Three months after the release of id Software and Splash Damage’s Enemy Territory:Quake Wars, how well is it doing online?
The first thing noticeable, somewhat curiously, is that the game didn’t manage to attract any noticeable slice of the current Wolfenstein:Enemy Territory audience – and that’s the game that, gameplay and intellectual-property wise, could be considered its only prequel, despite a different setting and argument. Apparently, the hardcore following of a free game didn’t want to experiment a slightly different – and commercial – game.
Also noticeable is the apparently immediate surge on the game’s popularity from October to November. What happened there?
This is an topic that’s bound to cause some controversy, so before I get to that, here are some numbers: right now, over at GameSpy stats, ET:QW has 5167 online players, distributed over 891 servers. Over at Game-monitor, it shows 1059 players, distributed over 1157 servers. ServerSpy.net shows 2815 players, over 871 servers.
The surge in player numbers also coincide with the release of a patch that takes the game to version 1.2, so this is probably the indirect reason for the surge.
The direct reasons is either that the developers have fixed some problem with server querying that existed before, or that they’ve added the bot count to general player count. Unfortunately, the latter seems to be the case, specially because other statistics seem to properly filter out those players, even if the number of servers they cover is similar. This would be a huge no-no – it would inflate the number of players unrealistically.
Additional note: while there have been rumors other games – specially Battlefield 2 – have been also doing it, it’s important to remember Battlefield 2 didn’t even allow bots on public multiplayer games when it was released, and even when it started doing so, there was no change on the online numbers.
On the other hand, other statistic sources might be completely filtering out servers that simply allows for bot play, removing legitimate players from the total count. I wish I knew more about the issue. Either way, I think it’s fair to believe the real ET:QW numbers are much lower than what the graph shows, so keep this in mind.
Despite all that, how well did the game do online, compared to its direct competitors?
While it failed to attract Wolfenstein:Enemy Territory players, it apparently managed to grab a very small hold of Battlefield 2 and Battlefield 2142 players. Might might or might not be a good thing, given the fact that the typical Battlefield player is used to a gameplay that is not really similar to what ET:QW has to offer, despite some visual similarities (both features “vehicles” that travel over “large terrain”) and hyping a player to a game that offers a gameplay so different from what he expected is bound to cause online headaches.
No matter whether the current player count is inflated by bots or not, there’s also a visible downwards trend on the game’s popularity on the graph. It has also failed to take advantage of the Christmas effect – differently from what Battlefield 2142 did last year. The game will probably stabilize in the future as it grabs a niche of its own hardcore players, but right now, the future is not so bright for the game (again).
See more complete graphs on how well the game is doing online on the games page.