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It looks like Square Enix is about to usurp the crown from Blizzard as far as active registered members go for a subscription based MMO. The company recently revealed that Final Fantasy XIV has more than 5 million registered players following the release of the big expansion pack Heavensward.
VG 24/7 is reporting that the popular Japanese MMO from Square Enix has reached more than 5 million registered users. Keep in mind that this is registered users and not subscribers, hence this means that we don't exactly know how many people are subscribed and paying for the game but we do know that the 5 million figure does not include those playing on a free trial.
The reason some sites out there are making such a big hullabaloo about the news is because World of Warcraft is losing significant subscribers. Over the past decade the MMORPG from Blizzard has gone from a peak average of about 11 million subscribers down to the recent figure of 5.6 million subscribers. The MMO has made Blizzard tons of disposal profit, bringing in at one point a hefty $100 million each and every single month.
The figures for World of Warcraft dropping to about half of what its numbers used to be has really hit a chord with some believing that Square Enix has the opportunity to step in and be the next big, bad MMO on the block.
It's completely possible for that happen, but the likelihood is that most of the people who left World of Warcraft simply migrated over to Blizzard's other two hot properties at the moment, Heroes of the Storm and Hearthstone, the latter of which has already managed to accrue an estimated $30 million each month in revenue.
While World of Warcraft may no longer be the top dog in the yard, Heroes of the Storm and Hearthstone have done a darn fine job of taking over where the MMO left off.
Ultimately, this would probably have most people questioning where this leaves Final Fantasy XIV?
Well, the MMO certainly has its niche. It's unlikely that it will pick up a majority of Blizzard's fans but as pointed out in a very interesting piece on Medium by market analyst Sergey Galyonkin, Square is likely going to have to focus on the JRPG niche audience looking for a good game to fulfill their desires to rekindle that specific kind of gameplay, mostly because the market at the moment is oversaturated with a ton of games (especially free-to-play MMOS) and targeted marketing is where the real dollar signs are.
It should also be noted that Final Fantasy XIV is less MMO and more story-driven JRPG with multiplayer support. The story is well told and expertly handled after Naoki Yoshida stepped in and has the team completely overhaule the game following the abysmal launch in 2012.
At the moment Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is a highly respected outing from Square Enix and gamers have also found themselves quickly getting attached to the Heavensward expansion.