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April 12, 2008

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bob_d

Since it's a free to play, transaction-funded game, 71 million would have to be the total number of accounts ever created in every iteration of the game (which doesn't mean much). I'd take even that number with a rather large grain of salt, though, since it's at least 40% bigger than any other number I've seen.

One thing I've learned from working in the game industry is that the subscriber and sales numbers that get thrown around are almost always wrong. Even in the rare event that the company releases some numbers, the've usually been massaged to the point of nonsense to make the company look good.

Alice

Yep, I imagine that actives are a far, far smaller a number. If only they'd publish those as well... the curious want to know!

bob_d

I image that it'd actually be somewhat difficult to get the real numbers- many Korean MMOs sell licenses to foreign companies to run the game independently in their countries. So the majority of the players may be on servers run by companies that have no real communication with the game's originators (MapleStory is run by at least four different companies). In addition, since it's free to play, they don't have "members," they only have account numbers, which don't necessarily map to separate individuals. There are ways of guessing, but it's not terribly precise compared to subscriber numbers. In other words, Kim may not actually even have accurate numbers.
Even if they do have accurate estimations of the number of current players, there isn't any motivation for them to give them out, since they would only be comparing themselves to inaccurate numbers for other games. Companies want to put on the best face possible for both (potential) investors and players, who gravitate towards MMOs that are doing well and seem to have a future. Nor does any company want to create the impression that their player numbers are slipping (even by comparing new accurate numbers to old inflated ones), since that would risk players abandoning what they see as a failing, soon to be shuttered, game. In addition, the shadow of WoW is now hanging over all the MMO player numbers. Since WoW has the majority of the market, everyone else has to be rather creative to come up with numbers that look good in comparison.

Zangan

WoW is clearly the most Over-rated MMO ever.

The more accepted number for "active" Maplestory subscribers is around 50 Million.

Lineage II had like 15 Million subscribers.

Ragnarok online had 11 Million

bob_d

WoW may be overrated, but its impact on the MMO market can't be overstated. WoW succeeded not so much by luring players away from other MMOs (which it did, to some degree, usually temporarily), but by bringing in entirely new players- they actually grew the subscription MMO market significantly.

Comparing the total number of accounts created in a free MMO (which means that technically, a game like Maplestory has no "subscribers") to the number of people willing to pay monthly fees is pretty meaningless. Especially since the total number of accounts is many times the number of active accounts, and the number of active accounts is actually larger than the number of players (since many players have multiple accounts). 50 million is probably closer to the number of total accounts for Maplestory than 71 million. It certainly doesn't have 50 million active accounts, much less individual players-the number of concurrent users is far too small for that. However, if we're counting the total number of accounts, WoW will have many times more than 10 million, as it has a high turn-over rate.

Lineage 2 had about 2 million subscribers at its peak. Ragnarok uses a different (and cheaper) subscription model than WoW does, so it's not completely fair to compare them, either- Ragnarok in different countries is actually run by different companies, and the game is actually different as well.

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