game designers  are starting to get away from cloning other games ( last 5 years or so) and starting to make games that they might actually play for more than a week before uninstalling :P

     

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  • DMKanoDMKano Gamercentral, AKPosts: 8,506Member Uncommon

    Its not only MMOs its most games, people jump in play a bit and move on to other games faster than ever. We are living in accelerating world of change, there are more choices and more games in a shorter amount of time.

    This is why many game Devs are transitioning to smaller games on shorter game cycles than one huge game with a 4-5 year Dev cycle.

     

  • aesperusaesperus Hamshire, NVPosts: 5,128Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by DMKano

    Its not only MMOs its most games, people jump in play a bit and move on to other games faster than ever. We are living in accelerating world of change, there are more choices and more games in a shorter amount of time.

    This is why many game Devs are transitioning to smaller games on shorter game cycles than one huge game with a 4-5 year Dev cycle.

    This ^

    People here assume that the game determines everything, but that's not really true. Things like the current market (which makes it much easier to hop from game-to-game) means that fewer people are going to be willing to stick to just one game. In a genre like MMOs, where it's assumed they will last for a long time, this can be very bad.

  • ReallyNow10ReallyNow10 Pile It High Town, LAPosts: 2,010Member Common
    Originally posted by ozmono

    Some people like to predict doom and gloom and some even go so far to claim the genre is dead or about to die. Yet there are more people playing MMOs now than ever. The only validity I can see in such claims is the bad retention rates MMOs have when they launch. I've seen some figures and experienced first hand bad retention rates over the last couple of years but it dawned on me that it might not have ever been better. So did older games retain there playerbase any better in their first few months?

    Yes, the bad retention rate is new, because many of the early MMORPG's which are still going, had little problem keeping their subs even when competing and this was way back in the dial-up modem days (before WOW stepped in and the right time during the broadband explosion.)

    The key was design.  The content was tough, not all of it was evident (you had to search for some), and most of it required a group effort.

    The games that are failing to keep their subs, splashing and crashing as I like to call it, are the ones where the designs is mostly single player or coop format, where you are heavily guided down a linear path, where leveling is fast, and where you can basically drive through most of the content in two or three months of dedicated gameplay.  (In the early games, such goals might take two or three years.)

    Don't worry though, PROPER MMO design is coming back, starting with EQ Next.

  • TheLizardbonesTheLizardbones Arkham, VAPosts: 10,910Member


    Originally posted by ReallyNow10

    Originally posted by ozmono Some people like to predict doom and gloom and some even go so far to claim the genre is dead or about to die. Yet there are more people playing MMOs now than ever. The only validity I can see in such claims is the bad retention rates MMOs have when they launch. I've seen some figures and experienced first hand bad retention rates over the last couple of years but it dawned on me that it might not have ever been better. So did older games retain there playerbase any better in their first few months?
    Yes, the bad retention rate is new, because many of the early MMORPG's which are still going, had little problem keeping their subs even when competing and this was way back in the dial-up modem days (before WOW stepped in and the right time during the broadband explosion.)

    The key was design.  The content was tough, not all of it was evident (you had to search for some), and most of it required a group effort.

    The games that are failing to keep their subs, splashing and crashing as I like to call it, are the ones where the designs is mostly single player or coop format, where you are heavily guided down a linear path, where leveling is fast, and where you can basically drive through most of the content in two or three months of dedicated gameplay.  (In the early games, such goals might take two or three years.)

    Don't worry though, PROPER MMO design is coming back, starting with EQ Next.



    The combined population of all of those games at their peak was less then two million people. Compare that to two million people jumping into SWToR at release. We know the number of people who would play an MMORPG is more than two million people just in North America. Most of the people who would enjoy an MMORPG weren't playing MMORPGs when those early MMORPGs were releasing. I don't know how competitive you can say it is when the number of people available so far exceeds the number of people who were actually playing the games.

    We have no idea if early MMORPG suffered the same player retention issues at launch as new MMORPGs because it took years for early MMORPGs to establish a population. New MMORPGs get their biggest population boost within a week or a month.

    http://users.telenet.be/mmodata/Charts/Subs-2.png

    I understand what the OP is getting at, and I also understand the view of people who think the early MMORPGs were the epitome of the genre, and I can even understand people thinking EQN is going to be what they want, since SOE hasn't said anything specific about it, but proving any of that isn't possible without a lot more information from the developers or publishers themselves.

    **

    When SWG released, UO started to tank. When faced with direct competition, any older MMORPG is going to lose ground.

    ** **

    When EQ2 released, EQ started to lose ground. WoW isn't in the chart, but that would be the other reason those games lost ground. In fact, all of those early games lost ground when competing against WoW. Being "New" almost always trumps being "Old". It will be the same for EQN as well. It will have the advantage of being "New".

    I can not remember winning or losing a single debate on the internet.

  • ReallyNow10ReallyNow10 Pile It High Town, LAPosts: 2,010Member Common
    Originally posted by lizardbones

     


    Originally posted by ReallyNow10

    Originally posted by ozmono Some people like to predict doom and gloom and some even go so far to claim the genre is dead or about to die. Yet there are more people playing MMOs now than ever. The only validity I can see in such claims is the bad retention rates MMOs have when they launch. I've seen some figures and experienced first hand bad retention rates over the last couple of years but it dawned on me that it might not have ever been better. So did older games retain there playerbase any better in their first few months?
    Yes, the bad retention rate is new, because many of the early MMORPG's which are still going, had little problem keeping their subs even when competing and this was way back in the dial-up modem days (before WOW stepped in and the right time during the broadband explosion.)

     

    The key was design.  The content was tough, not all of it was evident (you had to search for some), and most of it required a group effort.

    The games that are failing to keep their subs, splashing and crashing as I like to call it, are the ones where the designs is mostly single player or coop format, where you are heavily guided down a linear path, where leveling is fast, and where you can basically drive through most of the content in two or three months of dedicated gameplay.  (In the early games, such goals might take two or three years.)

    Don't worry though, PROPER MMO design is coming back, starting with EQ Next.



    The combined population of all of those games at their peak was less then two million people. Compare that to two million people jumping into SWToR at release. We know the number of people who would play an MMORPG is more than two million people just in North America. Most of the people who would enjoy an MMORPG weren't playing MMORPGs when those early MMORPGs were releasing. I don't know how competitive you can say it is when the number of people available so far exceeds the number of people who were actually playing the games.

    We have no idea if early MMORPG suffered the same player retention issues at launch as new MMORPGs because it took years for early MMORPGs to establish a population. New MMORPGs get their biggest population boost within a week or a month.

    http://users.telenet.be/mmodata/Charts/Subs-2.png

    I understand what the OP is getting at, and I also understand the view of people who think the early MMORPGs were the epitome of the genre, and I can even understand people thinking EQN is going to be what they want, since SOE hasn't said anything specific about it, but proving any of that isn't possible without a lot more information from the developers or publishers themselves.

    **

    When SWG released, UO started to tank. When faced with direct competition, any older MMORPG is going to lose ground.

    ** **

    When EQ2 released, EQ started to lose ground. WoW isn't in the chart, but that would be the other reason those games lost ground. In fact, all of those early games lost ground when competing against WoW. Being "New" almost always trumps being "Old". It will be the same for EQN as well. It will have the advantage of being "New".

     

    Remember, though, the early MMO's were of the dial-up modem era, while WOW and subsequent MMO's launched as broadband exploded and everyone became addicted to their computers.  I think that was a huge factor in MMORPG population increases overall.

  • LoktofeitLoktofeit Stone Mountain, GAPosts: 13,643Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by lizardbones

    We have no idea if early MMORPG suffered the same player retention issues at launch as new MMORPGs because it took years for early MMORPGs to establish a population. New MMORPGs get their biggest population boost within a week or a month.

    http://users.telenet.be/mmodata/Charts/Subs-2.png

     

    Could you expand on that a bit more? What you stated seems to directly contradict the graph you linked to, so I assume I'm simply just not understanding what you meant.

    There isn't a "right" or "wrong" way to play, if you want to use a screwdriver to put nails into wood, have at it, simply don't complain when the guy next to you with the hammer is doing it much better and easier. - Allein
    "Graphics are often supplied by Engines that (some) MMORPG's are built in" - Spuffyre

  • TheLizardbonesTheLizardbones Arkham, VAPosts: 10,910Member


    Originally posted by Loktofeit
    Originally posted by lizardbones We have no idea if early MMORPG suffered the same player retention issues at launch as new MMORPGs because it took years for early MMORPGs to establish a population. New MMORPGs get their biggest population boost within a week or a month. http://users.telenet.be/mmodata/Charts/Subs-2.png  
    Could you expand on that a bit more? What you stated seems to directly contradict the graph you linked to, so I assume I'm simply just not understanding what you meant.


    Retention is a relationship between the amount of something retained versus the amount of something lost.

    A bucket full of water has a 100% retention rate if none of the water is poured out. For MMORPGs, the retention rate would be determined as the number of people who subscribe to a game versus the number of people who tried or bought the game. That chart only shows the number of people subscribing at given points in time.

    We have no idea how many people picked the game up and didn't subscribe or only subscribed for a short period of time. It only shows at specific points in time, how many people were subscribed.

    To see the retention rates for MMORPGs over time, both new and old we need more information than is currently available.

    I can not remember winning or losing a single debate on the internet.

  • LoktofeitLoktofeit Stone Mountain, GAPosts: 13,643Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by lizardbones

     


    Originally posted by Loktofeit

    Originally posted by lizardbones We have no idea if early MMORPG suffered the same player retention issues at launch as new MMORPGs because it took years for early MMORPGs to establish a population. New MMORPGs get their biggest population boost within a week or a month. http://users.telenet.be/mmodata/Charts/Subs-2.png  
    Could you expand on that a bit more? What you stated seems to directly contradict the graph you linked to, so I assume I'm simply just not understanding what you meant.
    Retention is a relationship between the amount of something retained versus the amount of something lost.

    A bucket full of water has a 100% retention rate if none of the water is poured out. For subscription MMORPGs, the retention rate would be determined as the number of people who are currently subscribed to a game versus the number of people who bought the game. That chart only shows the number of people subscribing at given points in time.

    We have no idea how many people picked the game up and didn't subscribe or only subscribed for a short period of time. It only shows at specific points in time, how many people were subscribed.

    To see the retention rates for MMORPGs over time, both new and old we need more information than is currently available.

     

     I am quite familiar with what retention is, and I corrected your statement accordingly (yellow). Additionally, trials are part of acquisition - you'd really hose your retention numbers if you included the trial users. :) 

    What you're basically saying is that it's possible the original MMOs had a very high amount of churn, but that would suggest the market is far larger than any industry data has ever indicated.  This is entirely possible.

    "Ultima Online has an average retention time of many months. Meaning that the average player who buys the game plays for at least that long. A sizable, well over double-digit percentage of our playerbase has been with us continuously since the day the product launched.

    This sort of thing is nothing new to those of you who have been running online games for a while." - Raph Koster, futuredev

     

    If there is a double-digit percentage of players in current MMOs still around after launch, then you're probably on to something. It would mean, though, that acquisition is abysmally low beyond the first month. The numbers just don't seem to add up, however, even if you figure in only 5% monthly churn, the acquisition would have to be relatively decent otherwise these MMOs would disappear into nothingness inside of 10-12 months.

     

     

    There isn't a "right" or "wrong" way to play, if you want to use a screwdriver to put nails into wood, have at it, simply don't complain when the guy next to you with the hammer is doing it much better and easier. - Allein
    "Graphics are often supplied by Engines that (some) MMORPG's are built in" - Spuffyre

  • aRtFuLThinGaRtFuLThinG MelbournePosts: 1,133Member Uncommon

    Bad retention rate of the current generation of mmo seems to be because they are no good.

     

    If you look at the mmo list from early to mid 00's, a lot of those old-timers are still around (ie the one that were made pre-WoW days).

     

    Not many of the post-WoW ones survived very long.

     

    Also notice how the old mid 00's games are quite different, in terms of the contents' focus, compare to today.

     

    Just like things in 1950s compare to things made today, mmos of 2010s doesn't seems to be made to last. Mmos of early 2000s was.

  • DavisFlightDavisFlight Talahasee, FLPosts: 2,556Member
    Originally posted by aRtFuLThinG

    Bad retention rate of the current generation of mmo seems to be because they are no good.

     

    If you look at the mmo list from early to mid 00's, a lot of those old-timers are still around (ie the one that were made pre-WoW days).

     

    Not many of the post-WoW ones survived very long.

     

    Also notice how the old mid 00's games are quite different, in terms of the contents' focus, compare to today.

     

    Just like things in 1950s compare to things made today, mmos of 2010s doesn't seems to be made to last. Mmos of early 2000s was.

    Yup. Modern MMOs are designed as singleplayer games with some coop options. People burn through the content and then leave.

     

    Not only that, but they're almost all WoW clones that introduce nothing new. There's no social interaction in these games. No bonds are formed with other players that keep you playing. Its really easy to leave an MMO that you don't have any friends in.

     

    Old MMOs - social virtual worlds, grew over long periods of time and held onto players.

    Modern "MMOs" - singleplayer WoW clones with massive AAA budgets that collapse under their own marketing right away.

  • STAUDERWALKIESTAUDERWALKIE sinking sprung, PAPosts: 18Member

    I am still convinced that this comes down to how the mmos of the past were structured. Older mmos were designed around a subscribing method so naturally they want to keep you around as long as possible..so with this design they had to be inventive on how to draw in a player for a LONG period of time and the results were positive by the game surviving (WOW is amazing in this regard with their systems of acvhs/titles that can take years to complete). Now new mmos are concerned with recouping their money quickly which is where items that you used to grind you now have the option to buy most of these items (rift has this sadly with most of their mounts but oh well) in which players buy the mount/item/ whatever and are done with it. They are designed with cash shops to be the primary source of income (think gw2 is actually guilty of this as well) so they just get their money asap and even though these games can be decent payment wise not all are.

    This leads to people not really going through the effort to get these items and kind of defeats the purpose of an mmo, which is to play in a virtual world which will be for an extended period of time and soak up hours of gameplay..otherwise why are you even playing in this genre of mmorpgs? I'm seeing a lot of companies realize this as these short burst games just aren't doing it for gamers (hence why wow has friggin however many million subs still, content and immersive worlds matter, lobby games just don't work in this setting.

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