What is typical?

I read a lot of WoW blogs.  My feed reader keeps track of somewhere between 70-80 different blogs.  On many of those blogs, we get to read about the author’s efforts in Ulduar hard modes, downing Yogg-Saron, getting the Twilight Vanquisher title, or grabbing T9 gear.

Yet, I feel that these blogs, while entertaining and fascinating, do not represent the majority of players. That got me thinking – where is the average player these days?

Warcraft Census shows that there are just under three million level 80 characters in the US and EU servers.  This doesn’t represent three million players because many players have multiple toons at 80.  There is no way to tell how many, so its just guesswork from here.  Lets say that is somewhere between 2-2.5 million players with a level 80 character, just as an estimate.

Guildprogress.com tracks just over 160,000 US and EU guilds that have at least some level of progression in WotLK raids.  How many level 80 players is that?  How many of those guilds are defunct?  How much player overlap is there between rated guilds?  I don’t know of any way to tell.  If this represents a mix of 10 and 25 man raiding guilds, and every 10-man guild has 15 raiders, and every 25 man guild had 30 raiders, then 160,000+ guilds would account for well over two million raiders.

Rough estimates, I know, and I could be off by a million or so players in any direction.  The implication here, though, is that the majority of players who have a level 80 character have done at least some level of raiding, even if it is just OS 10 or Naxx 10.

That is a strong testament to Blizzard’s philosophy of making raiding accessible.

But does that continue on to higher levels of raiding?  Not exactly.

Guildprogress only tracks 94k guilds that have kills in Ulduar 10.  That’s than 60% of the number of guilds that have progressed in OS or Naxx.  We can extend that to the number of players, and assume that maybe 60% of the players have done any Ulduar raiding.

Guildprogress tracks only 36k guilds in the US and EU that have any progress in Trial of the Crusader 10-man normal.  That is 22% of the number of guilds that had kills in Naxx or OS.  Thus, we can say that maybe 1/4 or fewer of the players with a level 80 character have gone into ToC at any difficulty level.

So what is a typical player these days?  Most players have a max-level character.  The majority of those have been in either Naxxramas or Obsidian Sanctum to some extent.  Somewhere between half to two-thirds of them have done Ulduar raids, and maybe a quarter have done any of ToC.

Very, very few are fully clearing Ulduar.  1600 guilds were listed with Algalon kills.  That’s a tiny fraction – about 1% of the tracked guilds.  Somewhere around 15-16k guilds have Yogg kills – around 10% of tracked guilds.

Conclusion (and yes, its on shaky numerical ground)… while Blizzard can proudly say that most players have had raiding available to them, there are still places that will remain unseen by the majority of the player base.  Yogg-Saron, Algalon, and the ToC bosses past the Faction Champions, for example, are still elusive heights where many players will never tread.


9 Responses to “What is typical?”

  1. 1 Thimble
    September 24, 2009 at 9:57 am

    You sure wouldn’t know it to read the WoW forums, where every encounter is way too easy nowadays, and every player in level 62 greens has cleared 25 man Grand Trial of the Crusader.

    At least that’s the impression you’d get.

    I surmise that I’m the typical player. I’ve cleared Naxx 10 many times, 25 once-ish. I’ve gotten the crazy cat lady down in Ulduar, but that’s as far as I’ve been there. OS and Vault barely count as raids at this point, with the real challenge being getting a group together. I haven’t set foot in Trial of the Crusader yet, but that’s largely due to time constraints. And I got 10 man Onyxia down last night, which was great. It was nice to see she can still drop double Netherwind. Really. Fantastic.

    At any rate, I think based on your post I have fairly typical experiences with the game for someone who wants to do some raiding but lacks the time to get on several nights a week for a few hours at a time. I get one or two nights of play a week, and I make the most of it. I’d say Blizzard has done me a lot of good. Back in the old-old days, I had a lot more time, and raided MC and BWL. My time constraints increased substantially during BC, and I never even got a full Karazhan clear. With the same amount of playtime now, I’ve cleared several raids and seen a lot of content that would previously have been unavailable to me.

    And that’s a big comment.

  2. 2 wrthofnino
    September 24, 2009 at 11:52 am

    Yay! I’m typical! 🙂

  3. 3 Saniel
    September 24, 2009 at 12:14 pm

    Regarding your first two paragraphs, I think the type of person that would sit down and blog about WoW (especially on subjects of class mechanics, how to effectively play a class, etc) and do so enough to actually warrant attention are the types that would be spending a significant amount of time in raids.

    By and large, the casual player who has seen some current raid content but isn’t really striving for progression is going to take that casual approach to their discussion of the game, too. They may talk about it among some friends, but dedicating the time and attention to maintaining a good blog about it is just more than they’re willing to do.

    Likewise, their audience is more likely to be the people that want to think about those kinds of things than those who just want to drop in a couple times a week, have a little fun, and move on.

    I would say your typical WoW blogger is a good bit higher on the hardcore scale than your typical WoW player.

  4. 4 Mobius
    September 24, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    My guild doesn’t really raid the big-boy stuff. We have killed up to Xt200 as a guild. We don’t have the man power.

    That being said, we are part of the Small Guild Alliance. (many smaller guilds getting together to do end game.) Many members have cleared past Yogg 25 but the numbers dont count on the guild tracker because our raids are not one guild.

    The ten man im part of has yet to try ony or TOC ten man yet. We clear in one night up to Mimron. Most of us have been together since ZG. I know I wont see 25 stuff ever, but that’s ok with me. The crew I run with is why I play the game. I’ve met most of them in real life, gone drinking with some of them and met their wives and kids. Its a community thing, and I wouldn’t change it, even for all the Legendary weapons in the world

  5. September 24, 2009 at 4:25 pm

    Saniel –

    I completely agree. In fact, that was my point, in a roundabout way. Me and the other bloggers that write guides to Ulduar and ToC and talk about our iLvL 245 gear are not really playing the same game that the majority of others are playing.

    Thimble’s first line paraphrases it perfectly. The “typical” player doesn’t blog or post on forums, so their voices are not heard. Instead, when you read what is available online you get the much more serious player.

    When I first started reading blogs, I read Frostbolt. He was doing raids that I had never even heard of. I wasn’t at his level of the game, but it was still fun to read.

    I just want the “typical” player to know that they are typical, and not behind the curve.

  6. 6 Gigantor1960
    September 24, 2009 at 5:46 pm

    Well I read tons of blogs and post regularly. I would love to see end game but have resigned myself to the fact that I will never get there for a number of reasons. I feel like I am in WoW limbo once again as the same thing happened with BC and Sunwell. So I suppose there are levels of “Typical”. Blizzard can claim victory in opening up “Raiding” for the “Typical” player but true end game content is still a rarified environment.

  7. September 25, 2009 at 12:05 am

    Ok a couple of thoughts.

    Guildprogress only tracks guilds that are submitted.

    Also this is from their FaQ

    “Why didn’t my guild get credit for a kill/achievement?
    In order to get credit for a kill, your guild must have at least 18 members ( 7 for non-heroic ) complete the relative achievements for the kill. For certain achievements the minimum number needed is lessened.

    On recent kills, it may take some time for the new achievements to show up on the WoW Armory. If a completed achievement/kill is not scanning after a forced scan please try again a few hours later. The WoW Armory is not real time! 🙂

    The Burning Crusade data is no longer being recorded.”

    So for instance my guild… which consists of around 6 people… won’t ever show as killed anything. Even though I and another guild mate run with a similar guild (that has around 5 active players) and have formed pugs taking down all of ToC 10 man and up to anub on 25.

    If you were to look strictly at achievements per 80 you would run into issues too since I have multiple characters who have been through ulduar and ToC not to mention naxx and OS.

    But looking at the rest of my guild who is mostly friends and family… we have 2 who haven’t hit 80 and a few 80’s who don’t actively raid. So are they the typical player or am I?

  8. September 25, 2009 at 11:17 pm

    I know that the numbers I used in the post were suspect – I even said so in the post. But the relative numbers are fine, as far as comparisons of how many guilds have done each level of raiding. Guildprogress is more liberal about giving credit for kills/achievements than GuildOx, in my experience.

    Whatever the sample size is, its certainly high enough to be pretty representative, even if it is a self-selected group.

    And there is no such thing as a truly typical player. Everyone is different. But there are a lot of non-raiders or starting raiders, and not nearly as many endgame raiders as you might think.

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