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Devil's Daily: How Important are Subscriber Numbers?

27. June, 2013Tags: DC Universe Online, MMO Blog

Subscriber numbers are important to developers, to publishers. How many people are playing your game is directly collerated to how much money you have coming into your bank account each month, and it helps to be able to show that you've got an awesome game that lots and lots of people are interested in. 

But why should we, the consumer, at all care about how many people bother to play these games regularly?

We shouldn't, but we do.

How Many Millions?

This was hit home to me today as I was writing up the DC Universe Online story. In a recent interview, producer Jens Anderson confirmed that they have 11 million registered accounts. 

Think about that for a moment, because sometimes I think we hear these numbers and don't really register what they actually mean. 11 million registered accounts. There are more people with DC Universe Online accounts than there are people in New York City. That should really make you appreciate the Call of Duty sales figures in a completely different way.

Of course, 11 million registered accounts isn't the same as 11 million users, but it's still an impressive figure. It'd be facinating to know how many people are playing at the same time, across PS3 and PC, but that's not likely to be as impressive as "11 million registered accounts."

Marketing Made Easy

At first I sat and was impressed by that number. Then I asked myself exactly why that might be. I couldn't answer that question. It's not like I can play alongside all 11 million people. It's unlikely I'll ever be around more than a few other players. So other than the fact that this unfathomable number is really big, what does it mean?

It means a game you like is doing well. Not just well, it's doing really well. It's doing better than most other games, especially that crappy game that you play. 

Get where I'm going?

Suddenly, with a number drop in an interview, fans of that game have ammunition with which to shout about their favourite title. We have something to compare this game to that game, my favourite to your favourite. Journalists will write about it, fans will chat about it. A few might even return just to see what the fuss is about. Something as small as the number of people who have registered can become a very good marketing device, albeit a marketing device for people who have already have a successful marketing campaign.

Final Word

It's in a publisher's best interest to brag about their high subscriber/account/purchase numbers. World of Warcraft does it, Call of Duty does it, The Old Republic did it (although they've been quiet lately) and now DC Universe Online does it. And none of us are immune to it either. How many of you checked that number above and either wanted to congratulate them or prove them wrong?

So how important are subscriber numbers? Well, it goes beyond having enough people to play with on a server. Far beyond.

What do you think?

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