Numbers Can Fool Us

Is WoW really a cultural phenomenon? Many people think so, spurting the “11.5 million subscriber mark“. Where does that number come from? I found it interesting that Blizzard stopped releasing where the subscribers came from in that press release.

When Blizzard announced they hit 10 million, they clearly stated 2M from Europe, 2.5M from North America, and 5.5 Million from Asia. When they announced 11M, they just did the total. Are they hiding the fact that numbers dropped in NA/Europe and picked up in Asia? Who knows. Now, from 10 – 11.5 million let’s extrapolate where that extra million came from, and take the guess it was even accross the board (even though I suspect the numbers are skewed more towards Asia). With the new 11M sub: 6.325M from Asia, 2.875M from NA, and 2.3M from Europe.

Let’s look at North America.

“2.875M” play WoW at top subscriber peaks during 2008.

41 Million Attended a Hockey Game.

Around 20 Million people watch Dancing with the Stars on any given week.

2 Million people eat at McDonald’s everyday in the UK only (I can just imagine what the NA stats are).

Cultural Phenomenon? Hardly. MMO Phenomenon? Absolutely!

Don’t get me wrong, but WoW players as a “sub-culture” in North American Society just seems like such a stretch. Sure, we all know a LOT of people that play it, but we read and write blogs and participate in that community – so are exposed to it on a daily basis. Heck, Wiccans claim they have 5 million in North America who practice their religion. While WoW sub numbers are big news to us in reality it is just another game that a bunch of nerds play. And closet nerds. And laywers, doctors, CEO’s, sure.

More fun with Numbers: Back in September during an Analyst Day conference Blizzard revealed that their total expense since 2004 (for WoW) was around the 200 million mark. Total. For 4 years. Do the math and chuckle with glee for the boys at Blizzard! (That is an honest pat on the back, building as good of a product as they did and supporting it for next to nothing).

4 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Everyone wants to feel important, and that they are part of something “big” and even “historic”. Just look at the herd mentality evidenced in the recent U.S. elections. Never mind that whole “reality” thing; it’s about perceptions. Hope and Change. Millions of people. Speshul iz weee!

    There’s probably a tangent to run there about the endgame and Epic loot, but I’m tired.

  2. You always seem tired lately Tesh. Get some rest =)

    On the other side of things, it is a shame companies aren’t more forthright with their numbers. Of course we understand why but it just reeks of “dishonesty”. It is always harder to support a dishonest company.

  3. Aye, and I know enough about math and statistics to bend stats to nearly any purpose. Since I can do it, and I’m just an artist who likes math, I have to suspect that guys who make a living spinning numbers are doing even more than I could make myself choke down. (See: CDO, CDS, Fiat money, etc.)

    Rest? What is this? 🙂

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