Zelda Fan Survey 2014

I have spent years pondering and talking about what makes the Zelda games tick: why do so many people, including myself, hold them in such high regard? What is this “Zelda magic” that everyone spaks of, and what do they mean when they say it? So I decided to ask! I built a survey intended to give me a glimpse into the minds and tastes of Zelda fans, and distributed it within the online Zelda fan community. I got nearly 6000 responses, an outstanding show of interest from my fellow fans, and learned a number of interesting things.

The Sample

The first step is to put these answers in context: Who are the people that answered the survey? What group are they actually representative of?

The survey was advertised in several places, and got 5,890 responses:

Zelda Fans:

One of the first questions on the survey was this: “Do you think of yourself as a ‘Zelda fan?’”

Unsurprisingly, this was a massively lop-sided question, with only 59 people saying “no” and 81 saying “unsure”, while 5692 said “yes”. This means one very important thing: my sample is overwhelmingly composed of Zelda fans. More specifically, they’re Zelda fans that were paying attention to the English-speaking online Zelda community.

So what does this mean? It means that these results are not representative of all Zelda players, or even all Zelda fans. These results are representative of the online, English-speaking Zelda community only – that’s all I can say with confidence.

Because our survey is specifically targeting Zelda fans, all further results that I quote in this article specifically exclude the 2.4% of responses that answered “unsure” or “no” to the above question. Sorry non-fans, I simply don’t have enough of you!

Zelda Universe vs Zelda Informer:

The vast majority of responses came from readers at Zelda Universe or Zelda Informer. Which begs the question: Are these results really representative of the online Zelda community, or are they just representative of ZU and ZI? I was worried about this very thing, but when I compared the results of the survey from ZU and ZI, they were almost identical, and so were the ones from Reddit’s Zelda community. Because of this, I feel safe in extrapolating these results to the English, online Zelda fan community as a whole.

Sales Number Skew

I recently published an article examining the sales numbers of the Zelda games. Obviously I suggest reading it in full! But the gist of it is this: many Zelda games have sold more than others, but factors like the installed userbase of the console, the number of gamers in the market, marketing, the social acceptance of games, and even world population all complicate things, and make it hard to draw conclusions from those sales numbers. For instance, you can’t really claim that Ocarina of Time is the best Zelda game just because it sold the most. That said, there is a strong correlation between high sales and performing well in this survey: the best-selling Zelda games also happen to top most of the “favorite” lists and ratings here in these survey results.

What does it mean? Well, one obvious conclusion is that people aren’t going to choose a Zelda game they haven’t played as their favorite in any category. Another might be that high quality leads to good review scores and good word of mouth, and thus higher sales. Just keep all this in mind if you plan on using this data for anything!

Anyways, enough blabbing, let’s get to the good stuff!

Table of Contents

Age Gender Gamer
Nintendo Platforms Other Consoles First
Most Played Favorite Rate each Zelda
Rank Aspects Art Styles Link's Dialogue
Voice Acting Female Protagonist Vary the Plot
Non-Linearity Zelda Spinoffs Motion Combat
Top-Down vs 3D Item Rental System Multiplayer
Hero Mode Expectations Favorites
Confidence

Survey Results

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Are people biased towards their first Zelda game? Yep! When I filter the results based on the first game that people played, that game always rises dramatically:

What about those 15% of respondents who have actually played all of the games? Do their results differ? Why yes, they do! The top five change to:

  1. Majora’s Mask: 26%
  2. Ocarina of Time: 23%
  3. The Wind Waker: 11%
  4. A Link to the Past: 10%
  5. Twilight Princess: 8%

Ok, ok. Majora’s Mask and Ocarina of Time clearly need a deciding showdown. What if I only include people who have played both games, to eliminate any bias that Ocarina’s high sales introduce?:

  1. Ocarina of Time, 25.75%
  2. Majora’s Mask, 24.82%.
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I asked people to choose their favorite game in a variety of categories. These are the results:

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Well, that about wraps it up. More information about Zelda fans than you could ever possibly need(unless you’re a market researcher from Nintendo, in which case you know where to find me!). Just one more question: Let’s take the temperature of the Zelda fan community and see how they feel about the future:

(Caveat: there’s been a lot of news on Hyrule Warriors and Zelda U since this survey, so this is probably inaccurate by now!)