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Jun 29, 2004



NCSoft if one of the few companies publishing that type of data. EA has some too in their Quarterly report (mostly about the income of their online products), they used also to publish the subscriber numbers about UO but they stopped when UO started losing subscribers.
That about revenues and subscribers.
About number of online players, there are data available for DAOC, Eve Online, AC and AC2 that I know. The statistics are very useful as normally you can indirectly calculate the number of total subscribers when you know the peak time concurrent users (more or less).

From EA Annual Report 10-K we have the revenues from subscription services but the problem is that beside the MMOGs, EA is also accounting POGO revenues for the subscription services:
“...In fiscal 2004, net revenue from subscription services products increased by $4.9 million to $49.5 million as compared to fiscal 2003. The increase in net revenue was primarily due to the number of users for Club Pogo (launched in July 2003) and Pogo Downloadables (launched in May 2003), partially offset by a decrease in subscription net revenue from The Sims Online, Ultima Online, and Earth & Beyond TM subscription services...”

It is to notice that Ultima Online as TSO and E&B had decreasing subscription net revenues (lower subscriber numbers).


Oh, before anyone posts it, yes there is Sir Bruce: http://pw1.netcom.com/~sirbruce/Subscriptions.html.

But I’m thinking more of SEC filings (or similar stuff) – thx Luca. I had a dig for SOE but as they are part of Sony generally I don’t think that the online component of the figures will be split out too explicitly, but I’ll keep looking.


Now this is not a SEC filing but still interesting information about MMOGs company in Korea and China from the Minister of Information and Communication Republic of Korea.
While reading the article (written by Kim Tong-hyung) I got the impression I have personally underestimated the Asian market about MMOGs. It looks like an Iceberg and from the other side of the world I have the impression I see only part of it.


"Among the 500k registered users (I suppose also active) we have probably to count also the many FilePlanet trial users but still an "epic" milestone.
Interesting is that they are presenting the number of unique users logging on each day and not the concurrent users mark.

Comparison with Lineage 1 and Lineage 2 (Korea only data):
March 2004 Lineage 1 Daily Access: 494.616
March 2004 Lineage 2 Daily Access: 297.073
June 2004 SWG Daily Access: 115,000"

I'm pretty sure they are counting all active and inactive accounts when they say "registered."

Looking at the ncsoft data, it looks like a reasonable guess for active accounts is 2x unique daily logins, so I'd say SWG has 230K active, paying users (not counting free accounts.)


Webzen (WZEN) made 57 billion Won in 2003 pretty much on their MU Online title alone.

Go to Yahoo Finance and look up the list of other "usual suspects" listed on the NASDAQ:

Name, (Stock code), Title
Shanda (SNDA), The Sign
Netease (NTSE), Westward Journey
Tom Online (TOMO), Karma Online

The list of non-US listed stocks that have online games as a major business segment is even longer than 20 (mostly in Asia).

Also, China Internet Network Information Center projects online game revenue in China to reach US$1 billion by 2006. The website also have information on Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and other countries. Unfortunately only a few reports are in English.

If that US$1 billion forecast is real then that's a really big market! No wonder even an Chinese transporation company have a subsidiary operating online games.



About NCSoft if the number of Daily Access is also the unique user login number then the same should apply to the monthly access.
But if the montly access is the number of unique users logging in, we have to assume NCSoft has more then 1.7 million active users in March 2004 for Lineage 1 and 903k for Lineage 2-
Now for Lineage 1 if we look at the number of personal accounts (235000) and Registered Ips (725000) and Registered PC Rooms (19786) it seems to fit to the active users >= 1.7 million (for Korea only) as multiple users access the game through the Registered IPs and PC Rooms.
I hope they will publish the same data the next Quarter to see also the data about COH. Could be pretty interesting.


About Actoz Soft (Legend of Mir), there is a ppt about their IR report for 2003 (2004 is still to come or I could not find it). It is more a presentation but it has some interesting data like concurrent users.

About Webzen there is some interesting metrics (similar to NCSoft one) here.


Brucer wrote: I'm pretty sure they are counting all active and inactive accounts when they say "registered."

Looking at the ncsoft data, it looks like a reasonable guess for active accounts is 2x unique daily logins, so I'd say SWG has 230K active, paying users (not counting free accounts.)


I was reflecting about that yesterday and I have to say I have to agree with an estimation of SWG subscribers between 200k and 250k. If we agree on such a figure, they lost 25k to 75k subscribers since they last announcement about active subscribers. I wonder if the missing TOS, UO, SWG, DAOC and EQ users are the one who moved to COH, symptoms of a stagnant market.


About Shanda Entertainment 1Q2004:

Summary of the first quarter 2004:

Net revenues for the first quarter of 2004 increased 23.7% to RMB 227.6 million (US$27.5 million) from RMB 184.0 million (US$22.2 million) in the fourth quarter of 2003;

Gross profits for the first quarter of 2004 increased 20.9% to RMB 137.0 million (US$16.6 million) from RMB 113.3 million (US$13.7 million) in the fourth quarter of 2003;

Income from operations increased 50.9% to RMB 70.0 million (US$8.5 million) in the first quarter of 2004 from RMB 46.4 million (US$5.6 million) in the fourth quarter of 2003;

Net income totaled RMB 71.9 million (US$8.7 million) in the first quarter of 2004.


As I had to look it up, I’m sure at least one other person needs the refresher - Shanda Entertainment operate the following:

The Legend of Mir II
The World of Legend
The Sign
The Age
Magical Land
Tactical Commanders


Square Enix (Final Fantasy XI) results here for 2003(online Business):

Net Sales: ~$81 million
Operating Expenses: ~$60 million
Operating Income: ~$21 million
Operating Margin: 26,3%

2002 (online Business)
Net Sales: ~$38 million
Operating Expenses: ~$47 million
Operating Income: (~$9 million)
Operating Margin: (23,7%)

About the Online Business of Square-Enix:
In the Online Business, this business segment had been in the black since the beginning of the previous fiscal year. The business achieved sales of 8,924 million yen and operating profit of 2,348 million yen. While most of the profit was earned by FINAL FANTASY XI (FFXI), the remainder was from Crossgate in China and other titles. With respect to services in North America for FFXI, the PC version was released in the fall of the previous year and the PS2 version was released in March. The contribution of North America to sales was already around 2 billion yen. In the overall Online Business, while sales had been about 4 billion yen in the fiscal year before last on a simple total basis,
sales in the previous fiscal year were 8,924 million yen, showing steady growth.


The 275k was registered, not paying, and it was ages ago--we're WAY WAY past that now. LucasArts has never given out paying sub numbers for SWG.


Raph> The 275k was registered, not paying, and it was ages ago--we're WAY WAY past that now. LucasArts has never given out paying sub numbers for SWG.

Thanks for the note about the 275k registered users, I thought they were active subscribers (need to read better Lucasarts press releases).
As until now there were 500k registered users, I assume SWG has less then 500K active subscribers. At the same time Lucasarts says there are 115K daily unique logins a day. It is possible that Korean players usage pattern differs from the US/Euro usage pattern (less logins per week, less daily unique logins) but assuming a 14 to 20 hours average weekly playing time, it seems reasonable to expect 3 to 4 active days per week (implying an active daily rate between 1,75 to 2,33).
Multiplying the unique daily logins for the active daily rate should bring a realistic subscriber population.


Just a quick note about using the 10-Ks for numbers...

The problem is that revenue does not always correlate directly with subscriptions. Remember that they are all sorts of potential pre-pay accounts, failed charges, secondary charges (like the character service), etc. that all modify the revenue stream, plus you have the yearly cycle to consider. So just because a game has lower revenues from the previous fiscal year doesn't mean that it has fewer subscribers at that moment.


It seems also to depend from the market, Asian market seems to bring lower revenues per subscriber (even if we need to consider the different subscriber system (IPs and Internet Cafes too). China market seems to be a huge market in terms of accounts but it has huge entry barriers (need to find a local partner, need to get authorization from local authorities, royalties revenues instead of subscription fees) and so on.
So even if China offers at this stage a huge customer basis, the most remunerative markets seem to be Korea, Japan, Taiwan and US. Interesting is at this stage the relative no impact of Asian and American MMOGs on the European market (not to speak about European MMOGs as they are near no existent (with some exceptions like Eve Online, Neocron or Anarchy Online).


Just as note:
The9 has just published the Second Quarter 2005 Financial Results report with some interesting news about WoW China and Mu Online

"...As of June 30, 2005, the Company's total cash and cash equivalents balance was RMB523.3 million (US$63.2 million). The decrease in cash and cash equivalents from RMB793.4 million (US$95.8 million) as at December 31, 2004 was mainly a result of WoW server purchases, WoW prepaid royalty payment for the first year of WoW's operating term and being expensed as game revenues are recognized, and payments to 9Webzen, offset in part by receipts of prepaid card revenues and payments against loan receivable. ..."

"..The decrease in MU's revenue in the second quarter of 2005 was attributable to the decrease in MU users. The number of MU's peak concurrent users fell from about 139,000 in the first quarter of 2005 to about 93,000 in the second quarter of 2005. ..."

"...We are proud to announce that the number of paying accounts has already surpassed 2 million. We firmly believe that the rapid acceptance of WoW by game players in China is a reflection of the quality and dedication of The9's management and employees..."

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