A few weeks ago I ran a small survey of people’s information gathering habits about games. It wasn’t very scientific in nature and I was pretty sure I wouldn’t get enough responses for the sample size to be large enough to draw meaningful conclusions from, but with 64 replies it did better than I hoped. ANyway, for those who are interested, the results are after the cut.
I asked ten questions about the way that people prioritised information about games and where they tended to go for trustworthy news.
Here are the questions with the collected results.
1: Which of the following types of game related websites do you read (please delete all that do not apply)
- News sites (for example TenTonHammer, IGN, Gamespot etc) – 50/64 (78%)
- Community forums (for example a guild or clan forum, or general computer game discussion forums such as VN boards, F13 etc) – 58/64 (91%)
- Official game sites (sites operated by the developers or publishers of a game) – 47/64 (73%)
So clearly the average respondent is pretty widely read on the world of video games. It’s interesting though that many people who read community forums never read regular games news sites or the official sites of games.
2: Do you actively seek out news and information about upcoming games that may interest you?
- I follow games I’m interested in very closely – 29/64 (45%)
- I check out upcoming games I’m interested in every so often to see what’s happening – 29/64 (45%)
- I actively avoid finding out information about games I may be interested in – 0
- I don’t actively look for information on games I’m interested in but if a friend sends me a link then I’ll check it out. – 0
The totals are less than 100% due to some people not understanding the question or answering in a non-committal manner. In general though we can see that the respondents keep reasonably up to date with upcoming games with almost half of them following development very closely.
3: Are you an MMO player?
- Yes I play multiple MMOs currently –16/64 (25%)
- Yes I play one MMO currently – 28/64 (43%)
- Yes although I am not currently playing any MMO – 18/64 (28%)
- I have never played an MMO nor am I planning to do so. – 1/64(2%)
A fairly even split with a pretty much expected bell curve. Single MMO players form the bulk with lapsed and multi-game players forming an roughly equal curve on either side. Given that an MMO can be a significant time investment, it’s not hard to see why this is.
4: How many MMOs have you played for more than the trial period/beta?
- One – 3/64 (5%)
- Two – 7/64 (11%)
- Three – 11/64 (17%)
- Four – 8/64 (13%)
- Five or more – 32/64 (50%)
- None – 1/64 (2%)
Only a very small number of respondents had only played one MMO in their lives (or none for that matter). Half have played at least 5 and 80% have played at least 3. This makes them veterans of the genre for the most part (I hesitate the use the word hardcore, as it everyone loads it up with their own definition baggage).
5: Which would you say is your main source of information about games that interest you?
- Official game sites – 17/64 (27%)
- Community sites or word of mouth from friends – 45/64 (70%)
- News sites – 8/64 (13%)
- I don’t know or I don’t look for information like this – 0
This one cemented what I felt instinctively and also reaffirmed my own experiences. People learn about games from other people or communities, not from marketing outlets for the main part. In otherwords, the best marketing vector is the friends of the target.
6: Which of the following would you be most likely to trust?
- A news article on a professional game news site – 15/64 (23%)
- A news article on the game’s official website – 17/64 (27%)
- A news article written and researched by a fan on a community site – 25/64 (39%)
A reasonably even split here with a bias towards information from sources that are perceived as being closer to the community. I didn’t frame this question very well, I should have said opinion piece rather than news as the intent was to find which source people assumed would be least biased or most fair.
7: Please indicate how trustworthy you generally find each of the following (rate from 1-5 where 1 is barely credible and 5 is an unshakeable faith).
- A news article on a news site that you do not generally read – Average 2.19
- A news article on a news site that you read regularly – Average 3.5
- A news article on the game’s official website – Average 3.42
- A news article on a community site written by a fan that you know personally – Average 3.9
- A news article on a community site written by a fan that you do not know personally – Average 2.44
Again I intended this to be an indicator of how unbiased a source was but still the results are interesting. People trust news sites of unknown provenance less than they trust random fans on a message board. Of course they trust fans that they know more than any other channel.
8: Roughly how many of the following types of website do you read regularly (at least once a week)?
- Game forums (official or otherwise)
- News sites aimed at gamers
- News sites aimed at computer industry professionals
- Official game sites (operated by a developer or publisher)
- Blogs by gamers
- Blogs by game developers or other industry professionals
I didn’t collect the stats for this question as many people didn’t understand how to answer it. When going through however forums were by far the most popular followed closely by news sites aimed at gamers. Blogs were the least read of all with industry news sites and official sites forming a rough median.
9: Please rate the following factors in your choice of game to play. Provide a rating for each of 1-5 where 1 is not a factor at all and 5 is an overwhelming factor in a game’s favour.
- Many of your friends are already playing the game or intending to do so– Average 3.65
- Information from the official website – Average 2.82
- Good previews/reviews in the gaming press – Average 2.85
- Good reviews from friends – Average 3.94
- Developer’s track record (your experiences with their previous games) – Average 3.65
- A friendly community on fan forums – Average 2.48
Interestingly the expectations of a developer were equally important to players as the desire to play alongside their friends. I have to admit I wasn’t expecting that and I fully expected the first response to be the runaway favourite. Again though personal recommendation and word of mouth counts for more than press reviews.
10: Finally, which of following games is the one that you are most likely to try? (delete the one that does not apply)
- A game which has received bad reviews but that is enjoyed by your friends – 56/64 (88%)
- A game that your friends did not enjoy but has received glowing reviews in the press – 8/64 (13%)
- I don’t read game websites – 0
No surprise at all here and it strongly reinforces the previous points about where people are most influenced in their buying decision. I would have been shocked if the disparity was smaller to be honest.
So there you have it. Veteran MMO players, mostly get their impressions of games and make up their mind to try or not based on what their friends think and what the scuttlebutt is on the various community forums. News sites and official sites play an important part of course but mostly they are feeding the vast meta-community gossip machine.