Jun 212012
 

After the success of the first community survey following the first beta weekend, it was time to do it all over again! Just like last time, I asked members of the Guild Wars 2 community for the experiences of their servers to gather data that would help people to pick their server and to generally capture the state of the in-game Guild Wars 2 community. And everyone really delivered (which is why this is a little later than I’d have liked)! Thank you to everyone who filled in the survey, encouraged a friend to or posted it somewhere for people to see. You are the backbone of this community.

Gathering information

Using the previous survey as a base, I built up a short set of questions covering information that included the number of guilds people were a member of, how satisfied they were with their choice of server, their experiences on their servers and the languages spoken on them. The existence of the survey was promoted to my followers on Twitter and retweeted several times by individuals and fansites within the Guild Wars 2 community. It was also promoted on Guild Wars 2 Guru and Guild Wars 2 Nederlandstalige Community.

As with the last survey, I have included every response I received even where I felt that response may have been deliberately misleading, and removed offensive words and identifying comments from the feedback. Again, the questions, original responses and some statistical analysis is available in a pdf for you to enjoy (if you enjoy that kind of thing). I’ll refer to some feedback below, and draw out the more interesting statistics.

Results

In total the survey was completed by 220 people, 123 from European servers (56% )and 97 from American servers (44%). This was over 3 times the number of direct responses I received last survey, and nearly 100 more total responses. However while were significantly more direct responses to the survey this time around to last, there were also twice as many servers as last time as well. Of the 96 servers for the second beta weekend, I received a survey from one or more residents of 63 servers. Responses were not received from 14 servers from Europe and 19 servers from America.

3 servers had more than 10 responses US Eternal Grove, EU Far Shiverpeaks and EU Desolation. These servers with 11, 37 and 11 responses respectively had a significant effect on the mean number of responses per server which was 2.292. This is compared with a median of 1 and a mode of 0. If these results are excluded, the mean is 1.731 – much closer to the median result. Unfortunately this means that once again we can’t draw any concrete conclusions about the state of any one particular server off the back of these results – one person’s response can’t give a full and accurate account of the entire community on any server on the list.

The reason for these servers producing such large results are likely to be down to the platforms that the survey was promoted on and the populations that had chosen to inhabit those servers. For example, during the first beta weekend, US Eternal Grove was designated the server for a large number of independent fan site leader and bloggers, several of whom follow my twitter account and are more likely to participate in community projects. In addition, EU Far Shiverpeaks was designated the server for the Dutch and Scandinavian population in both beta weekends – since GWNL is a Dutch language fansite, it’s likely that Dutch people would be resident on this server and hear about the survey. The reasons behind the reply spike from EU Desolation is less clear, but information about communities and the servers they had chosen from the first beta weekend suggests that the gaming websites Rock Paper Shotgun and PCGamer were choosing that server along with a few guilds. However, it’s not clear why that particular server got so many replies when compared to EU Gandara (for example) which was the designated Guild Wars 2 Guru server.

Server populations and satisfaction

While  I’m hesitant to try to draw any conclusions from individual server, there are some interesting trends across the group. For example, 85% of replies were of the opinion that the server was appropriately populated or could have been a little bit busier. Less than 1% of replies felt their server could have been a lot quieter. There wasn’t a large amount of variation between European and American Servers. This may indicate that if more servers need to be added to support the expected population for the third beta weekend, then adding less than 48 may be appropriate.

As to server satisfaction, overall 62% of those who responded said they were either satisfied or very satisfied with the server they had chosen to be on. 16% responded that they were either unsatisfied or very unsatisfied with their choice of server. It was noted that several of those who responded that they were very unsatisfied had said they had been separated from guild members or friends because of servera being full, and that was the reason for their lack of satisfaction.  Proportionally, European servers had more responses indicating players were very satisfied than American servers while American servers had more responses indicating players were satisfied than European Servers. The reason for this difference is not clear.

Languages

Respondents were asked to list the languages that they saw being spoken on their servers. A language was counted every time it was mentioned by a different replier for a server. For example, if 5 replies mentioned English as being spoken then that language was given a score of 5, whereas if 3 of those mentioned German, then that language was given a score of 3 for that server. The result is a weighting of languages for the particular server. Some “languages” were disregarded for not being officially recognised languages (eg “World of Warcraftish”).  While analysing the results in this manner, it was noted that several people had trouble distinguishing with certainty between Danish, Swedish, Finnish and Norwegian, so the decision was taken to group them into a Scandinavian category.

Perhaps unsurprisingly given the language of the survey and the target audiences for Guild Wars 2, English got the highest overall score being mentioned a total of 209 times. After English, German, French and Dutch were the most frequently seen languages. In total 17 languages were noted.

Some responses expressed frustration at certain linguistic communities residing on a particular server and this information not being readily available to those choosing which servers to choose. In other words, there’s work to be done to increase the profile of lists that note which communities are choosing to reside on a particular server so they can join or avoid linguistic communities as appropriate.

Guilds

The survey asked people to disclose the number of guilds they were a member of during the second beta weekend, ranging from 0 to 6 or more. All but 4 of the respondents replied they were a member of 3 guilds or less, and the remaining 4 replied with 6 or more. The lack of replies for 4 or 5 guilds raised suspicion for the validity of those results for me, especially since 3 of those didn’t leave valid contact details. The one I did contact said they were playing around with the guild system as there were no penalties to doing so.

Overall, 58% of people who responded are a member of 1 guild, with 22% electing not to be a member of any guild. Only 18% took advantage of the ability to be a member of more than one guild. This suggests that in general, people will only be a member of one guild when given the choice. Interestingly, there is a difference between those on European and American servers. On European servers 63% of people are a member of one guild, while on America servers 52% of people are in one guild. Conversely, 16% of respondents on American servers are in 2 guilds compared with 12% on European servers, and 25% of those on American servers are not in a guild, compared to 19% in European servers. The number of people in 3 or more guilds did not significantly differ between server groups.

Overall 75% of those questioned chose to be in a guild were only a member of 1 guild.

Communication

A large amount of feedback from the first survey contained comments about how infrequently players communicated by text to others nearby. Some of the frustrations may have been down to technical problems with the game itself, but this time around I wanted to try to capture any difference in experience with text communication. The responses were reviewed and categorized into a high quantity of text, some text (or an unclear result) and none.

66% of those who responded to the survey said that their server had a high level of text communication. 20% responded that they either didn’t pay attention to text communication, registered a moderate level or encountered differing amounts of text communication in various areas of the game (such as PvE vs WvW). Many commented that there was more communication in WvW than other areas of the game, and that in all areas of the game people tended to thank others that resurrected them. Others commented that there seemed to be more communication via text than the last beta. There wasn’t a lot of difference between responses from both sides of the Atlantic.

Coordination

Across all servers, 44% of people responded that they considered players on their servers to be coordinated with each other, however there were a large number of comments about a difference between WvW (more coordinated) and PvE (less coordinated).  There was around 10% difference in the amount of responses that counted coordination as being high between European and American servers, with European servers rating higher. American servers recorded around 40% with no clear view compared to 37% for European servers.

There is a great deal of ambiguity around what counts as coordination though and what it actually means in different areas of gameplay. This is a question I’ll be looking to improve for the survey following the third beta weekend.

Resurrection

Perhaps the most encouraging of all the data collected, 95% of respondents said that they felt that they and others were resurrecting players all, or nearly all of the time. Less than 1% felt no one on their server was being resurrected. There was no significant difference between European and American servers. As this can be a considered an example of symbolic exchange between players, this is quite encouraging to helping foster a positive sense of community across all servers.

Community experiences

These seemed to be a really mixed bag of responses and when it came to analyse them into some form of statistical information, I found it hard to do it in any way that would be really meaningful. As a result this will be a question I’ll be looking to improve for the survey following the third beta weekend.

While reading the replies though, a few things stuck out for me. One was the number of people who said they had really positive experiences of the community on their servers, saying they were better than either they expected, or other mmos they had played. Some commented on the lack of rudeness, swearing or similar in general chat, and the eagerness of others to answer questions. Others however said that a few trolls or similar had had an effect on their experiences, but regardless they enjoyed themselves. Some complained of a lack of population.

Comparison to the first beta survey

In the first beta survey there were lots of comments about the overflow server separating friends from one another. The overflow servers were not mentioned once in the 220 responses received. However, some did mention problems with joining friends on other servers and that they got separated from players they would have liked to be with, which was something that was mentioned last time.

Conclusions & further research

As with the results of the first beta weekend survey, there are signs that on the whole that Guild Wars 2 in game experiences are generally positive and some were really impressed by their experiences of their server community. There are no definitive signs that one server is substantially worse than any other. There is more work to do on behalf of the community to inform players of unofficial language servers to help people make educated choices about their server. ArenaNet will need to closely monitor the quantity of servers needed to balance having a lag free playing experience with a well populated world.

I have already received some feedback on the questions in this survey and what others would like to see included in the survey for the third beta weekend, including player orientation (PvE, PvP, WvW or PvX) and country. I’d also like to break down some questions so they’re easier to analyse, while still allowing room for detailed expression of experiences.

If you have any feedback you’d like to provide about the questions that are used in this survey, or would just like to let me know that you’ve found this useful (it does help motivate me to do this again), please drop me a note. Thank you.

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