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Numbers!

By Jason Winter on May 18, 2015 | Columns | Comments

Numbers!

It's tough waiting for an expansion to come out. ArenaNet's resources are understandably devoted to Heart of Thorns, meaning there's not much new in the actual game to talk about. I've never been a hardcore dissector and analyzer of classes or play styles – but man, the reaper looks cool!

Prior to my becoming a hack writer, I was fairly skilled with numbers. In fact, I scored 240 points higher on the math part of my SAT than I did on the verbal, and the simple fact that I remember what I got on my SAT 25 years ago should cement my status as a Grade-A numbers geek. I also remember my ACT score, my GPA down to a thousandth of a digit, and my locker number in high school. As much as I like working with spreadsheets, it's a wonder I don't play EVE Online.

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MMO companies are notoriously tight-lipped when it comes to any mention of their “numbers,” whether it be sales or subscribers, but you can find a few interesting figures out there in the public space if you look hard enough. The nice thing about numbers is that they don't lie; they are what they are. They can be manipulated and twisted to suit all sorts or purposes, but I'll try to be more entertaining than nefarious here. Of course, that's what I would tell you if I had a nefarious plot in mind...

$364 million

Thanks to the recent NCSoft financial report, we can compute that Guild Wars 2 has brought in 394,511,000,000 Korean won from the time of its launch to March 31, 2015, which translates to about $364 million, using current exchange rates.

Another fun bit we can get by looking back at all of the NCSoft financial reports is that, from their launch until the middle of 2012 – the range of dates we have data for – City of Heroes/Villains and Guild Wars combined brought in nearly the exact same amount in sales: 394,901,000,000 KRW. That's about 15 combined years for those two games, compared to less than three years for GW2.

4.6 million

A recent KDB Daewoo report on NCSoft claims that Guild Wars 2 has sold 4.6 million copies worldwide. While it's not an official source – though KDB Daewoo has been known to visit NCSoft's offices in South Korea, so it's conceivable that they got the number direct – that seems plausible, since we have the following confirmed sales numbers on these dates:

  • 1 million: Before launch on Aug. 28, 2012
  • 2 million: Sept. 13, 2013 (two weeks after 1m milestone)
  • 3 million: Jan. 15, 2013 (actually “more than three million”; four months after 2m milestone)
  • 3.5 million: Aug. 27, 2013 (actually “more than 3,500,000”; seven months after 3m milestone)

So tacking on about another million or so sales over the past 20 months seems all right.

$79.12

And if you divide one of those numbers by the other, you get 79.12, which would represent the average amount of money spent by each player of the game. That may not seem like much to those of you who have spent hundreds or thousands on Gems, but, as with most MMORPGs, there are probably a fair number of people who bought a copy, played it for a few hours, and never touched it again – especially with all the sales GW2 has seen over the past couple years. Plus, as you'll see later, the ultra-dedicated players who do play (and probably spend) that much are in the extreme minority.

May 23, 2015

That's not exactly a number, but a celebration of a number. This upcoming Saturday will mark the 1,000th day of Guild Wars 2 being live, if you count the three-day headstart period that began on Aug. 25, 2012. Don't you feel old now?

27,815

Achievement points attained by Kast.4053 as of the writing of this article on Friday, May 15, #1 in the world. Assuming that Kast got going during the three-day headstart on Aug. 25, 2012, that means he or she has had 992 days to accumulate those point, which makes for...

28.04

...an average of about 28 achievement points per day, over nearly three years. I'm not sure whether to call that dedication or insanity. For what it's worth, your humble author just misses the cutoff to be #1000 on the Blackgate AP list, though this does give us something else interesting to evaluate.

20,871

The approximate number of players with 15,000 or more AP on their accounts. I say “approximate” because one home world – EU's Seafarer's Rest, home to Kast.4053 and 31 of the top 100 European players – has over 1,000 players with 15,000 or more AP, and that's as far as the leaderboard tracks. So the actual number of players to reach this milestone should be “19,871 plus however many are on Seafarer's Rest.”

25

The number of 15,000+ AP players on Europe's Vabbi home world, the fewest on any home world worldwide. Despite that, Vabbi is ranked higher in WvW than Fort Ranik, which has over 10 times as many such players. For North America, Eredon Terrace has the fewest, with 33. In fact, here's how many 15k AP players there are on each server:

North America

  • Tarnished Coast - 899
  • Jade Quarry - 894
  • Blackgate        825
  • Fort Aspenwood  628
  • Yak's Bend  588
  • Sea of Sorrows  483
  • Dragonbrand   398
  • Stormbluff Isle 367
  • Henge of Denravi  356
  • Sanctum of Rall  284
  • Maguuma        281
  • Crystal Desert  214
  • Ehmry Bay      174
  • Nothern Shiverpeaks   172
  • Isle of Janthir   159
  • Sorrow's Furnace 149
  • Darkhaven       147
  • Gate of Madness 130
  • Borlis Pass       112
  • Anvil Rock      81
  • Ferguson's Crossing    79
  • Devona's Rest 55
  • Kaineng  48
  • Eredon Terrace   33

World

  • Seafarer's Rest 1000+
  • Desolation       997
  • Kodash            911
  • Gandara           906
  • Riverside         855
  • Baruch Bay     812
  • Elona Reach    770
  • Abaddon's Mouth  726
  • Far Shiverpeaks   711
  • Jade Sea          708
  • Augury Rock  704
  • Drakkar Lake  640
  • Piken Square   625
  • Vizunah Square   595
  • Aurora Glade  480
  • Gunnar's Hold 400
  • Fort Ranik       267
  • Dzagonur        217
  • Miller's Sound 209
  • Ring of Fire     169
  • Blacktide         134
  • Arborstone      127
  • Ruins of Surmia  112
  • Whiteside Ridge   100
  • Underworld     72
  • Fissure of Woe 43
  • Vabbi   25

I find it amusing that the “Desolation” home world is actually one of the most populated by long-term players.

0.45%

And if you divide that 20,871 by 4.6 million purchases, you come up with only 0.45% of players worldwide having 15,000 or more AP. It might be a little higher, owing to the unaccounted 15k people on Seafarer's Rest and if any Chinese players (who aren't accounted for on the leaderboards) have reached 15,000 yet.

Still, it should serve as a clear reminder that ultra-dedicated players are in the vast minority of all players of this and any MMO. We still scream the loudest, though.

Update:

As Redditor Morlewen pointed out on this post, the 4.6 million total copies sold number might not be quite accurate, since it appears to be based on old data and might not take into account Chinese sales. But I think the figures – the ones we have, at least – might still work out.

Here's what we know: Guild Wars 2 released in China on May 15, 2014. Articles published around July 10, like this one, say that the game sold 3.8 million copies, but ArenaNet later said that figure was false. However, KongZhong, the game's publisher in China, did state in its 2014 annual report that

“As of December 31, 2014, the Guild Wars 2 game had over 1.0 million registered users.”

And multiple sources seem to indicate that the game sold 500,000 or 600,000 CD Keys by the time of its launch (though I couldn't find links to official English statements to this effect). Assuming that's true, the game sold only another half a million or so during its next seven months, and is probably still just a shade over one million in China by the end of Q1 2015.

With GW2 boxes in China going for as little as $14 and as much as $114, and with the pre-launch sales being amortized (spread out) over the first six months of the game's launch, as KongZhong states, it's even tougher to get a solid handle on the overall the launch had on GW2's sales figures – and they wouldn't be accounted for anyway in NCSoft's financial reports, which don't count royalties and therefore wouldn't include what KongZhong is paying to license the game.

All that being said, I still think 4.6 million is a reasonable guess at total number of copies sold in the West, based on the previous rate of sales that I accounted for in the original article. Between January and August 2013, the game went from 3 million to 3.5+ million, or somewhere in excess of 70,000 copies per month. (And I know I heard an official ArenaNet source saying at some point that the game had sold “nearly 4 million” copies, but I can't find that quote.) To get to 4.6 million today, it would have had to have sold about another million-ish copies over 20 months, or about 50,000 per month. That seems like a reasonable slowdown, but I've contacted KDB Daewoo to see if they can shed any further light on the subject.

To recap: We have no official source on the “4.6 million” number of sales, and no word on the amount of money GW2 has made in China, but 4.6 million seems like a fair estimate for sales in the West, and the numbers in NCSoft's financial reports don't take Chinese revenue into account anyway.

So my averages might still apply, or be reasonably close, if we don't seek to include China. As always, the numbers presented in this article are for entertainment purposes only. Wasn't this entertaining?

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