What Other Games Are People Playing?

It’s a time of rapid change in the MMO world – but who’s playing what? Do the numbers really mean what they seem to mean? And will we still be playing the same games in a month?

Today’s blog posts attempt to answer all that and more:

  • Tobold looks at the gameplay statistics posted by XFire, used by many bloggers, and asks how accurate they really are“I think XFire exaggerates trends, as it is mainly installed by people who switch a lot between games. If you’d only play one game, what need would you have for software which tells you what game you played how long?”
  • Keen reports back on in-game experiences in a project I’m particularly interested by – SWGEmu, the unofficial server emulator for Star Wars Galaxies” SWGEmu is a SWG emulator recreating the game at the point it was at before the infamous combat update. Since the real SWG was shut down, just about everyone who still wants to play the game is playing on SWGEmu — about 3,000 people online at any given time.”
  • Syncaine looks at player numbers for every MMO but WoW, and asks why people call EVE Online a “niche” title“So I ask, what ‘mass-market’ MMO are people talking about when stating EVE’s 400k subs is ‘niche’?”
  • Ardwulf, meanwhile, is returning to EVE, his first MMO, and contrasts its play offerings with that of WoW amongst other games“in a sense EVE drops you into its endgame almost immediately, at least upon completion of the (now significantly expanded but still ultimately optional) tutorials. You have to be setting goals for yourself right away instead of getting many dozens of hours to explore the game.”
  • And Ocho asks whether the honeymoon’s already over for Guild Wars 2 – building on the “social or not” debate to ask whether the Guild Wars community has already soured“This was met with a resounding “lol whatever noob. dear diary, nobody cares.” and led into flames of how I was apparently playing the game wrong.”

I must admit, having spend some time in the Guild Wars 2 subreddit recently, I’m a bit concerned about how the community’s developing too – but I’m hoping it’s just growing pains.

What are you playing? What do you think other people are playing?

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MMO Numbers, Dragon Tails and EVE on a Phone

Past, present and future in MMOs today, as we look from the lessons dragons taught us (specifically, Onyxia) to the future for EVE Online – could it end up on a smartphone?

  • The Nosy Gamer rounds up the latest MMORPG statistics – interesting and arguably quite unexpected stuff“While the Xfire numbers are not reliable to tell how many players are playing a game, they are good for determining trends. The latest example is Tera, whose trend was diving toward the cellar. “
  • Green Armadillo asks whether MMO players can be comparatively passive about developer missed promises because games essentially hold their social groups to ransom“No matter how early or late, how buggy or how polished, everyone needs to buy the new content when it is released if they are to play together. “
  • Big Bear Butt teaches his Cub another lesson, and this time it’s about the wonder and danger of dragons“He wants things to be able to be reasoned out. He wants to be able to look at something, and to infer from visual cues what it may be able to do, and how to try and attack it safely and successfully. I have to say, Onyxia was designed magnificently with that in mind.”
  • And Mat at Freebooted proposes a very interesting project – taking the world of EVE Online in all its complexity onto your smartphone“Imagine, if you will, that you’ve just downloaded CCP’s new smartphone title New Eden Explorer. Rather than try to be a trimmed-down version of EVE, it approaches gameplay from the opposite direction whilst providing many of the tools found in existing EVE apps.”

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Fascinating data on how Cataclysm’s raid progression REALLY went

It’s a day for awesome posts today, it would appear. And of different types, too – from stunning visuals to deep story thinking, to our last post of the day, full of statistics and insights on how well or badly Cataclysm’s raids have gone, after all the nerfs, buffs, tiers and changes.

Vixsin of Life In Group 5 isn’t afraid to say what she thinks and criticise the decision-making of Blizzard’s developers. But she does more, too – after thinking and criticising, she goes out and investigates what actually ended up being true – and comes out with some fascinating insights in the process.

Today, she’s been crunching the numbers on guild raid progression through Cataclysm, to answer two big questions – did people really keep clearing old raid content, and did the Firelands nerf actually work as intended?

“Regardless, the picture that the above data presents is, at least to me, enough to validate the idea that progression content in Cataclysm was generally isolated to the current tier; as much as Blizzard hoped that guilds would return to older content for progression purposes, very few actually did. Now, what’s important to note here is that I asked for guild kills, not player kills. The reason that I made this distinction is that I wanted to isolate and exclude, as much as possible, inflation of kills due to alt participation. Scoring a kill on an alt or in a new guild is not the same progressing on a boss that you’ve never killed before (which is an interesting thing to consider given the lengths that HM guilds go to test new bosses—can we really call those kills progression? … but I digress.)

What I found curious about the data above, once I had it in nice chart format, was the rise in the number of hardmode kills from Tier 11 to Tier 12. As many guilds killed HM Atramedes pre-patch as killed Alysrazor HM pre-patch? Quite frankly, I was boggled. Until I remembered the incredible fuss that surrounded the Firelands hotfix, which substantially nerfed both normal and hard modes and was decried loudly by the vocal minority on both forums and community blogs.”

I’ll admit, as a long-time SEOMoz reader, I’m a sucker for a good graph. But really, Vixsin’s mined some fascinating data out here – particularly regarding the nerf and its effect on raid completion levels. And her conclusions and insights are interesting too – particularly given they impact on one of the hottest controversies of last year, the Firelands nerfs.

What’s even more interesting is to consider what the effect of this data will be on the Mists development team – who, after all, have had more accurate data for longer. Will they stick with the half-way nerf cycle? Or have they got an even better idea?

Do you think Blizzard actually got it right in the end?

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