Monday, March 16, 2009

Top Ten Money Making MMO's

I missed this when it came out last month but Gigaom have spilled the beans on a study by DFC intelligence of the top ten money making MMOs of 2008:

1. World of Warcraft, DFC estimated 2008 revenue: $500 million-plus

2. Fantasy Westward Journey, DFC estimated 2008 revenue: $150-$500 million

3. Maple Story, DFC estimated 2008 revenue: $150-$500 million

4. Shanda (includes Legends of Mir and World of Legend) DFC estimated 2008 revenue: $150-$500 million

5. Lineage I and Lineage II , DFC estimated 2008 revenue: $150-$500 million

6. Runescape DFC estimated 2008 revenue: $50-$150 million

7. Club Penguin, DFC estimated 2008 revenue: $50-$150 million

8. Lord of the Ring Online DFC estimated 2008 revenue: $50-$150 million

9. Warhammer Online DFC estimated 2008 revenue: $50-$150 million

10. Age of Conan DFC estimated 2008 revenue: $50-$150 million

World of Warcraft was a no brainer but it doesn't have the lead in revenues that I expected. If the $500m figure is to be believed it is clear that the vast majority of WoW's 11m customers are paying far less than the $15 per month we think of as standard.

I had never heard of Fantasy Westward Journey but apparently it is the most popular mmo in China so that explains it massive revenues.

Combining Lineage 1 and 2 into one entry and lumping all Shanda's games together problably distorts the rankings but I am not surprised to see these games nor Maple story and Runescape in the list.

Further down the list we discover that the number 2 Western MMO is ... "Club Penguin". Am I surprised? Of course not - I predicted this some time ago . The now owned by Disney game does have some strong competitors in the "family friendly" mmo space though so it is interesting to see that it is the only kiddy friendly western game to make the list.

Fanbhoys can fight over the last three entries. Lotro is now in its third year and while it never really threatened to dent WoW's crown Turbine do seem to have established a comfortable niche with this game generating a steady stream of revenue. Neither AoC nor WAR have a full years revenue to consider but both games benefitted from a large number of box sales so it is hard to read much into their position on the list. Sticking my neck out and giving my interpretation of the internet buzz I would guess that AoC has dropped like a stone and will not feature significantly in 2009 while WAR though it has lost the majority of its early subscribers may be able to maintain Lotro-esque numbers going forward.

Another interesting observation: Eight of the top ten games use a subscription model even if some of them also offer Micro-transactions. As far as I know only Maple Story and Shanda's games are primarily funded by item purchases.


Green Armadillo said...

They've waffled quite a bit.

WoW is actually listed at "500 million *PLUS*". It is relatively common knowledge that Blizzard isn't making top dollar off of all of the international subscribers, but $500 million sounds low for a figure that includes box sales in addition to subscription revenue.

Likewise, the bottom five entries appear to all be tied (and we don't know what number 11 came in at).

I guess this is all the handwaving that you can do since no one releases their actual revenue numbers.

mbp said...

I guess a healthy does of scepticism is required for any study like this given the lack of actual published revenue figures.

I still think it makes a useful discussion tool though. I have been trying to think of games I expected to see on the list but that aren't there. Guild Wars for example has a very large active playing population but their non subscription model just doesn't translate all those players into revenues. I am bit surprised also that Final Fantasy,Perfect World or Dofus didn't make the list.