YoVille bigger than WoW in NA?

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Mar 032009

Back in July of 2008, I pointed out YoVille, a Facebook MMO that runs as an app. Back then, it had 150,000 daily uniques.

Today, I’m here to tell you that YoVille is almost certainly more popular than WoW in North America.

The Top 25 Facebook Games for March 2009 and The Top 25 MySpace Games for March 2009 are a pair of posts over at the Inside Social Games blog. And what do they say? That YoVille has 2.26m users on MySpace and 4.46m on Facebook. And yes, these are monthly uniques.

Now, there is probably some overlap between the stats on the two services. And there is little doubt that WoW makes a lot more money, and is a lot more game.

But we should not be quick to discount this. More game and better art can be added. YoVille is a virtual world: it has avatars, money, inventory and housing. It has embedded games. It has a map. It has chat and persistence. And it’s in Flash. Oh, and they picked up 1m users in the last month.

Amid all the hoopla over whether there is room to go around WoW, here’s an answer.

  36 Responses to “YoVille bigger than WoW in NA?”

  1. I have been researching browser and social network-drive ‘MMO Lites’ for awhile now. Like you, I am convinced that all that is needed is a bit of more matured design attention and some professional graphics could be all that is needed to really make a phenomenal hit with a much lower cost of entry compared to a game like WoW. Combine word of mouth, ease of access, and no cost for playing (at least for the core game) and you’ve got something that can spread like wildfire.

    What is really nice about Facebook is that so much of the networking and word of mouth can be handled for you. Everyone on Facebook is instantly your install base. Also, most likely if you like any kind of games like these, there are likely several people on your friends list that would as well.

    Now, all I need to do is learn how to program all of this stuff, or find someone that does and wants to build something.

  2. But I think the hoopla is really over whether there is room to go around WoW while posting WoW like profits.

    Sure, you can make something that has more mass appeal than WoW, but can you monetize it? And I don’t think THAT has been answered yet, at least not in the West. Asia is a whole other story.

  3. That must be incredibly good news for Metaplace then!

    But no, more seriously, the browser-based ‘lite’ games have always commanded vast audiences. Games that were once boring HTML with tables are now Flash and rather shiny.

    One problem remains though: how to monetise? Obviously Metaplace has a solution in the works for that, but Metaplace also has a much larger set of unique features than all of the other browser-based MMOs. Most of these lite games are incredibly popular until they start charging — in any form — and then everyone jumps-ship to the latest-and-greatest free-to-play game.

    But I have to admit, with those kinds of figures, the draw of the community might be enough to squeeze some money out of the players.

  4. Actually, we DO see this as great news for Metaplace. Totally validates the space, gives us a clear target audience to tackle at some point, lets someone else have the arrows in their back, and on top of that, we have clear differentiation and really unique features to offer. So yah, it it’s great for us, I think.

  5. Eolirin, the question is whether you can get a comparable amount of dollars per dollar spent. YoVille cost a fraction of what WoW did. So profit is measured on a very different scale. All about ROI.

  6. Surely Runescape demonstrated quite awhile ago that you don’t have to spend like WoW did to get huge, and Runescape makes a hell of a lot more money than YoVille does. Really, there is no argument among anyone with a clue about whether there’s a way around WoW. It’s only the folks who pay attention solely to the AAA space that have to argue about that.

    One disagreement: It’s not all about ROI. I mean, my text MUDs have absolutely stunning ROIs but I’d take WoW over them because while ROI matters, the sheer AMOUNT of profit matters as well. For instance, you don’t really benefit much if you take $1 and turn it into $1000 once (1000x return), but take $10 million and turn it into $100 million (10x return) and you’re golden. The former is better only if you can repeat that feat a LOT and of course, you can’t. $90 million is a lot more valuable than $999 even if the latter has an ROI 100x larger.


  7. Sure, I’ll amend to ROI + scale. 🙂 Really, my point is that getting the $10m together is a lot harder than getting the $150,000 together.

    Yes, Runescape definitely did demonstrate this earlier. But it also demonstrated it with a core genre audience. YoVille is a lot broader. I would expect it to keep growing. Eventually bigger than WoW worldwide? 🙂 It’s halfway there.

  8. Raph, sure, and I was really questioning the scale part of that, I have no doubt that the ROI is pretty good for these things. Course, if Runescape is making gobs of cash, I’ll withdraw that complaint 🙂

  9. […] Date: Wednesday, March 4, 2009 ¤ Filed under: Business | Leadership While discussing how to tackle the “World of Warcraft problem,” my friend Raph and Matt Mihaly seem to have concluded that return […]

  10. Wow- this discussion should end right here unless you have tried it- this is another piece of garbage- just a 2D chat. Please do not call this a game.

  11. if Runescape is making gobs of cash, I’ll withdraw that complaint

    It is, isn’t it?

  12. I think you missed the point of the article. 🙂

    The core thing is that millions of non-MMOG’ers have been introduced to a virtual world, and like it, and actively play it, and they play it via the web, and it’s a whole big new market. Quality will come with time as their tastes get refined.

  13. It’s not really surprising. Actually, if we’d add up the whole casual MMO/browser games space users numbers versus the whole pay-to-play, client based MMO numbers, I’m sure the difference would be even more striking than just YoVille versus WOW, as YoVille is just a piece of that market while WOW totally dominates the latter space.

    About the ROI discussion, in a lot of cases, big budgets are a liability and automatically push the risk up, not only because of the stakes in play and the lack of originality that ensues from following “safe” designs as a result, but also because they tend to mess a lot with the development process.
    Very often big budget = “let’s put a huge team working for 4 years on that state of the art, handcrafted MMO, and let’s do a few CGI movies on the side while we’re at it” which prevents early testing, continuous iteration on a short feedback loop, and customer development, the very things that would raise the chances of the game to be profitable. And that’s not even counting the mammoth marketing budget to instantly find the huge amount of players such a game needs to pay for the big budget recoup.

  14. Matt, can I see some numbers? It’s not that I’m doubting you, it’s that I don’t know what the take for it is, and I’d like to see the numbers on it.

  15. @Diane, there’s a lot to be said about the benefits of the ROI on these flash games, but I don’t think you can justifiably say that anything’s “gotten around” WoW unless it’s posting profits on at a similar scope. WoW can effectively subsidize further Blizzard developments for a long long time, all by itself. While projects with good ROI can certainly turn decent profits, and can lead to sustainable growth, if the scale isn’t there they don’t give that sort of freedom to the company making them.

  16. At least in October, 2/3 of Yoville’s Facebook users were international: http://www.virtualworldsnews.com/2008/10/notes-from-vi-1.html

    I don’t want to take away from its incredibly growth, but I’m not sure if it’s more popular in NA or not.

  17. Eolirin, I think it is a big mistake to compare directly to WoW, an established, dominant market leader with huge entrenched audience and sunk costs. The metric should be “are there strong business cases to be made for other markets, perhaps not as big today bu twith similar potential?”

    Joey, if the sum of those two numbers, minus overlap, is say, 6m, then 1/3 is still in the ballpark of WoW’s NA/Eur audience, which was last published as 2.5m.

  18. Eolirin: Runescape has somewhere north of 5 million monthly unique players, with over 1 million of them paying between $5 and $10/month depending on how they pay (the average is definitely a lot closer to $5/month). That’s $60 million/year in revenue, and I’d estimate they manage another $10-$20 million from advertising.

    Not WoW numbers of course, but not bad for starting with one guy in his bedroom at his parents’ house!


  19. Matt, That’s good then, yeah. Runescape’s definitely doing well for itself with much less startup costs.

    Raph, I’m not saying one should attempt to compete against WoW head to head… but the question of scale is I think appropriate. It’s “what can we do that’s not WoW that can subsidize us forever?” And I think it’s a fair question to ask?

  20. In terms of cash that YoVille brings in….it’s multiple magnitudes below WoW I believe. Back in October, off 2.1m unique monthlies on Facebook, they were bringing in “$4000-$5000 a day” (http://www.virtualworldsnews.com/2008/10/notes-from-vi-1.html). Assuming that a bunch of their current users across FB and MySpace are duplicates, let’s say that they’ve got 5 million unique users now. Let’s pretend the ad market hasn’t collapsed and just extrapolate from the above figure and figure they were doing on average $4500 previously. That puts them at a bit above $10 grand/day (though as we don’t know what proportion of their revenue comes from the nose-diving CPM market that might be optimistic).

    In other words, they’re grossing about $3.5 million annualized right now assuming no decline in the ad market. That’s less than 1% of what WoW grosses and is less than what a niche MMO like Puzzle Pirates grosses.

  21. It is a fair question to ask. I do think that the monetization potential here is quite high, however — not necessarily for YoVille as designed, but for something that taps into that broad a market but perhaps with more features designed to pull users towards spends. A pay for gifting system, for example, or more of a game that drove advancement, might easily start to get more flowing.

    The real point however isn’t YoVille per se. It’s the segment.

  22. Raph, yeah, and I do get that, I think I’m just kinda questioning the direction things still need to go in to get to that point. It’s not so much doubt that it can be done, but wondering about how it will be done. Those are good ideas for instance, but I haven’t seen them all that successfully implemented in the west.

  23. […] Link para o post: https://www.raphkoster.com/2009/03/03/yoville/ […]

  24. The business model is critical. Selling user created content means you are in the broker business with a lot of potential payment risks (though the cost of content creation is much lower). The cost to operate & maintain these services is also key to ROI.

  25. […] Raph’s Website » YoVille bigger than WoW in NA? The Top 25 Facebook Games for March 2009 and The Top 25 MySpace Games for March 2009 are a pair of posts over at the Inside Social Games blog. And what do they say? That YoVille has 2.26m users on MySpace and 4.46m on Facebook. And yes, these are monthly uniques. (tags: https://www.raphkoster.com 2009 mes2 dia5 Facebook games MMOG webservices) […]

  26. Have you guys checked out the up and coming Tirnua? It’s alpha stages right now but has the professional graphics and a team of very experienced game developers behind it…

  27. Yeah, it’s basically the core Maxis folks from TSO.

  28. YoVille bigger than WoW ?…

    Via Ralf Koster

    The Top 25 Facebook Games for March 2009 and The Top 25 MySpace Games for March 2009 are a pair of posts over at the Inside Social Games blog. And what do they say? That YoVille has 2.26m users on MySpace and 4.46m on Facebook. And y…

  29. […] and profit in the MMO space. Both Raph Koster and Tobold have posts up about a games user base and profitability. If this at all interests you, […]

  30. […] tha­n Wor­ld­ of Wa­r­cr­a­ft: Yo­Ville. W­h­il­e­ h­e­ admits­ th­at “t­here i­s […]

  31. When it comes to monetization for these types of games, the numbers that have always struck me as awe-inspiring actually come from Facebook. Do a search for monetization and Facebook apps, and you will see a huge amount of money going into the top games there. For instance, Mob Wars is regularly in the top ten and I believe at this point it makes at least a million a month.

    For anyone who hasn’t tried it, Mob Wars is not really that good of a game. It just has a mass appeal due to simplicity, allows you to excel by expanding your network (hence more people play), and an appeal to come back regularly (as you can’t do everything at once.)

    If you can keep those elements while putting a really good game behind it, you could definitely have a shot at some real money.

  32. Doug, YoVille IS a Facebook app. 🙂

  33. Oh.. seems I’ve just restated your original post. My bad. *blush*

  34. I like Second Life better than WoW and Yoville, but Yoville is a close 2nd. It’s actually pretty creative, but I like Second Life, because it’s more flexable, you can do more. If you have Second Life add me as: Smiles Mornington if you have Yoville I add me on facebook as: Melissa Canchola and on myspace.com/jolieprincess3.

  35. […] Virtual Worlds News tallies the latest YoVille numbers and arrives at 7.8 million monthly uniques. This is by summing the MySpace and Facebook usage reported by GigaOM, which likely means that there’s overlap in users. But still — impressive monthly growth given that it was less than a month ago that I wondered if YoVille was bigger than WoW in North America. […]

  36. […] This post was Twitted by YoVilleCrier […]

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