Since when is a million players worldwide, in >1 platforms, a "WOW Killer"?
SWTOR (Excuse me, taking a break, have to laugh here) "wanted to have" 2 million subscribers, and was actively promoted as "WOW Killer" "The Next Big Thing" "If Star Wars Can't Do it, Nobody Can", etc.
Well, this game had numerous problems, ranging from a bad, bad game engine to absolute lack of support (unless you believe that critical bugs resulting to entire raid parties being...killed ought to be fixed in 1-2 months after discovered. While Blizzard and any respectable developer would hotfix them within mere days).
You cannot fathom that a game can do reasonably well and maintain a player base of several hundred thousands, reaching a million.
Yet EVE Online (which in my view is a very niche, very complex to get into game, however CCP games is eternally grateful for stats like this:
In February 2013, EVE Online reached over 500,000 subscribers.
...and continues polishing and adding content to the game in perpetuity) could maintain the interest of several hundred thousand players, without offering the mainstream accessibility of WOW or the fully voiced quests of SWTOR.
I'm not daring to say that beta phase 3 applications are an indicator of active players. They certainly are not. However, approaching a million beta applications (this does not include "given away keys") does certainly mean that you can expect a X% of these players to play in the end. It'd be quite different -and hard- to gauge popularity if beta applications numbers were never disclosed, or were 250,000 worldwide.
It's not my job to make sales and subscription forecasts for ARR, although I do have the skills to do it if I had access to the commercial data SE has.
So, as a completely rough estimate, I'll take:
300-500,000 Japan players (all platforms)
200-300,000 North America, Europe, Rest of World players (PC)
200-250,000 North America, Europe, Rest of World players (PS3/PS4 in the future)
These numbers are including players I'd expect to stick around, mind you. "Initial sales" or "1st month free" players could be more by 30-40%.
Oh, and - In late 2003, when XI launched in Europe, it was nowhere as accessible as it could be. Neither broadband / decent PC's were considered the majority these days (a decent PC cost most definitely over $1,000 without a monitor), nor was XI exactly 'forgiving' to players.
Heck, I loved its visual style and world much more than I did WOW's, but never managed to level above level 20-23 or something, and gaining EXP solely by having a full group and taking on random mobs around the map was not exactly my -or many others- cup of tea.
So don't make comparisons under that light. I still find it miraculous that XI maintained its clientele as long as it did. Edited, Jun 29th 2013 4:57am by Sovjohn