Study: MMOG revs top $1.4 billion in 2008

Screen Digest research finds online gaming market rose 22 percent last year in NA, Europe; World of Warcraft leads top 10 list in terms of spending.

According to leading game-industry stat-trackers the NPD Group, US PC game retail sales tanked in 2008, dropping 23 percent year over year to $701 million. The key word in that sentence is "retail," as online game revenues and alternate forms of PC-game distribution continue to rise. A new study by analyst firm Screen Digest indicates that massively multiplayer online gaming in particular saw a substantial jump in 2008, reports the BBC.

Screen Digest's study found that the North American and European MMOG markets rose 22 percent in 2008, achieving total revenues of $1.4 billion. The leading contributor to that tally is, of course, Blizzard Entertainment's World of Warcraft, which had surpassed 11.5 million subscribers worldwide through 2008. WOW's success, Screen Digest notes, has helped drive the market, as competitors attempt to mimic the title's meteoric rise, to varying degrees of success.

"Some games are eroding World of Warcraft's (WOW) position--Warhammer Online and Age of Conan being the two most significant--but that's more down to their growth rather than any decline on WOW's part," said Screen Digest senior analyst Piers Harding-Rolls to the BBC. "WOW's market share was 60 percent in 2007 and 58 percent in 2008, but in terms of revenue, it went up year-on-year."

The study notes that there are now more than 220 titles that fall into the MMOG category, though Screen Digest says that many are exclusive to South East Asia. Harding-Rolls went on to say that the continued rollout of new MMOGs, as well as the various payment systems and demographic-specific titles, have helped the market defy the current economic recession.

"If you look at the example of RuneScape, this is a game pitched at a teenage audience," said Harding-Rolls. "You can play it for free or you can pay a premium and get a better service without advertising. It's an effective way to build a subscription base, rather than the traditional routes that involve PR, hype and having a service that has to be almost perfect from day one."

Screen Digest's study also broke down the 10 most popular subscription-based games in terms of spending. According to the research firm, the list does not reflect total user base, and some games, such as Mythic Entertainment's Warhammer Online, were released too late in the year to impact the accounting. Screen Digest's top 10 revenue generators are listed below.

10 Most Popular Subscription Games in Terms of Spending
1) World of Warcraft
2) Club Penguin
3) RuneScape
4) Eve Online
5) Final Fantasy XI
6) The Lord of the Rings Online
7) Dofus
8) Age of Conan
9) City of Heroes
10) EverQuest II

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Discussion

70 comments
ChiefZane
ChiefZane

All of those are great except for club penguin, My vote goes on Runescape

patronato
patronato

just spend money in aoc ^^ the rest is crap or kids games like wow and club of penguins..

Jakeamalake
Jakeamalake

Glad to see Final Fantasy is still kicking. I miss that game sometimes. But for now, GO AoC!

tonyhawksP8
tonyhawksP8

LOL Club Penguin; that must be 2nd because of the kids spending parents money.

TMoney999
TMoney999

I think CoH is the best. DUH! Of course its the best.

TMoney999
TMoney999

I think CoH is the best. DUH!

gameking5000
gameking5000

@24k_Solid_Gold To be honest with you I don't really think Guild Wars is THAT popular. There's only one game that would CERTAINLY make that list. That's the game in Number 1 on "10 Most Popular Subscription Games in Terms of Spending"

24k_Solid_Gold
24k_Solid_Gold

I wish they made a list of most popular mmos instead of who spends the most money on them, that way some of the better, and real mmos (not best, better) would make the list, like Guild Wars.

gameking5000
gameking5000

@joelgaragan Club Penguin is a game that well is designed and created for kids. It's very child friendly and to be is a children's version of a MMO.

joelgargan
joelgargan

Can someone please tell me what exactly Club Penguin is?!

matte989
matte989

tldr for the people with ADHD.. and I'm not even a WAR fan. No ill against them either though. "and some games, such as Mythic Entertainment's Warhammer Online, were released too late in the year to impact the accounting"

krazilec
krazilec

Even tough EVE has such elitist community, it really bring home the bacon. A hip hip hooray for EVE.

burn6
burn6

i only played 4 games listed here, wth is club penguin? i wish WAR can make it to top 10, come on Mythic, you can do this! do something, to make us interested again.

Mr_Versipellis
Mr_Versipellis

Can't believe CP/RS2 at 2 and 3... Club Penguin isn't a true game and Runescape's a disgrace to RPGs.

cool_beans1
cool_beans1

Very impressive numbers although I do wonder how that chart might change next year with the Old Republic coming out in 2010 and how much more revenue may be made for MMO's as well.

DDRManiac2003
DDRManiac2003

Woo, to FFXI at 5th. I just recenetly got back into the game. WoW gets boring after awhile, you get tired of grinds, and raiding, and running sh!t!

Abed_1990
Abed_1990

d'oh, i never would have guessed a lot of people play Club Penguin :o, Well kudos for them i guess!

gameking5000
gameking5000

The funny thing is that almost everyone who plays games has heard of runescape but not the other games, yet they don't play it.

Jsen
Jsen

club penguin>eve/everquet/conan/CoH/LotR? WTF! but runescape is #3, nice, didnt think it was anywhere near that high

mezro01
mezro01

I laff at those who still forks out $$ for FFix.

irelevent
irelevent

It's in terms of spending somberfox.

mezro01
mezro01

The list is about the Most Popular Games in Terms of "Spending", not about how "great" the game is. So stop whining like little school girls.

Terranah
Terranah

Club Penguin beat EQ2! LOL!!!!!

somberfox
somberfox

I never even heard of Club Penguin.

cheez-it_kid
cheez-it_kid

They need to switch Runescape and WoW >_>

Link3301
Link3301

and by the way yay wow is number one

Link3301
Link3301

Calm down if its at ten that means it popular any place on this list is good since it is the top

Hekynn
Hekynn

WTF!? EQ2 is at the bottom of the list wtf is going on!!?? EQ2 is a great mmo if you know what ya doing. it should at least be in 4th place or something like and AHEAD OF AOC!!

atopp399
atopp399

Ah yes, I fail for skimming.

azizrulez
azizrulez

people who think Warhammer tanked pretty bad,need to read the article fully,the reason its not mentioned here is because it was released too late to have any significant impact on the numbers

atopp399
atopp399

Wow, Warhammer didn't even make the top ten. That is too bad. I had fun for awhile playing it but it got boring pretty fast.

CamiKitten
CamiKitten

o_O runescape is # 3? Woohoo to FFXI Online :D :D :D And it really doesn't make any sense that pc game retail has gone down but mmog has went up. Wouldn't that require people to buy...you know... games? O_o With the exception of FFXI online I could see it going up since you have to fork out $1 for every new char you want to create.

Antaeus1991
Antaeus1991

Wooo, Runescape is up there. Jagex are pretty cool, and there HQ is right near where I live, here in the UK! :D

DOF_power
DOF_power

> ^ Well hopefully the Fallout Online MMO will bring a mature audience to the genre.

sanjeev3
sanjeev3

club penguin... im pretty sure the pedophiles are the ones spending the cash on this one

runstalker
runstalker

I'd rather kids start out MMOs with FusionFall than effing Club Penguin. At least the characters are familiar and they're challenged by decent platforming.

gameking5000
gameking5000

I see Club Penguin as a game MMO that intrduces this type of game to children. Because it will help children when they get older to play MMOs. It's friendly and they will have some idea of MMOs that target older audiences.

Phenom316
Phenom316

AHAHAHAHAHA club penguin wtf lmfao

runstalker
runstalker

Numbers are largely European - look at Club Penguin and Dofus on the list, it's obvious. And it cuts off before September 08. Can somebody (NPD?) please provide accurate, timely, and consistent tracking of MMO subs and digital download sales from places like Steam/D2D/Impluse, please? God, you would think these tracking firms would be all over it, with the mass adoption of broadband gaming/marketplace.

killeridis
killeridis

Club penguin........ OMG beware wow your killer is here lol.............Seriously though club penguin wtf is that? i prefer go watch happy feet in the cinema with a hat on my head saying i love penguins..rolf

Stanford123
Stanford123

Lol club penguin tried runescape when i was like 12 and now im like those were couple months of my life lost damn! lol but yeah i hate computer games but never tried wow maybe good

stevenrkorea
stevenrkorea

Wow, I just tried out that Penguin game to see what it's all about. That game is on crack. Walking around with a penguin and throwing snow balls at stuff.

Poedon
Poedon

GO eve online. Nice to see that game tet a little mention!

Binpo
Binpo

Club Penguin? Really??

Superman_legend
Superman_legend

where do these people get there numbers from havent even heard of number 2? and number 6 should atleast be 2 or 3. But hey maybe the others are more popular worldwide. Dang I never knew so many people liked my favorite animal. Be nice to get the U.S. numbers.