Tuesday, February 25, 2014

[GW2] Professional Voting

Today, Guild Wars 2 extended their Collaborative Development Initiative (CDI) to ask players to post their feedback on the ranger profession.  (Note: 'professions' are what most MMOs would classes).

Ranger was chosen in this thread, where the developers asked players to list 3 professions (in order of priority) they would like to see discussed first.  But isn't choosing a profession based on posting in a thread open for 24 hours on the forum problematic? Particularly active forum users would be likely to overwhelm the thread. And its reasonable to expect that posters would be biased toward their own class, instead of looking out for game balance as a whole.

So how reasonable was the thread as a method of getting feedback?

The results:

Ranger was the most mentioned profession, followed by elementalist and then necromancer to round out the top three. Rangers are particularly weak in GW2's pve, and one playstyle (bearbow) is consistently viewed with scorn.

Breaking down the votes by order of priority indicates that not only was ranger the overall top choice, it was most frequently listed as priority #1 by voters. Most of the ordering between professions remains the same.

But are these votes contaminated by bias?

Prior Posting Activity
One objection to this poll might be that not only are forums generally unrepresentative of player opinions, but frequent forum posters might be likely to overwhelm any thread. Hardcore and casual players might be expected to disagree on which professions need the most attention.

While generally valid objections, they don't apply particularly well to this poll.
For nearly 20% of voters, voting in this thread was their first post on the forums. For others, posting is a pretty frequent activity. Voters had an average 205 posts before the thread (with a maximum of over 4600 posts!). 

Curiously, however, prior posting activity doesn't change the results. Both first-time and prior posters overwhelmingly agree on their preference order, favoring rangers, elementalists and necromancers. (Though mesmers do a little less well among first-time posters).

Profession(al) Bias
Another way to look at the votes is to examine what other forums voters are active on. Players might be expected to be biased toward voting for their own profession, which could be reflected by their posting in profession-specific subforums.

Here, I took a look at the past 50 forum posts of each voter (excluding first-time posters), and recorded whether they'd posted in one of the profession-specific subforums.  I compared this against their listed vote preferences.
In general, the votes are only slightly biased toward forums voters are active in.  For example, 30% of those who ranked elementalist as priority #2 had posted in the elementalist subforums, compared to only 15% of all voters. But this pattern doesn't hold generally. Those who picked engineer, mesmer, thief or warrior were no more likely to be active in those professions' subforums. So, in general, forum posting activity is at best weakly related to vote choice.

The exception - as ever - is rangers.  While only 5% of voters had posted in the ranger forums previously, 45% of those who listed ranger as their top pick had posted in those forums. Among top choices, ranger is the only profession that shows such a strong pattern. However, even excluding these voters, ranger would still be the top pick.

Clearly, a 24-hour poll isn't the best way to generate clear feedback on which profession requires the most attention.  In this case, however, the ranger profession is so overwhelmingly in need of attention that the effect of these (otherwise valid) concerns is overwhelmed.

Fingers crossed for some pretty excellent fixes.

Disclaimer: I have a ranger at 80, but I only use it to loot jumping puzzle chests since returning to GW2.

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