In a few weeks we’ll be stepping foot inside Tyria again for real. One important decision everyone will need to make is what server to call home and I’ve set myself the challenge of researching the communities on each of the Guild Wars 2 servers. So after the final beta weekend I asked members of the Guild Wars 2 community for the experiences of their servers. The response was more immense than I could of hoped for. I can only offer my heartfelt thanks to everyone who took the time to fill in the survey and help their fellow players (and myself) out!
Using the previous survey as a base and building on the areas that the survey fell short on last time, 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, the Guild Wars 2 sub-Reddit 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.
There was a far larger response to this survey than the previous two undertaken. Combined with the fewer number of servers provided for the final Beta Weekend event, the responses will give a better indication of what the communities and experiences of people on those surveys were actually like. However, caution must be undertaken when applying the findings of this survey. The ArenaNet blog post What’s New in the Final Guild Wars 2 Beta Weekend Event indicated that “hundreds of thousands of players” were expected to take part in the final event, and the 365 responses are a very small sample of that expected amount.
That said, only 2 servers gave no response at all and there were 13 servers who gave 10 or more responses. This makes this the most reliable of my surveys so far and I am hopeful that people may find the information contained within it useful when it comes to choosing their server for release. However the variety of comments from the same server means that the results must be taken with a large pinch of salt!
There are no large differences between the two regions when it comes to the main formats people were playing over the final beta weekend. Overall 83% of responders said they spent most of their time this weekend in PvE, compared with 12% in WvW and 5% in PvP.
When asked about their experiences in the different formats, some interesting differences emerged. There was some irregularity between those who answered “Did Not Play Format” between the 3 questions (for example, some who indicated they did not play a format in one question gave their experiences of that format in the other two). Overall nearly 98% did some form of pve, while only 35% did some form of sPvP. Those on European servers are more likely to do some form of PvP than American Servers – over 7% difference in both sPvP and WvW.
There was a large difference between the number of people who chose not to be in a guild on the American and European servers, with 13% more Europeans being a member of one or more guild(s).
Across all servers, of those in a guild 79% of those who responded were in only 1 guild. This was slightly lower on American servers (75%), who had proportionally more people in 2 (17%) or 3 (5%) guilds than Europe (14% and 1%).
Countries & Languages
Perhaps unsurprisingly, there were 10 more countries represented on European servers (25) than on American servers (15). In addition there were 9 more languages seen on European servers (17) than on US servers (8). This diversity showed through in comments about server communities, with some responses expressing frustration at the number of different languages spoken on their chosen server. Some also commented about the overflow servers being grouped together, which added to linguistic frustration. In general these comments did not occur alongside reports of negative server satisfaction.
Even though there was a large variety of languages spoken on the various European servers, each server did seem to have a primary language. English was spoken to some extent on all servers.
Sense of Community Throughout the Formats
Trying to measure a sense of community is extremely tricky, but the responses from 3 questions broken by format were used to attempt to get an impression of moment to moment life on a server and in the two regions. The amount of text in the various formats gives an indication of communication and resurrection gives an indication of symbolic interaction while perceived co-ordination gives an indication of working towards a common goal.
By format overall PvE scored highest on the sense of community factors, with more positive responses to the quantity of text communication, resurrection and overall coordination. WvW was positive overall, but less so than PvE. However, PvP scored quite low on the text and resurrection factors, and less positively in cooperation. This may be in part due to the fast paced nature of PvP compared to the other two formats, along with its quick resurrection timers.
The differences in responses between the two regions were highest in PvP, with a less negative reaction overall in text and cooperation on US servers while EU servers were slightly ahead with resurrection. Overall the differences don’t give a clear indication of one region scoring higher in sense of community factors.
Just as with the second Beta Weekend, the comments received on community are pretty hard to analyse objectively. Generally speaking the comments seem positive about the communities on all servers, with most containing some form of positive and negative experience. Few of the comments were entirely negative about their server. A number of people commented that they spent most of the weekend playing solo and some of these highlighted a lack of community outside a guild. Others said they didn’t notice any community on their servers at all, which was countered by rare stories of people going significantly out of their way to help their server mates.
Amongst the various comments, there were a few that spoke of the community in Guild Wars 2 being better than the community in other MMOs, but some of these also mentioned that they felt the community was worse than it had been for Beta Weekend 2. A few comments expressed frustration at being forced to move servers that they had been on for the last 2 weekends to the detriment of the community. Amongst European servers, there were comments of frustration about the number of different languages being used on overflow servers.
Compared to the community responses for Beta Weekend 2, there were more comments relating to trolls on the servers and complaints about being forced into overflow servers.
Satisfaction and Server Population
When it comes to server population, there are a few relatively minor differences between the two regions. Those on American servers expressed a higher preference for their servers to be busier than their European counterparts (35.75% reported they’d prefer the servers to be “A little busier” or “A lot busier” compared to 30.64% in Europe). Conversely 15.59% of those who responded from European servers would have preferred their servers to be “A little quieter” compared with 6.70% of those on American servers. Both regions had roughly the same percentage of responses that expressed “No strong feelings” about their server populations.
The overall results between the two regions when it comes to server satisfaction are roughly equal, with there being slightly more people who reported being unsatisfied with their server choice on US servers. 5% more of their counterparts on European servers reported being satisfied with their server choice.
When it comes to choosing a server for release, it’ll be up to you to consider what the most important factors are to your in game happiness. The overwhelming outcome of this survey is the variety of differences between all servers in terms what formats the majority of the population play, the language base and the sense of community on the server. Hopefully it’ll be of some use when people come to make their decisions.
It’s unfortunate that some contributors commented that the sense of community had deteriorated from Beta Weekend 2 to Beta Weekend 3 (the final beta weekend), but this is in line with expectations. Further analysis will need to be done to see if there is any statistical evidence to back up these reports. However there did seem to be a better quantity of servers for the final weekend, especially for US servers. Given the comments regarding the language problems on overflow servers in Europe, I think it may be a good idea for ArenaNet to investigate how they are grouping the servers together to try to provide the most harmonious output.
If you’ve found this information useful to you, please do drop a note in the comments below. Currently I have no plans to do any more of these surveys, but if I get enough feedback from people saying it’s worthwhile doing, I will. Likewise, please contact me if you have any feedback you’d like to give about the content of the survey itself.