Basic Information about the survey
The Overwatch survey was created in order to learn more about the ways the players and fans engage with Overwatch and Overwatch esports as well as their motivations to do so. It is a part of a larger research on Overwatch. The survey was conducted by Tanja Välisalo and Maria Ruotsalainen from the University of Jyväskylä (to learn more about us and our research interests, see about us). All the data gathered is for research purpose only. List of publications and presentations can be found here.
We opened the first version of the survey in August 2018 and had it open for two months. This version of the survey gathered 135 responses in total. According to results, we slightly modified the next version of the survey (added options for some of the questions if the topics had come up multiple times in the open field). After this we opened the survey again and it stayed until the end of 2019. In total we received 428 responses.
During the time the survey was open, it underwent a few modifications. We altered the survey when a new hero was added to the game, a new team added to the Overwatch League, or when a new competitive season started.
We have saved the data as separate data sets for each alteration, and also as one whole data set. Here we look at the whole data set, but mention if alterations have been done to a specific question.
The survey was published only in English. For finding the respondents, we used opportunistic recruitment. We marketed the survey mainly in social media, in places like Overwatch related subreddits, the official Overwatch forum, Overwatch related Facebook groups, and Twitter.
Demographic information about the respondents
Most of our respondents were French 49.8% (212). The second largest group were Finnish, 19.5 % (83) and the third largest group, 8.5% (36), were American. In total we had respondents from 22 different countries.
75.8% (323) of our respondents were male, 22.1% were (94) female, and 2.1% (9) identified differently. Two respondents did not answer the question.
Majority of our respondents (337; 78.7%) were between 15 and 28 years of age.
When asked “What do you think of Overwatch as a game?” majority, 50.7% (2017), voted “good”, followed close by “excellent”, chosen by 42.1% (180). Only 2 respondents (0.5%) chose the option “poor”.
We also asked our respondents how long they have been playing Overwatch. Most of the respondents, 37.9% (149), had been playing 1-2 years.
Most of our respondents, 35.4%, played Overwatch a few times a week.
The most popular play mode was competitive mode, preferred by 73.8% (315) of respondents. Respondents were asked to choose all relevant options.
In total, 89.5% (427) reported playing the competitive mode of the game.
The highest rank for most of our respondents was Platinum, chosen by 27.1% (116) of all respondents.
Most of our respondents played mainly support, chosen by 70.1% (300). Respondents were asked to choose all relevant options.
As Overwatch is an online game played with others, we asked who our respondents mostly played with. The most common answer was “solo”, chosen by 65.4% (280), followed by ”online friends”, chosen by 56.8% (243). Respondents were asked to choose all relevant options.
We also inquired about our respondents’ motivations to play. The respondents were encouraged to choose as many options as they wanted. The option chose most frequently was “to have fun”, chosen by 82.9% (355) of the respondents. Respondents were asked to choose all relevant options.
We also asked about the importance of Overwatch lore, that is, fictional content related to the game, for our respondents. 33.4% (143) considered lore “important”, second to last option on a scale from “not important at all” to “very important”.
We asked what other activities, in addition to playing the game, our respondents have taken part. Overwatch is a transmedia product, where the fictional content for instance can be mainly found from other media than the game itself. Respondents were asked to choose all relevant options.
The respondents were asked which hero they played first. The most common response was Soldier: 76. This is also connected to the setup of the game: he is the hero offered to the player as they first enter the game.
The respondents were asked, who were their favourite heroes based on the lore, meaning their background-story and narrative in the fictional world of Overwatch. The choices were distributed widely among the heroes, but the one mentioned most often was Reinhardt, chosen as a favourite mostly by respondents identifying as male. Other favourites were Sombra, Genji, Widowmaker, and Ana.
The respondents were asked the reasons for choosing a favourite hero by giving them a list of reasons and the opportunity to supply their own reasons. The most common reasons for choosing a lore-based favourite were, unsurprisingly, related to the hero’s personality and background story. These were followed by their appearance and voice acting. Almost half of the respondents also mentioned hero’s abilities or game mechanics as a reason for choosing them.
The most favourite gameplay-based heroes among the respondents were Ana and D.Va. Also Zenyatta, Reinhardt, Mercy, and Lucio were chosen by many respondents.
The most common reasons for choosing a favourite gameplay-based hero were their abilities, playability, and role in the game. Interestingly, also their personality was important for 41.1% of the respondents.
The respondents had a clear opinion of the easiest characters to play: Mercy, Soldier: 76, Brigitte, and Moira. Most of these heroes have a support role in the game, except for damage hero Soldier: 76.
According to our survey, the players found Genji overwhelmingly the hardest character to play, with 54.0% of respondents mentioning him. A bit further behind came Doomfist, Widowmaker, Ana, Wrecking Ball, and Tracer. These hard-to-play heroes are mostly damage heroes, which is probably not surprising to anyone. Wrecking Ball made this list despite their status as a tank character most likely due to the hero’s mechanic of rolling around the game as a ball and the ability to latch on to a spot with a wire and cause damage by swinging around. The mechanics of this character are difficult to control and different from what most players are likely used to in FPS games in general.
The section of the survey focusing on the Overwatch esports was mainly about the Overwatch League (OWL). The Overwatch League is a franchised esports league started 2018.
Firstly, we asked our respondents, if they follow or have followed the Overwatch League. 92.8% (397) of our respondents answered they have.
For those respondents who answered no, the rest of the Overwatch League related questions were not shown.
Through the following questions we wanted to examine better how and why the respondents watched the Overwatch League. Firstly, we inquired how often the respondents watched the Overwatch League. As the table below shows, the most common answer was “Matches of my favourite teams”, chosen by 30%, 119 respondents. The second most common answer was “All the matches”, chosen by 19.6% 78 respondents.
There was also the possibility to comment on the question in an open text field under the option “other” and this was chosen by 63 respondents. The respondents brought a number of factors which affect how often they watched the OWL, ranging from having watched OWL only once to usually watching with friends. One factor that was brought up multiple times was the the hour of the broadcast – multiple respondents commented that as they lived in Europe the games were often too late in the night for them to watch.
We also inquired what Overwatch League related activities they had taken part in. We gave them 10 options as well as “none of these”. Respondents were asked to choose all relevant options. Again, the respondents were able to add activities not listed in the preformulated options. Some mentioned were: “Creation of Fan Club”; “Watching parties in bar”; and “Casting the competition”.
While most of our questions were about the Overwatch League, we also did ask, if the respondents follow other Overwatch esports, other esports in general, and whether they follow traditional sports. From Overwatch esports, the yearly Overwatch World Cup taking place in Blizzcon was the most popular as 74.6% (318) of the respondents indicated watching it.
As to other esports, approximately half of our respondents (51.4%) followed them, while a bit less than half (46.0%) answered that they followed traditional sports.
We also also asked our respondents what they consider to be the role of esports in contemporary society. The most commonly chosen option was “Form of entertainment”, chosen by 89.4% (381) of the respondents. Respondents were asked to choose all relevant options.
Favorite players and teams
In the section of the questionnaire that inquired about our respondents’ relationship to the Overwatch League was a subsection asking about their relationship to players and teams. We asked about favourite players and teams and reasons for choosing particular favourites. The most common reason for someone to be a favourite player was the respondent liking the player’s personality, chosen by 58.1% (231) of respondents.
As for favourite teams, the most common reason was “Because of the nationality of a player or players”, chosen by 47.1% (186) of the respondents. Nationality also played a part in choosing a favorite player, as the option “The player is from my home country” was the third most common choice.
Among our respondents, the most popular team Paris Eternal (out of 20 teams), chosen by 20% (129) respondents. Given that the nationality of the players was the most common reason for choosing the favorite team and that the majority of our respondents were French (49.8% ), this makes sense. At the time of the survey, most of the players in Paris Eternal were French.