I’m going to look at how City of Heroes / City of Villains faired in Q1 2010 in a little while, but news that Aion is going to be closing some servers in North America and Europe means this is a bit more pressing.
NCsoft’s Q1 2010 financials are out and paint an interesting picture.
A Brief Historical Recap
Aion launched November 25 (Q4) 2008 in South Korea and September 22 (Q3) 2009 in North America (and soon after in several other Western markets). In Q4 2008 NCsoft earned 9 682 m Won from Aion. This jumped to 42 649 m Won in Q1 2009 and held fairly steady for Q2 2009.
The NA / Western launch of Aion saw revenue from Aion about double to 78 948 m Won (Q3 2009) and then grow another 14% in Q4 to 89 846 m Won. For those playing at home, the Q4 2009 result converts to about US$76.9m revenue.
I’ve previously made the point that since Aion revenue covers both South Korean and Western markets it is hard to tease out specific contributions. That said, it kind of looks like the South Korean and Western markets were responsible for about 50 / 50 worth of revenue.
Aion’s revenue fell in Q1 2010 by nearly 21% to 71 235 m Won.
But Aren’t Those Declines Due To Box Sales vs Subscriptions?
Maybe. Obviously a box sale plus two months subscription (say: US$80) is more than just three months worth of subscription (US$45). But I’d expect that NCsoft would have wanted to see a more gradual decline. It certainly suggests that Aion hasn’t seen a continued rolling revenue stream from box sales – there was a burst of sales as players joined at launch, but then a rapid decline in box sale revenue.
The Decline of The West
Again, it is hard to specifically identify which market is driving that decline, but there are two factors pointing to the decline being driven more by the Western market than Korea:
- Those server closures mentioned above – there haven’t been corresponding announcements for Aion South Korea (at least that I could find).
- Massively.com ran an article about the renewed popularity of Dungeons and Dragons Online that included a chart indicating that only 5% of ex-World of Warcraft players are playing Aion. Given the sheer size of WoW and its place as main competitor, that such a small proportion are playing Aion (more are headed off to Second Life, for god’s sake!) is a sign that Aion isn’t drawing in Western players.
There could be an argument that WoW players aren’t Aion players, but the above chart suggests that EVE Online has about the same attraction rate from WoW. (Side note: look at the spread of titles there – the MMO category is crowded and still continues to grow.)
Overall Aion still does very well revenue-wise, as does NCsoft. What this suggests, however, is that Aion’s potential as a challenger to the WoW crown as a market leader has been substantially diminished.
So, How Many Players?
It can’t be said for sure, but given the revenue decline, it is safe to say that Aion has fewer players than they did at launch.