First off, thank you to all you who filled out the survey on the Discord! We had about 40 responses to the survey, which isn’t a ton in the grand scheme of things, but as the Discord currently sits at around 200 users, I’ll call that nearly 25%, which doesn’t seem too bad!
The goal of running the survey was to get a better sense of what the people who wanted to participate in the alpha were expecting from the game, as well as get a better understanding of the fledgling Cantata community. So without further ado, let’s get into some light data crunching!
Starting with a basic question, but first I wanted to see the age range of the player base:
Overwhelmingly 25-34! I think this is kind of the key general market for people who play strategy games (especially indie ones), so I’m not totally surprised, but it is an overwhelming amount! I also fit into this age range, so I’m sure it has to do with how I talk about Cantata/show it online I do to subconsciously appeal to this demographic.
Another basic question, what’s your gender?
Predominately men, but I am happy to see some Female + NB people here! This is something I’m definitely conscious of, and want to make sure Cantata is able to not just appeal to non-traditional “gamer” demographics, but also to not proactively exclude any groups. I think Cantata is a game that can be enjoyed by everyone and want to work to make that real!
Next up and getting more into strategy, Do you consider yourself a strategy game player?
Going to go ahead and say not surprising here! Most of the people interested in playing Cantata consider themselves strategy game players. That said, there’s still a generous slice of people who don’t, which is totally great!
Keeping that in mind, lets look at what games people are playing most right now. For entries where people could fill out as many entries as they wanted, for this answers and the following ones, I’m just grabbing the entries that had a significant amount of people indicating them.
(Also I’m still figuring out how to do some of this data analysis stuff, so forgive me where some data points don’t have nice charts )
For a bunch of strategy players, this list isn’t too surprising as well! There are some interesting points: Borderlands is on here as, at the time of the survey, it just got released. Magic the Gathering Arena is a surprising appearance, though that may be just because Magic is forever popular.
The most interesting thing for me though is the top few games, Slay the Spire, Into the Breach, and XCom, Stellaris, Factorio, and Total War. The fact that these games basically span the gamut of what a strategy game can offer (with indie titles up top!) really tells me I’m hitting the right people with Cantata. The pitch from the start was that it’s something that could be enjoyed by people who play both hardcore 4X games but also those who play smaller-scale tactics game, and seeing this actually be the case here is a good sign for me that the message it getting to the right people, in the right way.
However! This list is also really interesting when compared to the list of games that people said they were excited for:
Despite people being predominately strategy, Noita is the number one most anticipated game in the community right now! I think that speaks to the fact that Noita looks amazing and that it has a lot of cross-genre appeal, but it’s interesting to see nonetheless. I’m happy to see Industries of Titan up there as well, as I’m personally very excited for that. Otherwise we’ve got a smattering of other high profile AAA games, some more indie strategy (Griftlands and Overland), and then the two people holding strong for Bannerlord .
While we’re still looking at tables of numbers, lets take a gander at what sites people find out about games on:
Given that a lot of the discord joins came from when the Rock Paper Shotgun piece went live, it’s definitely unsurprising to see them at the top. Otherwise it’s all the usual suspects. Interesting entries that didn’t make the top are perhaps worth noting, namely Facebook, Eurogamer, Strategy Gamer, and Gamespot.
Moving on! Lets talk proper alpha testing info! I asked people if they had done an alpha test before, and how they would rate themselves as an alpha tester:
From the looks of it the community definitely skews more alpha oriented, which isn’t surprising given that the Discord is advertised as a place for people to alpha test the game. That said, hello to all you who haven’t alpha tested before! Happy to have you here and excited that Cantata may be your first test .
The chart above also breaks down how people rate themselves, and it’s good to see that, of the people who have tested before, most people indicated that they’d be pretty active testers! Thank you!
Here’s another similar but different chart that indicates when people typically like to come into a game marked as “alpha”:
I asked this question because I’m very “content sensitive” about Cantata. Content is obviously what people look for when they are buying a game, but also content is one of the last things to come during development as the game has to actually function first. Not only this, but if you build content too soon, you may have to scrap it if the underlying system changes.
This question is one of the main pivot points to help me determine who gets access to the game at what time (though it’s obviously a blurry line. If you MUST HAVE ACCESS feel free to DM me on Discord - enthusiasm means more than survey answers). What is nice to see here is that the community is basically split along the content line, but both major parties don’t have to have an essentially “complete” game before testing.
Another fun way to slice this data is to stack it with people who have/haven’t done an alpha before:
Proportionally, those who have done an alpha before are more comfortable coming on earlier in a game than those that haven’t done an alpha before. That said, those who haven’t done an alpha are also okay with coming in early to test (though I definitely admit some survey bias here as the whole point is to judge interest in the alpha!).
The next string of questions were kind of Cantata-specific questions to get a better sense of how the game “exists” in the world. The first thing I asked was what people were most excited for in Cantata?
Note that this wasn’t a fixed answer question. People filled in their own answer and I “cleaned” it to conform to some general trends. The biggest response that I got here was the people were really interested in the general mechanics of Cantata, which is great! The other major responses broke down around three options, the World/Narrative, Tactics Fan, and “New” Strategy. Let’s break these down!
Though it’s similar to the CO option reflected in the above chart, people that answered in a way that made me mark them as this remarked mostly at how the art, copywriting, and the peeks we’ve so far given at factions seem really interesting. So it’s less about any individual element, but how Cantata is bringing it all together.
These are people who are just excited for new tactics games! I think this answer is also really important because it’s easy to forget that tactics games simply don’t get made at the same clip that your average 2D platformer does, and each one that comes out is usually played by the core tactics fanbase.
This one surprised me most but also was the most reassuring. People who answered this way were intrigued by the game not for any specific reason, but because, in one way or another, it felt like something different. This is one of my major goals with Cantata, to make it feel not just like the next in the line of some other game or genre, but try to come up with a new type of strategy game that people can enjoy both on its own merits but also its proximity to other games. This is really hard to “target” in a meaningful way, but I’m glad some people are already picking up on it and are drawn in by it.
Now, in the above graph that amount of people who are most attracted to the game because of modding is small, however, this is because modding was not their MOST interested feature. That said, I also asked people if they planned to use the modding tools and:
The majority of people want to use the tools! The other thing here to remember is that just because someone isn’t directly using the modding tools doesn’t mean that they aren’t playing on modded maps, using modded units, etc. Another goal I have here is to make modding so simple and intuitive that even people that don’t plan to engage with the modding tools will want to experiment with the tools, even if in just a small way.
Next up are two social-ish questions. First I asked if people have told other people about Cantata:
It’s hard to track word of mouth for a game, so it’s good to see here that nearly half of you are spreading the good word of the game! This all really helps!
Somewhat related, I asked if people read the blog posts:
And you all overwhelmingly do! This is really great to know, as sometimes it can really feel like shouting into the void. We do the posts in part to keep letting people in on aspects of the game, but also as a way for us to report progress, talk in depth about systems in the game, etc. It’s good to know these aren’t falling on deaf ears
The last question I asked about the game was if people would be interested in paying a high price right now for the game to gain perpetual access to it once it releases:
I asked this question in part because I’m currently looking at a lot of different ways to monetize Cantata throughout development to sustain not only myself but the other people working on the game. I wanted to ask this question to kind of get a baseline understanding of how much revenue this model could bring in in the short term, knowing full well that most people wouldn’t want to go this route. But let’s dream for a moment.
First off, it’s worth noting that if this model is enacted, it doesn’t adversely affect the people who aren’t paying in this moment. They just get access to the game at a later date. The point of this model (done successfully with games like Prison Architect), is to bring in revenue and high-signal testers during the early phases of development to help guide the game to release.
So right now the number of Yes votes for this model is 17%. Lets imagine that the whole Discord filled out this survey, which is about 200 people:
That’s a nice lil bit of money, but nowhere near enough to make a game. But let’s keep dreaming. Between you and me, Cantata has about 3,000 wishlists on Steam. Imagine that all those people find out about the open alpha and convert at the same rate:
Again, a nice chunk of change, but definitely not enough to sustain development for a whole team. However, if the game starts gathering steam, more people get attracted to it and learn about it… nearly 20% conversion on an audience isn’t terrible! It could maybe be sustainable!
For now I’m not holding my breath though and want to just focus on making Cantata great as a first priority. If it comes to where I really need to look at this model again expect another survey
As a closing note, I didn’t include the results from the feedback section of the survey because it was freeform, but the major thing that stood out was that everyone who submitted the survey was super supportive of me, the game, and the team. It was great to see you all say that you think we’re doing a good job and in general are looking forward to the game. It feels like we’ve got a special thing forming here so I’m excited to keep growing it all together .
I hope you all enjoyed the survey deep dive above! As a result of this, I’ll be sending out the first batch of alpha invites in the coming month or so (pending some big news on my end) so you all can jump in and get started! Thanks for reading this and I’ll see you on the forums/Discord!