It’s no secret that Maplestory is not as popular a game as it was many years ago.
But is Maplestory really a dead or dying game?
The short answer is yes, compared to its prime, Global Maplestory has far fewer players. If you don’t play on one of the two most-populated servers today, you won’t meet many other players.
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However, in recent time, Maplestory has managed to keep its ground and increase both users and revenue.
Furthermore, Maplestory is thriving more than ever in South Korea.
Is Maplestory a dying game?
The majority of people who remember Maplestory full of players played the game more than 10 years ago.
Around mid-2011 is when Maplestory started its descent towards a significantly smaller player base.
This drop in the number of players was mainly fueled by major changes in the game, including the potential system, the Big Bang update, paying elements, and a bigger focus on content later in the game.
Other factors did, of course, also affect the decline in Maplestory players, for example, releases of new popular video games as well as the rise of several huge Esports-driven games.
In the graph below, you can see how the search volume for Maplestory, which gives an indication of its popularity, has changed from January 2004 to January 2021.
Maplestory has not recovered its number of searches since it started losing its popularity.
However, the rate at which the search volume has fallen significantly decreased around 2015.
According to MMO Population, Maplestory has managed to significantly grow its number of players over the last five years by releasing major updates and collaborations.
MMO Population estimates that Maplestory as of January 2021 has around 285 thousand daily players.
Another indication of how many players Maplestory has is by looking at the number of players playing it through Steam.
Even though a very small percentage of Maplestory players play the game through Steam, the overall rise in active players from January 2015 to January 2021 indicates that the total number of Maplestory players has risen.
These numbers also coincide with the interesting statistic that Nexon’s generated revenue from Maplestory in North America and Europe in Q2 of 2020 has increased by an impressive 173% year over year, source.
This immense increase in revenue is partly due to an increased player base in the region, but also a 52% year over year increase in ARPPU, the average revenue per paying user, source.
Even though Maplestory has grown in North America and Europe in recent years, the two only accounts for around 8% of Nexon’s total revenue, while South Korea, China, and Japan account for around 85%.
Another notable fact is that the Korean version of Maplestory as well as Maplestory M, the mobile version of the game, have managed to break yet another record in Q3 of 2020, being the quarter with the highest generated revenue since its release, source.
Tapping into the immensely popular K-pop genre, Maplestory collaborated with the most popular K-pop group, BTS, back in late 2020.
All the videos of BTS talking about and playing Maplestory have generated several million views, undoubtedly attracting a significant amount of users to the game.
In the collaboration between Maplestory and BTS, players of the game could acquire different BTS items and participate in events.
Other notable events related to Maplestory are the shut down of the global version of Maplestory 2, which went offline for good on the 27th of May 2020, and the rise in popularity of its mobile version of the game, Maplestory M, which reached more than 16 million downloads in mid-2020.