May 202008

Nielsen is saying that Club Penguin is stalling out — not much, just a -7% growth year on year from last April to this April.

Of course, with the quantity of kids’ worlds coming into the market now, this is not really surprising, is it? I mean, I was at the grocery store this weekend, and there was a rack of Beanie Babies 2.0 with giant “play online!” tags hanging on them. It may be that this is the death of “Web 2.0,” when it gets co-opted for Beanie Babies.

At left here is the rack of game cards available at Target — snapped this weekend, and strongly reminiscent, finally, of similar shots I have taken in Korea, Japan, and China. For years, there was no such rack in the US. Then it was just a couple of cards, and only at some checkouts. Now it gets a rack right between the TV box sets and the top pop albums (you can see REM’s latest CD there, abandoned on the top shelf).

Besides the cards you maybe expect to see, like Club Penguin, WoW, and Zwinky, there’s also a large stack of ’em for gPotato games (Flyff, Shot Online, etc) And Acclaim, which make their living by bringing over games from Korea. There’s WildTangent cards, and the Gaia cards are almost sold out. The diversity is interesting, as is the lack of cards for most of the core gamer MMORPGs. The strong presence of the often-marginalized Korean games is telling.

Meanwhile, I hear that Age of Conan has something like 700,000 units in the pipe for day one, which is either a business blunder or a sign of high pre-orders and pent-up demand. WoW players looking for something new to sink their teeth into?

We’re starting to see the fragmentation that can come from having so many offerings on the market. How many kids’ worlds can actually survive?

I actually think the answer is “just about all of them.” If online continues to chew through the gaming market, this rack could be the size of a Gamestop someday — one stack of cards per game, in a world where all the games try to drive alternate revenue streams regardless of platform.

  19 Responses to “The market glut”

  1. This is what you get when a reviewer is having absolutely no fun, but is terrified it might be their fault. Thwomp Factory: Thwomp Factory Fryday: Cooking Mama 2 Real cooking from Cooking Mama 2 – v.cute!Raphs Website – The market glutHow many kids worlds can actually survive? I actually think the answer is just about all of them. Hm, I dont think so, given VC dreams for the majority of them, as opposed to subsistence realities.

  2. Well, the AoC CE, which was had around 110k units, sold out on pre-order, and according to Funcom press releases, AoC had the highest pre-order total of any released MMOG (not expansion though, I’d bet TBC’s numbers were much higher), higher than even WoW. So I think that the latter option is more likely to be the case.

  3. Yeah, also Funcom says they’re not going to be able to fill all retail orders, saying that their servers can’t handle them.

    I think they have a verified hit on their hands, and from what I hear the PVP servers are already blood soaked, and there’s already been a (player) declaration of a roleplay server too. Man, it’s time for a PC upgrade…

  4. Age of Conan has two offical Role Play PvP servers.

  5. […] usual, Raph Koster’s got another shocking (for us clueless old-school gamers) post .  This one’s basically just about the linked photo: it’s a rack at Target full of […]

  6. Ahhh, I now see my mistake. The two RP servers (Cimmeria and Hyberborea,) are both PVP. Wiccana has (I hear,) is the one players declared as RP, making it the only RP-PVE server. My mistake, and thanks for correcting me!

  7. […] in business models, digital goods, games, games 2.0, gaming, mmorpg, virtual goods. trackback Raph’s latest post says that there is a market glut of MMOGs, but most of them will survive. In passing, he shows a […]

  8. It is a good game really. Doesn’t necessarily push the envelope as far as I’d like in terms of gameplay, but it’s still a good game. It’s deserving of the numbers it’s seeing certainly.

  9. It’s combat system is much more entertaining then previous MMOs and while it does requiring more button pushing you don’t have to be a FPS champion or anything. It’s also kind of fun to play a MMO which spits in the eye of Political Correctness.

  10. Kinda reminds me of a comic book stand. Yet, most of the publishers on the rack seem to squeak out a living… There will be many worlds to choose from. The challenge is the operating costs with each of them. But, as consolidation starts to take advantage of shared operating costs we’ll start to see some of the brands living on.

  11. Are online games going to kill themselves at retail?…

    Yesterday Raph Koster posted an exhilerating, and disturbing, photo from the gift card rack at Target. This led Jeremy Lliew to talk about the power of gift cards to allow young players who do not have credit cards to pay for virtual goods. And while I…

  12. One additional comment… If you take into account that MiniClip had a tremendous amount of influence on CP’s growth, and you factor in the possibility of reaching network saturation within the group of 45 million gamers (similar to Andrew Chen’s viral Facebook comments) you can see how they may have very well stalled. In San Francisco (SF GDC) Lane Merrifield commented that they had just brought in a marketing department for the first time. Clearly they have to work on other means to continue spreading the word.

    One only has to look at Webkinz continued climb to see that there is still growth opportunities. It’s a matter of finding the right segment that your platform resonates with. And, not going head-to-head, at least initially, with the market leader unless you have something significantly better and different.

  13. It’s also kind of fun to play a MMO which spits in the eye of Political Correctness.

    Doesn’t seem that striking to me, but then I see players do it all day long whether the ‘game’ does or not :9.

  14. Well, I dunno if I’d say AoC spits in the eye of political correctness. It doesn’t shy away from mature topics certainly but it actually breaks with the setting in some respects by being more inclusive than the source material was. But even more than that, it never actually goes out of it’s way to highlight things, they’re just kinda there because they’re part of the world. Nothing’s gratuitous or over the top (except maybe the blood splatters :P). It’s about as tasteful as a game that trys to stay true to the Conan universe can really be.

  15. […] through retail outlets has made payments far easier; panelists from Nexon and Gaia agreed.  But as Raph Koster has pointed out, this has led to a major glut of cards in stores such as […]

  16. […] not necessarily a threat. As Raph Koster notes when looking at the numbers,  the market as a whole (looking at MMOGs and, particularly, kids worlds) is still going […]

  17. […] at retail are an excellent way to monetize MMOG players. Earlier this year, Raph posted on the game card endcap at Target who have pioneered this category. Sean Ryan, MEEz’s CEO, notes: So why should anyone care […]

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