Starcraft Statistics: A Survey of Lower League Players on the Casual Experience

Published on 12/26/2016 09:00 PST by ROOT Gaming

Recently there has been a lot among the community on places like reddit and Team Liquid about what casuals think made by people who are professionals or top league players. This was a little bothersome to me, as someone who is friends with many people who only ladder once or twice a week and are in lower leagues, it didn't match what they said. I felt the desire to dig into the topic of what casual, or lower league, players felt was fun or unfun about the Starcraft 2 laddering experience. 

So my goal was to get feedback from players who were in lower leagues, which I determined to be Bronze to Gold which make up an estimated 50% of the player population. I set out to find these players in a few ways. First I contacted players who I knew personally through interaction either online or in person. Next I talked with players in groups in-game and clans focused on low level play. Lastly I looked at players who came forward and asked me about it. Once I had a list of about 300 players I got their email and their account information to ensure they really were in the league boundaries and were not some Masters player trying to troll the survey and all players had to have over 100 games played. Once that was done I sent out the survey. After my mandated time frame I had received 209 responses. That may not seem like much, and it's not as large as I'd like but it does provide a fairly small margin of error. While not perfected I do feel I got a good response from players who may not ladder every day or haven't reached the upper leagues of the game but still play Starcraft. Due to space some questions were compacted, united or cut out, more information on those cut out at the end. Many of my questions are direct questions taken from statements I've seen people claim online such as "this patch will make people leave/come back to the game" or "casuals hate ____." 

Each question after the basic information and yes/no questions was open ended and I've compiled each answer into a category. 

So here are the response to my questionnaire:

What region do you primarily play in?

1. North America (175 respondents, 84%)
2. Europe (19, 9%)
3. South East Asia (15, 7%)

What race do you play as?

1. Terran (77 respondents, 37%)
2. Protoss (71, 34%)
3. Zerg (59, 28%)
4. Random (2, 1%)

Have you ever played ladder with a different race than you normally play as?

1. Yes (204, 98%)
2. No (5, 2%)

What is your age?

1. 25 to 34 (96 respondents, 46%)
2. Under 18 (65, 31%)
3. 18 to 24 (42, 20%)
4. Over 35 (6, 3%)

Do you considering yourself a casual player?

1. Yes (205 respondents, 98%)
2. No (4, 2%)

How many hours a week do you spend playing 1v1 ladder, excluding other modes of play?

1. Less than 7 (138 respondents, 66%)
2. 8 to 14 (48, 23%)
3. 15 to 21 (17, 8%)
4. 22 or more (6, 3%)

Would you play more 1v1 ladder if you could?

1. Yes (144 respondents, 69%)
2. No (65, 31%)

What is the main reason you don't play more?

1. Lack of time due to family (71 respondents, 34%)
2. Lack of time due to work or school (67, 32%)
3. Lack of desire to play more (54, 26%)
4. Unsure (17, 8%)

Do you watch any Starcraft 2 streams?

1. Yes (153 respondents, 73%)
2. No (56, 27%)

Do you watch any Starcraft 2 competitive events?

1. No (145 respondents, 70%)
2. Yes (64, 30%)

Which version of Starcraft 2 did you first play?

1. Wings of Liberty (113 respondents, 54%)
2. Legacy of the Void (50, 24%)
3. Heart of the Swarm (46, 22%)

Do you visit the official Starcraft 2 forums, reddit, Team Liquid or other discussion board more than once a month?

1. I don't visit any site (140 respondents, 67%)
2. Official forums (25, 12%)
3. Reddit (19, 9%)
4. Other fan site or discussion board (15, 7%)
5. Team Liquid (10, 5%)

Do you play any other modes outside of 1v1 ladder (please check all that apply)?

1. Campaign (161 respondents, 77%)
2. Arcade (148, 71%)
3. Co-op (136, 65%)
4. Custom games, with and without mods (102, 49%)
5. Team games (48, 23%)
6. I only play 1v1 (6, 3%)

What aspect makes Starcraft 2 the least enjoyable?

1. Leagues are too broad/Range of skill within a league too large (93 respondents, 45%)
2. Ladder anxiety (40, 19%)
3. Not understanding how an opponent was able to beat them (36 , 17%)
4. Dislike of cheese or early game all-in strategies (21, 10%)
5. Too much micro required (13, 6%)

6. Specific unit design (4, 2%)
6. Two answers received one response.

What aspect to you makes Starcraft 2 fun?

1. Improvement (59 respondents, 28%)
2. Discovering new strategies (54, 26%)
3. Performing a successful strategic engagement such as flanking, surround, distraction,etc (53, 26%)
4. Harassment (26, 12%)
5. Successfully micromanaging units to win an engagement (15, 7%)
6. Two answers received one response

Do battles end too quickly?

1. No (170 respondents, 81%)
2. Yes (35, 17%)
3. Unsure (4, 2%)

Are there too many abilities in the game?

1. Yes (116 respondents, 55%)
2. No (93, 45%)

Are area of effect abilities too powerful?

1. No (153 respondents, 73%)
2. Yes (56, 23%)

Have you bought any of the new cosmetic skins or announcer packs?

1. No (148 respondents, 71%)
2. Yes (61, 29%)

Is Starcraft 2 too hard?

1. Yes (137 respondents, 66%)
2. No (72, 34%)

Would you make Starcraft 2 easier if you could?

1. No (165 respondents,79%)
2. Yes (44, 21%)


"For those who said the game was too hard but didn't want to make the game easier, explain why you gave those responses please." Here are the 93 responses:

1. The game is too hard due to my lack of skill or understanding, not due to design (58 respondents, 62%)
2. I answered the question that it was too hard in the sense I would never be great at it, not that it was too hard to play at my current level (35, 38%)

Is the game reasonably balanced? 

1. Unsure (154, 74%)
2. Yes (36 respondents, 17%)
3. No (19, 9%)

Do you feel workers die too fast or too often?

1. No (138 respondents, 66%)
2. Yes (36, 17%)
3. Unsure (35, 17%)

If you could ask the balance team anything about balance and design, what would it be?

1. How do you determine what the role for a unit will be? (71 respondents, 34%)
2. What makes a unit well or poorly designed? (54, 26%)
3. How do you determine balance besides win rates? (42, 20%)
4. What unit or ability did you want in the game but didn't make it? (42, 20%)
5. Six answers received one response

I also had another 15 or so racial specific questions but after reviewing this article it would have about tripled the length so I'll give those response at a later time but if you have a specific question about which units Terran players most dislike or the matchup Protoss players want to avoid, please feel free to ask them.

Now I felt there were some obvious takeaway but I'll let everyone look over the data themselves. This was a very informative survey for me personally about what these players are like, how often they play, how old they are and what their feelings were on specific topics. If nothing else use this as reference, if you see someone say a statement about casuals, see if it matches here.

Next week we'll be doing an introduction on unit usage as I prepare to look at various units and how often they are used and in what situations they are used.

About the author:

Topher is an American football and eSports writer with a focus on statistical metadata research. You can follow Topher on Twitter

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