Measuring MMOs

Does anybody really believe the 2,000,000-3,000,000 numbers for Second Life? When the media announces that x virtual world has a high number of subscribers/residents/foobars, doesn’t that influence the numbers by causing a bunch of new sign-ups and virtual tourists? How do you calculate meaningful numbers?
Raphâ..s Website – Measuring MMOs
Quasi-subscribers also complicate matters. At any given time, assuming a game with decent inflow, there is a fairly large proportion of the userbase that is playing for free, based on promotions, loyalty programs, free months provided by the box, and so on. These are folks who are able to play the game, but arenâ..t necessarily paying for it, or paying for it directly. The most obvious one of these, and the one that causes Blizzard to have so much stuff in their subscriber definition, is game time cards (which in Asia are often sold on shorter blocks of time than a month), but thereâ..s also PC baang license arrangements and other such complications.
The most interesting quasi-subscriber figure is that surrounding people who just donâ..t log in very often. At any given time, you can expect the number of unique logins over a month to be drastically lower than the number of subscribers that month â.. by as much as 20%. In other words, at any given time, 1/5th of the subscriber base wonâ..t have logged in during the last month.