Your point originally was that games with modest user bases are failures, or at least that's the point that I took issue with, because it's so far removed from reality. Whatever direction you've decided to go in since then, I'm still waiting for you to concede that yes, these modestly sized games as still hugely profitable and have the capability to sustain themselves for as long as players don't leave to play some thing else.
Actually I don't really care if you concede the point because it's virtually undeniable. I'd just like for you to re examine your personal assumptions about what MMOS cost and how that relates to the number of users they need in order to succeed. Having a more realistic view will make for better discussion in the future.
The point is undeniable that "successful" (in quotes because it's your terminology) games that can't continually produce subscription-generating content are not failures? The logic of that statement is silly, and unfortunately that's the assertion you're making. A game is only successful to the degree it continues to attract people to pay for the subscription, and that is done through developing new content that attracts those subscriptions. What's so hard for you to understand about that?
Now I'm really starting to have a laugh at your expense, because you're talking yourself around in circles. FFXI, EQ, etc are successful as long as they're making a profit. That's the purpose of a business, to make money. It's undeniable that FFXI, EQ have been around a long time and it's undeniable that they're still making money. If they weren't making money they'd be shut down. If you understand business half as well as you think then you know that no one runs a business at a loss unless they anticipate a future profit, and no one would reasonably expect an old MMO to rebound and suddenly start to make a profit. Obviously these games are still making money. Whether or not they continue to grow, they cost virtually nothing to maintain, which is what makes maintaining them such a worthwhile enterprise.
Oh, and as for the how much MMOs cost thing, I'm not the one with his head in the clouds about development costs. You have no idea about how much the overhead on MMOs is, and how much companies EXPECT in terms of profit margin.
I've given you actual ubiased third party numbers, you've given me nothing in return. When I say that WoW cost 63 million to develop, and less than 40 million a year to maintain and continue development, those are numbers that came from Blizzard, not from me. If you're not able to accept those numbers or apply a little but of common sense in applying them, then that's just obstinance on your part. If development costs are so much higher, then show me that. Show me some one who says that those numbers should be higher, and we can have a discussion about it. Go on, I'm waiting.
I could tell you that I've done the profit analysis of games and extensive business modeling of MMOs for startup companies with my MBA/Business training. I could, but then you'd just /laugh and pretend like I'm making it up to make yourself feel better. See, there's no point discussing the actual numbers because everything you've stated betrays an inability to look beyond the basic profitable/unprofitable barrier into the numbers that companies really look at to determine if a project is worthwhile.
Still waiting for evidence, still waiting for numbers.
Let me distil it into the most oversimplified formula to try and help you understand: when a company devotes resources (be they developers, server space, time, marketing, or money) to a project, they have to determine if those resources are devoted to the most profitable (not just profitable, most profitable) enterprise. If those resources are misallocated, not only does the company lose money, but the shareholders (or those who own the company and have rights to the profits of the company) are losing their assets. The truth is an MMO that is not holding subscribers at the very least, and actually increasing over time, is an unsuccessful enterprise and one that the company is foolish to continue allocating development and other resources to promote.
FFXI was holding subscribers until they cut back on development, so you may have your cause and effect confused here. On the other hand, it hardly matters, because FFXI doesn't exist in a vacuum. It's reasonable to assume that S-E cut back on FFXI development so that they could put those resources into FFXIV. That doesn't mean that FFXI became less profitable or less successful, it just means that their long term forecast was that they'd get a better return from the new game than the old one. Whether or not that's a good decision depends on whether or not their forecast and conclusions were accurate. There's no evidence to suggest that FFXI suddenly became unable to sustain itself.
You can pretend like I don't know what I'm talking about. You can even pretend like I'm making up credentials, but the proof is in the pudding: FF XI development has been poor at best for years, which is evidence enough that SE's opportunity cost analysis has shown that the low subscription numbers and negative subscription growth don't merit the allocation of more resources to that project.
You haven't demonstrated any knowledge of what you're talking about, at any time. I don't know if you have an MBA or don't have an MBA, but I know that you haven't shared any knowledge or insight other than "MMOs cost a lot of money," which, without specific numbers and a context that also includes revenue/profits, is meaningless. Edited, Jul 6th 2010 3:50pm by KarlHungis