Focus Friday, Part 1 | Player Fidelity and Love Interests
It’s that time again. Focus Friday. Time for us to make your ears to bleed and your brain liquify, due to the vast quantities of information we’re about to toss in your general direction.
Wait, you mean that’s not fun for you?
About a month ago when we identified the bug with the survey data, I was trying to dig a bit deeper into the results to analyze the correlation between certain questions. Specifically, the relationships between player gender and Love Interests (#1 and #18 on the survey). I was also teasing apart the results of question #18 on its own. There is a trove of information in the survey beyond the specific answers to individual questions, and this is the first time I decided to delve into these topics.
Consequently, we have some super-interesting stuff coming up. After considering the amount of information we’d be going through, I decided to break this post up into two parts, with Part 2 coming out tomorrow. So for now, go grab a cup of coffee, bottle of beer, glass of wine, or whatever. Sit down and stay awhile — and don’t forget to pop back in tomorrow!
My Shepard(s) Romanced…
“My Shepard(s) romanced…” was the statement that players had to respond to for question 18 on the survey. For this statement players chose from a selection of 11 Love Interests, which ones their Shepards had romanced. They also had the ability to write in an unlisted LI under the “Other” heading; most commonly this was Kelly Chambers or Samara — both were romanceable in ME2, but not carried over to the same extent in Mass Effect 3 (in Samara’s case not carried over at all).
When first examining the player response to this question, I found myself wondering:
- How many players tend to “stick” to the same LI? In other words, how many players were monogamous to one LI?
- The converse to this, of course, is how much do players “play the field”? How many LIs have players actually romanced? 1, 2, 3? How many LIs on average does a player romance?
Below are the answers to these questions.
1. Monogamy. To run this analysis we first had to eliminate players who didn’t romance any of the specified Love Interests. Initially, 5759 players had answered this question, so that left us with 5748. After tabulating the data, we found a total of 1401 players had romanced only one Love Interest — that’s 24.4% or almost a quarter of players.
To me, that’s pretty interesting. That means that 3/4 of players play the field — they romance more than one LI. But, 25% is still a pretty decent number. There are a respectable amount of players out there who enjoy romancing the same LI. I’m actually a bit surprised it isn’t higher — we are creatures of habit, after all.
Taking a closer look at how the LIs compare to each other, we can gain additional insights. Unsurprisingly, 4 of the 5 ME1 squadmates all rank in the top 5. Due to their appearance in the first installment of the series, these Love Interests have the best chance of snagging a player’s interest and keeping it through all 3 games and playthroughs (more on Garrus and Tali in a minute).
Kaidan and Liara are vying for the top spot, but for the first time, Liara is dethroned. According to our survey results, Kaidan fans are more monogamous to him than Liara fans are to her — by a whopping 0.7%, lol. Tali’s and Garrus’ percentages are a bit lower (10.5% & 8.3%, respectively) but this makes sense as they weren’t romanceable until ME2. Both had strong contingents pulling for them, but many supporters likely ended up romancing Kaidan or Liara in ME1. This would have then prevented these players from being able to be monogamous to Garrus or Tali with the advent of their romances in Mass Effect 2.
Of the Mass Effect 2 Love Interests, Miranda has the most players exclusive to her (6%), followed by Thane (4.9%). Ashley follows close behind, and ahead of Jack, at 4.6%. Ashley’s appearance down with the ME2 LIs is an aberration considering the fact that she is available to players beginning with Mass Effect. However, considering her unpopularity with the playerbase, this isn’t exactly unexpected.
Sam and Steve are in the opposite situation as the ME1 LIs. They have some of the lowest percentages of player exclusivity due to two things: not appearing until the final installment of the trilogy and only being available for a same-sex romance. Not unpredictably, poor Jacob Taylor sits at the bottom of the list — only a single player on the survey was exclusive to him.
There are some factors to consider when interpreting these results. For one, there are certainly players who could have participated in the survey that have only played through the games a single time. The more times a player plays through the series the greater the chance they have to choose a different Love Interest. It’s a bit “natural” to want to stick to the same LI through the series. The more times you play, the more opportunities you have to change up the LI your Shepard romances.
There’s also the possibility players might have been confused as to which LIs to include — those they romanced in ME3 or those they romanced in ME1 or ME2, also. The survey was in regards to ME3, but especially with the inclusion of Thane and Jacob in this category, but not Kelly and Samara (who were also romanceable in ME2 and not-as-much in ME3) this might have caused a certain degree of confusion with the survey takers. I do think this is unlikely, though, especially when considering that a majority of players acknowledged romancing more than one LI.
2. Playing the Field. In this analysis we used the same pool of survey respondents as above. However, in this case, we are examining the opposite situation: players who romance more than one Love Interest.
To investigate this question we added up the total number of LIs each player romanced, all the way from one to eleven. Interestingly, what we found is that while 75% of players are not monogamous to one LI, the 25ish% who are represent the largest subgroup in this category.
From there we see a relatively steady decline, from about 20% of players who have romanced 2 LIs to 10% of players who have romanced 5 Love Interests. Only 14% of players have romanced 6 or more LIs, and amazingly, about 1% of players have romanced 9, 10, and 11 LIs, respectively. I wonder how many playthroughs these folks have?! Note: I tossed in a best-fit line on the chart for some of you “mathy” types out there — it seems to be a polynomial distribution, but let me tell you, I haven’t done any serious math in a good while, so I’m not even going to begin to go there :]
Anyway, after doing some relatively simple arithmetic we computed the average number of Love Interests per player: 3.25. Obviously you can’t romance 0.25 of a LI, so, we’ll round down to 3. The real answer is somewhere between 3 and 4, but closer to 3.
So, this is certainly another piece of pretty useful information. I’m actually not even sure I’ve seen this type of data posted anywhere else, which also makes it pretty freaking cool. It further underscores the fact that romances are important to players. It also indicates that players appreciate choice and variety in the Love Interests available to them. Most players don’t want to romance the same LI all the time. These romances add to the immersion in the game. They also encourage replayability.
Replayability. Hm. Replayability is especially important for a game, if say, hypothetically, its developer wants keep sales of DLC high. For players to have DLC purchase even remotely on their radar, they first need to stay interested in the game. For players to stay interested in a game, they need to not only derive sufficient enjoyment from their first playthrough, but the game content needs to be diverse enough, to encourage them to play through it a second or maybe even a third time. This is the exact reason that the multiplayer aspect is being implemented into so many single-player games. It helps hold player interest in the game, making it a good bet that they will purchase future DLC. The multiplayer “issue” is a separate topic altogether, however I would personally propose that with Mass Effect being historically a single-player (and an RP game, at that) I’d rather see player interest held due to inclusion of a vast array of content in the vanilla game. If MP can be included without resulting in a dimished single-player experience, then that’s fine. But, like I said….that’s another column, lol.
Either way, dear reader, you don’t know any game developers that might be interested in making a few extra bucks from DLC, do you?
The results of our survey indicated that most respondents had played all 3 installments of the Mass Effect trilogy. Each of those players, has romanced, on average, 3 to 4 Love Interests. We also know from this same question (#18) that those LIs would have a tendency to be Liara, Garrus, Kaidan, or Tali. What we’ll take a look at tomorrow is how the choice of these, and the remaining LIs, has been affected by player gender.
As usual, thanks for reading!