As we move towards 2010, there are a lot of factors in play that one might think could drive audiences of chart topping MMO World of Warcraft away.† Increased entries into the marketplace, compelling new free to play alternatives, even newly styled MMO's that look to tap into niche demographics of the broad, global player base Blizzard's MMO enjoys.
With the economic downturn is affecting not only U.S. but global economies one can't help but wonder which if any subscription based games will fall as a result.† With decreased consumer spending, reductions in offline retail game sales and overall consumer angst, people are very simply holding on to the dollars they have, we're becoming the ant to the proverbial grasshopper.††
One might think, with the release (or rerelease in some cases) of so many new massively multiplayer experiences, that this might begin to chip away at the veritable mountain of World of Warcraft players across the globe.
As always, I like to back my posts with hard data, so thanks again to comScore MediaMetrix, let's take a look at what the numbers have to say.
I'm using a simple look at unique visitor traffic to the World of Warcraft application, based on the comScore consumer panel of roughly 2 million consumers worldwide who have agreed to anonymously share application activity with us.
World wide, here is how the August 08 to August 09 trend looks for WoW, based on about 37 or so countries.
Wait a second.† Is that....
Yeah, it is.† WoW has actually increased it's audience size to 13.1 million unique users as of August.† It's like that Star Trek creature, the one that got bigger every time they fired a phaser at it?
I'm infrequently suprised these days, and not because I'm some Nostradamus, I just have good data backing me up and I keep the trends close at hand.† But even I thought that with the increased competition and decreased discrectionary income that WoW might be tapering a bit - I mean, the next expansion is a ways off yet so shouldn't we at least be seeing some MMO hiatusing? (yes, not a word or term but it is now and its mine, deal with it. ;) )
It begs the question; if decreased consumer confidence and spending, copious quantities of new competion (some of which is free) and aging content can't slow the Irvine based juggernaut, can anything?
I'm interested in deeper analytics here, but I'd like that to be a comment driven dive - so I turn it to you, the audience - what should we look at next in MMO audience measurements?