How many people did NOT play this game?
Posted by Tobold's Blog [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 14 February 2013, 6:13 am
MMORPG fans are a bit like football fans, always supporting their team. Unfortunately, unlike football, there aren't matches played whose outcome would tell us something about which team is currently beating which other team. That mostly leads to circular arguments of the type: "You can't measure quality. My game is best, because it has the best un-measurable quality.". People declare themselves as the only ones objectively being able to determine the quality of games, and then miraculously come to the "completely objective" conclusion that the game they are supporting is the one that has the highest quality.

The other sort of argument usually made is based on player numbers in one form or another. And everybody cheats with their numbers, comparing apples with oranges. Games that are distributed world-wide take their global numbers and compare them to games that aren't even distributed in Asia. Free2Play games count everybody who ever made an account. Games in which everybody has multiple accounts count number of accounts instead of number of players. Games with low player numbers count percent of improvement over last month. And if another game has better numbers than the fans favorite game, then the better numbers are declared to be an anomaly which doesn't count.

All that doesn't only result in numbers which are statistically not relevant, they also don't make sense in a historical perspective. How do you compare games that didn't come out at the same time? Is a game only "good" if it is the most technologically advanced game *today*, thus penalizing all older games in the score? Or is a game only good when measured by its degree of innovation over earlier games, which penalizes most modern games? Is people leaving games a sign that a game got worse, or is it just a measure of burnout?

I don't think there will ever be an agree solution to how to measure which game is "best", and most important. But I was wondering if instead of looking at current player numbers or percent up and down compared to the last month, we shouldn't be looking at the impact of a game from the other side:

How many people did NOT play this game?

There will still be a lot of people who will argue that this isn't a measure of whether a game is "good" or "bad". But I would argue that at the very least this would be a measure of the historical significance of a game. In 20 years, if a journalist writes about the history of MMORPGs in the first decade of the 21st century, what games will have been completely forgotten, and which ones will be remembered? I would say that those which pretty much everybody played have the best chance to be remembered.
Tobold's Blog



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