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The MMORPG

Source: http://iml.jou.ufl.edu/projects/Spring05/Hill/mmorpg.html
What is it?
• MASSIVE
• MULTIPLAYER
• ONLINE
• ROLE
• PLAYING
• GAME
MMOG
Typically these involve the players
having a client that allows them to
log into the world, which continues to
exist and change even when no one
is on. Usually MMORPG’s charge a
subscription service but occasionally
they do not, typically the better
games do though.
The Big Idea:
An interesting aspect of MMORPG’s is that
they are constantly in flux.
To keep the players happy the companies
are typically continually working to
improve and enhance the game.
Players often log in to find that new zones
and quests have been added.
If the game does well enough players can
usually expect expansion sets to come in
the future. These expansions are giant
additions to the game that players are
required to buy.
In the beginning…
The first MMORPG is believed to have
shown up in 1996, Meridian 59. It
was originally released in 1996 by
the 3DO company and was one of
the first commercial online games
available for sale in retail stores in
the US. The game was purchased by
Near Death Studios, Inc. in 2001 and
relaunched commercially.
1997
It wasn’t until 1997, with Ultima
Online, that the genre started to
become popular.
Evolution
Massive Multiplayer Online
Role Playing Games evolved
out of MUDs. These games
host a large number of
players logging into the
same world to play out their
game. These visual games
are currently very big
business. There have been
a few attempts over time to
create a successful
MMORPG, but nothing was
an extraordinary success
until Everquest.
“Evercrack”
In 1999 Everquest was released by
Sony Online Entertainment and was
the most popular and commercially
successful MMORPG until 2004. The
game was so popular and captivating
that it received the nick name
Evercrack. It marked the beginning
of the modern MMORPG push.
It is impossible to talk about MMORPG’s
without discussing World of Warcraft
(WoW), not just because it’s so many
people’s game of choice -- but because it
made history.
Wow!
Everquest dominated the MMORPG
world for five years. In late 2004
WoW hit the shelves. In Wow’s first
24 hours it sold over 240,000 copies,
more than any game in history. As of
March, the game has sold over
1,500,000 copies worldwide and has
at any given time an average of
500,000 users are online.
Woah!
WoW’s popularity has also been in
some ways its bane. According to a
Penny Arcade interview with Blizzard,
the company saw that other popular
MMORPG’s typically sold about
300,000 copies in it’s first year.
Blizzard planned sell 600,000 copies
during its first year.
They hit that number in six weeks.
This amount of players caused
incredible problems because the
system couldn’t handle it, Blizzard
has since fixed many of the issues
but occasionally finds this over-
population to cause trouble.
…and then
Two expansions and billions later:
But wait…
Recently, it seems that every game company
has been trying to get it’s own MMORPG on the
market. Already gaming companies like
blizzard, maker of World of Warcraft, Lucas Arts,
Star Wars, and Sqaure Enix, maker of Final
Fantasy XI have released their own world’s
MMORPG based on the game series they put
out.

A number of MMORPG’s are based on existing


worlds from movies, books and games. Future
MMORPGs have included games from
The Matrix, Star Trek, Dungeons and Dragons
and Star Wars.
HW
• Play around with a free MMO:
• http://us.runesofmagic.com/us/index.htm
• http://www.onrpg.com/MMO/Free-MMORP
A Long-term Study of a
Popular MMORPG

Wu-chang Feng Debanjan Saha


David Brandt

Source: W. Feng, “A Long-term Study of a Popular MMORPG", NetGames 2007, Sept. 19-20, 2007.
Imagine yourself
• In charge of running a successful
MMORPG
• Your goal
– Make money
– 100k+ people paying you $20 a month
to play
Questions
• How many players will there be next week?
– Provision servers to support them
• What can I do to increase this number?
– Impact of game updates and promotions
• What can I do to make sure players don’t
quit?
– Detecting disinterested players
Difficult questions to answer
• Requires player data from a successful MMORPGs over a
long time period (fat chance!)
• Never hurts to ask…
– Remember NetGames 2004?
– David Brandt, CCP Games
EVE Online
• Single world sci-fi MMORPG
EVE Online statistics
• Launched in UK and USA on May 6, 2003
– Europe on May 23, 2003
– China on June 12, 2006
• As of August 3, 2007
– 190,000 active subscriptions
– 35,000+ peak concurrent on-line players
• How does it stack up against other MMOs?
Not too shabby
• Source: http://mmogchart.com
(6/2006)
EVE Online trace
• Anonymized authentication log of
EVE Online throughout its existence
Duration
– All Mayevents
session-related 6, 2003for
– March
each 12,
2006
player
Total sessions 67,060,901
Total unique 925,928
players
Total player time 17,204 years
Questions
• How many players will there be next week?
– Provision servers to support them
• What can I do to increase this number?
– Impact of game updates and promotions
• What can I do to make sure players don’t
quit?
– Detecting disinterested players

Previous
Gamespy
study
– 550 games (mostly FPS)
– Nov 2002-Jan 2005
– 337.8k player years
C. Chambers, W. Feng, D. Saha, S. Sahu, “Traffic
Characterization of a Collection of On-line Games”,
IMC 2005 (Best student paper)
Game workloads
• Periodic
– Strong daily peaks with weaker weekend
peaks

Gamespy EVE Online


Game workloads
• Predictable over short-term
– Workload fluctuations small from week-
to-week

Gamespy EVE Online


Questions
• How many players will there be next week?
– Provision servers to support them
• What can I do to increase this number?
– Impact of game updates and promotions
• What can I do to make sure players don’t
quit?
– Detecting disinterested players
EVE Online growth
• Active player population throughout
trace

EVE Online
Mechanisms for increasing
population
• New game content and updates
• Promotions and marketing
• Price reduction
Impact of game updates
• Gain in players after each game update in trace
– Large gains after initial release
– Modest gains after subsequent game updates
• Castor spikes
– Competing sci-fi MMORPG shuttered
– Marketing blitz during game conference (free accounts)
Questions
• How many players will there be next
week?
– Provision servers to support them
• What can I do to increase this number?
– Impact of game updates and promotions
• What can I do to make sure players
don’t quit?
– Detecting disinterested players
Player churn
• A fact of MMORPG life
MMORPGs notorious for low acquisition rates

– EVE Online player acquisition rate drops over time
• Potential reasons
New players at a disadvantage

– Hard-core player population “tapped” out
Acquiring new players is hard

Let’s keep the ones we have


instead!
Can we measure
disinterest?
• Examining play history to detect
waning interest
– Minutes played per week
– Session length statistics
– Inter-session time statistics
Metric #1: Minutes played
per week
• Minutes played per week throughout
play history
– Players play less over time
Metric #2: Session times
• Session time distribution
– Session length of “final” session shorter
than normal
Metric #3: Intersession
times
• Intersession time distribution
– “Final” intersession time significantly
longer than normal
Catching a disinterested
player
• Aggregate not individual statistics
– Addicts thrown in with casual gamers
– Normalize per-player
• What percentile does final session and final inter-session times fall into
versus player’s prior times?
– “Final” intersession time a very good predictor!
Conclusion
• A close look at a popular MMORPG
over a long period of time
• Key observations
– Workload stability
– Player acquisition and churn
– Measuring disinterest
Questions?
Extra slides
Game workloads
• Unpredictable over long-term

Gamespy
Impact of game updates
• Player minutes per week as a
function of last game update
Player sessions
• Many play for a short time