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Role Playing (Games) Businesses

World of Warcraft Sales Figures Soar in Europe 57 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> <at> <>> on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @03:31PM (#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 snuf23 ( 182335 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @03:47PM (#11680427)
    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 content that is included with your monthly subsription. I find that when I am into an MMO I usually spend less a month on gaming. Since a new game can run upwards of $50, paying $12 or $15 a month is cheaper than purchasing even one new game. Considering I probably purchase 2-4 games a month when not heavily into an MMO.
  • by tod_miller ( 792541 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @06:13PM (#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.
  • by Psychochild ( 64124 ) <> on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @07:40PM (#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 []. 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 l [] 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,
  • Population (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @07:53AM (#11687421)
    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.

10.0 times 0.1 is hardly ever 1.0.