05 May 2011

[Literature] Retention in WoW

Thomas Debeauvais et al. 2011. If you build it, they might stay: Retention systems in World of Warcraft. In FDG2011.

I looked at what keeps people playing WoW and which mechanisms retain most effectively which kind of players. Here are my picks from the paper I wrote and sent to FDG2011.

Around 2800 WoW players from Europe, North-America and Asia completed an online questionnaire. Player commitment (and therefore retention) was measured by three metrics: weekly play time, ratio of respondents who have ever stopped playing, and number of years spent playing WoW. All the results mentioned in this article are significant with a p-value below 0.01.

  • 96% of respondents have been playing WoW for more than a year, 70% for more than three years.
  • 23% of respondents have stopped playing for more than 6 months and have never canceled their subscription - they keep paying even if they do not play!
  • On average, people play 23h/week. Asians play more than Westerners. No noticeable difference between men and women.
  • Achievement and social actions are motivations that increase the weekly play time. Immersion does not influence the weekly play time.
  • Asians are more immersion-oriented than Westerners.
  • A higher guild rank (officer or GM > basic member > non-guilded) increases retention.
  • Women play with people from real-life more than men.
  • People who play with their partner play less than single players, but more than players not playing with their partner. They also stop playing less often.
  • 13% of players have found a real-life boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse in WoW.
  • There are more players over 45 than players who play more than 40 hours per week (another sample may contain a different ratio, though)

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