Much like Tobold’s knowledge of MMO blogging history (Lum invented it, if you did not know…), his understanding of business success also seems to be a little off. Actually I’m going to go out and say the above-linked post is just a troll attempt to drum up traffic and get him more Blizzard freebies, because I believe Tobold is a lot smarter than that post would indicate, but sometimes its fun to play along and feed the trolls. Plus it seems Tobold is not the only one confused on this subject, so in the spirit of giving, here goes.
If one MMO has 300k subs, and the other has 50k, which one is more successful? If you answered anything but “that depends”, you are Tobold.
Because if that 300k MMO cost 50 million to produce, and the 50k one cost 5 million, guess who is going to get in the black sooner? If that 300k MMO need 500k subs to just break even based on all associated costs, while the 50k one needs 40k, guess who is profitable? If that 300k MMO spent 10 million on advertising to boost initial sales, and the 50k MMO spent nothing, who again needs to sell a lot more copies just to break even? If that 300k MMO is losing 5000 players a month, and the 50k MMO is growing at a rate of 10% month-to-month, guess which one is going to have a server shut-down party and an employee meeting in the parking lot? And finally, if you are an MMO dev, which title would you rather be associated with; the expensive failure or the small success story?
Numbers aside, it would be wise of Tobold (and anyone else in that camp) to research EVE’s history of growth, and compare it to the rest of the MMO genre during that time. I’d also look at the number of MMOs growing after 5+ years, because the list is rather short. Actually, the list of MMOs that continued to grow after just one year is rather short itself, although come February it will have another name added to the list, one that both Tobold and Lum wish would go away.