My Xfire statistics post from last week garnered enough interest that I’d like to keep doing it on an ongoing basis. I think that Xfire’s numbers are untrustworthy to a certain extent and for a variety of reasons, but I also think that they can show us two things with relative clarity: first, the order of popularity of the various titles, if not the relative degree of popularity. Secondly, I think Xfire can show us trends, whether a given title’s numbers are moving upwards or downwards over time. And perhaps thirdly (and we’re not all that close to finding this out,) how much a given title tends to increase in popularity when something like an expansion or major content patch hits.
So I’ll be tracking these things. In future I will put in a standard disclaimer about how Xfire provides us with an impefect data pool, but for the meantime, just take it as a given that these numbers and conclusions are merely fodder for discussion and not “facts” in any absolute sense.
Of course, I need to have a little bit of a data pool to start with, so I will have no statistics of the sort I posted last week until at least next week, because I am expanding my sample to include some things I’d left off before – a handful of non-subscription titles (Guild Wars, Runes of Magic,) MMOs yet unlaunched or in some stage of Beta (Darkfall, Aion,) some chestnuts of yore (Asheron’s Call, Anarchy Online,) and of course, World of Warcraft for the sake of completeness, although I will be free to disregard these oddities as statistically unrepresentaive as I see fit, while reporting them, all the same.
I’ve chosen to pull numbers once a week, and have arbitrarily chosen Sunday as the day on which to do so. Sampling every day would be a lot more trouble, obviously, and would also subject the survey to a lot of little variations that could obfuscate larger trends within a sea of statistical noise. Just as those on a weight-loss program should weigh themselves weekly but not daily, so I will proceed here.
So. Here are some partial numbers from this week, for MMOs for which I have two full weeks of statistics. Given that these numbers are both preliminary and incomplete anyway, I am discarding the minutes played per day number that Xfire ranks titles by, and going strictly with users per day. Taking last week’s numbers along with this week’s, here’s what we see.
|Ardwulf’s Rank||Title||Last Week||This Week||Shift|
|1||World of Warcraft||91,389||91,496||+0.12%|
|3||The Lord of the Rings Online||2,996||2,994||-0.07%|
|5||Age of Conan||1,695||1,702||+0.41%|
|6||City of Heroes/Villains||744||754||+1.34%|
|7||Star Wars Galaxies||559||525||-6.08%|
|11||Dark Age of Camelot||182||144||-20.88%|
|14||Pirates of the Bunring Sea||70||95||+35.71%|
|16||The Matrix Online||48||70||+45.83%|
Okay. So with a meager 2-week sample we see that the order of the list (“Ardwulf’s Rank”) has mostly not changed at all, save for a couple of hops in the middle. D&D Online gets a big jump, probably because of the spike in interest caused by the free-to-play announcement. Expect this to taper off.
Matrix Online also gets a big boost – the highest net gain in the list, in fact – no doubt due to the fact that it’s closing and people (maybe largely existing StationPass subscribers, who have access to it anyway,) want to go in and see it before it dies. I thought of doing this myself, since I have an active StationPass at the moment, but opted out for now. I note that it’s still dead last in every category, although as we will see starting next week when I add a number of titles to the statistics, Asheron’s Call is doing even worse.
We also see Dark Age of Camelot take a big hit, by far the largest net loss of the titles sampled. I have no idea why, and it’s much to soon to take the position that this is a part of a larger trend… although it’s tempting to say that DAoC has only a little time left, as the more up-to-date Warhammer Online bleeds subscribers away. It’s a good game and has aged very well in some respects, but it’s nigh-impossible to get into and get started now. It seems likely that DAoC is declining, but its numbers are still decent for a game of its era and the question is whether it will be a long, slow decline or a free fall into cancellation and oblivion.
I have no explanation for the jumps by Pirates of the Burning Sea or Planetside, either, as much as I would like to say that my post last week showed lots of people that these games were also in trouble and that they’d better try them out while they’re still around. But I didn’t get that much traction. We’ll see if these are simply anomalous drops as we continue to collect data.
Worth noting is that the top and bottom of the list were stable. The bottom three retain their respective positions, as do the top five. Obviously, a net gain or loss of five or ten users makes a big difference to the games at the bottom, but is insignificant to the games at the top. Over the course of the week I will try to look for more and better ways to derive this number, so don’t assume that the format I use this week will be what we look at in the long run.