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WoW has a huge playerbase as we know, but how many average players are on a single WoW Realm at once? Is it higher than the average MMO (for example FFXI has 1500+ on a server at once).

EVE Online wouldn't be a good comparison, as that is a single server/world for all players.

Note: By server, I mean "Realm" or the sort and not physical server (as most MMO worlds are made up of multiple servers). I'm looking for sources such as interviews, development phase information, etc.

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I'm pretty sure that this is the sort of closely held, confidential data that there isn't an official source for. It's of too much competitive and investor value to disclose. – LessPop_MoreFizz Jan 13 '13 at 20:23
Even ignoring the valid fact LessPop_MoreFizz proposed, these stats are different for different Regions. Please mention yours. – Siddhartha Jan 13 '13 at 20:32
@Siddhartha I'm not necessarily interested in a specific region, any will do. – Zeno Jan 13 '13 at 20:54
@Zeno You don't understand, to get a legitimate answer, you will have to specify a region. – Siddhartha Jan 13 '13 at 20:56
@siddharta I don't know that that's actually true. What data we do have (via third party surveys like the census in the current accepted answer) indicates its a relatively low number. For the most part, WoWs variable popularity across regions is primarily reflected by realm quantity, not population. – LessPop_MoreFizz Jan 13 '13 at 22:01
up vote 8 down vote accepted

It sounds like you're looking for the information from for World of Warcraft. An average of 900 players on across a day, with a peak of around 1500. That's across all realms, so you could dig down into the stats on the page to find out the average for a high population realm, etc.

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I'm going to accept this since it at least has a (3rd party) source. – Zeno Dec 29 '11 at 4:55

I've worked as Mmo journalist and analyst for a few years but i'm not active anymore, so whatever i'm gonna say is outdated by at least 2 years. Probably new games have different limits due to more powerful servers.

For what i know, the smallest WoW server had a cap of 4000 players while the biggest were around 7000-8000. I don't know if they are bigger now.

The biggest server ever was Eve's online server, that used a distributed approach and could afford a peak of 50k concurrent users. Probably they beat that record recently.

The average Theme Park mainstream mmo had the same numbers of WoW, ranging from 2500 to 5000-6000 players. There were exceptions but most of them used the same approach as WoW.

Korean f2p games had usually a lower average player cap, ranging usually from 1000 to 2500. Chinese games, overall those from PerfectWorld Inc. were bigger but i don't remember exactly.

For sandbox games there weren't a good rule, i remember Love that had a maximum of 150 registered players per server. I don't remeber exactly but Darkfall or Mortal claimed to have a really high players' limit, but i'm not really sure.

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The max is great, but that isn't what I asked. – Zeno Dec 29 '11 at 1:37
Mmm you're right... – Chobeat Dec 29 '11 at 10:51

I've heard 15000 players on some games, i think it was ultima online that had the highest. Usually it also depends on the architecture. On true open world RPGs you probably have less people than on segmented world architecture (like GuildWars)...

Another point you have to take into account is the difference between a world and a server. WoW has thousands of servers but much less worlds. Same thing for FFXI and FFXIII, they feature zones which may be set on different servers while still in the same world.

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I believe WoW is at 4 servers per shard? EK, Kalimdor, Northrend, Outland? – McKay Dec 28 '11 at 20:22
And there might be other supplementary servers (like mail servers or something, but the OP was talking about characters on a server, which wouldn't be applicable here) – McKay Dec 28 '11 at 20:23
FFXI still calls them "servers", example: That's what I meant, so "Worlds" is what I meant I guess. – Zeno Dec 29 '11 at 1:37
Becareful what you consider a "server" because there is technically no possible way to support 5000 players connected on one server in a stream of data. Even a server with multiple network interfaces such as gigabyte interfaces can barely sends in a continuous 400mbps per second because it would have to process that much and it's almost impossible. What you call servers are usually clusters of machines representing a "world" or "shard" call it what you wish... – Mathieu Dumoulin Dec 29 '11 at 13:32
@Mathieu: That doesn't sound like a big problem at all. WoW uses ~10kB/s per player (80 kb/s), so 5000 players is indeed only 400 mb/s. That's well within reach of a single 1Gbit/s network card, and yet you see that modern servers have 10 Gbit/s network cards (and sometimes more than one). Clearly those servers can handle more than 400 mb/s. – MSalters Dec 30 '11 at 12:35

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