To many MMO players, today is a special day. Millions of World of Warcraft (WOW) players have been anticipating the release of the latest expansion.
My local video game stored has promotion all over their windows about the midnight release sales tonight. I am a confused video game addict. Instead WOW, I am a faithful follower of Lord of the Rings Online (LOTRO). I am dying to touch and taste the second commercial release of the saga, Mines of Moria, next week
If you look at the numbers, WOW (and MMO) is phenomenal. Earlier this year, WOW active subscriber number hit the 10 million mark. Meanwhile, there are about 16 millions of active MMO subscribers worldwide. If we do some simple maths here, assuming the games charge an average of 10€ month subscription fee, we see a 160 million € revenue.
In real life MMO seems to bear similar kind of intensity. People buy and sell in-game items in eBay. People pay others real money to power-level their in-game characters. People trade real money with in-game money. Some people also steal others’ in-game properties. In tragic cases, it even resulted death of real persons.
In the meanwhile time, MMO is not just for teenagers, who run marathon playing sessions on pizza and energy drinks in basements. Look at The Sims Online. Look at Second Life. Even “niche” fantasy MMORPG like LOTRO are full of players in their 30s and 40s. Regularly in the game I meet these people, who have regular jobs, spouses and children. They interact with each other outside the game, run net discussion forums about in-game issues …
The mind-boggling numbers, violence and the diverse age group lead me to think about the GTA series. With friends we have been discussing when they will release a true GTA Online MMO. After all, there is already the MTAcv.
And with 6 million copies sold in the first week alone, the GTA4 sales are pretty comparable to WOW.
So, the million dollar question is how marketers do take advantage of such massive amount of eyeballs. Yes, there is Second Life. There is also Habbo Hotel. But imagine the potential GTA Online, in which a second New York City is recreated, with all the shops, malls, office buildings, taxis, billboards … And players all can roam around do whatever they are so used to do in the GTA games, joining and forming gangs, grabbing territories, earning street creds … It will be a totally different ball game.
As a gamer, I would love to see that. As a marketer, I cannot wait for such opportunity.