2015 predictions review

Prompted by Wilhelm again, lets look back at my 2015 predictions.

DF:UW will shut down. The population is at an all-time low, AV is completely lost with the title, and Forumfall continues to stick daggers into the one game even trying to give that crowd something to do. I don’t see how the game survives 2015 short of a miracle turnaround or wipe/DF3 plan.

Technically DF:UW didn’t shut down, but right now the game has 1-2 developers working on it, meaning other than slight changes, nothing new is going in, and AV is supposedly flirting with the idea of licensing away DF1 to allow fans to run their own version.

WoW will lose subs. Yea, going for easy points here. I think the WoD bounce will fade, and I’m not sure New Blizzard is capable of really fixing the game to return it to growth.

As I said, easy points, and with WoD Blizzard has not only given up on growing the game, they have basically accepted the fact that outside of a ever-decreasing core, players now view WoW as a ‘jump in for a month, consume expansion, jump back out’ title. Not the worse position by any means, but a far cry from what WoW once was.

FFXIV will gain subs. More easy points. With an expansion coming, a solid foundation, and a studio not called SOE or Trion supporting it, I think 2015 will be an even better year than 2014 was for this gem.

This indeed happened, with FFXIV crossing the 5m sub mark and now being larger than WoW.

EVE will gain subs. Again more ‘in the right direction’ thinking here, although less confident in this predication than I am in FFXIV, especially if Star Citizen launches (it won’t) and isn’t completely horrible.

I don’t think this happened, or at least not in a significant way? I haven’t seen any recent ‘EVE is dying, see!’ posts from the usual suspects, but I also haven’t seen any growth indicators either. Did the population just stabilized in 2015?

LoL will continue to sit atop the gaming world. I don’t see Riot slipping in 2015, I don’t see any game challenging its popularity, and the MOBA genre has a long-established history of longevity. The eSport side of the game will also continue to grow and dominate that segment.

Correct on all accounts. LoL is easily still the biggest game out, and it’s recent eSport numbers show its also a monster for that. Who could have predicated that in 2015, 36 million people would tune in to watch a videogame match?

CoC isn’t budging either. Similar story to LoL; solid developer, solid foundation, no serious challengers, CoC will finish 2015 as the top mobile game, just like it finished 2014.

Despite of heavy marketing push from Game of War (which is a 100% garbage game), CoC is still king of the mobile space, and the recent mega-patch and introduction of TH11 only strengthen its position.

Hearthstone will continue as Blizzard’s least-successful title. A weak foundation, core design flaws, and a complete lack of long-term hook will continue to see the title float between unknown mobile titles on the revenue list, while occasionally getting a jump when new cards are released and the whale famewhores dive in, only to drop back down shortly after. Won’t be much of a factor in the 2015 eSports scene either.

Nothing in 2015 turned HS around, as the painfully slow update cycles and zero effort to balance the game, along with all its other flaws, continue to leave it in a sad state. The only takeaway from an eSport perspective is that even the ‘best’ HS players make simple mistakes, leaving one to wonder why Blizzard even bothers taking the game in that direction.

ArcheAge will continue to be comically mismanaged by Trion, giving us as least half a dozen “Trion being Trion” moments in 2015.

I mean, predicting Trion being Trion is like predicting the sun will come up the next morning…

EQN won’t release. Nor will Landmark move out from under it’s ‘beta’ tag.

The public, slow execution of SOE continues.

The rest of the ‘that’s still online huh’ F2P junk titles like LotRO, SW:TOR, EQ2, etc will float on in who-cares-land. None will be put out of their misery, but none will move up either.

Good ol’ F2P minor leagues, always predictable.

I think game funding via Kickstarter will see an uptick as more Kickstarter-funded games launch and are well received. Pillars of Eternity is the one that has my eye (and money), and the continued positive development of MMOs like Camelot Unchained will show people that the platform, when used correctly, does work.

Well Pillars was a huge hit, and easily one of the best classical RPGs to come out in years. Crowfall (from what little I’ve played so far) is shaping up very nicely, and CU continues to make progress. I think its safe to say Kickstarter is an overall big plus to gaming.

I honestly don’t see any MMO in 2015 shocking us and restoring faith in the genre. It will be more of the same, with some good (FFXIV), some bad (pick a F2P MMO), and most being meh.

To pile on to the above, did anything shocking or of major note even happen in 2015 for the MMO genre? I guess FFXIV surpassing WoW is a big deal, but feels less so because in large parts its due to how Blizzard continues to mismanage WoW, rather than strictly based on how great FFXIV is. Certainly would have been a much larger story if FFXIV surpassed WoW’s peak of 12m.

So that’s it for 2015, fairly accurate if a bit safe. Working on the 2016 predictions now.

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
This entry was posted in ArcheAge, Camelot Unchained, Clash of Clans, Crowfall, Darkfall Online, EQNext, EVE Online, Final Fantasy XIV, Kickstarter, League of Legends, Lord of the Rings Online, Random, Site update, SOE being SOE, SW:TOR, Trion being Trion, World of Warcraft. Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to 2015 predictions review

  1. Azuriel says:

    You’re wrong about FF14’s size (lol 5 million active subs?) and Hearthstone, but what else is new? Hearthstone continues to consistently be the third most active Twitch channel, and the addition of the Tavern Brawl game mode is one of the best design coups I have seen from anyone in a while (even if some of the individual Brawls are dumb). While we may never know the true revenue numbers broken down by Blizzard title, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Hearthstone overtake StarCraft, if not already, then definitely in 2016.

    • SynCaine says:

      I think I’ve hammered you enough times about FFXIV that you’d accept defeat on that one, but I guess not.

      Are you saying in 2016 HS total lifetime revenue will surpass SC2 total lifetime revenue? Because if so, lulz no. If you mean just for 2016 alone, then maybe, if Blizzard releases nothing new for SC and its just old box sales, but what kind of measure is that? Either way a title sitting at #29 on the revenue chart in the app store (and this is during a content release cycle no less) isn’t anything to feel good about.

      Tavern Brawl is sometimes cute as a one-time-per–almost-week dice-roll distraction, but if anything it further highlights how terribly designed HS actually is as a game of skill vs being just a clicker simulation. To say its some revelation in game design though? Seriously? How low is your bar here? How is the ‘introduction’ of playing with comically broken pre-made decks, or just setting the game rules to something silly without a single care for balance, a major design wonder? Blizzard basically took the concept of a comic fan mod like insta-gib, and made it a game mode. What a revolution…

      • Azuriel says:

        Lifetime sales? Of course not. But in terms of “least-successful title,” StarCraft (and RTS in general) is on its way out, the latest release notwithstanding. Nevermind that that least-successful title probably already belongs to HotS.

        As for Tavern Brawl, it was a feature that no one asked for that ended up being exactly what the game needed, right when it needed it. Brawl certainly saved my own interest in the game. Plus, it’s a mechanism Blizzard gets to use to float card ideas (etc), provide a variety of play experiences, all while giving players with smaller collections a chance to have fun outside of straight-ladder grinding. Where have you see any of this in a CCG before?

        If you can show me anything indicating that FF14 has even 3 million active subscriptions, I’ll never bring the game up on your blog again. In the 5 months since the expansion, there are ~408k level-capped characters, and 1.3m level 50+ characters overall (source). Square Enix has always used the “registered account” nonsense you condemn from everyone else, and the math just doesn’t add up.

        • SynCaine says:

          SC2 was a huge hit when it came out and sold well, so its not even remotely close to being the least successful title Blizzard has released. HS is way down there compared to SC2, but as you said, HotS is an even bigger disaster, and Overwatch is coming along as expected (though the ‘pay once’ model is going to save it technically, as Blizzard won’t have to depend on people playing the game more than a few matches and growing bored to profit. It will further tarnish the Blizzard brand in terms of delivering quality games, but by that point the brand won’t be worth all that much anyway so its almost a non-factor.)

          Do you play Tavern Brawl more than once to win the free pack often? Because I most certainly don’t, and even getting the free pack would often be a pain depending on the brawl if not for the fact that you can basically play HS afk and just occasionally click to time out people for a win (my preferred method while waiting to watch clan war attacks). Sure, maybe one in ten brawls is something fun to play more than once, but again, is that really the metric we are going to celebrate by? We haven’t seen it in other CCG because it’s a mostly shitty addition that ‘works’ because of the comical baseline that is HS (90% dice, 10% decision), not because it’s something wonderful and amazing.

          Leveling in FFXIV is very slow compared to WoW (the two accounts we pay for aren’t 50 yet), so counting level-capped characters at this point is just a little bit flawed, especially because similar counts of raiding-completion content done by a similar method resulted in highly questionable results. Meanwhile the company telling you it had 2m ‘registered accounts’ with 500k daily logins isn’t hard to figure out in terms of what ‘registered account’ actually means, so when the same ‘registered accounts’ number is listed as 5m, well, 1+1.

          Tens of millions have left WoW, 5m+ recently, 90m+ people play LoL, why do you find it so hard to believe that the best themepark MMO out right now has 5m+ people paying $15 a month or so?

        • Amalec says:

          The fact is, if FF14 had more subscribers than WoW they would outright tell you so. By not doing so, they’d be leaving a fortune on the table.

          “Meanwhile the company telling you it had 2m ‘registered accounts’ with 500k daily logins isn’t hard to figure out in terms of what ‘registered account’ actually means, so when the same ‘registered accounts’ number is listed as 5m, well, 1+1.”

          It’s easy actually:
          500k daily logins = the number of people who log in daily, total
          2m registered accounts = the number of accounts who have ever paid a subscription, regardless of whether they continue to do so

          It’s actually a clever version of number buggery if you think about it. Their registered accounts number looks good, half plausible (which it wouldn’t if they included trials) and can’t logically fall. The daily login number, on the other hand, is fortified by free trials to make it seem like the 5 million people who had one time paid for a subscription might just possibly still be.

          I mean, I really don’t understand your stubbornness on this one. What’s more likely: that Square is leaving a fortune on the table by keeping quiet about being the biggest sub-MMO in the world, or that they’re telling you true but misleading numbers to put themselves in the best possible light (like every other MMO company, ever).

        • SynCaine says:

          The 500k didn’t include trials, and if the math adds up to you for a game to have 2m boxes sold lifetime, X number of current players, and 500k of X logging in that day, with X not being 2m, well… I don’t know what else to tell you other than to look up the ratio for total/daily from other games (lots of data is out there), and realize how insane it sounds to suggest that in that scenario the 2m is lifetime box sales for a game that (at that point) had been out 1yr+.

        • Amalec says:

          2m isn’t lifetime box sales, it’s people who have bought a box and then paid a subscription afterwards. Given that they began with a 35% retention rate (http://forum.square-enix.com/ffxiv/threads/113554), that’s nearly 6million boxes sold.

          My numbers are entirely consistent and make a whole lot more sense.

        • SynCaine says:

          “MMORPGs that launched after 2008 with a subscription based model retained a maximum of 35% of their users during the first month of subscriptions. However, FFXIV: ARR has surpassed this number by a wide margin.”

          Not only do your numbers not make sense, you aren’t even reading what they are telling you (in 2013) correctly…

        • Amalec says:

          Okay, wider margin – five million boxes sold? Four? It’s still hugely more plausible and consistent than your theory that because registered accounts doesn’t include free trials it necessarily only means active subscribers. It clearly doesn’t. Even in their own numbers they’re careful to leave out “active” when they talk about subscribers.

        • Azuriel says:

          Yeah, I pretty much exclusively complete my daily quests via Brawl most weeks. The “end of season” rewards have got me playing Ranked again (mainly for the dust, so I can craft Legendaries), but I might not have bothered getting back in at all without the novel gameplay many of the weekly Brawls bring.

          […] why do you find it so hard to believe that the best themepark MMO out right now has 5m+ people paying $15 a month or so?

          Because that’s $75 million a month. Or $65 million if you do the $12.99 option. According to the March 2015 yearly investor report (PDF), all of Square Enix MMOs, total, make around 6 billion yen a quarter, the equivalent of $49 million. So… divide that number by three, then divide it by $14.99 and you get something approaching the actual numbers. A solid 2nd place in the scheme of MMOs, but a fifth of WoW, even now.

        • Amalec says:

          I think that financial report is pretty much the nail in the coffin to your argument SynCaine. 6billion yen is less than 1 million US subscribers paying the cheapest 12.99 rate. Even assuming a (much) cheaper sub cost elsewhere, you’d need like a 1:20 ratio of US subs to Chinese subs to make those numbers work. And that’s without considering income from their other MMOs.

        • SynCaine says:

          That chart doesn’t include the expansion release, nor the by-now almost full year of continued sub growth (the expansion was a big spike, of course, but even before it the number was increasing). Following the math you suggest (somewhat questionable considering you can do long-term 180 day subs that might not factor into a quarterly result), that would be 1.5m or so subs back in March. Hopefully we get a similar chart showing an updated picture, but even with questionable math the results lean more towards what I’m saying than believing the ‘registered accounts’ number is total box sales (unless you think that means something else than subs or boxes?)

        • Amalec says:

          The “full year of continued growth” isn’t relevant because they announced their 4 million registered accounts in February of 2015 (http://na.finalfantasyxiv.com/lodestone/topics/detail/24d3c419fae62ce2771b4b0b7d01c6348ab5d5e5)
          So you’ve got to make 4 million registered accounts in February fit in with them making less than 17.5 million a month in revenue for the next 9 months.

          If they were leaving 6 month subs out of quarterly sales, we’d see those numbers reflected in other quarters, which we don’t.

          No one is suggesting registered accounts is box sales. It is pretty clearly the number of box sales who paid for a subscription at some point after buying, whether their subscription is active or not.

      • j3w3l says:

        Sorry sync – think your wrong on this one. On both accounts. FF14 having 5million active, subscribers just doesn’t fit the numbers.

        Hearthstone is of course no where near as popular and profitable as CoC but I still believe it is doing a lot better than you think. All i have is circumstantial evidence though related to a lot of the guild playing, and paying for stuff within there occasionally. With the increased rate of updates I think sales, of both cards and these areas would have got a boost too.

        • SynCaine says:

          HS sales haven’t gone up, or the game would have moved up in the top grossing chart, which it hasn’t. That’s just a pure fact with hard numbers behind it.

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