Which characters are being played the most? How many people are playing the game online? Those are some of the questions I tried to address by collecting and summarizing data from the in-game PSN ladders. This article is divided into three parts: 1) Survey of the characters used; 2) Survey of the player accounts; and 3) Now that free PS+ period has ended, what is next?
Unless the numbers were recorded incorrectly, they are undeniable facts. However, my interpretation of those numbers are just my opinion! Constructive criticism is welcomed.
Some notes about the in-game ladders. Character-specific ladders display players' position for up to 10,000 accounts; "All Characters" ladders display players' position for only one character profile per PSN account, ranking 100,000 accounts. The in-game ladders are not limited to just characters used in Rank Mode. So if you tried alt characters in Room Mode only, they will show up on the ladders.
Images/graphs/tables might be difficult to read since they are resized to fit VFDC posts. You can click to enlarge.
Part 1: Survey of the Characters Used
Jacky and Akira are the Most Used Characters at Higher Ranks
If all the characters used in the game were equally popular and balanced, then each character should represent ~5.3% of the total population at any level. That is of course not true and why it is interesting to look at actual data! Below is an image showing the distribution of characters that are level 21 or higher (21+) worldwide. The characters used the most with the above criteria are Jacky, Akira, Goh, and Wolf.
Worldwide distribution of characters at level 21+ in percentage. As of August 1st, there are 35,226 character profiles in the in-game ladder at level 21+. 13,524 players accounts are at level 21+; thus, on average each player account has played two to three level 21+ characters online.
If we look at the distribution of characters worldwide with a more restricted criteria, for example, only looking at characters that have reached level 39 or higher, there are noticeable differences. The range in values are greater; and, remarkably, Goh and Wolf dropped from 3rd and 4th place to 17th and 18th place in character representation.
Worldwide distribution of characters at level 39+ in percentage. As of August 1st, there are 200 character profiles in the in-game ladder at level 39+.
One can interpret this in multiple ways. Maybe Goh and Wolf are not as popular for higher level players. Or maybe Goh and Wolf players have a more difficult path for rank advancement. For a more detailed look at character representation as lower ranks are filtered out, please look at the table below (click to enlarge image).
Total # is the actual number of characters at the levels listed.
I will use Goh as an example on how to read the above table. Goh makes up 7.1% of the 35,226 character profiles that are level 21 or higher. If we filter out the lower three levels, looking only at level 24 or higher, there are now only 14,053 character profiles. Goh still makes up 7.1% of that population, therefore the cell color remains unchanged. Filter out the next 3 levels, Goh represents 6.5% of the 6752 character profiles at level 27 or higher. That is a decrease from the 7.1% in the previous cell. Thus, the cell was colored green.
Considering all Player Levels, Akira and Kage are the most picked Character in the Regions Surveyed
Looking at the figures and tables above, one can assume that Jacky and Akira are the most popular characters. That is not necessarily true. If we consider the casual and beginner players at lower levels there likely will be differences in character choice than what is seen at the higher ranks. Unfortunately, the in-game ladders in Europe, North America, and Asia have reached its maximum, making it difficult to make comparisons. However, Africa, Oceania, and South America region have a smaller player base.
Looking at "All Levels" (no level filtering), Jacky is not in the the top 3 most used characters of the three regions with smaller player base (see table below). Surprisingly, as of July 15th Jacky is the 8th most used character in each of those regions. Akira and Kage character profiles tops all three regions. In Africa and Oceania, there are 2 to 3 times more Akira and Kage character profiles than Jacky!
The in-game character ladders for Europe, North America, and Asia region have exceeded the maximum display of character profiles when looking at all levels. Akira and Kage ladders for South America region exceeded 10,000; however, the other characters were less than 10,000.
Noticed that their are differences on which characters are used the most per region. Which brings up the issue that the worldwide survey of characters at higher ranks leans toward the character choices of players in the Asia region. The reason for that? More players in the Asia region have reached the higher ranks in VF5US than the other regions of the world. This leads to the second part of this article pertaining to the player accounts.
Part 2: Survey of the Player Accounts
Asia Region Leads in the Number of Players at Higher Levels
So how much more players are their in Asia than the other regions of the world? A survey of the player accounts that have reached level 21 (Hunter or 錬士 rank) or higher shows that Asia have twice as much players at level 21+ than all the other regions combined (see table and pie graphs below). More specific, Asia region players make up 71.1% of the level 21+ accounts. That is 4 times greater than North America region players and 8 times greater than Europe region players.
Pie graphs of Level 21+ and Level 11+ respectively representing the data from the table (click to enlarge).
If we increase the sample size by looking at accounts that are level 11 (1st Dan or 初段 rank) or higher, Asia still leads in representing the player base; however, their lead is not as large as it was with the level 21+ population. Asia region makes up 48.0% of the level 11+ player base. North America and Europe region make up 29.2% and 16.9% of the level 11+ player respectively.
Europe Region Leads in the Number of Players Trying Out the Game
Due to limitations of the in-game PSN ladders, I was not able to look at all the player accounts that have tried the game online. However, I was able to get an accurate measurement of how many accounts have a character profile at level 2 (9th Kyu or 九級 rank) or higher. At this survey level, Asia region drops from 1st place, representing only 24.0% of the player base. They actually fall to third place, as Europe takes 1st place representing 32.5% of the player base followed by North America representing 29.5% of the player base.
Miyazaki and Aoki from Sega have acknowledged VF5US have been downloaded more in Europe and North America than in Japan (Links 1 / 2). The survey of player accounts with at least a level 2 (9th Kyu / 九級) rank character supports that.
Even though there are more players trying out the game in Europe and North America, the Asia region leads in the number of players that have reached 1st Dan 初段 and Hunter 錬士 level. Contributing to this is most likely a combination of factors: 1) A larger veteran player base in Japan to help build the scene and guide newer players; 2) Early and current online issues deter play in places with poorer internet infrastructure; 3) More ongoing marketing by Sega and media presence in Asia.
Part 3: Now that the free PlayStation Plus period has ended, what is next?
The two month free game offer of VF5US for PlayStation Plus (PS+) subscribers greatly helped bring awareness to the Virtua Fighter series. I think it surprised many that the remake of a 10 year old game would garner such interest. The free game offer ended ~two weeks ago, so how will the game fare going forward? I tried to observe the "activity level" of the game by looking at the daily new player accounts entered into the online ladders and how many accounts are advancing in rank (1st Kyu to 1st Dan and 10th Dan to Hunter).
In the tables below, the first three columns represent the average number of accounts per day meeting the criteria listed during the free period for PS+ subscribers. As expected for any game, the daily "activity level" is much greater with the release of the game and decreased over time. The fourth column is the daily "activity level" after the free period of the game has ended.
4 of the 6 regions already exceeded the 100,000 player accounts that are ranked in the online ladders. So only in the smaller regions, Africa and Oceania, can I look at how many new accounts have participated in online matches. The game cost money to purchase now so I expect this to decrease dramatically over time. However, if the emphasized "1000" on Aoki's t-shirt is true (some believed it represents 10 million downloads), those that have downloaded but not try the game out yet might keep the number of new entries from decreasing too much.
What is more concerning are how many people that tried the game would continue to play the game. The recent "activity level" of player accounts advancing to level 11 (1st Dan) have seen a decrease.
On the other side, the recent "activity level" of player accounts advancing to level 21 (Hunter) appeared to be stable.
Time will tell if the game can maintain a stable population of players in the long run. Right now, online matchmaking does not appear to be functioning correctly for many regions, especially in Africa and Oceania. Except for Asia, the activity level in Africa and Oceania seems near absent and the other regions are wavering. The summer update should be arriving soon, hopefully improving the online experience.
The release of Ultimate Showdown had its ups and its downs. If Sega can continually improve the game and community veterans continue to support each other and guide the new generation of players, just maybe, the future of Virtua Fighter will be a bright one.
If you read to the end of this article, thanks! Constructive criticism is welcomed and if there is some data you would like to see or presented differently, please let me know. Also thanks to the nieces and nephews for helping record majority of the data during their summer vacation .
Hey Guest, looking for Virtua Fighter 5: Ultimate Showdown content? Rest assured that the game is identical to Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown so all current resources on here such as Command Lists with frame data, Combo Lists and the Wiki still apply. However, you can expect some VF5US specific changes to come soon!Dismiss Notice