But only if you use the Bizarro metrics.
For example, on Planet Tobold, it ISN’T how many who play your game that matters, but how many people DIDN’T play you game.
Taken to logical extremes, there are more than 7 billion people today who do NOT play World of Warcraft today.
However, back in 1999, when the first player logged into EverQuest, there were only 6 billion people not playing it!
A clear victory for SOE, putting it a whole billion “non-players” ahead of Blizzard!
But wait. Back in 1987 when Air Warrior was finally rolling, it only had 5 billion people not playing it!
Who is the most successful online game now, bitches?
Meanwhile, SpaceWar, running way back in 1961 had a mere 3 billion people not playing it!
A clear victory in the unpopularity race!
And yes, I am stretching Tobold-logic to humorous extremes on purpose. But even trying to work the negative player numbers in a serious manner… potential player populations, target populations, subscription rates, and what not… seems like building a castle in a swamp.
Of course, so does trying to measure how many people remember a game. I suspect there are games out there that more people remember than actually played them. But how do you even begin to measure that and, more importantly, how does that equated to success?
Being remembered certainly doesn’t pay the bills.
Nor does historical significance which, by definition, is an assessment of something that happened far enough in the past that it has ceased to be contemporary and actual becomes history. Real history, in the serious academic studies sense, only starts when those who were there to witness it… and thus have invested opinions about it… pass on and things that had to be held secret to protect governments and individuals alike are released to the public.
Which is to say that neither I nor Tobold can really make anything besides guesses now about how the future may view this era when it comes to MMOs and the like.
But when you’ve soured on a genre to the point that your agenda seems to be deny that any MMO with numbers south of 250K can possibly be a success merely because WoW exists and heap scorn on anybody who wants something different, I guess you have to take whatever crazy ammunition you can find.
I am certainly not saying WoW isn’t a success. It is certainly what keeps Activision-Blizzard funded for the three quarters each year when they don’t ship a new Call of Duty game. But success is not an absolute bar, now set so high by WoW that nobody can ever succeed again. Mark Jacobs’ Camelot Unchained plans are not an automatic failure merely because he is targeting a small audience. It is an experiment. It has risks. It has to live in the current MMO ecosystem.
But that alone doesn’t mean it won’t work.
Of course, even Mr. Jacobs isn’t above pulling out a silly metric himself now and again.