September 17, 2009

News Roundup: SWG Server Closures, 5M Confused Free Realmers, and The MMO Prophet

Unbeknown to everyone, Star Wars Galaxies still had 25 servers running. However, they've decided to close 12 servers:
Sony Online Entertainment has announced and notified Star Wars Galaxies players that the game will be shutting down 12 servers on October 15th. The effected servers are:

* Corbantis
* Europe-Infinity
* Intrepid
* Kauri
* Kettemoor
* Lowca
* Naritus
* Scylla
* Tarquinas
* Tempest
* Valcyn
* Wanderhome
I hate server closures, but secretly love them when they are done for the right reasons. SWG needed to close servers because the playerbase was getting spread too far apart. The consolidated servers will provide a much better player density.

This presents a unique challenge, as SWG allows players to own property. I would hate to be the guy that loses prime real estate right outside of Mos Eisley on Tatooine, but at the same time, I would welcome the potential new business when I find a new plot of land to settle on a more populated server!

Following suit with more SOE-related news: Free Realms *almost* hits 5 million players.
Sony Online Entertainment's free-to-play MMO Free Realms is 'close to' 5 million registered users, revealed Sony Online president John Smedley, speaking in a Gamasutra-attended panel at Comic-Con International San Diego 2009,
We still don't have any revenue figures, and as Facebook and Twitter have taught the Web 2.0 world, big user bases tend to cost A LOT of money and are not necessarily equatable to profits.

I played Free Realms and it was fun for a few days. It wore off quickly and once stripped down, there is nothing in Free Realms for me. Which is apparent, as SOE also announced that 75% of Free Realms players are under 18 years of age and a lot of them can't remember what year they were born or whether the lack of a twig'n'berries between their legs meant M or F:
Additionally, Smedley updated some of the game's demographics, stating 67 percent of players are male and 33 percent are female. "We were shooting for more females, but that's way better than the MMO audience which is [typically only] 15 percent female," says Smedley. He added that Free Realms stats show females outpurchase males by a 30-40 percent margin, and that 51 percent of Free Realms gamers are under 13, with around 75 percent under 18.
At launch, 40 percent of players were hitting Free Realms' registration website, and walking away. SOE found out that the average 10-year-old kid was getting hung up at the birth date field -- kids knew the day and month of their birth, but not the year. And they weren't filling out the "gender" field.
Snark aside, grats to SOE on Free Realms, we need more successes in the MMOG market.

Lastly, Tobold (the MMO Prophet) predicted World of Warcraft: Cataclysm:
Reader Luka is going through my archives from 2003 to now, and sent me a comment about one of my posts I had long forgotten about. It is from October 16, 2008, with comments on WoW patch 3.0 and ends with this paragraph:

MMORPGs are multiplayer games, and much of their attraction comes from the interaction with other players. As the players moved on, a huge part of World of Warcraft just ceased to exist. What is left behind is just an empty stage, and faint memories of the plays that were enacted on that stage. To populate that part of the world again, we'd need a completely different type of expansion: Not 10 more levels added to the endgame, but a cataclysm striking the old world, and changing it. New classes, maybe even new races, and most of the quests and zones of old Azeroth being changed to breathe new life into them. I wonder if we'll ever get such an expansion.