There was a time when World of Warcraft would reliably tell press and players just how many people were playing the game at any given moment. That changed for reasons that are not at all mysterious, and now we’re here, in the After Times, the times when the only way to guess at real playerbase counts beyond “monthly active users” is to take a deep breath, use whatever tools are available to players, and start taking a stab in the dark at putting together a player census of who’s playing and what’s being played.
Make no mistake, this is an intrepid effort at data collection. It is also more interesting for the possible conclusions rather than actual ones, at least in my estimation; they’re best guesses that always leave out certain bits of information, and while some games give you more or less reliable ways of sussing out who’s playing, anything done from the front end is by nature at least half guesswork. SO how much do you trust player-based analyses of MMO playerbases? Do you think they tend to be largely accurate, inaccurate, or just a snapshot of certain criteria?