Brief News in my briefs

Posted by Daeity On Sunday, October 10, 2010

I'll make this quick and summarize some news items. I'm exhausted and about to get some shut-eye. =]

- Forbes recently had an article about WoW's "12 million" subscribers announcement where they talked briefly about Blizzard's Next Gen MMO. Basically, the size of the team working on their Next Gen MMO is now more than 140 employees (which is close to the size of the team currently working on WoW.) It's a sign that project development is "in full swing", but it's still actually pretty new (ie, the team) and they're actually very far behind in development. The basic idea/story is ready, and content is still being developed - but it's still several years away.

- The Blizzcon Schedule makes no references to their Next Gen MMO.. I'm hoping they might show _something_ in the closing ceremonies though, even though game development is still early they still have some graphics content that they can show off. If there is no information released though, I'll have to go back to my sources and see if they're taking a different direction for the game. I'm still looking forwards to their "HUGE" Diablo 3 announcement though. D3 isn't supposed to be ready for public beta testing until late 2011, though, so the release date will probably be Christmas 2011 or very early in 2012 meaning that the release date announcement will happen around next years Blizzcon. I have strong feelings that this "HUGE" announcement will be silly.

- Regarding Blizzard's "12 million subscribers" announcement, it's funny how people never read the fine print on those posts. Active subscriptions in China (where a large chunk of their players are located) provide Blizzard a completely different calculation system used in their "total subscriber" figures. Keep in mind that in China, WoW and all of the expansion packs are completely free, and they don't pay monthly subscriptions. Instead, they buy time cards and can add time/points to them. The average player typically has multiple cards and they never expire until they reach 0. By purchasing these cards, they count towards an "active subscription" even though the time card isn't being used.

If you want to see real Census information, go here. During peak hours, there are about 2.6 million players online. You can't get accurate information like this from EU/NA realms though, Blizzard doesn't allow it. I have two CWOW accounts by the way, and can attest to the Chinese census information. =]

The thing is, that 12 million subscriber announcement doesn't fit in at all with Blizzard's revenue statements for EU/NA and NetEase's revenue statements for China. It also doesn't match up with each country's realm counts and sizes, software sales figures, and live census information. It does work, however, when special exceptions are made for active accounts (that can't be played or aren't being played), when you tweak numbers for China's special timecard system, and when you adjust the definition of what an "Active Subscriber" actually is.

- For those that didn't know (or forget), the next SC2 expansion pack release date is due in 2012 (Heart of the Swarm) and following in 2014 (Legacy of the Void). That's right - a 2 year gap between each Starcraft 2 Expansion Pack. Bah.

- Many online sources have been claiming Guild Wars 2 to be the next panacea for all MMO problems. Although I'm very much looking forwards to trying out GW2, I wish they wouldn't specifically focus on the problems of other MMOs. WoW, for example, has done a lot of things the RIGHT WAY and GW2 should be taking the same approach and simply improve proven concepts or working ideas. And don't forget that because GW2 will be doing a lot of cool new stuff, they'll be having a lot of cool new problems. =] I'll write up more on this though when I have some free time.