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Role Playing (Games) Businesses

World of Warcraft Sales Figures Soar in Europe 57

Posted by Zonk
from the that's-a-lot-of-night-elves dept.
GamesIndustry.biz has the word that the sales figures on release day for World of Warcraft here in the states have been exceeded by the game's European launch. Slagged servers crumpled and the account creation site on the Blizzard Europe homepage was taken down for a few hours on release day. From the article: "According to figures released by the developer, the subscription-based MMORPG sold more than 280,000 units on day one - more than it sold on its first day in the States - before sales rose to 380,000 by the end of its first weekend on sale."
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World of Warcraft Sales Figures Soar in Europe

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  • by ZephyrXero (750822) <zephyrxero@yahoo ... om minus painter> on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @02:31PM (#11680214) Homepage Journal
    Has Blizzard or any of the other MMORPG guys ever posted the actual cost of running such a service vs. how much money they are taking in on it? The gamers have to pay $50 ($80 for the "special edition") and then a $13 monthly fee, not to mention the expansion packs when they come out. With hundreds of thousands of people playing this game they are making hundreds of millions each year...and I seriously doubt it costs that much to run one of these games properly.

    Maybe games like Guildwars can prove you don't have to rip your customers off to be successful?
    • by yotto (590067) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @02:39PM (#11680315) Homepage
      Not to sound like an economist or, worse, a republican, but the cost of doing business is only one piece of the pie when it comes to charging for what you sell. If they are making the most money possible, then they are charging the correct amount. If they are not, they are not (And the correct amount, if they are not charging it, is something else).

      If you don't think it is a fair amount, don't pay it. If enough people agree with you, they'll have to lower (or, strangely, sometimes raise) the price eventually or fold. It's the way the (capitalist) world works.
      • What's more, the "correct price" is almost always higher than the minimum price necessary to get everyone to buy the product. For example, a company could give away their product for free, and pretty much everyone who was offered it would take it, but the company would still make more money if they charged a million dollars for it and only one person bought one.

      • Yea I didn't agree with the double ended dildo Blizzard wants to screw people with (Pay a high price for the game and then pay a fee to play) so I didnt buy the game. I dont much care that the games expensive or that it has a monthly fee. It's that it has both that pissed me off. If there going to charge me a monthly fee to play the game should have been free or more (in real world logic) $25 - $35. If there going to charge me $55 then I dont want to pay a monthly fee to play. The games a hit though so my
        • Exactly! Pick one or the other, but not both! WoW is a great game... I played in the open beta, but I refuse to be ripped off like this reguardless of how good it may be.
          • How do you figure they are ripping you off exactly? If a million people are prepared to pay for it using the current pricing scheme, it makes no sense for them to lower the price to appeal to say a few thousand people who take your stance or simply can't afford it, as the total income they'd get would be less, and they're not a charity.

            So accepting they're not a charity, and that their sales figures justify the price, you should accept that the overall price they're demanding is reasonable. Regarding how t
            • You really think b/c a few million people agree on something it's right? Have you seen the billboard music charts? More sales do not equal better. If you thought like that, then Madden football is the greatest game ever made (Definitely not!) and Bush actually deserved to stay president....

              "Never underestimate the power of human stupidity"...
        • From my personal value standpoint, I have to say this: seeing as no game guarantees a month worths fun and indeed, many 50 games I bought didn't even last 2 weeks for me, I'd say that WoW is a pretty good deal, considering that the first month of online play is free. I just know (and have known from the beta) that I'd certainly enjoy this game longer than 4 weeks. But of course there is no argueing about such things, if the price is to high for you, you're right with not buying it.
        • It's that it has both that pissed me off. If there going to charge me a monthly fee to play the game should have been free or more (in real world logic) $25 - $35. If there going to charge me $55 then I dont want to pay a monthly fee to play. The games a hit though so my opinion is deffinitly in the minority.

          So which do you think should be free, the development of the software, or the updates and maintainence of the servers/game? I agree that it would be nice if there was a digital distribution system
          • There is that point also yer right. But from what i have herd regarding the servers... wow...

            My buddy Bob got cought in a few roll backs in a row cuz of there server problems. He was very pissed and it was very funny. His opinion on the game is it's good and he is a little bent on the high price but decided he would rather play the game then not play it so he paid but he also feels they ended the beta teast to early and that the game didnt feel complete and they did NOT have the servers ready at all.

            I j

            • My buddy Bob got cought in a few roll backs in a row cuz of there server problems.

              Significant rollbacks (over 5 minutes) is about the only problem that WoW has not had server related. There have been a few, but well under one per server.

              You can buy a pre burned CD for a small fee or you can download the ISO free and burn it yerself.

              I'd sure Blizzard would have loved to do that, but Valve barely managed to even sell thier game online. Do you think Vivendi would ever allow Blizz to give a game away fr

      • Not to sound like an economist or, worse, a republican,

        That wasn't so hard, now was it?

        Now, repeat after me:

        "Sean Hannity rocks!"
        "Get your hands off my hard-earned tax dollars, commie!"
        "James Carville is an incarnation of Satan"


        For further reading: Pudge's Journal [slashdot.org]
    • I can't speak about WoW, but in Everquest, there are a lot of things that go into the game beyond what's there at the initial launch. (I don't count bug fixes, or game mechanic adjustments).

      In Everquest, a lot of things go in. New quests, new gear, new tradeskill items, new spells, new zones open up, etc.

      When a LOT of new stuff goes in at once, they do it as an expansion. Expansions were usually $20-$30. There's an upcoming "expansion" (although it's hard for me to call it that), that will be about $
    • by snuf23 (182335)
      If you have played Guild Wars and you have played a more traditional MMO, you would realize that Guild Wars is more like Diablo with a 3D interface. Diablo as well did not have a monthly fee, so I hardly see why Guild Wars model is considered so ground breaking. Smaller instanced zones, not much for towns, limited economy, small party size, limited crafting, no player buildings etc. Guild Wars will also charge extra for expansions featuring new zones or new character classes.
      Most MMOs develop additional con
      • That's interesting... I wasn't aware that it was so stripped down, if what you are saying is correct. It claims to be a MMORPG from what I've seen...but Diablo definitely was not one.
        • I played in the beta weekend events. Guild Wars is definately an interesting game, but the feel really is more Diablo. For example the starter town is very samll and even has a bunch of guys standing around that serve the same sort of functions as in Diablo. The weaponsmith, the crafter who can combine items, the level up trainer etc.
          As far as I could tell, the quest party size maxes out at 4. You can also get NPCs to join you in your party if you can't find live players which was a neat feature.
          The one ele
      • I wish they made it a bit clearer of what you were playing. It was a preview event, call it the first level of quake, not the first episode of doom.
    • I doubt they are overcharging gamers. The game sells for $50/$80 but that is not what Blizzard gets back. There are a few middle men/businesses in between that get a good portion of that revenue. I would say that the money they made from the buying of the game covers developement costs or close to it. Let's assume they have 500,000 active accounts per month at $15 a month. That is a total of $7.5 million dollars monthly. They have probably around 200 servers. Their bandwidth I would assume would be extremel
      • They have probably around 200 servers.

        Where did you pull that number from? Just in the US, there are around 100 game worlds, usually mistakenly called "servers". Each game world is serviced by a cluster of actual server machines. Additionally, several game worlds share access to one of several database servers. I would estimate the actual number of server machines in the 1000+ range.
      • You'd also need to include the cost of a WinXP license.
        • Or the cedega licence. Friend of mine used to dual boot. Cedega plays WoW for him, so he's ditching windows.
        • Oh please (Score:1, Flamebait)

          by M.C. Hampster (541262)

          Well, don't forgot the cost of your computer. And the cost of the electricity you use while playing the game. And, do you drink more Mountain Dew while playing? Add that in too.

          Seriously, your comment has to be one of the stupidest I've seen in a long while. Not everything is about Windows and Microsoft.

          And BTW: you can play the game on Mac OS X also, so you don't have to have WinXP.

    • I think you are confused. Businesses are allowed to make a profit. Taking in more than you spend isn't a crime, it's the *point*. You are confusing capitalism with overcharging.
    • by Psychochild (64124) <psychochildNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @06:40PM (#11683675) Homepage
      Has Blizzard or any of the other MMORPG guys ever posted the actual cost of running such a service vs. how much money they are taking in on it?

      FWIW, I run a smaller online game called Meridian 59 [meridian59.com]. My costs are a bit different since we're a smaller company. I'll talk about that later.

      Anyway, you can find a discussion on this topic at http://www.legendmud.org/raph/gaming/busmodels.htm l [legendmud.org] which was written by Raph Koster of UO and SWG fame.

      To summarize: Development costs are high, especially for more recent games. WoW and SWG each cost tens of millions of dollars to develop, which is a lot of money in game development. They employed large teams of people, much larger than your typical standalone game charges.

      Now, running the game is an ongoing cost. The biggest expenses are bandwidth, network support, and customer service. People get very cranky when they can't log onto the game, and will post mean things if they cannot. (See other posts in this very thread for examples.) Network administrators don't come cheap, and when you're talking about hundreds of machines running these games, you're going to need a large number of these administrators. And for those times when your service is unavailable, you need CS representatives to handle the crushing wave of calls you will undoubtedly get. All this doesn't come cheap. Now figure in the cost of things like development of bug fixes and expanded content (including content you can't just charge for in an expansion), and you have a lot of expenses.

      In all honesty, the price paid is probably too low. As someone pointed out, playing 1 hour per day means you're only spending about $.50 per hour to play the game. Compare this to watching a Pay-per-view movie where you'll probably pay $2-3 per hour for that entertainment.

      Further, low subscription rates hurt the smaller developers. Meridian 59 is significantly cheaper that other games (only $10.95 per month instead of $15 like other large games) and doesn't charge for expansions. However, we make much, MUCH less money than a large company does and it is harder to maintain and expand the game on that much smaller of a budget. We mostly run M59 as a labor of love, though, so this isn't as big an issue for us. But it's unrealistic to expect an online RPG that is run on centralized servers with as much uptime as possible and that is expanded on a regular basis to be free or even significantly cheaper that current rates.

      Some information for you.

      Have fun,
    • by AvitarX (172628) <me.brandywinehundred@org> on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @10:53PM (#11685705) Journal
      How could it possibly be construed as over charging?

      They sold over a quarter of a million copies in a day. Things are worth what people will pay for them.

      The only way the customers are ripped off is if a monopoly is being abused, or they are fooled.

      Blizzard doesn't have exclusive MMORPG rights, and they are being upfront about the costs.

      It is not like EA selling shitty football or Sony using their past reputation to trick people.
      • *Applause*

        Very well put. People buy what they want, when they want, at a price they think is fair. If Blizzard was overcharging for WoW I don't think over half a million people would have bought it. I've played many an MMO and I can honestly say WoW is one of the best and well worth the price. Especially considering a new game is $50 and I used to buy one every month or so. The first month of WoW was $50 which is normal for a game in my case (I usually don't play them more than a month). After that it's $

    • SOE posted some round about numbers for EQ1. They said it was costing around $30 million a year for all costs(servers, new dev, people,etc). And they were bringing in close to $45 million(subscription, expansion packs, marketing of license,etc).
      Some smaller MMORPG said they needed around 70,000 subscribers to make a profit and stick around. So it really depends on what how profitable they are.
      As for box costs, you can figure that only around $15 of the $50 box(expansion pack they get less) goes to the d
  • This is the first game I bought since Diablo 1. And I have no regrets. The monthly cost is more then worth the entertainment I get out of it.
    • Oy, it's a time sink. My initial subscription ran out almost a month ago and I seriously have not had the time to play since. Since it absorbed about 47 days from about day three after retail release (10-day guest pass, 30-day initial subscription and 7-odd days of "free" time due to problems), it's like I'm having to catch up with a month's worth of stuff while the next month's stuff happens at the same time.

      It's great fun and I've even got one of those fancy WoW keyboards and the limited edition strate

  • This means that they have sold over 1,000,000 boxes in North America and European releases so far. World of Warcraft has single handedly proved that the MMO market is by no means saturated.
    • Saturated? Hmmmph! I'm still stuck playing EQ2 because I can't buy a copy of Wow. I had one literally taken out of my hands by a mom at Target the other day with nothing more than a "if you're not going to buy that, my son wants it for his birthday." I seriously considered summoning a L23 Security Wight. The only thing that stopped me was the fact that I knew they're not accepting new subscribers until they get their hardware issues ironed out. Happy birthday, Junior!
    • So, by that estimate that's $50,000,000 just from game sales (not even taking into account the limited edition $80 ones)...and then that's a steady $13,000,000 a month...or 195 million a year if they're all playing. So, in theory, if they sold a million copies, and everyone played for a year that would be almost 250 million dollars!!! That's a whole lot of money I'd say.... and last time I checked I don't think there's ever been a game that cost over even 10 million to make, and I seriously doubt their serv
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Most companies think of Europe being "just some" market after the US and Asia.

    However, considering many customers hence feel like "second rate", many don't fall for the products.

    Now a good one comes here, not looking like a "cheap" European version of some game (like Mythic -> GOA DAoC), and people are surprised ...

    Thinking seems to be harder than I though.
  • by zyzko (6739) <kari.asikainen@g ... .com minus punct> on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @04:18PM (#11681774)
    It's great to see WoW being such a great success also in Europe, however Blizzard should really do something about their servers.

    Right now logging in is impossible to many European servers (just check the EU tech support forums...) and people have been experiencing disconnects and signup-problems from day one not to mention the huge queues on some servers.

    The ridiciously short beta and the problems they had in the US should have warranted a more thorough analysis about what is required to serve the big audience. For a subscription (time) -based game this is quite unacceptable.

    -Kari
    • I'm sure they'll append additional playtime to all those who suffer from downtime. They did that for the US server users.

      But yes, they should have learned from their mistake... But I can imagine their thought process.

      "Wow, we did amazingly well in North American, it blew our servers out!"
      "Yeah... let's hope we do half as well in Europe" ...
      "Holy crap, we did even BETTER in Europe... That was unexpected *servers go boom*"
    • Not to forget that stupid users bring this on themselves when they absolutly MUST join high population servers. I still remember the hype 'the inwow server is the best'. Well, I am not so sure people still think that way. The sad truth is: There are enough servers. But as in the US, some have almost no population while others are constantly maxed out.
    • I bought it on 17.Feb, an have not had a single problem with it. Neither with registration, nor with running the game. With most games, i tend to have problems till the first patch is out, but not this one. Nice job!

      Apart from that, the game experience is simply amazing, a so i think i'll move away from diablo2 after several years...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @04:24PM (#11681898)
    According to figures released by the developer, the subscription-based MMORPG sold more than 280,000 units on day one - more than it sold on its first day in the States - before sales rose to 380,000 by the end of its first weekend on sale.

    That is not a small number! That is a really big number!
    Flagrant premature rollout error
    WOW Over = Very Yes.
  • by tod_miller (792541) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @05:13PM (#11682623) Journal
    I am glad I didn't buy this only to find I couldn't log in.

    I do see these are historical games... in the future such server issues will go, so enjoy the stories of server outtages and record sales, before this becomes just another command and conquer or doom gaming fad, and becomes old news.

    I personally like the genre, but do not play games. I think it is important to keep up with the field though, so I regularly read up on them.
  • Population (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Well. A lot more people live in Europe than in the USA, so that it sells more in absolute numbers doesn't seem very surprising.

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