ESO by the Numbers II – Survey Results

Map Book

Many numbers, incoming!

As I stated in the previous article, the last survey had 1,074 responses, an amount that we felt was quite overwhelming for a little project that we sort of kicked off at a whim.  After the success of that survey, @Atropos and I felt that running another survey at some point after the convention season (especially after PAX Prime) would be interesting to see if there would be any shifts in the previous data that we collected.

Interestingly enough, the announcement of both a console release and a subscription model provided us with an opportunity to see what data could be collected from the community regarding these two issues.  Other additions that we made to this survey include gathering data about age and gender of players, asking about play style and armor choice, and asking community members who have not decided on a faction what might interest them into joining a particular faction.

Due of the sheer amount of data, the results of this survey are going to be split into different articles to help with readability and to ensure that we can provide you, the reader, with slightly more detailed analysis and thoughts regarding the results of each question.  This article will be the first part in a multi-part series and will focus on the raw results of the survey.

Finally, I would like to thank the Elder Scrolls Online community for participating in our survey.  At 1,298 responses, we have surpassed the numbers of the previous survey, and it is enough to encourage me to set up a third survey for a point in time closer to the release of The Elder Scrolls Online.

Part I – Results of the September Survey

For the first part of this article, I will go question by question providing the total results of each question and offer some analysis to each point.

Question 1 – Which Alliance are you planning on joining?

Alliance Responses Percent
Aldmeri Dominion 344 26.50%
Daggerfall Covenant 377 29.04%
Ebonheart Pact 414 31.90%
Undecided 163 12.56%

In a result that might surprise a good chunk of the community, the Aldmeri Dominion has been selected by the fewest number of respondents.  On the flipside, I think it is safe to say that many would expect that the Ebonheart Pact would come out on top, with almost a third of all respondents indicating that as the faction of their choice.  Rounding things out, the Daggerfall Covenant falls in the middle of the other two factions, and a sizeable number of people have yet to decide on which faction they would like to join.

What I take away from this data is that it is rather surprising how many people still have not decided on what faction they want to join.  Later on we’ll look at data that shows what exactly these folks are waiting for, but it’s still interesting to see such a large chunk of the responses be ‘Undecided’.  As mentioned before, the AD coming into third place is no doubt a surprise, but something to remember here is that even though it is third, the difference between Ebonheart and the Dominion is 70 people.  70 out of 1,298 are actually not that large of a margin.  Granted, once those Undecided folks make up their mind, populations could start shifting some more, but the numbers aren’t guaranteed to go in any specific direction.  This is one of those data points that make me really curious to see where things could shift once we are closer to release.

Question 2 – How old are you?

Age Bracket Responses Percentage
<18 231 17.80%
19-24 488 37.60%
25-29 256 19.72%
30-34 141 10.86%
35-39 80 6.16%
40-44 50 3.85%
45-49 18 1.39%
50+ 34 2.62%

Unsurprising, the population trends for ESO seem to skew more towards a younger audience, with the largest segment of the respondents being in the 19 to 24 age bracket.  The 25 to 29 and 30 to 34 brackets also make pretty solid showings, as well as the less than 18 bracket.   While we did not ask this question during the last survey, @Atropos, @Grimalkin and I thought that it might be interesting to get a bit of an idea about how the demographics of the ESO community were looking.  Oh, and speaking of demographic information, I guess that segues nicely to the next question…

Question 3 – What is your gender?

Gender Responses Percentage
Male 1,203 92.68%
Female 95 7.32%

Another demographic question that we asked on this survey that was not asked on the previous one, this question was simply asked to satiate our curiosity regarding the state of the ESO community.  When I started the survey, I assumed that there would be more people who identified themselves as Male than Female, but I was slightly surprised that there weren’t some more Females.

Question 4 – Which race are you most likely to pick for your main character?

Race Responses Percentage
Altmer 146 12.90%
Bosmer 93 8.22%
Khajiit 93 8.22%
Breton 195 17.23%
Orc 80 7.07%
Redguard 87 7.69%
Argonian 91 8.04%
Dunmer 141 12.46%
Nord 170 15.02%
Don’t Know 36 3.18%
Breton Shrine

Being a Breton is so very fashionable.

It’s interesting to me that four races each have over ten percent: Altmer, Breton, Dunmer and Nord.  Each Alliance seems to have its ‘preferred’ race, although the Ebonheart Pact is the only alliance that can say it has two quite popular racial choices.  Across the board, it seems that the most popular races tend to be the ‘Mer’ races (Altmer, Breton (they are half-elves after all), and Dunmer), and the least popular races are the ‘beast’ (I term I use lightly) races are the least popular (Khajiit, Argonian and Orcs).  Bosmer are in an interesting position, being a Mer race but being tied in popularity with the Khajiit race.  The Daggerfall Covenant has the unique distinction of having the most popular race (Breton) and the least popular race (Orcs).

Something to note though, we currently only have the racial skill trees for the three Ebonheart Pact races.  It will be interesting to see if any changes happen to the balance of the AD or DC races once the trees for their races become known.

Question 5 – Which class are you most likely to choose for your main character?

Class Responses Percent
Dragonknight 262 20.18%
Nightblade 332 25.58%
Sorcerer 261 20.11%
Templar 266 20.49%
Don’t Know 177 13.64%

While Nightblade is currently the most popular class choice of the respondents of our survey, I think the simple fact that the other three classes are so close to each other (5 responses separate the second most popular class (Templar) and the least popular class (Sorcerer)).  I would like to say that this means that people are becoming more informed about what each class is capable of, but a substantial chunk of respondents claimed they still didn’t know what class they wanted to play.

Something that I do think we can take away from this data is that there is parity between classes.  By this, I mean that the community is really embracing the idea of being able to play however they want with any class.

Question 6 – What is your preferred role?

Role Responses Percentage
Tank 266 20.49%
Healer 161 12.40%
DPS 622 47.92%
Control/Support 249 19.18%

People who want to be damage dealers are far and away the most popular choice during this survey.  This isn’t something that surprises me, but I am slightly concerned regarding the serious lack of healers that this survey has uncovered.  Healing is going to be vital for any group that wishes to succeed in defeating the PvE content of ESO, even more so if trying to enjoy any level of success in AvA (PvP).  Perhaps seeing this type of data is a good thing, and Zenimax may try to do more to reward healers in AvA, or release information that could draw more people into embracing this style of play.

Question 7 – Which weapon type are you most interested in using?

Weapon Responses Percent
Bows 239 18.41%
Destruction Staff 173 13.33%
Dual-Wielding 282 21.73%
Restoration Staff 92 7.09%
One-hand & Shield 294 22.65%
Two-handed 218 16.80%

One-hand & Shield and Dual-Wielding are the clear winners when it comes to the most popular weapon type that people are looking forward to using.  Poor Restoration staff couldn’t even get 100 respondents to choose it.  Bows and Two-handed weapons seem to have received a more lukewarm reception, but what is really surprising is where Destruction Staff is at.  With only thirteen percent of respondents choosing it, it seems that the Destruction Staff is really lagging behind other the other weapon types (with the sole exception of Restoration Staff, of course).

Question 8 – Which weapon type are you least interested in using?

Weapon Responses Percent
Bows 165 12.71%
Destruction Staff 220 16.95%
Dual-Wielding 146 11.25%
Restoration Staff 319 24.58%
One-hand & Shield 159 12.25%
Two-handed 289 22.27%

Comparing the results of this question with the previous question is curious, as the order of least popular weapon types is practically a reverse of the order of most popular weapon types.  Between these two questions, it is pretty clear that Dual-Wielding and One-hand & Shield are the two most popular types of weapons whereas Restoration Staff is far and away the least popular weapon.  Again, as I mentioned above, I would be curious to see if these numbers would begin to shift once details on weapon tree skills and passives begin to proliferate around the community.

Question 9 – What armor type are you most likely to use?

Armor Type Responses Percent
Heavy Armor 263 20.26%
Heavy/Medium Mix 141 10.86%
Heavy/Light Mix 92 7.09%
Medium Armor 196 15.10%
Medium/Heavy Mix 86 6.63%
Medium/Light Mix 164 12.63%
Light Armor 143 11.02%
Light/Heavy Mix 49 3.78%
Light/Medium Mix 98 7.55%
I don’t know 66 5.08%
Keep it simple, heavier is better?

Keep it simple, heavier is better?

First, let me clarify what these responses mean.  In the case of an answer such as ‘Heavy Armor’, it means that the player wishes to wear only heavy armor.  For something like Medium/Light Mix, it means that the player wishes to wear a combination of medium armor and light armor, with medium armor being the dominant form of armor they choose to wear.

With that clarification in mind, I think it is interesting that the two most popular choices are for wearing only Heavy Armor and wearing only Medium Armor.  Wearing strictly light armor is more popular than many other choices, but it does lag behind the other two pure choices.  For hybrid options, the combinations of Medium/Light and Heavy/Medium are far more popular than any other choices, with the Light/Heavy combination being the least popular choice out there right now.

For even more fun with numbers, here are the numbers of people who want to wear at least some of each type of armor:  Medium Armor (36.79%), Heavy Armor (33.89%), and Light Armor (29.32%).  Given that information, it’s pretty clear to me that Medium Armor may be the most popular form of armor worn in ESO.

Question 10 – Which elements of ESO are you interested in?

Activity Responses Percent
Solo PvE 966 74.42%
Small Group PvE 1,061 81.74%
Large Group PvE 745 57.40%
Solo PvP 569 43.84%
Small Group PvP 857 66.02%
Large Group PvP 792 61.02%
Crafting 844 65.02%
Exploration 1,064 81.97%
Role-Playing 560 43.14%
Achievements 494 38.06%
ESO Cyrodiil Map

There’s a lot of Tamriel out there to explore

There are a couple of frequencies in this table that really encourage me.  The first is that over half of respondents are interested in participating in Large Group PvE (also known as raiding).  I am hoping that Zenimax pays attention to the results of this survey and this article, as I think it indicates that there are a good number of us who eagerly await more information on the adventure zones that they have mentioned in the past.  The next source of encouragement to me is the fact that far more people want to participate in group-based PvP than solo PvP.  This is something that I think will be one of ESO’s greatest strengths when comparing the game to other online games.  If ESO can recapture the spirit of RvR (or AvA as they are calling it) of Dark Age of Camelot, the game has a strong chance of being a tremendous success.

I am also encouraged by just how many people want to get in there and explore Tamriel.  Based on screenshots and videos that ZOS has released, the more I see, the more I want to get in there and explore everything.  I can’t even begin to explain how much I just want to see Cyrodiil and see if there are any noteworthy landmarks that were in Oblivion, or see areas of Tamriel that we’ve never truly experienced (such as Black Marsh, Summerset Isles, etc…).

Question 11 – Are you a member of a guild?

Response Percent
Yes 503 38.75%
No 795 61.25%

There isn’t much that I can say here other than to point out that I think it’s unsurprising that so many people are waiting to join a guild.  Should another survey be run in several months, I would expect a massive shift in these numbers.  I think many are waiting until a point closer to launch to actually join a guild since so many pre-release guilds can be so unstable.

Question 12 – How many guilds do you anticipate joining?

Number of Guilds Responses Percent
None 52 4.01%
One 504 38.83%
2 to 3 494 38.06%
4 to 5 248 19.11%

I think it says quite a bit about the community that a plurality of respondents said that they plan on only joining a single guild.  I can respect the idea of guild loyalty like that quite a bit, and I myself have trouble seeing myself join more than a single guild, with the possible exception of a trading guild.  The concept of the guild store is what makes me wonder if the folks who selected the ‘2 to 3’ option are selecting the option because they plan on joining a trading guild.  I would like to hear feedback from people who did this and hear what they have to say about the issue.

Question 13 – Which platform will you be playing ESO on?

Platform Responses Percent
PC 1,093 84.21%
Mac 47 3.62%
PS4 87 6.70%
Xbox One 71 5.47%

Insert comment about PC Master Race here.  Okay, joking aside I was slightly surprised that the numbers for the PC were so dominant.  Given that the console announcement happened months ago, I did expect there to be growth within that segment of the community and for that part of the community to represent themselves here.  Oh… I would express sympathy for Mac users, but do any of us really sympathize with them?

Question 14 – How many MMOs have you played for over 100 hours in-game time?

Number of MMOs Responses Percent
None 136 10.48%
One 246 18.95%
Two to Three 492 37.90%
Four to Five 231 17.80%
Six or More 193 14.87%

As with the previous survey, we decided that a question regarding previous MMO experience could be an interesting question to ask.  The results of the question seem to indicate that the vast majority of the ESO community has a good bit of past experience (with just over seventy percent having played two or more MMOs for over 100 hours of /played time).  I look forward to seeing the reactions of both people who have never played an MMO before and those who have played several to the experience that The Elder Scrolls Online has to offer.

Question 15 – What factor(s) are most likely to determine your ultimate choice of alliance?

Factor Responses Percent
Lore 56 34.36%
Races/Racial Abilities 109 66.87%
Geography/Provinces 46 28.22%
Player Population 50 30.67%
Guild Choice 51 31.29%
Other 44 26.99%

This is a question that only respondents who said that they had not yet decided on an Alliance received, and based on that I think that it’s rather interesting to see that racial abilities are playing such a predominant role in the decision making process for these people.  It will be fun to see where these undecided folks decide to hang their hat once we have all the information regarding the various racial passive traits.

Question 16 – Do you want ESO to be more like traditional MMORPGs, or more like a TES game?

Responses Percent
More like an MMO 235 18.10%
More like a TES game 834 64.25%
I have no preference 229 17.64%

The response to this question did not surprise me in the least.  I think with the MMO market having disappointed many of us ‘veterans’ so much over the past couple of years, many of us are looking to try something new.  Combine this with the fact that the game being set in Tamriel is obviously going to attract a sizeable number of TES fans means the community wants to push away from something like another ‘WoW clone’ (a term that I abhor by the way) and towards something that will seem new or fresh in the MMO sphere.

Question 17 – How do you feel about the announced subscription model for ESO?

Responses Percent
I’m happy to pay $15 a month. 640 49.31%
I’d rather pay a reduced fee. 374 28.81%
I was hoping for buy-to-play. 264 20.34%
I was hoping for free-to-play. 20 1.54%
Aldmeri Khajiit

This one has wares, if you have subscription.

I was rather curious to see how the results of this question were, and I wasn’t disappointed.  I knew that there would be a number of people who would have wanted to see the game go buy-to-play (think the Guild Wars 2 model where you purchase the game once and then not pay a monthly fee), but I wanted to see how things would fare between the options of sticking with the pure $15 a month model or perhaps something less.  Seeing that a plurality of respondents were fine with the $15 a month subscription model makes me think that Zenimax knew what it was doing when it put it into place.  Granted, this survey is a representative sample of the more fervent ESO community, but it doesn’t seem like the subscription model decision is going to have a negative impact on the game.

Question 18 – Did the announcement of a console release change your plans for purchasing ESO?

Responses Percent
Yes – I am no longer going to purchase it 19 1.46%
Yes – I am going to purchase it for PS4. 66 5.08%
Yes – I am going to purchase it for Xbox One. 56 4.31%
No – I wasn’t going to buy it anyway. 52 4.01%
No – I was already going to purchase the game. 1,105 85.13%

The purpose of this question was to see how people may have still felt about the rather surprising console announcement back during E3.  I think the question was pretty much answered when an overwhelming number of people said that the announcement had no impact on their plans to purchase the game.  On a positive note, a small number of respondents did say that the announcement encouraged them to purchase the game for the consoles.  Given this, Zenimax may have made the right choice here as it will undoubtedly bring in more people to purchase the game and be potential subscribers, two things that will have an impact on the long-term health of the game.

This concludes the first part of ESO by the Numbers II.  I hope that the results and my thoughts regarding them have provided you with food for thought, and I encourage you to engage in dialogue about this in the comments below.  The second part of this series will center on a comparison between the previous survey (which was conducted at the end of April) and this survey to see where things may have shifted during the months between the two surveys.  The third part will be an alliance-by-alliance breakdown of each question to provide even more data for the community to sift through and ponder on.