Game talkNYT looks at kids’ worlds AGAIN

 Posted by (Visited 11466 times)  Game talk
Jun 062007
 

“Doll Web Sites Drive Girls to Stay Home and Play”, says the New York Times. Among the games covered are ones I hadn’t really paid attention to before, like Stardoll and Cartoon Doll Emporium.

Over at Virtual Worlds News they give this handy table summarizing the growth rates of some of these; I added to the table with additional unique user stats elsewhere in the article:

Site                                         Users in April 2006     Users in April 2007
Club Penguin                         794,000                                 4,073,000
Webkinz                                 325,000                                 3,879,000
Cartoon Doll Emporium                                                      ~3,000,000
Stardoll                                  367,000                                  1,241,000
WeeWorld                                                                             ~900,000

The NYT mentions that the category has grown 68% in the last year alone; some of the sites report 20% growth monthly.

My list of “the biggest MMOs in the West” is evolving rapidly. With Habbo Hotel and Runescape also clocking in with multiple millions of unique users every month, it may be possible that World of Warcraft is actually sitting around #4 or #5 in the top MMOs in NA and Europe.

Of course, by and large, the gamers and gaming industry will likely blow these off as “not counting” or “shallow” or something. I get that pretty regularly, particularly from folks who are hoping that I am not making something like these games myself. (I’m not — I just find it fascinating).

  37 Responses to “NYT looks at kids’ worlds AGAIN”

  1. [IMG]Probably not, as it turns out; certainly not in the Western hemisphere, anyway. Working with publicly-known figures, veteran MMO developer Raph Koster recently made this observation on his blog: [I]t may be possible that World of Warcraft is actually sitting around #4 or #5 in the top MMOs in North America and Europe. This is because while Blizzard claims 8.5 million subscribers (as of January 2007) only 3.5 million are based in the West.

  2. Probably not, as it turns out; certainly not in the Western hemisphere, anyway. Working with publicly-known figures, veteran MMO developer Raph Koster recently made this observation on his blog: [I]t may be possible that World of Warcraft is actually sitting around #4 or #5 in the top MMOs in North America and Europe. This is because while Blizzard claims 8.5 million subscribers (as of January 2007) only 3.5 million are based in the West.

  3. Discussion: PodTech Network, Raph’s Website, CrunchGear, Weblogg-ed and Clickety Clack

  4. (Courtesy of Raph Koster and the Virtual World News) The New York Times has a story up today on children’s virtual playgrounds, describing them as “in effect, like Facebook or MySpace with training wheels.” It reports that the sites grew 68 percent over the year ending April

  5. Shallow and depth are both graded and relative, and sometimes depth can be a turn-off for an audience. Of course, I’m all about depth, but I’ve been playing since I was 3. I didn’t like depth so much back in ’88. Important to keep in mind.

  6. > World of Warcraft is actually sitting around #4 or #5 in the top
    > MMOs in NA and Europe.

    Fascinating, Raph. But do we know how many monthly WoW users there are?

  7. Hmm, can we really call Stardoll or Cartoon Doll Emporium worlds? I haven’t used either beyond spending a minute or two on their sites but I didn’t immediately see anything world-like about them.

    –matt

  8. More and more kids are getting on the internet these days. And what are they there for?

    Playing games.

    My girlfriend has a seven year old. What’s she get online for?

    To play games.

    While adults supposedly do different things when they get online, and supposedly have other responsibilities and a finite amount of time to “play games” – these things don’t really apply to kids.

    In the end, selling games to kids is like selling porn to perverts. It’s a pretty targeted audience, especially once they get on the internet.

    Also – Does this trend and WoW’s success intersect in some manner? Are “less serious” and somewhat cartoonish graphics the wave of the future?

  9. Along same lines as the other Matt’s post, I struggle with the “game” dimension for some of these sites. I get the ubiquity of community between them all, but it seems to me that comparing WoW to Cartoon Doll Emporium is not a strict 1:1. Is it just me, or should I just give up and drink the Kool-Aid?

    –Matt #2

  10. Where are the adult virtual worlds? Does it begin and end with Second Life? There.com? Whatever metaverse Shanda is building?

  11. Adult as in adult entertainment, as in violent entertainment, or as in difficult to think about? :P

  12. If you want to learn more about Generation Y, read Ypulse: Media for the Next Generation.

    “Kids” are doing a lot more with the Web than just playing games. Older generations seem to be mostly in the dark about what GenY is actually doing. GenY is the group of people who were born connected to the rest of the world. They don’t need to adapt their approaches and practices and philosophy to what older generations see as new technology. They live it.

    What will generations after GenY do? How will they behave? It’s difficult to imagine when you consider that humanity is evolving in conjunction with advances in technology. Perhaps the Singularity will come after all?

  13. They aren’t one to one… that’s why i said #4 or #5. Habbo, Runescape, Webkinz, and Club Penguin seem unquestionably virtual worlds to me. That’s 4.

    I am looking at WoW and basically saying “NA & Europe subs, minus a small % who didn’t log in”

  14. Yep, fair enough Raph. I’m not arguing with WoW’s #4 or #5 status. Just wondered why you were including Stardoll and Cartoon Doll Emporium in the ‘world’ category.

    –matt

  15. Actually, I said “Among the games covered are…” and “a table covering some of these.” I guess the post title kinda implies that I am calling them all worlds. I don’t think those meet the technical definition of worlds, certainly.

  16. Very interesting, Raph. It actually seems more logical not to count WoW’s Asian players, because they don’t have the same payment scheme and if we count them, then by that logic we should count CyWorld, too. (In which case WoW is *2nd* place.) :)

  17. [...] of the Children’s MMOs – Mostly Played by Girls (Courtesy of Raph Koster and the Virtual World News)…very impressive numbers: Site         [...]

  18. “Are less serious and somewhat cartoonish graphics the wave of the future?”
    I don’t think that’s necessarily the trend here, however browser based MMO experiences are promising. I created Sherwood Dungeon in my spare time (a Shockwave 3D based MMO with NetHack influences) just for fun initially and it’s now attracting 1.2 million visitors monthly. Because web based MMOs are click and play without the barriers created by boxed or traditional downloadable, they lend themselves to the viral marketing and distribution enjoyed by all web games. That makes it an attractive space for very small independents who are bootstrapping. The assumption is that you have to make compromises to get browser play to work – and that’s true. However I do feel we will come to a time when browser based games can meet the visual standards of boxed products.

  19. I know this will inevitably devolve into a petty discussion about what a world is — but W. James Au, I’m personally certain the criteria shouldn’t be payment criteria.

    I fall in about Raph’s territory as well — Runescape, Club Penguin, Webkinz are all worlds. Although ranking them would serve to be more difficult without having generally accepted guidelines for rank (which has already been discussed here and elsewhere).

  20. Very interesting, Raph. It actually seems more logical not to count WoW’s Asian players, because they don’t have the same payment scheme and if we count them, then by that logic we should count CyWorld, too. (In which case WoW is *2nd* place.)

    Well, I tend to break it down by territory because otherwise, there’s a whole massive host of games in the Pacific Rim that would make for a less clear picture overall, because there’s so little overlap in the most popular games.

  21. Go around, talk to some kids. Chances are a majority of them play one game or another.

    Shortly after I started here at Nexon, I found out my nephew and his friends had been playing MapleStory for over a year. Where as I had never even heard of it.

  22. Oh, and the discussion about this being ranked with WoW and such. I am not sure it’s really apples to apples here. The motivations of these games are entirely different. They are more socially driven, and many don’t even have combat systems or even a ‘game’ element to them.

    While those factors exist, it is much more about a virtual existance with friends than raids and armor sets. It’s really the whole opposite side of the spectrum than other games we have been calling MMOs up to this point.

    However, when you get down to it, they really are the same beast, the focus is just in different places.

    One thing I do know. The MMO genre as we knew it to exist 12 months ago, no longer exists. This is part of the whole legitimacy we have been looking for as MMOs become more of a staple of modern entertainment.

    Maybe we can just look at them more as a Saturday Morning MMO.

  23. I think the key to their immense popularity is due to their accessability. Any kid with internet access and a web browser can access them. I think it’s time that the MMO industry rethinks on how their games are distributed. Digital distribution is the future.

  24. [...] sources. Yeah it doesn’t really take into account the Asian market. Or casual kiddie MMOGs. http://www.raphkoster.com/2007/06/0…s-worlds-again/ Something called Club Penguin which none of you have ever heard of has 4 million subscribers. And [...]

  25. While those factors exist, it is much more about a virtual existance with friends than raids and armor sets.

    This is what I loved about UO .. it really wasnt about the game itself for most people. It was about the other players and interactions with them. UO was much more of a sandbox than the current MMOGs that focus mainly on levels and items.

    I want that feeling back again, I just cant seem to find a MMOG community that fits.

  26. [...] in the US) which has 4.9 registered subscribers(!). (Another World of Warcraft challenger for you, Raph). By the way, the rest of the Western Game Industry should take note of EA’s success with this [...]

  27. [...] with publicly-known figures, veteran MMO developer Raph Koster recently made this observation on his blog: [I]t may be possible that World of Warcraft is actually sitting around #4 or #5 in the top MMOs in [...]

  28. [...] with publicly-known figures, veteran MMO developer Raph Koster recently made this observation on his blog: [I]t may be possible that World of Warcraft is actually sitting around #4 or #5 in the top MMOs in [...]

  29. [...] Some information about the size of the market for casual MMOs for children. [...]

  30. [...] has a little article up from last week that reminds us that our little swords-and-sorcery fantasy worlds are pretty [...]

  31. [...] is more logical for you to do to increase revenue? And if you want to appeal to young girls (which Raph has shown is a HUGE group of potential ‘gamers’) what better way than to make something light and [...]

  32. [...] Tobold’s MMORPG Blog Monday, June 11, 2007   The ethics of money Raph Koster recently doubted that World of Warcraft was the most successful MMO. By either restricting the geographical [...]

  33. [...] Some information about the size of the market for casual MMOs for children. [...]

  34. [...] BeitragKids Socialize in a Virtual World as AvatarsNachtrag:Children’s MMOs in the New York TimesRalp Koester liefert zum NYT Beitrag eine Tabellemit den Zugriffszahlen (April 2007/2006)Site ——- Users April 2006 [...]

  35. [...] with publicly-known figures, veteran MMO developer Raph Koster recently made this observation on his blog: [I]t may be possible that World of Warcraft is actually sitting around #4 or #5 in the top MMOs in [...]

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