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WoW No Longer World's Biggest MMO?

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Based on publicly available data, it looks like an Internet milestone will be passed by the end of next month: World of Warcraft will lose its undisputed status as the most popular massively multiplayer online world. It’s struggling to defend that title as Habbo Hotel, the web-based, social MMO from Finland’s Sulake Corp., is nipping at its heels. Habbo just sent me news that it has logged its 100 millionth registered avatar (pictured at left), and more crucial, that Habbo “attracts close to 10 million monthly visitors to its services worldwide.”

Currently 9.5 million active monthly users, to be exact, compared to Warcraft’s last-reported 10 million subscribers — but at current growth rates, it’s easily within striking range.

“Habbo expects to exceed 10 million unique monthly users within the next 30 days given current growth rates in Habbo and in virtual worlds as a whole,” Habbo Executive Vice President Teemu Huuhtanen told me through a publicist. (In the last six months, the company reports adding 20 million new avatars through a major site redesign and waves of new content, including avatar-based celebrity appearances by “American Idol”‘s Jordin Sparks and others.)

“The users want to focus on Habbo’s core,” explained Huuhtanen. “[T]hat is, being in the [virtual] hotel — as opposed to extraneous material on the home page.”

Of course, the battle may not be over: Blizzard/Vivendi might have added more subscribers since reaching 10 million last January, so stand by for updates. Meantime, check out my write-up on “The How of Habbo Hotel,” in which a Sulake executive explains how it gained Warcraft-level numbers with a much smaller budget.

Image credit: LOL embellishment by WJA.

42 Responses to “WoW No Longer World's Biggest MMO?”

  1. You New beginners to computers still understand nothing???
    Wow isnt the biggest and have never been. Habbo not even got 1million!!!

    RuneScape got 190million peoples tried it 18 million active accounts and over 10million Subscribers! Paying 4 £ each month who is 8 dollars!

    WoW only got 8 Million players 7 Mill active 80 Mills tried it!
    Habbo got 5000 active 70mill tried it

  2. Lol… The idea of comparing these two games and actually thinking that they are in competition with each other is just LOL. First of all WoW is an MMORPG which takes skill to play now with the recent patches, habbo is a game of luck and seeing who has the most money in your parents bank. Not to mention habbo is free… if they had started charging then they would be down to about 200 people? WoW can keep about 11 Million charging $15 U.S dollars a month. SO you do the math… ARE THEY REALLY IN COMPETITION?

  3. touchet

    Wow is becoming too boring. They have sucked the life out of it by allowing their development team become flooded with wow addicts. The development is moving in the direction of hard core players rather than casual ones. This making the game less of a social interaction and more of a strategy based game. The new patch is even more boring as if you are not perfect in strategy you will kill everyone. You can imagine the amount of drama that causes. Makes you hate your guild eventually. Not good for a game that relies on social interaction and organization to progress through.

  4. Two words: Network Externalities.

    And yes props to Vladimir. I appreciate Habbo for its ability to generate revenue from an age group that wouldn’t otherwise pay any amount for online games.

  5. Ah, the epic struggle of who is more profitable…

    I don’t play either. I played an MMORPG for 2 weeks, and that was my tenure into that realm of gaming. But so what if Habbo chose user numbers over revenue? $118 million a year off of a free product is pretty damn successful if you ask me. $150 million a month makes sense when it costs 10 million people $15/month to play. I can see where WoW’s revenue comes from with the most basic of mathematics. Habbo has obviously been more creative with their revenue earning strategy and in my opinion, more successful because they found a way to deliver their product to a massively expanding user base for free and still turn a tidy profit.

  6. James, you miss my point.

    Habbo Hotel has lots of revenue streams and ONLY generates $118 million per year. WoW is doing upwards of $150 million per MONTH.

    Lots of revenue streams does not change the fact that Habbo Hotel when compared to WoW has clearly chosen user numbers over revenue/profits.

    My point is that WoW is smarter than Habbo in my opinion because they are generating far more money by focusing on charging customers directly instead of looking for all sorts of other revenue streams and hoping some of them become major.

  7. have you even taken a look at WoW versus Habbo? I mean christ, they don’t even seem to be in the same category. If we want an avatar count, you’d have to find out how many alts everyone that plays warcraft has. I’ve got three on blood furnace, 2 on crushridge, and four on aggrimar. Needless to say none of them are 70 besides one, but i doubt you level in habbo anyway. Seems like you sit around and drink e-java with people that can’t socialize without a computer. I play warcraft for the fun, not as my means to meet people. Check out the habbo home page if you’d like. “Hangout for teens” and then you’ll notice links that say things like “love, party, MEET” can anyone say pedophile much? People think that myspace is bad with that, well it’ll be even worse when children are getting raped by the avatar that claims to be the same age that they are.. society is going to hell, and Habbo is just another stepping stool to lead you there

  8. Well its good to see that wow isnt the biggest mmo ever.
    In my opinion wow should be pay to play.. why?
    because.. look at all the other games that are being made… sure they cost 70-90 dollars more than wow but that company has actually put effort into that game rather than blizzard… just sell for a cheap price and demand more money if they really had some brains they would atleast have spent more time on it and put it atleast 70-90 dollars.. and not pay to play.. because if they really have 1million or 10million subscribers what ever it is instead of 10-70 dollars a month wouldnt they just be like everyother company?
    sell for $100
    when its reached its maximum income start/release a new project to make more money

  9. “Smart companies choose revenue and profits over sheer user numbers.”

    Read the write-up I linked to at the bottom, Habbo is also making a lot of money. The service is free to join, but they have a lot of other revenue streams.

  10. Unfortunately this article suffers from Web 2.0-itis as the commenters rightly point out.

    Dollars and cents are what matter in business and you are reporting on the business of massively multiplayer online worlds.

    Smart companies choose revenue and profits over sheer user numbers. Kudos to Habbo for what they are doing, but they aren’t even in the same league as WoW – and this is coming from someone who dislikes these virtual online worlds.

  11. Ummm. This is a silly insight from what is normally an insightful blog.

    Wow costs money and is real. Habbo Hotel is free, if fun. You’re saying that spending money on making a cool game and giving it away for free is hard? Umm, no. If WoW went free, what do you think would happen…maybe MySpace size numbers. But they want to make money. Good for them.

    If you want to take shots at WoW, you should try a more genuine comparison and analysis.

  12. Correction to my above, should read :

    Habbo turns 118 million in Revenue a Year and a staff of 300.
    WoW turns 140-150 million Revenue a month and a staff of 2700.

  13. I just read your previous write up about Habbo. 77 million in Revenue on 6.5 million users. Although the numbers will not be a direct comparison to each other I can make a semi connection of 10 million users equaling out about 118 million in Revenue reflecting their previous numbers.

    WoW turns 140-150 million in Revenue a month and a staff of 300.
    Habbo turns 118 million in Revenue a Year and a staff of 2700.

    When comparing raw data it is relatively interesting to see the numbers but when it boils down to it the target markets are not the same.

  14. The better comparison would be between how many “avatars” or “alt characters” that populate WoW versus Habbo. Habbo claims 100th million avatar but I’m sure the 10 million WoW players don’t only have a single character on their account. (I have 5 on my single account)

    Also, WoW is doing 150 million a month in revenue, what kind of numbers is Habbo pulling for all of its 100 million Avatar numbers? Or its 10 million regular users?

  15. Daniel Golding

    Subscriber counts are so 1999. The real questions are revenue and cash flow. WoW is mind blowingly profitable by most calculations, both from their subscription model and their expansions. I was under the impression that Habo, like most social networking sites is free. “Blizzard/Vivendi might have added more subscribers since reaching 10 million last January” – you think?

  16. Actually, WoW has never been the “most popular massively multiplayer online world”.

    If you measure by registered users, the old Korean MMO’s like Kart Rider or Mu online with each 50+ million easily beat it.

    If you measure by players online at the same time, then ZT online easily beats it with 2,1 million players online at the same time in China alone!

  17. fobicity

    This is quite useless imo…we are talking about two different things here…. and MMORPG with an online little game ….they are in different categories that need not be compared in any way…