Home > Tabula Rasa > Tabula Rasa – 150K subscribers?

Tabula Rasa – 150K subscribers?

February 13, 2008

I had a look at the NCSoft Q4 2007 earnings report which was released today. There are some interesting numbers there, but first I am going to focus on Tabula Rasa.

In Q4 Tabula Rasa contributed to about 5 billion won in sales, which roughly corresponds to 5 million US dollars. Given that the game was released on November 2nd that would basically be sales of the game itself – no subscription fees.

How much money NCSoft makes one each Tabula Rasa sale is difficult to say – with digital download they do not have any middle men taking any part of the the sales price, which they have when selling the boxes. I do not know how much of the price that NCSoft gets from a box sale. A guess could be perhaps half of the price (excluding VAT or sales tax).

That would mean Tabula Rasa gained perhaps somewhere between 100K and 200K subscribers in the first month, depending on actual box income and ratio between box sales and digital download. The real number is perhaps somewhere in between.

This is probably less than expected for the game. Comments on the report also indicate that expectation was higher and most of the sales was in the US.

Furthermore the forecast for Tabula Rasa for the year 2008 is 15 billion won, roughly 15 million US dollars. That is quite low I think. Either they do not expect many new subscribers and/or that current subscribers will stay for very long.

They are also planning to launch Tabula Rasa in Japan in the second half of 2008.

Listening to the recorded conference call for the earnings report, a few things were mentioned affecting the less than stellar sales of Tabula Rasa:

  • New type of MMO game, more difficult to attract new players
  • Bad launch period, too much competition from other game titles (any game, not MMOGs)
  • The game was released too early

The forecast for 2008 is a conservative number – they said they hope for better, but it might be more realistic to set this low number. With that forecast they will make a profit in terms of operating costs, but it will not cover for the development costs.

I love the game, so I really hope they can improve on the current state and I think the developers have been doing a great job so far.

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Categories: Tabula Rasa
  1. February 13, 2008 at 22:38 | #1

    For my latest MMOG susbcription charts I’ve placed Tabula Rasa at 125K subscribers based on those revenue numbers. Remember that this would include subscription fees from December, as well as anyone else who signed up for longer-term subs. You can compare the revenue number to City of Heroes to get an idea. Also, forcecasting forward, it looks like they’re talking about 80K – 100K subscribers for Tabula Rasa.

    I agree with the conference call that a sci-fi MMOG attracts less interest than fantasy, and that the game was released too soon. But that’s the fault of management. The Korean guy said it was a “battle” between management who wants to release at a certain date and management that wants to delay. And they decided to release anyway, and suddenly they’ve learned that this isn’t a good idea? Everyone who’s made an MMO for the past 10 years could have told them that; this isn’t exactly a new discovery. No, clearly they truth was they didn’t think delaying the game would help them get substantially more subscribers and that it would just waste more money.

    The idea that the game shouldn’t have been launched over the holidays is laughable. The US guy actually suggested that one shouldn’t launch a new IP in Q4! Come now, that’s grasping at straws.

    I feel bad for NC Austin, since they tried to innovate and didn’t get as good as game as they wanted. Comapnies should not consider 100K subs a failure. Now, instead of taking the lessons learned and making better games, their studio is likely to get layoffs and restructuring. Richard Garriott deserves better than that.

  2. sente
    February 14, 2008 at 00:52 | #2

    Good point, I forgot to factor in the subscriptions for the first month. Some will pay for 3 months or 6 months also, so they would get a bit more from those also. Not sure if that would be a significant amount though.

    Unfortunately I think you are right with what might happen at NCSoft Austin. They have had a fairly large team working on the game as far as I know and with this forecast that is not likely to be sustained.

  3. February 14, 2008 at 01:04 | #3

    The other interesting thing is that NCSoft said they have 6 MMOGs in development, 3 in Korea and 3 in NA. We know Seattle is working on Guild Wars 2, and the NorCal studio just started, so the Orange County studio must be working on one and the Austin studio must have another MMOG in the pipeline. But I doubt they want to cancel that; NCSoft seemed to be trumpeting the fact they have so many in the hopper, so I wonder just how many layoffs Austin can take since they should be ramping up production on the new MMOG anyway.

  4. sente
    February 14, 2008 at 01:59 | #4

    The unannounced western MMOG could very well be in Austin, but I believe that was scheduled for late 2011, later than both the dropped Blackstar (Spacetime Studios) and the Carbine studio ones were planned.

    Maybe that does work out well. Their impact on the Western hemisphere market is still small compared to the Korean market in particular, but they certainly seem to keep trying. But since they dropped Blackstar they probably focus on the in-house development.

  5. Joko
    March 26, 2008 at 03:55 | #5

    Try 50k subs LOL.

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