I’ve noticed a trend worth commenting on in Western MMOs. It is only based on limited data points, but it’s worth codifying. The trend is:
If you launch a AAA MMO in Western markets, you are going to attract about 1 million players at launch.
Age of Conan shipped 1.2 million boxes at launch, sold 800k of them and saw about 700k active subscriptions.
Warhammer: Age of Reckoning shipped 1.5 million boxes at launch, sold 1.2 million copies and saw about 800k active subscriptions.
Aion has just launched in Western markets and NCsoft’s Q3 2009 financial figures reveal that Aion 970k copies. Even assuming that 10 – 20% of these copies are never activated, that still sees a pretty sizeable population for Aion in the West at launch.
For the top two games (and we’ll see for Aion) retention of those players turned into a big issue. That aside, it would certainly seem that there are almost 1 million Western players looking to get in on the next big MMO on the ground floor (and I know I could say ‘800k’ and be closer to actual figures, but ‘1 million’ has a better ring to it!).
Were I a publisher, I’d say that shipping anything over 1 million boxes is overkill. Were I a developer, I’d know I’d have to prepare my launch servers to deal with that kind of attention (even if it trails off after that). Indie MMOs work on a smaller scale than this, but AAA-titles who launch in multiple Western regions need to be able to deal with these kind of number, or at least plan for them.
So, why this post? It’s the lead-in to a look at how many players Champions Online attracted at launch.