Something that really affects an online experience much more than any of the MMORPG companies like to talk about is how populous a particular game and each server/shard is.
The reason that no one likes to talk about it much is that it can be very difficult to predict exactly how a servers population will affect an individual's experience. Some people will have a better time if they are surrounded by generous veterans happy to dispense their time, advice and material goods--others enjoy appearing anonymously in a vast empty feeling new world, and slipping off into the wilderness to make their fortune one their own.
There's also the third common scenario... the new player that wants only some basic advice or help that is ignored or insulted by veterans who assume the n00b is be99in9 for l3wtz. My guess is that its this scenario that leads some companies (like SOE) to encourage players to begin life on a server with a lighter population.
An Analysis of MMOG Subscription Growth is an interesting chart both for people curious about the MMORPG industry and for people looking into renting a space in a specific online world.
There's a few out of date items... for example I think that his analysis of Star Wars Galaxies is flawed because it fails to take into account the positive previews and buzz that the Jump To Lightspeed expansion will undoubtedly bring to SWG (I think that the JTL expansion will significantly boost SWG's subscriber base, but we'll see). Otherwise and the game by game analysis are a good read.Posted by illovich at July 19, 2004 02:31 PM