I love statistics. I was the kid that would have all of his baseball cards flipped stat-side up. Sure, the player’s picture was neat and all, but the real stuff was in the stats. Graphs and charts are my jam. When ArtCraft surprised the community by releasing Part 1 of their recent player survey results, complete with graphs and charts, I was in my happy place.
Several weeks ago, players were sent an extensive survey for the purpose of finding out what kind of people are interested in Crowfall. These anonymous surveys were sent to backers and non-backers alike and the survey link was made available on the official forums.
Saying that it was extensive doesn’t quite do the survey justice. It contained page after page of questions ranging from background, income, household size, favorite games, previous games played, ranking games in order of preference, and much, much more. It was, by far, the longest survey I have ever taken for a video game. Again, the survey was anonymous so I didn’t mind answering the questions, but I was curious as to how many people would actually fill it out. I was surprised to find out that of the 10,132 people who began the survey, a whopping 82 percent completed it. While some on the official forums expressed a bit of confusion as to the purpose of the survey, most went ahead and completed it anyway.
Many of us were asking the same question: why the survey? Here is ArtCraft’s answer:
First, and most importantly, we’ll be using it to better understand our audience. Who were the earliest adopters of Crowfall? Why did Crowfall resonate with them? We want to learn what we will need to do to continue to earn your loyalty and patronage. We hear from some of you rather frequently, but we also want to hear from and better understand our customers who are not as vocal. This is one tool to help us in those efforts.
Any game developer will tell you that understanding your audience is a critical component in being able to communicate with them. One of the biggest mistakes any developer can make is being out-of-touch with their audience.
So, this begs the question: what kind of people are interested in Crowfall? While many in the MMO community may have preconceived notions about the kind of person who would jump head-first into supporting a PvP MMORPG, the results spoke volumes about who is actually following Crowfall’s progress.
Nearly half of the survey participants lived outside the US. 520 of those outside the US were from Canada, while the rest were from overseas. Pre-Alpha 1.0 featured servers in the US, Europe and Singapore, which makes sense based on these numbers. I expect to continue seeing Crowfall featuring international servers and support.
Age, Hours Worked and Income
The average survey participant was around 30 years old. This is a figure matches the average age of today’s gamer. Participants defied the basement-dwelling gamer stereotype by showing that 75 percent are currently employed, 57 percent of which work full time. 50% of respondents reported working between 35 and 40 hours per week while those reporting as working 40-50 hours per week added up to 33 percent of the total contribution.
Of all survey participants, the gender breakdown was approximately 96 percent male and 4% female. I’ll let the community speculate as to why there is such a large disparity or even if it’s notable or not. As far as I’m concerned, another player’s gender is immaterial to their ability to contribute toward our faction’s victory or defeat once the game launches. If you’re good, you’re good. If you’re bad, you’re bad. In the immortal words of Forrest Gump, “That’s all I have to say about that.”
Participants listing college or some college comprised of 50 percent of the results. The other half were, as expected, a wide range of backgrounds from doctoral degrees to high school. What’s notable is that 57% of survey participants hold some type of professional degree. Of course, playing video games is good for the brain, so the fact that so many educated people would be interested in Crowfall isn’t surprising.
Knowledge = Precision
Learning about your audience is one of the most important aspects of effective communication. However, learning where they came from is just as important. This survey ultimately allows ArtCraft to identify where people that are interested in the game came from and how Crowfall might better find more pockets of interested gamers. Sites like MMORPG.com are a great place to find potential customers, for sure, but there are huge pockets of people out there that are still unaware the game even exists. As an indie company, you’re not going to see Crowfall plastered on Red Bull cans at your local 7-11. ArtCraft must be intentional about where they spend their marketing dollars so having a precise understanding of where potential customers are will be critical to its marketing success.
The stats on my old baseball card collection weren’t the most exciting aspect of the sport, but they did offer solid background info on what to expect from that player. In the same way, these survey results may not give us exciting new details into the game itself, but it does reveal the kinds of people that are interested in the game. These details will hopefully give ArtCraft some insight into how to better communicate with current supporters as well as help them to discover pockets of new potential customers.