DFC Intelligence president David Cole talks about the success of World of Warcraft and wonders if it can be matched.

David Cole is the President of DFC Intelligence, a market research firm that specializes in games. In an article posted on Next-Gen and GameDaily, he elaborates on the success of World of Warcraft and what it means for the market.

The article begins by clarifying the “six million subscribers” number we often associate with the game. “We know, from the game’s Chinese operator the9, that Warcraft has 5 million Chinese players,” he said. “However, these Chinese users are not subscribers in the Western sense of the word: they do not pay a recurring monthly fee. In fact, they generate about 0.36 yuan per hour of gameplay; that’s about 4 cents an hour. Of course, Chinese users log a lot of hours. In the second quarter of 2006, World of Warcraft generated $32 million.”

While $32 million is a good deal of money, it’s not nearly as much as the revenue generated by the Western market. “What we know for sure is that World of Warcraft has had one million North American subscribers and one million European subscribers for a total of over two million Western subscribers.” In the Western market, players pay $14.99 US a month to play.

With the record subscriber numbers put up by Blizzard, investors are obviously keen to get into the MMO genre. Cole suggests that they be careful; the cost of developing new games may not balance with the income.

“In the new DFC Intelligence Online Game Market report we forecast revenue in the MMOG market to grow over 150% from 2006 to 2011. However, this doesn’t account for all the investment money that is likely to be lost chasing after that revenue growth. After EverQuest’s success over five years ago, millions of dollars flowed into the MMOG industry, far beyond what it could support,” he warns.

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