As it turns out, we have to distinguish between the report presentation - a colorful package that includes lots of celebratory marketing woo-woo material - and the financial report itself. If one looks at the report presentation as opposed to the financial report, it appears the game sold over 800,000 copies to date and currently (that is, 'per August 14') has 415,000 customers. That many subscribers would certainly be enough to keep the game alive and healthy. But there's a big twist around the corner.
As our readers may remember, Funcom were boasting around 400,000 subscribers back in May. Going by Funcom's own official figures, the game's population is growing slightly rather than shrinking..
We must make the caveat here that there are no server metrics included, making it impossible to assess the performance of any given server over any other. We thus cannot tell whether PvP servers are faring better than PvE, or whether the Culture PvP servers are the disappointment they are claimed to be by some players. Nor, more importantly, are Age of Conan's subscribers categorized by region. We only have the single customer figure to work with. It is therefore possible that Age of Conan could have performed weakly in the US, and strongly in Europe; or vice versa.
Nor, it seems, will we be seeing any server metrics in future; we may even be unable to see subscription numbers. We are only getting them this time because it's the first quarter after AoC's launch:
Funcom will, as previously stated, for marketing and competitive reasons in the future not on a regular basis disclose information about subscriber numbers and also not provide detailed financial guidance. Due to Q208 being the first quarter following the introduction of the Age of Conan game, the Company has decided to provide such information.
Furthermore, there's a possible ambiguity here concerning exactly what period the 415,000 subscribers relates to, which may throw our analysis above off completely. As stated, '415,000 customers per August 14' is the tally from the report presentation. The financial report itself (as opposed to the report presentation) which concerns events up to June 30 of 2008, states 'The game currently has more than 415,000 customers.'
Funcom thus seem to be claiming identical subscriber figures for June 30 and August 14, which strikes us as odd. One possibility is that the report presentation simply means 'per the Q2 2008 report of August 14', but this is merely our own attempt to make sense of what we see in front of us. We do note that if the figure of 415,000 customers really did pertain to August 14, it would contradict Funcom's own decision (see above) not to provide information about subscriber numbers other than for Q2 2008, which (as any investor knows) ends in June.
In related news, Funcom stock has dropped this morning; this is not the first time. We have also received word that the CEO of Funcom has sold 400,000 of his own shares, which represents 18.7% of his outstanding shares and exercisable options.
Some very mixed signals, then, are coming out of Funcom today. If the game really does have 415,000 subscribers right now, that's a healthy enough figure. However, confidence could be higher, the lack of solid figures doesn't help, and the CEO could have picked a far better time to sell off nearly a fifth of his own stock.