Frequent poster and Online Alchemy CEO Mike Sellers sends this report on recent developments in the multiplayer online game (mog) market:
"Last week, Blizzard announced WoW now has over 2 million subscribers. And this doesn't count China, where they've just opened up. They report having over 500,000 concurrent users in China during their open beta.
On the same day, rumors (later confirmed) abounded that Monolith had sold The Matrix Online to SOE. Twenty-six people on the team were given offers to go to San Diego, the rest were out of jobs. The future of Monolith in the wake of this, not to mention the entire market, appears uncertain. "
"Moreover, SOE also obtained the exclusive rights to create a MMOG based on DC Comics properties. This of course sets them up to go head-to-head with their biggest US rival, NCSoft.
today, CNN noted in a story about Atari that '"The Matrix Online,"
published by Sega, has only sold 43,100 copies since its launch in late
March, according to The NPD Group.'
It's worth noting that this is about half of The Sims Online's abysmal sales in about the same amount of time.
WoW is pulling in probably close to $200 million annually in *profits* (on almost $400M gross revenue), while MXO may never see profitability -- and yet the latter was still valuable enough to SOE to purchase it.
All of which goes to show that while not as hit-driven as the offline game market, the MMOG market continues to be high risk/high reward. Further, the long-predicted market consolidation appears to be taking place. What this will mean for future MMOGs isn't yet clear, but it's a safe bet that this isn't particularly good for those hoping for the open-ended innovative atmosphere that some players wish would appear. "