Things are looking slightly grim for Valve’s MOBA, as SuperData reports that DOTA 2’s playerbase is in decline as the game continues to lose its population.
The average player base, which peaked at 709,000 back in February 2016, is now down to 437,000 as of last month. Peak players have declined from 1.2 million down to 733,000 over the same span of time.
While the MOBA is still boasting respectable numbers and is active in the e-sports scene, it doesn’t even break onto the top 10 charts for Superdata’s monthly PC rankings (where competitor League of Legends continues to sit comfortably at the top).
The MOBA pushed out its Feast of Abscession update earlier this month, adding the Pudge Arcana for the butcher and lots of new voiceovers.
How big a deal with the lootbox controversy that finally hit the mainstream last year? Pretty big, SuperData argues. In a new blog post, the analytics firm argues that “the loot box controversy hampered Star Wars Battlefront II out of the gate” as shown by the game’s monthly active users compared to its predecessor’s, and that the resulting dumpster fire has caused publishers to rethink lootboxes and self-regulate or at least modulate their greed – an effect we’ve already seen in the MMO industry too.
“At the upcoming E3, we’re likely to see presenters announce ‘no loot boxes’ or that paid content is ‘cosmetic only’ in order to get on the good side of creators and hardcore gamers,” SuperData predicts. “Loot boxes won’t disappear anytime soon given their success in games like Overwatch (over $600M of loot boxes sold through February 2018). In the short term, though, ‘No loot boxes’ will be the game industry’s own ‘gluten free water’ — and we’re likely to even see this slogan used to market titles where loot boxes would not make sense such as adventure games.”
Fortnite isn’t just a hit for Epic: It’s a hit for the whole industry. That’s according to SuperData’s latest report, which ranks PC, console, and mobile games according to their global revenues in the month of February.
“Fortnite Battle Royale’s dominance in the Free-to-play Console segment drives the segment’s 359% year-over-year growth,” says the analytics firm. “Epic’s Battle Royale title showed no signs of losing steam. Fortnite earned more additional content revenue on console than any game other than Call of Duty: WWII and now has more monthly active users than Grand Theft Auto V.”
Pay-to-play MMOs shrank again this month, continuing the trend identified in previous months. On the PC side, Crossfire and Fantasy Westward Journey Online II switched places, and Hearthstone rejoined the list to bump off Overwatch, but otherwise, it’s pretty much the same list as last week, with World of Warcraft hanging in there at #7.
There’s a lot of stuff swirling around the Fortnite community of late, starting with adjustments to the game’s Blitz mode to reduce how many resources you gain at once. It made farming materials a little too trivial, and so you’ll have to deal with slightly fewer resources. It’s an attempt to modify player behaviors with mechanics, which is also why the game removed friendly fire options; forcing players to play together was an effort to combat toxicity instead of rewarding nastiness for the heck of it.
Off of the official side, players of the game are reselling special Twitch Prime skins via eBay, which involves some shady (read: patently disallowed) account sharing antics. On the less shady side, a dedicated player has put together a fort designer to help players on a time budget come up with good fortifications to deploy in-game for the Battle Royale mode, so you don’t need to become paralyzed with choice before someone snipes you from halfway across the map.
Last week, almost buried in the avalanche of other news was a datapoint from SuperData that the analytics firm characterized as bad news for the existing subscription MMORPGs. “Continuing their decline, the Social and Pay-to-Play MMO segments shrank 5% and 9%, respectively.” A downer for the incoming MMOs planning subs, yeah?
Maybe not. It’s possible that, as our commenter Sally Bowls noted, it’s not doom for sub MMOs; that’s just to be expected when we have so few existing sub MMOs as it is, and surely that pay-to-play number is heavily influenced by World of Warcraft specifically. “So we would expect the P2P segment to drop or be stable in Q1 and ‘pay-to-play’ MMOs [to] show huge increases in Q3,” she argued. But then again, even WoW is in gradual decline.
I know there are plenty of MMO veterans who are more than willing to pay subscriptions in 2018 – I’m paying one right now. But that’s different from whether you believe they still work for new games or have enough appeal to make subs truly viable. Can a sub still work for MMORPGs in 2018?
SuperData published its January recap of the worldwide digital games market this week, and the analytics firm doesn’t have much good to say for sub MMOs. “Continuing their decline, the Social and Pay-to-Play MMO segments shrank 5% and 9%, respectively,” it notes.
There hasn’t been much shift at all on the PC revenue side, with the top 7 games remaining exactly as they were in December – including PUBG, Fortnite, and World of Warcraft. CSGO entered the list to displace ROBLOX and nudge down World of Tanks, and that was it – not much movement.
On console, Call of Duty: WWII continues to hold the top spot, but Monster Hunter World has joined the list and claimed #2 thanks to its launch last month. PUBG, interestingly, has completely vanished from the console side (it was #3) last month, but Fortnite continues its upward climb.
SuperData continues to express confidence in the future of virtual reality – however you want to label it. Last week, the analytics firm updated its paid paper on its expectations for the industry, saying it has “nowhere to go but up.”
“Driven by augmented reality and mixed reality and successful titles, the XR market will reach a combined $7.6B in 2018 across hardware and software,” the firm argues. Revenue from VR software in 2017 was just over half a billion dollars – 55% of which was from games, with Bethesda’s Fallout and Elder Scrolls franchisea earning the most. And that other 45%? “Developers are focusing most on fields like design, retail, and manufacturing despite an overwhelming demand for education and healthcare solutions,” says the firm, pointing out that the big VR money isn’t in making people smarter or healthier.
Readers will recall that SuperData called VR the “biggest loser” of the holiday gaming sales at the end of 2016; that was followed by a NYT piece calling for “a reality check for virtual reality” just a year ago. Nevertheless, as of April 2017, SuperData was predicting a “steep rise” in VR adoption and $40B in revenue by 2020. The current report, however, suggests a combined consumer revenue for virtual, augmented, and mixed reality of just under $40B by 2021.
If you want SuperData’s complete 2017 Digital Games & Interactive Media market brief, you’re… not going to have to pay for it. It’s free, or at least the “executive summary” is, assuming you’re willing to put in an address to get it. Here are some of the more interesting highlights from the doc.
- MMORPG players, take note: Guild Wars 2 is included on the top 10 premium PC games by revenue for 2017. It’s at #8 with $87M.
- There are a few MMOs on the top free-to-play games by revenue for 2017 list too, including Blade & Soul, MapleStory, and Roblox. (We’re not quite sure why World of Warcraft isn’t on either list.)
- PUBG owned 2017 with $712M in revenue in less than a year – yes, more than Overwatch, Destiny 2, and Grand Theft Auto combined in 2017.
- A third of the world plays free-to-play games. That’s 89% of the revenue of the mobile and PC markets.
- Mobile isn’t dead; we spent $14 billion more dollars on mobile than PC last year than in 2016. Notably, a huge chunk of that money is funneled to just a handful of games – most of them in the east.
- E-sports is only getting bigger, with $756M in 2017 revenue.
You can take a peek yourself on SuperData’s site.
SuperData’s December 2017 global revenue chart is out, and it’s good news for the industry on the whole, as holiday spending was up by almost a fifth over 2016.
On the PC side, we’re seeing quite a shakeup over the last couple of months. Dungeon Fighter Online has surged back into the #2 spot behind League of Legends after tumbling last fall thanks to PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, which itself has fallen several slots on the PC side (though faring better on console). Fortnite is now on the top 10 list right behind PUBG; World of Warcraft and Roblox are hanging in there; and Overwatch has even returned to the PC list at #10.
What’s not on the PC list at all? Destiny 2. It’s in the middle of the pack on the console top list right now, but it’s been overshadowed on PC. Why? “Destiny 2’s new DLC release, Curse of Osiris, failed to make a significant impact on the game,” SuperData declares. “[Monthly active users] and digital revenue were generally flat month-over-month.”
There aren’t many online games that can honestly say they’re still growing and setting records years and years after their launch, but that’s exactly what Grand Theft Auto Online – which launched way back in 2013 – is doing.
Earlier this week, Rockstar announced the good news in a blog post, stating that “2017 was the biggest year of GTA Online yet, capped off by an epic December that saw more players in the game than ever before.”
The news won’t surprise anybody who’s been watching Superdata’s monthly reports, as the game’s been sitting toward the top of the console charts for a long time, peaking at #1 for several months in the summer of 2017.
Rockstar’s blog post further notes the introduction of the Lampadati Viseris as well as sales and bonus events running through this weekend.
Welcome back to another mobile MMO roundup, maybe possibly giving you something fun to do on your phones while you’re stuck at various holiday events this season!
Players are either happy or grumpy with Pokemon Go, as apparently the game is scheduling random raids (which are hard enough to come by generally) for Christmas day. Because it needs to be said again: This is literally the worst raiding system in any MMO ever and I can’t believe there isn’t more rage.
Like A Boss isn’t an MMORPG, but like Little Healer, it does mock MMORPGs with a Dungeon Keeper twist, and it’s available on mobile now. “Now it’s time to become the Boss in the role-playing fantasy world you know from MMOs, but this time it’s your territory that is being invaded, your riches, and your minions that are being ransacked!”
Don’t agree that lockboxes, lootboxes, and gambleboxes were the biggest story of the year? We’ve collected so many news tidbits just on that over the last few days that we’re resorting to rounding them up rather than spamming. To wit:
First, Merrill Lynch analysts have now lowered their expectations and profit estimates for EA thanks to the performance of Star Wars Battlefront 2, which the analysts believe will fall short of the 14M sales estimate by 2.5M. At least in big box stores, the game also performed relatively poorly on Black Friday.
On point: I Can’t Believe It’s Not Gambling is under $1 on Steam. “Do you love opening loot crates, but hate the tedious gameplay sessions in between? Our marketing department has the game for you! Unbox random items! Get stuff, but not what you really want! Skate legal and ethical lines! Remember kids, it’s only a video game, so grab your parents’ credit card!”
SuperData has a new report out this week that suggests e-sports haters will not be getting what they want for Christmas.
“The esports market has finally hit the mainstream,” the gaming analysis firm declares, echoing the argument it made in October. “Once only large in core Asian markets like Korea, esports have expanded worldwide and are now top of mind of every publisher, platform, and brand. As recognition of the importance of esports grows, the data and insights needed for strategizing become vital.”
The report estimates that the e-sports industry is on track to grow by almost a billion dollars per year by 2022, driven in part by a huge increase in investment and advertising revenue. It also recognizes the big four games: League of Legends, with its huge viewerbase; Dota 2, with its mega prize pools; Overwatch, which is laying the foundation with city-based teams; and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, which has drawn over 200M monthly viewers in just half a year during early access.