According to some NPD statistics dug up by Massively, Turbine's Dungeons & Dragons Online is now the third most popular MMORPG being played today. World of Warcraft continues to dominate the #1 spot with 30% of the MMO population, RunScape holds the #2 spot with 10%, but now D&D Online has edged Guild Wars out of the third spot with 8%. Congratulations, Turbine:
Unsurprisingly, WoW is king: the game has held the top spot in the "MMOs currently playing" section since the January 2008 survey. It's not a small lead either: 30% of the participants are currently playing WoW, with RuneScape holding the number two spot at 10%. The next spot, however, is where the numbers start to get interesting. In 2008 and 2009, Guild Wars held easily to the third position with 7% while DDO languished somewhere below Disney's Toontown Online at 4%. As of this January, Guild Wars held steady with that number, but DDO doubled its numbers and took over the number three spot. An additional question regarding "What former World of Warcraft players are currently playing" gave the same results: 11% turned to DDO in 2009, again knocking GW out of the number two position. RuneScape has been the favored second choice for a long time and still is, but the game's popularity took a sharp drop this year, with 13% of former WoW players turning to it. In 2008 that number was 20%.
So why the big change? The answer is obvious, but a peek at yet another part of the survey confirms it: preferred method of payment. In 2008, the monthly sub model was vastly preferred with 30% of gamers naming it as their preferred method. In the current survey that number has dropped to 18% while the free-to-play with microtransactions model is climbing. The current favored payment model is that of a lifetime subscription -- 22% named that as their favorite. However, Dungeons and Dragons Online moved from a sub to a f2p model at a time when gamers were becoming very interested in options other than the standard, rigid monthly subscription and it worked out very well for them. Keep in mind too that DDO didn't go free-to-play until halfway through 2009, so next year's poll may reflect an even larger jump in numbers.