Guild Wars 2 Nabs ‘Fastest Selling Western MMO’ Crown, Looks East for More Records

This MMO sold three million in just nine months.

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ArenaNet

The fastest selling MMO in the history of Western video games? Why World of War–err, wait a second…not World of Warcraft? Doesn’t WoW have a bazillion chart-topping subscribers? Isn’t it still cooking along nine years after it launched back in prehistoric November 2004?

It does and it is, though its numbers have fallen precipitously in recent years…you know, as people finally run out of barrel-sized candles to burn at both ends (and despite Blizzard’s admirable attempts at keeping the multifaceted content train a-chuggin’). Still, it took WoW years to reach its record-shattering, apex predator heights. Rome wasn’t built in a day and all that jazz.

How about a year then? Guild Wars 2 debuted last August and shot off the block like Usain Bolt, bringing the game an enormous (and apparently sustained) stock of subscribers. DFC Intelligence, an international market research firm focused on cross-platform video game metrics, just joined hands with Guild Wars 2 developer ArenaNet to announce that the game is now the fastest-selling MMO in history — and that’s just counting European and North American sales.

ArenaNet isn’t saying how many copies it’s sold to date, perhaps saving that for a flurry of one-year anniversary press releases (the one-year mark is technically August 28), but bases that “all-time fastest selling” claim on sales that topped three million during the game’s first nine months, so through May 2013 (counting from September 2012).

DFC analyst David Cole says his company came to its conclusions about the sales record by “triangulating against multiple data sources” (which is keep-out-of-the-weeds-speak for “trust our wizard math”). When I asked for clarification about whether ArenaNet and DFC mean Guild Wars 2 is the fastest-selling MMO worldwide or just in the West, I was told that since no one has solid data on Eastern sales, they had to stick with “in the West,” but that it’s probably true (across the board) in terms of sales, since Eastern MMOs are given away for free.

Cole goes on to mention ArenaNet’s next big project, too: tackling the East. While the appetite for MMOs in the West still appears to be strong, the player base in countries like China — a country with over 1.35 billion citizens and more people online than the total population of the U.S. — is massive, raking in an astonishing $5.1 billion in games revenue for the first half of 2013 alone (of that figure, $3.8 billion came from online PC gaming). That’s roughly twice what gamers have been spending in an entire year playing MMOs in the U.S.

ArenaNet says it expects Guild Wars 2 to “experience rapid growth once it releases in China, where the player-base has the potential to exceed that of the West.” So if this three million in nine months figure — which, assuming sustained growth, would now be three million plus sales since May — doesn’t turn around, and Eastern sales live up to ArenaNet’s aspirations, you’d be well into World of Warcraft territory, say in the vicinity of six or seven million (or more) users combined. Imagine that.

To get the game off the ground in China, ArenaNet is partnering with KongZhong Corporation, a Chinese multimedia conglomerate that specializes in mobile and online games and currently holds a license to operate Wargaming.net’s portfolio (including World of Tanks). While Guild Wars 2 doesn’t have a formal launch date in the country yet, its second round of testing kicks off in September, and what the heck, you might find this interesting: a peek at how ArenaNet’s marketing the game to the Chinese (not in English, obviously).

Speaking as a guy who’s been playing modern MMOs since beta testing Ultima Online over a dial-up modem more than a decade ago, Guild Wars 2 takes the cake (and candles, party hats, sporks, bibs and presents). I haven’t had the time I’d like to play it as relentlessly as I might once have (you know, in the hazy green-gold glow of undergrad), but every time I sneak back for an evening or weekend afternoon, a little voice in my head goes “You’re crazy — crazy — not to play this more.”

If you haven’t given Guild Wars 2 a shake yet, ArenaNet’s offering a free trial between Friday Aug. 23 and Sunday Aug. 25 (the game itself is subscription-free, but normally requires you pay upfront — $50 for the standard edition, $70 for a deluxe version with bonus items). And last but not least, check out this clever infographic put together by a couple of talented designers/data aggregators at NeoGAF, which summarizes several of the game’s first year feats.

guild-wars-2-infographic

Charlie Green & Will Armstrong IV
27 comments
ShuanJBistra
ShuanJBistra

Played it. Did everything. Got my legendary. Ran out of things to do. Still nothing to do almost a year later. Haven't played seriously in months.

And just let it be known that  ArenaNet tried to say 'it's not an MMO' when it was advantageous. Now they will happily call it an MMO because it is advantageous. A company like any other, really...

RicardoNaval
RicardoNaval

I would like to add that I play on a server that is listed as "High".  Usually in Lion's Arch during primetime, there is one thing said in chat every 20 minutes.  And between the bank and the trade broker there are about 15 people maximum.  There are 10 times more NPCs than players.  If you enjoy playing a single player game, pick this up.  If you want an MMO with many players look at different options.

RicardoNaval
RicardoNaval

People should realize this is marketing fluff and nothing more.  They had released a statement saying they had sold 3 million copies 6+ months ago, and they are doing it again.  Just so people realize, they don't count expansions as MMORPGs.  They don't count Cataclysm for example which sold 3.3 million copies in 24 hours and sold almost 5 million in one month.

They only count MMOs launches, and based on that GW2 and SWTOR (which sold 2.7 million in 9 months) are the top 2 best selling MMOs.  That shows you the company in which the MMO is part of.  Nothing to brag about.  In MMORPGs sales mean nothing, retention means everything.  And this game has as bad retention as the other best seller SWTOR.

GW1 was a great game, and fun.  This game was made so that they could literally cheat people with hype.  It worked, like SWTOR they sold 2+ million copies and also have 2+ million disappointed fans.  Don't fall for the hype, this game is as average as they come.

stuggybear
stuggybear

I've played most MMOs with any WvWvW or RvRvR combat going back to DAoC.  Most have been hyped and come and gone in the blink of an eye (WAR, SWTOR to name just two of the biggest so called "AAA" MMOs).  GW2 has broke the mould - regular updates, no sub fees, minimal downtime for patching and new updates, almost everything cast on the move, no more collect x rat tails.  

It isn't for everyone - if you want to cling to your slowly dying MMO and can't embrace change then no worries, stick where you are. GW2 players won't even mind you posting on comments sections saying it sucks, we know you are just trying to desperatley keep the dwindling number of players in the game you currently enjoy. The box sales are incredible, the gem store is doing amazing business (if you want it) and the servers are busy, busy, busy (top tier servers for WvWvW you can expect to Q for 30 minutes or so regularly, lower tiers maybe only a few minutes at weekly resets).  

Is the game missing some things? Sure, it is missing a gear grind to be competitive for one thing and lots of people don't like that.  They prefer to be better than the other guy because they have spent 500 more hours or whatever playing the game. There are no real "raids", looking for group tool has yet to be introduced, tPvP is a bit lacklustre most of the time.

Realistically though, if you stack GW2 up against ANY current MMO it is head and shoulders above everything else out there.  And once you've bought it, there is no sub fee for the twice monthly new content you recieve. Compare that to your current MMO of choice, how does it feel?

JoeAdanac
JoeAdanac

Well for a game which bases its economic model around boxed sales*, three million units sold in a whole year is really nothing to brag about in this age of AAA blockbusters that are expected to push 5 million or more to be considered successful. One can highlight whatever stat they want to put themselves in the best light, but it usually isn't telling the whole picture.


Personally, I own Guild Wars 2 but rarely play it. The combat and graphics are inferior to my favourite present MMO (Tera Online), and the continual update thing means I continually miss content that is removed every week on a rotating basis. I stopped caring about trying to accumulate cosmetic items when so many of the good ones were locked to one character PER ACCOUNT, or locked inside RNG gambling boxes. I have no interest in gambling, and customer service does nothing to help new players if they make a mistake and lose or delete items. 

 Overall I found the forums very toxic in a sanitized sort of way, with any comments or suggestions that are critical of this game being deleted on the spot by an army of 1984-wannabe Mods. One of the worst official gaming forums I have ever visited.


*Its becoming clear that the developer is shifting the focus to microtransactions going forward, but that is just cheapening the overall feel of the game. Every update  just pushes more store items, with little new meat in terms of stories or compelling environments beyond the horrible controlling jumping levels (seriously, leave precise platforming to a console game with a controller that can handle it, please).

snobeee
snobeee

Well I understand some of the frustrations that some have with gw2, though to say it is dead is rubbish. Also to say that they are just new players is incorrect. On my server (Aurora Glade), I often see guild wars 1 players still. There are hordes of people that are still playing since they left guild wars 1, and can be seen by their titles. Especially since the living content and achievement updates this year, there have been consistently more people.

lukemangeiri
lukemangeiri

Lol, it took less time for that 3 million to quit playing than it did for them to buy the game. It's all marketing hype and nothing else. Shame it's nothing like it predecessor.

CrimsonCall
CrimsonCall

@rby608 New server or blame the culling feature of the game, which is based on your system specs. Mine is thriving with people 24/7 unless they are in WvWvW, then you walk in there and see plenty more zerging about, looking for your head, bases to take, castles and outposts to siege, etc. Albeit it is true that STARTER ZONES are empty because people are eating content on high level maps. Move to Stormbluff Isle server (NA) and ask one of their guilds with more than 300 people to pick you for a ride if you feel alone. We rarely RP at the starter zones because our characters are mostly on duty defending Tyria on more conflictive maps, but it is not impossible to go to Map Chat and say hello and receive a handful of answers, or see people stalking the world bosses that spawn ocassionally there (my Sylvari is always in Caledon Forest as a Mender and it is funny how I'm able to level her from level 1 to 80 just doing events and personal stories of other people on the starter zone).

On the other hand, I can't get tired of comments like "I played a half an hour a single class and grew bored because no body played with me and looking around was too much hassle for my brain". Good for you, just pick up the game again in the future when it meets your expectations or when it gets "dumbed down" so that slow people can catch up with the events of the zones' stories better. That feels like "I ate the cherry of the cake and I didn't like the cake". A very shallow judgement "since no body plays with me, then the game is empty and no body plays it". Other certain games delivers less than 1/10 of the content that GW2 delivers WEEKLY (and that you must FIND and SEARCH yourself in-game which requires EXPLORATION and NPC stalking/spying on their conversations to get what it is all about) and that still is an amazing feat no other subscription based MMORPG out there is able to pull. At least GW2 engine is enough nimble to be tweaked as they please and not relying on old monolithic systems that cripples the creativity and development of the game, increasing the costs of maintenance and grinding the gears on more than one CEO who inches their finger closer to the Shutdown button.

Why people is so conceited about their old aging games and not carrying on onto new experiences knowing that the genre evolved since they set up foot into X MMO a decade ago? It is just 1 payment and then you have it forever (but they still brag about their 2 beer bill sub for a game that they can't enjoy whenever they want and that grew 125% unfairly more expensive over the year). When EQNext comes out I'm going to buy it and play it along with GW2 and will not compare them both because they are 2 different concepts, only sharing the MMOG acronym and the fantasy settings (if I see anyone talking bad about the Charr and the Kerran, they should go on a crusade to Gygax's and Arneson's grave to backup their claims - or to further go to Japan where the mythos about feline humanoids is centuries old which are on most of the part in blame of the existence of these races). These wars about comparing games just because the community feed this invisible ring of rivalry will never get old, but it is annoyingly destructive as it caps your senses to see the whole picture of jewels like GW2, Rift and others that came out recently and are receiving people with open arms without forcing you to pay monthly to play their games. A new game, a new experience, even if rocks, dirt and mountains are the same but with different textures and/or procedural makeups.

Ugh, I needed to get this out of my chest. I apologize if it rolled too far the downhill. Now I hide in shame for typing too much and not in my mother language.

rby608
rby608

I played this game from launch to June.  Then I didn't come back until last month.  When I signed in to Lion's Arch, I saw about five players,total.  In Lion's Arch!!  So, who's playing this game?  Everyone I hear about is tired of it.

ScottInHillmanCity
ScottInHillmanCity

@ShuanJBistra so you havent been playing all the new content that is released every two weeks for free?  or the revamped PVP or playing in PVP esports contents?  To say there has been nothing in a year is KAHRAZY!  there has been a ton of new content!  You must work for Blizzard!

zerses
zerses

@RicardoNaval You should have chosen Ft. Aspenwood or any of the really high servers.

OUR LA is amazingly busy 80% of the time.

RicardoNaval
RicardoNaval

The server is Borlis Pass, if anyone was interested.

NicktheSmoker
NicktheSmoker

@RicardoNaval This couldn't be further from the truth.  I play on a server that isn't even marked as high, and there are tons of people.  Dragonbrand, and always tons of people to play with.  You seem to be making stuff up, or going off logging in once and no one was there (probably a big event going on anyway in a different map)

Its a great game, and every couple of weeks I get new stuff to do. No sub fee, and it makes WoW look like garbage.  Literally the most impressive looking and playing game I have ever played.

ShuanJBistra
ShuanJBistra

@stuggybear Three words: End Game Content.

GW2's end game is laughable. No thanks. Keep your fashion show MMO.

stuggybear
stuggybear

@JoeAdanac What AAA blockbusters are you comparing to in the MMO world?  Recently the only one that comes to mind is SWTOR, massivley hyped, developed by Bioware and with possibly the best known IP in the universe.  Check out the box sales for that - 2.6m in 18 months. 

With regard to forums you clearly never spent any time in Mythics or Biowares ;)


iriyabran
iriyabran

@JoeAdanac  I can argue about both graphics and combat being inferior to TERA. I've played TERA a lot and almost every class. First of all the quest system is the same old recycled kill x of y bs. The graphics are a matter of taste so just cause you like TERA's graphics better doesn't mean GW2 graphics are in any way inferior. The combat in TERA is unique but it's still bad in many ways such as performing certain skills makes you unable to change as you go so u end up charging forward and hitting the air, the aoe caster skills range requirement is a big restriction since you can't cast the aoe circle where you want , it's always at a certain fixed range (like 10m in front of you) Lock on skill aren't action combat either. GW2 has piercing meaning you projectiles go trough and hit multiple enemies also the majority of the skills even though they require a target will hit every mob nearby and the best thing for caster is that you move while you cast every single spell apart from very very few. No more anchoring in one place to cast skills. I can safely say combat wise GW2 has ruined every other mmo for me including TERA cause even in TERA I have to constantly stop and channel.

Cake
Cake

@CrimsonCallFor the record, I'm an avid player and love the game… I was just making a joke regarding culling to @rby608. This is a fantastic game! If you have never played an MMO before, I'd highly recommend it.  And If you have, I recommend it even more!

Phunk
Phunk

@CrimsonCallGo preach it on the mountain, brother! I agree with a lot of what you said. The rivalry is all right when it's in good taste and somewhat sportsmanlike. Otherwise it's just gamers bashing other gamers solely because of differing opinions. Enjoy'em all!

I've been playing Guild Wars 2 since beta and have enjoyed the game immensely. I hope that others continue to do the same, and more pick it up.  I'm really looking forward to the anniversary patch!

If you're interested in some intellectual commentary about games in general, I highly recommend Extra Credits. If you want to watch all of their stuff season by season, I've got each season as a separate playlist on my YouTube channel.

iriyabran
iriyabran

@rby608 I like assumptions of people who don't play and keep up. There's been an awesome event happening in Divinity's Reach the past weeks and everyone is there farming (or in Cursed Shore after the champ update). I imagine the people in LA would be only or mostly people waiting for WvW queue.

shadowdragon986
shadowdragon986

@rby608 It's a system called "culling" which limits the number of playable characters you see in the city.

RayzorGaming
RayzorGaming

@rby608So you played from August to June and came back in July?

And maybe you are tired of the game but 90% of the servers are still completely full.

I would love to see a video of your experience in Lion's Arch, because it's quite unbelievable to be honest.

NicktheSmoker
NicktheSmoker

@ShuanJBistra @stuggybear How is the end game laughable?  I thought it was great.  Fashion Show MMO?  Why, because the graphics make other games look like they were designed twenty years ago?  

Rec
Rec

@snobeee But will be adjustable by players on the 20th, so players with higher end computers will have the option to show hordes of people on their screen while average or low end players could still keep the culling.

snobeee
snobeee

Culling was done away with a few months ago in WvW, though I think it is still active for PvE.