get your kicks on Route 66

January 31, 2009

So what does the average toon do for fun on a Saturday night? After a hard week’s questing or rep grinding, do they all really just hang around outside the Ironforge or Org bank?

The game provides a lot of options beyond the basics – instances and battleground PvPing for the leveling toon, raiding and arena PvPing at the endgame. And the character achievements and statistics data from the armoury provides new ways to explore what the player base gets up to in these areas of the game.

The simplest question to ask is this: what proportion of players do more than the basics? And which of the available activities do they indulge in? You’ll find some answers in the tables here.

Not surprisingly, those answers depends a lot on whether the character has reached the endgame. I’ve split the data into three tables for that reason – one table for leveling toons, one for level 80s and a final one for the 70-79 group where the playstyle mindset seems still to be more endgame than leveling.

Leveling toons (levels 10-69)

Activity Popularity
Battlegrounds 13%
Instances 31%
World PvP 3%
None of the above 65%


Early endgame (levels 70-79)

Activity Popularity
Battlegrounds 43%
Instances 42%
World PvP 22%
Raiding 29%
Arenas 8%
None of the above 22%


Endgame (level 80)

Activity Popularity
Battlegrounds 81%
Instances 13%
World PvP 79%
Raiding 87%
Arenas 33%
Raids, BGs and Arenas 31%
None of the above 0%



(Sample size: 631,213 characters. Data is WotLK, pre-patch-3.0.8.)

To me, the only really unexpected thing in the data is the low participation of leveling toons in some of the more fun activities along the way. Only about 30% of the 10-69 group have ever run even a single 5-toon instance – which just amazes me. PUGs can be a pain, sure, but they add a bit of real sociability and teamwork to the game experience. 13% do battlegrounds, which is less surprising since BGs do suck unless you’ve tuned your character for them. But a few BGs now and then liven up the game, as long as you don’t take them too seriously.

The tables show a “world PvP” category. I’ve used the honourable kill data for that – a toon that has at least one world honourable kill goes in that category. I’ve done this to try and separate out the players who have gone out looking for PvP from their innocent victims. The gankers rather than the gankees… The percentages shown probably do underestimate the real numbers a bit for that reason.

My objective is to use the character stats data to partition the player base into the various playstyles – raider, BG PvPer, Arena PvPer and also to locate x9 BG twinks. Unfortunately, these tables tell me that maybe it isn’t going to be so simple to do either. At the endgame, most of the population is doing both PvE raiding and at least one form of PvPing. But there is no way to tell which they were doing when the armoury snapshot was taken. I’m starting to think that the more traditional approach of picking playstyle by the character’s current gear might still be the right way to go about it after all.

And the low level of battleground participation by leveling toons tells me I’m going to need a much bigger sample size at the x9 levels to get the information I need. If only 13% do any BGs at all, and a smaller proportion are twinked, and I need data for ten classes, then that adds up to… well, more that I’ve got at the moment…

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