Monday, August 11, 2008

Guess how many copies WAR will sell

Via Book of Grudges I found this interesting tidbit of information Mythic revealed the Warhammer Alliance forums: To go from closed beta to release, Mythic is adding 9 million Euros ($13.5 million) worth of server equipment to a new datacentre. And that is just for Europe! Big business, indeed, compared to most single-player games. Now I have no idea how many players fit on 9 million Euro worth of servers. But if I take the retail price of the Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning box, deduce an estimate of the cost to actually make that box, and then divide 9 million by that number, I come up with something in excess of a quarter of a million. WAR would need to sell a quarter of a million copies in Europe just to pay for the servers. Of course that is a gross simplification, as it doesn't take into account monthly fees, nor development cost, nor operating cost. But it shows the order of magnitude Mythic is shooting for.

And as predictions are a fun way to get egg on one's face, here is mine: Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning will sell over 1 million copies worldwide before the end of 2008. Note how I'm hedging my bet by just stating a lower limit, because the upper limit will be a lot harder to guess. I'm guessing the lower limit using parameters like the total size of the market, number of beta applications, and the boredom index of the average WoW player. The upper limit will depend a lot on early word of mouth, which depends on how smooth the release goes, and MMORPG releases are anything but safe bets. But just to increase the chance of looking silly by predicting something totally wrong, I'd say the upper limit is under 2 million copies sold worldwide before the end of this year. So, provided that Mythic ever lets us know their number, I'll post around end of 2008 whether my prediction of between 1 and 2 million copies sold worldwide was correct. Copies sold, not subscribers, because there will be some interference in subscription numbers due to the Wrath of the Lich King expansion release of World of Warcraft. And press releases more often cite copies sold, not subscribers.

So here is your chance to upstage me: Make a better guess than mine. Either if you think that my lower limit is too high, or upper limit too low, by guessing a number or range of numbers outside my range. Or, if you think that I am broadly right, by guessing a much smaller range. How many copies do you think WAR will sell by the end of 2008?

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