Posted by: mrrx | December 15, 2006

WOW : Not as big as you think.

I’m experimenting with themes.      I might go with the Shocking Blue Green, or stay with the Rubric, or perhaps another one.

After my last post about, I find out that the “subscription” numbers and methodology used for his charts have been incredibly misleading.    Granted he’s got a hard job, but the results have really given me the wrong impression about WOW’s size in the MMO arena.

Now, one thing he’s trying to do is count the “number of accounts” to get to how many people are playing.     OK – fair enough.      There should be a good correlation between number of accounts and the amount of money and players in a game, right ?

Well, no.    In America, you have to buy the game and then pay a fee.     So you’re talking about maybe $40 purchase and $15 subscription fee.      It’s roughly the same for most MMO’s with some exceptions, but the exceptions are clearly understood among the community.

But in China, apparently the players do not buy the game.     They get it for free.     Hold the phone – what does that do to the methodology of counting accounts ?      Shoot, I’ll just create an account to grief/hide/sell gold/group out of guild/(insert purpose here).      Now you’ve just blown the comparative methodology.      And all this time I thought I was playing the tiniest boutique game, when in fact WOW just isn’t as big as the graphs indicate, and never has been.

How does Mmogcharts compensate ?    They go with Blizzards figures from China, on accounts which have been active over the last 30 days.     Not disclosed is the amount that anybody is paying on these subscriptions though.      If it’s similar then the methodology is probably OK – well, no, it’s not.      Chinese players are paying maybe 1/4 per month what the American players are.

Even better – how does he rate the accuracy of his WOW numbers ?    An “A” rating.    Ahem.

Warcraft is still the elephant in the room – the reported subscription numbers for Everquest 2 are maybe 175k, compared to perhaps 2 million WOW’ers in North America.       That’s a far cry though, from 6.6 million as represented on the graph.     And frankly, I just have a lot less trust in the rest of those numbers given the confusion – call it professional instinct.



  1. I take issue with’s reported number of EQ2 subscribers. According to, the number of characters across all servers is 2.2M, now if every subsciber used all 6 of their allowed slots (unlikely) that equates to over 360,000 subscribers. Using a more realistic figure of 4 toons per account equals a very healthy 550,000 subscribers.

  2. But are all of those current subscribers on, or are some of them from lapsed accounts?

  3. You can’t use number of characters for EQ2. People with characters on Test, or European servers will start to screw the whole thing up. Add in people with station access and you can’t get anywhere close to how many characters per subscriber.

  4. Figures get an ‘A’ rating if he gets them straight from the company instead of having to estimate them based on hints. He says straight out that these figures are largely just based on hearsay. So I’d cut him some slack but would hold off making any business decisions with them.

    While visiting my daughter in the hospital as my grandson decided he wasn’t going to come out quite yet, I was talking to my son-in-law about WoW — which should show just how pathetic all of us are (my daughter and son-in-law duo in WoW). So even with wildly inflated numbers, at least it is a game popular enough that everyone can compare other games TO it.

  5. I mostly wonder when the site is going to get updated…

    I visit perhaps every two months in the hopes we get some fresh data on the MMO scene… but no luck.

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