Xfire, which connects gamers and lets them know when their friends are playing, has released some statistics about the usage of online games — and it’s no surprise that World of Warcraft blitzes the competition. World of Warcraft had an average of 390,703 hours played on it each day in March, while the second most popular game, Counter-Strike Source, had less than half that figure with 157,187 hours played on average each day. When the massively multiplayer online (MMO) genre is considered WoW does even better, garnering about three quarters of the total hours played, and 8 times as many as the second most popular MMO game, Guild Wars. No other genre is so dominated by a single game — which is hardly surprising, since MMOs are similar to social networks in that the more people who play the better they tend to be, and the more players they attract, and the more those gamers play the game. These figures are based on hours played, not subscribers, so they can’t be equated to market share. They should be very interested for anybody looking at in-game advertising, though.
It should be noted that these figures are for users of one service, and should be taken as such. Xfire claims to cover all games indiscriminately, so games within the MMO category can be compared, although there could be some bias in the results based on founding populations — if a high percentage of one MMO uses Xfire, it encourages more people to do so. But you definitely can’t compare between genres — for example, Solitaire showed 6,517 hours average usage on each day in March, which is indicative of the fact that Solitaire players don’t need to communicate with other Solitaire players rather than that World of Warcraft is played more.