Archive for May 30, 2011

Funcom and NCSoft info

May 30, 2011 1 comment

Usually when I get engaged in some MMO I tend to look up the company itself for some information. If it is a public company I have a look at the financial reports – sometimes a bit boring info, but may sometimes also provide some interesting insights.

I took at look at the Funcom Q1 2011 financial report that were released a few days ago, as well as the report before that. For The Secret World there were a few bits of information availble, which included:

  • Over 400K people have signed up on the games web site so far
  • The game is now in limited beta testing, on schedule
  • 170 persons are working on the game currently
In a way I think The Secret World is a bit of going back to their roots in terms of game philosophy – I think the game is closer to Anarchy Online than it is to Age of Conan in a few different ways, except that the underlying technology is using the same as for AoC. WHich is also something Anarchy Online supposedly will get also, any year now
They have 3 launched games which are profitable and 4 other games in development; the latter eating up the profits from the former so that in total they are making some losses in last quarter. Revenue for Age of Conan and Anarchy Online was about 2.8 million USD for the first quarter, with a profit of about 800K USD.  That could be estimated to a bit more than 60K subscribers for both games – most of them would be AoC subscribers.
This is roughly the same revenue that is reported for City of Heroes by NCSoft in their Q1 2011 earnings report (after currency conversion).  In NCSoft case this number a minuscle part of their revenue – about 2%. Aion accounts for 44% of their quarterly sales and Aion + Lineage 1 and 2 in total for 94% of the sales.
If one looks at regions then Europe and North America contributes to 9% of NCSoft sales, while their domestic sales is at 65%. With a population of almost 49 million compared to to the over 1 billion for Europe and North America I think they might see a market growth potential, but with the exception of Guild Wars perhaps have not seen any big numbers there yet. I wonder what their expectations are for Guild Wars 2 here.
Sadly the NCSoft report is very dry to read, the Funcom one is a bit more fun to read, as they do provide some game information and also some general market view.
Another piece of information from the Funcom report was that their Bloodline Champions arena PvP game have over 600K register users and provided 555K USD in revenue (63K USD in profit) for Q1. At least the game is the only one in that segment that have launched, so I assume those numbers are for just that game. So on average a registered user have spent almost 1 dollar on the game in the first quarter. My guess that is a reasonably ok number, although remains to be seen how that evolves later – there could be a spike in sales close to launch.

Is older better?

May 30, 2011 3 comments

About a week ago Jef Reahard of Massively posted an article about older MMOs being better than newer MMOs and not just some nostalgia from people playing their first MMO. I think Jef has a point there, but I would not necessarily agree that older MMOs are generally better.

Rather I think the perhaps less varied content one sees in newer MMOs is a question of market adaption, trying to capture a wider audience. Even a relatively simple MMO may have a learning curve for an entirely new player that is a bit higher than many other games. There is also a lot more online and multiplayer games of different types being offered today than a few years ago; grabbing the complete attention of a player for a long time is less likely today.

Newer games are adapting (or trying to adapt) to the new market conditions, grabbing more players than the typical MMO games have done in the past (except WoW). This direction is better graphics and settings, cool effects and various other things to draw people in and play for a while – but also keeping things simple so that even a fresh player can get into it and perhaps get hooked for a while.

The player category that may be hurt by this is the MMO veteran. Having mastered many MMO gameplay elements in the past the veteran quickly relatively quickly identifies and understands many of the mechanics and features of a new game. Even a moderatly complex game (including all sorts of games) may be too simple – it has all been done before.

I think Jef’s point is certainly valid in the view of the veteran player and this is a target audience that older MMOs may be in a good position to capture – at least if some of the actually bad parts that may have been there in the beginning are fixed. Veterans may be more time-constrained nowadays, but still crave for that extra involvement that would be needed to provide a proper level of stimuli in the game.

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Categories: MMO Games