WoW still growing?

Raph does SirBruce and found another investor presentation from Vivendi.

Or maybe not. In fact it the same I already commented, but I was somewhat fooled and went analyzing again the whole thing.

Here is some extrapolated data/best guesses I taken out from the graph, comparing it with the other official sources.

March 05 – 1.4 western [graph] – 550 eu – 850 na [March 17 press release, 500k eu – 800k us]
June 05 – 1.8 (+4) western [graph] – 850 (+3) eu – 950 na (+1)
September 05 – 2 (+2) western (+2) [graph] – 900 eu (+0.5) – 1.1 na (+1.5) [August 30 press release, 1M us]
December 05 – 2.4 (+4) western [graph] – 950 (+0.5) eu 1.4 na (+3)
March 06 – 2.7 (+3) western [graph] – 1.1 (+1.5) eu – 1.6 na (+2) [January 19 press release, 1M eu]

March 05 to 06 – (+1.3M) western – (+ 550) eu – (+750) us
March 05 to 06 – (+4M?) eastern
March 05 to 06 – (+5M) worldwide

However the graph seems a bit imprecise. If we follow the progress of the official press releases this is what we have:

March 17: 1.5M worldwide
June 14: 2M worldwide
August 30: 4M worldwide
November 8: 4.5M worldwide
December 20: 5M worldwide
January 19: 5.5 worldwide
February 28: 6M worldwide
May 10: 6.5M worldwide

The substantial jump between June and August is because of the launch in China. If we follow just the data coming from the press releases this is how the graph would look:

The red line is the progression shown on the graph, the blue line the progress shown through the press releases. They are similar but I guess they tried to make the graph and the progression look more uniform.

In November they launched in Taiwan. Now my suspect is that the graph was slightly rigged to show better numbers for the western market and impress the investors. I believe that the curve is flatter than that and that the ratio could be more unbalanced toward the eastern market if we consider all the elements.

Let’s have a glance at the future. The trend of the red curve is rather stable, so it’s possible to extend it ideally. Well, if nothing changes we would see the subscriptions climbing at above 8 million just by the end of September. But, hey, it IS September and no other press releases arrived from Blizzard. No 7M worldwide being surpassed. If we also take into consideration the last quarters +2 or +3 on the NA market we would also have the subscriptions for NA dangerously near or above 2M. While if we take the progression from March to September of the last year we would have instead a +2.5, putting the NA subscribers at around 1.8/1.9M *right now*.

If that’s true it would be a safe bet saying that the NA subscribers will climb above 2M BEFORE the launch of the expansion. Again, I doubt it. We’ll see if I’m wrong but I’m not so sure that the NA subscribers are even above 1.5M. That would disprove the data we have now, though. But that’s my suspect.

I’ll wait to see if there will be new announces about our market in the next few months that disproves my theories.

Honestly, I wasn’t expecting the NA market to show that kind of growth between the summer of the last year and now. I thought that the european market would have surpassed it at some point. Instead, if the data on that graph is correct, not only it is still smaller than the NA one, but also growing more slowly. While my estimate gave the NA players at around 1.3M right now, nearly at zero growth. Instead the game is still growing.

It would be interesting to see the results of the 2Q and 3Q 2006 on that graph as it is much more interesting to see how things are going right now that the game is launched in every major region, with the expansion still months away.

I agree with what Raph wrote here:

Given that curve, we can see that WoW likely has not yet stopped growing. It has a tremendous amount of headroom in Asia, and maybe another couple of quarters worth of growth in the West. It looks to me like WoW will crest around 3.5m in the West. Asia is anyone’s guess; the curve can be severely “kinked” by the appearance of a major competitor, and Asia is more likely to create one of those than the West, in my estimation.

With the difference that I think that a major competitor could appear in Asia, but affecting exclusively asian players as I don’t have even an ounce of faith that one of those mmorpgs in development such as Huxley, Sun and all those new titles popping up every day is going to draw much attention in our market.

But hey, there’s Warhammer. It plugs right in a kind of gameplay that is completely screward in WoW: the PvP. So it could become a better answer to a demand coming from the players. DAoC in the last years has been more popular in europe than in NA. WoW demonstrated that the european market is at least as big as the NA one, you just need the right offer. Moreover it seems to me that european players are much more inclined toward a PvP game and the Warhammer brand has always been stronger here.

Ideally Mythic *could* be Blizzard’s most serious competitor.

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