FFXI topped 1 million subscribers with 2.5 million characters. Idk where 500k is coming from. They announced it when they hit 1 million.
And yet noone can find this announcement.
I can't exactly back up Atryx's claims of a million subscribers at any point in time, so I won't try. If it did happen, it could have only happened much, much earlier in its lifespan. ToAU/CoP age
However as I mentioned to you specifically in another thread I believe, FFXI did indeed have 500k subscribers at a rather recent time in its existence. Additionally, I also have an actual article from SE themselves stating active characters as recent as April 2009 was 2 million, not 2.5 million (sorry, Atryx; looks like you overestimated your numbers, unless again, this happened much earlier in its life cycle). http://forums.ffxiclopedia.org/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=16794
Apologies for citing a forum post, however I think the layout of the post quoting the SE press release should look official enough to not doubt its validity.
I admit, November 2008 may seem like a while ago now, but I feel it is safe to assume, due to a lack of potently powerful MMO releases over 2009 (excluding Aion, which I also played, and must also be stated spectacularly nosedived after a short bit of time, which you can judge merely from the rapid closing of servers by the early/middle of 2010), that it's 500k active player base stayed steady.
Unfortunately FFXI's 500k population began to rapidly decline as well once FFXIV began to be advertised and anticipated in the early to mid-year point of 2010. Sadly, as a result of how poorly FFXIV wound up doing, Square-Enix now not only sees no more than (potentially) 10-20% of people who bought or got a buddy bass for FFXIV playing regularly, but also saw FFXI's population never rebound as customers who moved from one to the other either got fed up, left for another MMO, or both.
Now it's entirely up to you whether 500k active subscribers is a "successful" number. As it is, if you look at the Wikipedia article, FFXI actually broke even when it attained around 200k subscribers way back in 2003.
So financially it was, and continued to be for several years. And considering comparable MMO numbers, 500k by most people would be considered a success, regardless of the behemoth numbers that World of Warcraft puts up compared not just to XI, but every other MMO.
Also, and I admit I may be reaching here, we can come to at least a few conclusions based off of SE's statement that there was 2,000,000 active characters in April 2009 (also cited in the Wikipedia article; keep in mind this article also meets Featured Article status on Wikipedia, for what it is worth, and the link cited for this information goes to PlayOnline itself).
Now, let's consider for a moment that **** near every person -- I think it's a safe assumption -- had a second, alternate character. Either for leveling, storage, other server, whatever. Maybe some even had three characters in all (I know I did for a small time). Four, though? That would seem excessive except for the more rabid players.
So going off that, I think it's safe to conclude that the game had anywhere between 500,000 to perhaps even 600,000 subscribers active back in April 2009, give or take a few ten thousand.
tl;dr - FFXI was more successful than I think you believe judging from your posts. Edited, Mar 9th 2011 3:45am by Satisiun