ESO By The Numbers – Survey Results, Part 1


Warning: Lots of numbers ahead!

When I set out to conduct this little survey, my goal was to get a couple hundred responses and see where the community was at. Needless to say, my expectations were shattered by the overwhelming response, and so I want to thank the communities of Tamriel Foundry, TESOF, /r/ElderScrollsOnline, GamebreakerTV, ShoddyCast, and the Official ESO Forums for their support for making this survey the success that it is. I also want to thank the members of Entropy Rising for their support, but especially @Blade, @Felord, and @Felyx-Fidelys for showcasing the survey on the After Dark podcast, @Byronyk for mentioning it in his weekly HHH article, and @Inks for posting the link to the survey on the forums for both GamebreakerTV and ShoddyCast. Finally, a huge shout out needs to go to Atropos who’s assistance made putting together this article a much easier, experience.

Before I get into the details that everyone is eager to dig their teeth in, I feel that I should explain that this single article is only one part in a small series of articles that @Atropos and I are planning on releasing regarding the data we received from the survey.  This first part deals with the raw results of the survey, along with some preliminary analysis and questions that we have regarding our results.  The second part of the series will dig into an Alliance by Alliance breakdown of the numbers to see where each Alliance stands in terms of our data.  The third part of the series will have even more detailed comparisons to show readers certain statistics that are not immediately noticeable when first going over the data.  It is my hope that each successive article gives you, the reader, a chance to really get your teeth into some data and do some theorycrafting regarding what I believe is the first real comprehensive player survey for the Elder Scrolls Online.

Based on the response that we receive for this and the future articles, we may just put out a fourth article to answer some very specific questions using the data we have, so if there are any really interesting questions you have, please leave a comment, or feel free to e-mail me at

Part 1 – Overall Results of the April 2013 Survey

Question #1: What Alliance are you planning on joining?

Alliance Responses Percent
Aldmeri Dominion 322 29.98%
Daggerfall Covenant 311 28.96%
Ebonheart Pact 361 33.61%
Undecided 80 7.45%

The fact that with 1,074 responses, the three factions are separated by a mere 60 players is rather encouraging, even more so when you consider that the ‘Foundry Stats’ panel here at Tamriel Foundry shows the Ebonheart Pact controlling 41.33% of every member who has bothered to set their preferred Race and Alliance in their profile.

It is also interesting to see just how close the Aldmeri Dominion and Daggerfall Covenant came to each other. A mere difference of 11 responses, or 1.02%. I am curious about who the 7.45% of respondents are who have not yet an Alliance to stand behind. Are they waiting to see who is going to be the underdog? Are they looking to see how the starting areas to play out in open beta? Or are they people who have not been closely following the game as much as others in the community have been? All valid questions, and ones that I would be interested in seeing answers to.

Question #2: For your main character, which race do you desire to play as?

Race Responses Percent
Altmer 117 10.89%
Argonian 75 6.98%
Bosmer 108 10.06%
Breton 152 14.15%
Dunmer 150 13.97%
Khajiit 88 8.19%
Nord 126 11.73%
Orc 68 6.33%
Redguard 84 7.82%
Undecided 106 9.87%
Argonian Pose

Argonians.. not one of the more popular races.

If I asked a hundred people what they thought these results would look like, I wouldn’t be surprised if many people responded that Nords or Dunmer would be popular choices (due to Skyrim and Morrowind).

While Dunmer made a valiant attempt at the top spot, they were beaten by two responses by Bretons, who seem to be far and away the most popular choice for players who are joining the Daggerfall Covenant. Altmer and Bosmer come in at 4th and 5th with rather respectable numbers, however, it’s interesting to note that there are more people who are undecided about their race choice than there are people who want to play Argonians, Khajiit, Orcs, and Redguard.

I cannot say that I am shocked that the “beast” races of Argonians, Khajiit and Orc (yes, I know they are Mer, but in respects to ugliness factor, let’s lump them all together for now) are three of the least played races. What I was surprised about was seeing just how low Redguard are represented, and I started to ask myself why that might be. Going by the chart above, it’s hard to make any real interpretations, but I do wonder if class choice/play-style has anything to do with it.

Questions #3 & #4: Are you affiliated with a guild?, Did you join your guild based on your Alliance/Race preferences?

Guild Affiliation Responses Percent
No 681 63.41%
Yes 393 36.59%
Alliance Preference Responses Percent
No 245 62.34%
Yes 148 37.66%

I wanted to discuss both of these questions together, and also point out that we adjusted the results of Question #4 based on the number of “no” responses on Question #3. This puts things into a rather interesting light. Roughly a third of the current pre-launch community is associated with a guild, and out of that number, only a little over a third simply based their decision based on the decision they already made for their desired race and/or Alliance.

My theory regarding the second set of numbers has to do with multi-game guilds. Obviously, the community has a number of guilds that have members playing many different MMOs. When one of these guilds decides to play ESO, and then they pick a faction, it’s pretty obvious that those members are not joining their guild based on a race or Alliance choice, but rather simply going with whatever their guild has decided. Take my own experience as an example. I knew I was going to join Entropy Rising, and there was a period where Atropos and Blade were deciding between the Daggerfall Covenant and the Aldmeri Dominion. When the decision came down that we were going AD, I simply picked a race and kept on trucking.

Question #5: What elements of ESO interest you the most?

I am going to go ahead and keep my analysis of each element rather short and to the point. Elements that revolve around PvE and PvP are going to be grouped together to give a better sample to work with and analyze.

Interest No %No Yes %Yes
Solo PvE 378 35.20% 696 64.80%
Small Group PvE 313 29.14% 761 70.86%
Large Group PvE 510 47.49% 564 52.51%

The number that stuck out at me in this set of data is that raiding is something over half the population seems to be interested in doing. This tells me that Adventure Zones are going to be in demand once they start coming out to give players their taste of PvE raid content. It’s also not very surprising that an overwhelming number of players want to experience standard group content, though I am curious as to why nearly 30% of respondents are not interested in it at all. It might be that some people are more interested in the PvP content, or exploring the world of Tamriel than grouping up to clear out the dungeon content Zenimax will be providing us, or maybe there are people who want to avoid the social experience that grouping provides to go out and level and quest on their own.

Interest No %No Yes %Yes
Solo PvP 625 58.19% 449 41.81%
Small Group PvP 443 41.25% 631 58.75%
Large Group PvP 486 45.25% 588 54.75%

I was very excited to see that respondents voted in favor of Small Group PvP over all other types of PvP. I expected Solo PvP to be a minority, due to the more social elements of Cyrodiil and the AvA content that ESO will have, but it’s still very positive to me to see that 4v4’s might have a chance of being the dominant form of PvP. Dark Age of Camelot’s 8v8 PvP was very popular back in the day, so with ESO being a spiritual successor to DAoC, I am optimistic that a great 4v4 experience will await us.

In terms of Large Group PvP, I am hopeful that these numbers are more representative of people having a strong desire to engage in large-scale keep sieges/defenses more than seeing one faction get together in a zerg-style raid and go around the zone slaughtering smaller groups unchallenged.

Interest No %No Yes %Yes
Crafting 528 49.16% 546 50.84%
Exploration 252 23.46% 822 76.54%
Roleplay 673 62.66% 401 37.34%
Achievements 742 69.09% 332 30.91%

Crafters: making great leveling gear since UO.

The results on crafting are rather curious, as it was an almost fifty-fifty split on people who are interested in it, and people who aren’t so interested in it. I myself did not select this option when filling out the survey, and the reason why is that crafting has never been one of the elements of an MMO that I am most interested in. I am someone who grabs a profession or two (usually gathering) and either gathers materials to sell to other players via the Auction House, or picks something like Alchemy, makes a bunch of potions, and then sells those on the Auction House, or give them to fellow guildies.

I am curious if there are many people who feel the way I do, but I can say that I do know that there exists a dedicated group of people who really love crafting in any MMO they tackle, and I think the results show that in ESO, at least a majority (a slim one) are really looking into delving into ESO’s crafting system and seeing what they can do.

A vast majority of people interested in an online Elder Scrolls game being interested in exploring the world is not something anyone will find surprising, and not something I feel really requires any real discussion. This is the first game since Arena to have all of Tamriel accessible and many people will want to see areas they have never seen in any TES game before. Who doesn’t want to explore this game? Well, other than the 252 people who said no. I’d be interested in hearing from someone who doesn’t want to explore the world why that’s the case.

I received several thanks from people who are interested in roleplaying in ESO for including this as part of the survey. I am glad I did, because I know that RP is not something that a lot of people are interested in, but there are a good, solid number of people who do enjoy it. I want these players to look at these numbers and smile because the RP community for ESO may be one of the largest RP communities in any MMO (maybe save WoW, but let’s be honest, a game with that many subs is bound to have the largest community of any type of community) that has been released.

Achievements are not an element of game-play that really need to have serious thought or analysis put behind them, as I included this as a way for completionists (such as myself) to raise our hands and be counted. It would appear that I’m in a rather small minority, but that’s not completely unexpected. We happy few, who will scour every zone to find every book, every skyshard, every quest, every named mob, and of course, complete every achievement.

Question #6: What class are you most interested in playing?

Class Responses Percent
Dragonknight 247 23.00%
Nightblade 371 34.54%
Sorcerer 229 21.32%
Templar 227 21.14%
Khajiit Thief

Nightblades – far too popular!

There are several observations that can be made with the data we received in regards to the class choices of our respondents. First off, it is an intriguing fact that the class that we have absolutely no information about whatsoever has the most number of people interested in it. Is this because it fits the ‘rogue’ archetype, and rogue-type characters tend to be quite popular in MMOs? Or are people not very interested in what they have heard about the other three classes so far? I think there are a number of points that can be debated, but without hard feedback from people who voted explaining their vote, any reasoning will result in pure speculation.

Second, the Dragonknight coming in at second place is something to give some thought about. It seems to me that the Dragonknight is the one class out of the three that we have some facts on that has the most about of ‘exposure’. By this, I mean that the Introduction to ESO video that was posted some months back showcased what appeared to be a Dragonknight. The name may also impact the choice of some people, as the most recent TES game heavily featured dragons, and who doesn’t love the name ‘Dragonknight’?

The third and final point I would like to delve into regarding these results are the number of responses that the Sorcerer and Templar received. The two classes are separated by a mere 2 votes, an astounding number for there being 1,074 total votes. It would appear that these classes are drumming up the same amount of interest amongst the community, but still not holding enough to attract some of the numbers away from the mysterious Nightblade.

Questions #7 & #8: Which weapon type are you most interested in using? Which weapon type are you least interested in using?

These two questions are another set of questions that I want to tackle together, as they tie into one another. First, let’s take a look at the results from the first question and see which weapon types people were most interested in.

Weapon Responses Percent
Bows 216 20.11%
Destruction Staff 139 12.94%
Dual-wielding 262 24.39%
Restoration Staff 97 9.03%
Sword & Board 210 19.55%
Two-handed 150 13.97%

The most direct observation that can be made regarding this data set is that weapons that staffs do not seem to be anywhere near as popular as the other options, with the exception of Two-handed weapons, with the Restoration Staff being the least popular choice. My theory behind this is that the Restoration Staff tree is heavily associated with healing, and healing doesn’t tend to be as popular as doing damage. The Destruction Staff & Two-handed weapon trees coming in so low lead me to wonder if people see them as being something in-between what options the other weapon types offer.

Dual-wielding, the most popular choice by far, can be seen as a quick, offensive style if experience from previous and MMOs and Skyrim are factor in. Bows, which came in second, are obviously the choice for anyone who wants to be able to deal damage to their foes from range. Sword & Board (or rather 1H+Shield), the third most popular choice, is the style that provides more durability due to the shield. With these top three choices, you can fill the niche of offense, defense, and ranged, so perhaps the styles of Destruction Staff and Two-handed get left in the background, or are seen in a different light.

On the flip side of these results, there are the results for what we asked were the least interesting weapon types:

Weapon Responses Percent
Bows 125 11.64%
Destruction Staff 149 13.87%
Dual-wielding 129 12.01%
Restoration Staff 306 28.49%
Sword & Board 141 13.13%
Two-handed 224 20.86%
Request Guild Creation

Pictured here: One player wishing to trade his staff to another. The other refuses of course. Who wants to use a staff when you can dual-wield two badass weapons?

This table shows us that there are four weapon types that some people are uninterested in (Bows, Destruction Staff, Dual-wielding, and Sword & Board), but that overwhelmingly, Restoration Staff and Two-handed are the two choices people find the least interesting. A rather interesting, but unexpected, fact given that they were two of the three weapons people found to be interesting. Again, I simply think that Restoration Staff is viewed as something for healing, and that’s not what a lot of players find appealing. I’m still curious as why Two-handed weapons seem to be so unpopular, and while I could theorize on this for days, the one reason that sticks in my head has to do with weapon speed.

My hope is that Zenimax takes note of these results and maybe makes the Restoration Staff and Two-handed weapons a little more appealing to people. It’s pretty damning to both of these skill trees that nearly fifty percent of almost 1,100 responses are between these two (of six) options.

Question #9: How many MMOs have you played previously?

MMO Experience Responses Percent
1 to 4 404 37.62%
5 to 9 355 33.05%
10 277 25.79%
None 38 3.54%

From the results, it seems that the number of people who have never played an MMO before is quite low. I expected that this would be the case, although I admit that I expected that number to be more towards 10% rather than the measly 3.54% that we saw in the survey. My reasoning for this is due to TES being a more popular series on console (recently anyway) than on the PC, and perhaps many of these console players have not yet touched an MMO.

I am actually encouraged to see so much experience with past MMOs in our community. I hope that this leads to people providing feedback to steer ESO from becoming yet another MMO and help to make it something special.

Question #10: What payment model would you prefer for the game?

Business Model Responses Percent
Buy-to-Play w/ Cash Shop 379 35.29%
Free-to-Play w/ Cash Shop 85 7.91%
Pay-to-Play w/ Cash Shop 71 6.61%
Pay-to-Play w/o Cash Shop 539 50.19%

I cannot begin to express how joyous I was at seeing that 92.09% of the community rejected the Free-to-Play option, and how 56.8% of the community wants a subscription model of some type. My personal feelings aside, it wasn’t a surprise to see Buy-to-Play being the second choice of our respondents. I feel like this is a business model that will start to see more and more traction within the MMO space as games see what sort of longevity a game like Guild Wars 2 has. Right now, I think it’s too early to really categorically classify GW2 as a success or a failure based on their business model, and so it might be too early for another AAA MMO to adapt such a model.

Question #11: How much are you willing to spend on a monthly subscription?

Subscription Responses Percent
$1 to $9 176 16.43%
$10 to $14 427 39.87%
$15 to $20 257 24.00%
Nothing 211 19.70%

WTB $10 sub?

These results got me to consider the $10 subscription ($9.99 to be more specific). With roughly 40% of respondents voting in the $10 to $14 option, I am curious to know if the Buy-to-Play crowd would be more interested in paying a subscription if it was something other than the $14.99 industry standard that has been in place for over a decade now. While I don’t mind spending $15 a month to subscribe to a game, a $10 sub would be a very attractive option. I’m not sure if anything less than $10 would be feasible in this day and age, nor am I confident that Zenimax would consider anything over the $15 standard.

This concludes the overall results from the survey in their base numbers. In the next article, I will start to break numbers down by faction, and offer some analysis based on what the results are for those numbers. I think the results are going to be far more interesting than what we’ve already seen thus far.  Keep an eye out for Part 2 to be released sometime in the next week, in the mean time, I would love to hear any questions or comments you may have, so leave a comment and I’ll do my best to respond in a timely manner.

124 responses to “ESO By The Numbers – Survey Results, Part 1”

  1. Profile Photo


    Total Posts: 515


    Great findings. Its encouraging to see how close the factions are, and chances are that gap will grow smaller after launch (or every one throws down there arms and joins the righteous cause of the Dominion).

    Im really surprised with how high bow use and the Nightblade class have scored. I would have figured those would be smallest of the bunch with warrior type weapons coming first followed by mages

    We’re coming for you in every one of your quarters, Sons of Shezzar. None shall survive.

  2. Member Avatar


    Total Posts: 333

    Altmer Sorcerer

    Awesome article, thanks for the shout out :)

  3. Profile Photo


    Total Posts: 856

    Dunmer Dragonknight

    Entropy Rising

    Not only is this just fun to analyse but is good feed back on things like business model, not that it will change if its already been decided on since you have to design with free to play in mind if that’s what your going with.

  4. Member Avatar


    Total Posts: 785

    Nice! Looking forward to reviewing more of the survey data in days to come!

  5. Member Avatar


    Total Posts: 41

    Nord Sorcerer

    Very intresting! Factions doesn’t seem to be too far off from each others. If you could share that survey on the eso FB page you could get a ton of more answers.


    Would also have been intresting to see what age the answering people have. And prior experience with the elderscrolls games.

    Could get some intresting demographic data about what agegroup are more likely to play what?

    No Retreat, No Surrender

  6. Profile Photo


    Total Posts: 685


    I was one of those undecided for the faction. It’s simply a matter of choosing the greatest underdog for me. After that decision is made then a proper guild can be found. Also the demographic that has never played an mmo before might be skewed a little bit by the nature of where the survey was administered. TF has drawn in many that are not power-gamers or theory-crafters, but I would still question whether it is broad enough (yet) to attract the devoutest of console only players (who most likely are the ones who would not associate with MMO’s).

    If there is a next survey, it could include Age demographics, averaged time spent in each mmo played, why less than xxx amount of months spent in YYY mmo and why more than xxx amount of time spent in ZZZ mmo.

    Very, very nice job here @Nybling

  7. Profile Photo


    Total Posts: 103


    So many people picking Nighblade as their favorite class really surprised me. I guess having no information whatsoever available about it could have significant influence on that.

    What I found disappointing is that so many want a subscription model. Haven’t we learned anything from all the P2P games released in the past years?

    Also, awesome job, thanks! :)


  8. Member Avatar


    Total Posts: 1727


    remember when i said the closer we get to release the more popular bretons will get?
    Called it. of course nobody thougth i was right when i said people like dull boring human races.

    But realy i am just here to say: called it i was right and you were wrong.

    As i have also predicted: the nightblade class explodet, dispite we not even knowing anyhting about it.
    Why again? Well because the archetypical “Rogue” is an easy class that is highly rewarding for  very little skill in comparison due to easy escape and engagement mechanisms while also beeing the “cool ninja”
    Why do people assume that of the Nightblade? Well because they played WoW and there is NO information on the Nightblade and therfor there is no reason for them to assume any other way.

    Bareley anyone wanting to use the Heal staff is again not very suprising people dont like beeing healers. Which highly indicates that well be going with the MMO trend of “LF HEALER”

    With all that all i can say is: i am not suprised, but i would have hoped i would be wrong.

  9. Profile Photo
    Telvanni Veros


    Total Posts: 1563

    Dunmer Sorcerer

    Haha, oh wow, Bretons are the most popular race? I guess I shouldn’t be surprised after their terribly OP racials in Skyrim and the earlier games.

  10. Profile Photo


    Total Posts: 2199

    Altmer Sorcerer

    Entropy Rising

    Telvanni-Veros said on May 3, 2013 :

    Haha, oh wow, Bretons are the most popular race? I guess I shouldn’t be surprised after their terribly OP racials in Skyrim and the earlier games.

    Or it might be because no one is flocking towards Orcs or Redguards.

    I’ll try to comment more later when I get off of work.

  11. Profile Photo
    Boromir WolfsBane


    Total Posts: 214

    Nord Templar


    Great article!!! :) if i had to state my opinion i personally would like the game to be a one time buying thing when i hear monthly subscriptions it makes me a little unhappy but if that is what they choose to do so be it. the facts on this page were well done so you have my most appreciative thanks! :)


  12. Profile Photo


    Total Posts: 195

    As one of the 7.45% the reason I have yet to pick a side is down to population and information.

    I want to wait and see if one faction becomes massively overpopulated (so I can avoid that), but also I want to know more about the two faction areas we know little about. We already know largely what to expect from the EHP due to Morrowind/Skyrim, I want to get a good feel for the other two factions before I make my final choice but wont be able to until we start seeing a bit more of the game.

  13. Profile Photo


    Total Posts: 334

    Nord Dragonknight

    Nybling Thanks for the article. Good information here.

    I admit I was very surprised by the total number of players going for Bretons and the amount of Nightblades too. I guess people really love this archetype.

    About the sub option, I was one of those who picked the $1 to $9 option. I believe it’s time for the industry to begin the process of converting to Pay-to-Play, and by lowering the monthly sub is already something. I find it hard to believe this game is going to be just Buy-to -Play w/ Cash Shop.


    Our greatest strength is the adversity we have overcome.


    Our resolve is glacial, our might is forged in fire, and our courage, cultivated by the beasts of the jungle.


    We are Ebonheart.

    We are as one.


  14. Profile Photo
    Umaril the Unfeathered


    Total Posts: 3414

    Altmer Sorcerer

    Ah, it’s nice to see the build of interests that the people here on the Foundry have…& some shocking results, too.

    Sorcerer needz moar love!

    *Formerly known by the username ”GarlasMalatar”*

    ”What is better? To be born good, or to overcome your evil nature through great effort?”Paarthurnax

    ”Shanta, ehlno.  Tyavoy balangua!” ~ Umaril the Unfeathered

    ”Welcome, Nerevar. Together we shall speak for the Law and the Land and shall drive the mongrel dogs of the Empire from Morrowind.” ~ Dagoth Ur

  15. Profile Photo
    Telvanni Veros


    Total Posts: 1563

    Dunmer Sorcerer

    GarlasMalatar said on May 3, 2013 :

    Ah, it’s nice to see the build of interests that the people here on the Foundry have…& some shocking results, too.

    Sorcerer needz moar love!

    Personally I’m happy to see lots of nightblades. Lots of cannon fodder imo. Sorcerers will devour them.

  16. Profile Photo


    Total Posts: 1771

    Breton Nightblade

    @Nybling- Love the info, thanks for putting it together. Many of the responses surprised me and I will leave the feedback for my answers since I was often part of the minority.

    1. I have yet to choose a faction because I am waiting to see the race skill trees. I am a min/max’er and a completionist and have no desire to role an alt so I will wait until I have all the information before making a decision.

    2. See #1

    3/4. Again, I have not chosen a guild since I have not decided on a race/faction. For me choosing a guild is more difficult than choosing a race/faction because I believe in loyalty in guilds and do not enjoy “guild hopping”. As we get closer to launch I believe it will be much easier to get an accurate feel the maturity level and direction of a guild.

    5a. As a completionist I enjoy all aspects of PvE, but enjoy large scale raids the most.

    5b. PvP is a BLAST as a healer if you have a good group. I prefer to heal in smaller groups since communication and roles are easier.

    6. I chose the templar since it appears to have the largest toolbox available to healers.

    7/8. I chose the destruction staff. My understanding is that their will be an “Ice staff” that I will use for cc and my load out will be sword and board. On a side note I wonder if staves were so unpopular because of the perceived lack of defense or perhaps those who want to heal will go templar and those who want to cast death on others will role a sorcerer?

    9. I found the lack of “0 mmo’s” interesting and wonder if the console crowd have not started following the game or if most console gamers have tried at least one MMO and gone back?

    10. Pay to play (with or w/o cashshop) will be the model, I have made several wagers on this and intend to cash in.

    11. $14.99/month is my guess. I hope they offer a one year sub options :)

    Sorry for the long post and I look forward to the future articles.

  17. Member Avatar


    Total Posts: 35

    Bosmer Nightblade

    This survey has already proven to be very enlightening, thank you for the work that went into organizing it and disseminating the data. Thanks to all who participated as well!

    ”An individual’s courage can be measured by that which they choose to do, their wisdom by that which they choose not to do and their character by the sum total of both.” 

  18. Profile Photo


    Total Posts: 438



    The survey results for the communities PvE interests were enlightening. Considering many users stated (previously) that raiding was a niche and only desired by the minority, the fact that over 50% want large scale raids is telling. I know you and I spoke about this topic ad nauseum last night, but it’s great to see some supporting numbers.

    Looking forward to part 2!

    You will learn… No king rules forever. Only death is eternal.


  19. Profile Photo


    Total Posts: 386

    Aldmeri Templar

    O joy, the numbers!  I think right before ESO comes out we should do the same survey to compare and see if people have changed there minds.

  20. Profile Photo


    Total Posts: 438


    Rymguard said on May 3, 2013 :

    O joy, the numbers! I think right before ESO comes out we should do the same survey to compare and see if people have changed there minds.

    That is a great idea, actually.

    Tagging @Nybling so he can see this.

    You will learn… No king rules forever. Only death is eternal.


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