mardi 23 mai 2017

Brief experiment, chance to get 50 gold for participating in a survey versus nothing

This is a close-replication of my previous experiments on the effects of giving a 50 silver incentive to increase answer rates to a in-game World of Warcraft survey.

[Methods] The methods were similar as those previously used [1]; 50 Kronos players were identified with the first /who query and half of them were offered a random chance to get 50 gold. The reward was increased by 1000% as it was thought that it was too low to get players interested in the previous experiments.

The 2nd, 4th, 6th, ... players on the /who list (unordered) got the intervention message (incentive) and the 1st, 3rd, 5th, .... got the control message, as I previously suggested doing [2]. All messages were sent from my level 60 warlock character, "Tekai", as in previous experiments. Odd players were whispered first.

To select the player getting the 50 gold reward, all intervention players were put in a list going from 1 (first player answering) to X (last player answering) and a /random X was used once. The player with the corresponding number was then either sent the gold with in-game mails or it was traded directly.

The experiment was done on Tuesday 23rd of May 2017, 17:00 Server Time.

Control group message : "Greetings, I am making a survey to better evaluate how much latency Kronos players have and I would appreciate your participation. All answers will be kept anonymous."

Intervention group message : "Greetings, I am making a survey to better evaluate how much latency Kronos players have and I would appreciate your participation. All answers will be kept anonymous and a single randomly selected participant will be sent 50 gold by mail."

Follow-up message : "Great! How much latency (ms) do you currently have? Are you in the EU/RU/US/NA/Asia/Africa/Other?"

End message : "Thank you very much for your participation! Have a good day!"

Intervention end message : "Thank you  very much for your participation, the winner will be described in the world channel in the next 30 minutes. Have a good day!"

Further details message : "New players often wonder about the latency of the server, this survey would allow them to have an overview. Please send me a in-game mail if you want to look at the results."

Explanation message : "All participating players will be given a unique number (eg. 1 for the first to answer, 2 for the second); a single /random will then be used to define a winner when the survey ends. This player will get the 50 gold by in-game mail or trade."

[Results]  The experiment was stopped early without going on with the control intervention as the response rate was deemed too low for the intervention to be effective. A total of 21 players were whispered in the intervention group. Three (3) players were AFK and four (4) were offline.

8 players answered in the intervention (incentive) group (38.1%). The /random excluded a player due to the content of his answer and ended up with a "2", the second player in the list was thus given 50 gold, which were traded directly near the Orgrimmar bank.

No explanations or futher details messages were sent and they were not requested.

The reported latencies (ms) were as follows :
  • EU: 20ms
  • US: 161ms
  • Unspecified location: 349ms, 27ms, 67ms,  "0ms but usually 65ms", "195-205 (best) or 95-205 (average)
[Harms] One player expressed being very unhappy about my whispers as he answered "fu".

[Conclusions]  Previous experiments ended up with slightly lower response rates (about 34%), which means the intervention (incentive) may have had a small effect. Nevertheless the potential increase was very small and unlikely to be of interest to players making in-game surveys. The latencies reported were similar as those previously identified.

Increasing the reward for participating in a survey to 50 gold and adding a chance element was not associated with an arguably important increase in participation. This strategy is thus not recommended.

Perhaps whispered players did not believe the messages were honest, or they may have thought their chances of winning were too low. The whispers might be too formal, the demand too complex (for example, very few players correctly report both country and latency) or it could be that in-game gold rewards are not as attractive as I think. A reverse approach asking players what incentives they would like or find interesting enough or what wording would be most appropriate could be helpful.

A player expressed being unhappy about my whisper. Considering the content of the whisper I sent, I suppose this reaction was due to the perhaps intrusive or disruptive nature of whispers which may break immersion or lead to a lower attention to the current activity the player was doing. While a relatively rare event (this is the first time a player answered in such a way among the 125 or so players whispered in those experiments), it is possible that other players were equally unhappy yet did not tell me about it. Strategies to prevent such events (or better notice them) could be sought, such as using different communication strategies (e.g. in-game mails), although they may further reduce participation, increase costs and bother players even more. Alternatively one could think that whatever one does in game some players will be bothered by it and this is not a good enough reason to stop. It is also conceivable that in-game surveys (all of them or some of them) end up bothering players more than they benefit them and this question could deserve future attention.


I (Tekai) used to play on the Kronos I server as a level 60 warlock for months in a progression raiding guild, I wrote extensively about it, contributed to bugreports, quality improvements, discussions and have published the (now completed) Kronos WoW Comics (humoristic drawings inspired from the server) on the official Project Kronos Facebook page. I don't have any financial interest in this survey and its results and I am not financed in any way by the Kronos team or anyone else.

This is mostly an exercise of curiosity and for fun (yes my fun is wierd), please don't take it as a scientific study, but go ahead and do refer to it if you find it interesting.

Data :

Intervention group, 21 players whispered, 3 AFK, 4 offline

17:05:37 [W From] <5:_>: 349ms
17:05:52 [W From] <47:_>: fu
17:05:57 [W From] <32:_>: 27ms atm
17:07:41 [W From] <60:_>: 67
17:08:32 [W From] <60:_>: 161 US
17:09:20 [W From] <14:_>: EU, 20ms lag now
17:10:44 [W From] <59:_>: 0ms it says, but usually its 65ms
17:13:28 [W From] <AFK><60:_>: 190 is the best i get, 95-205 is average, 195-205*

Whispers were not sent to the control group.

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