Horde vs. Alliance Data Smackdown!

Posted by archiveDNA on Friday Oct 24, 2008.

As promised, we’re back this week with a better breakdown of Horde/Alliance. Also, this week we’re going to try hosting our charts OURSELVES. I would like to congratulate the readers of the GamerDNA blog for collectively crashing the Chartgizmo server by hammering the everloving heck out of our pretty charts. A big salute and a hug to Steve and Sam, who redid the data from scratch (taking into account all the new people who came over to add their voices to the data). And, um, an apology to Chartgizmo. Sorry, guys. I didn’t mean to love your service to death.


By the way, to be clear: When I say “men” and “women” in this column, I am referring to the gender of the player, as reported to us through a GamerDNA profile. If I ever need to refer to the gender of the avatar, I will say so. We can often infer something about the avatar when a disproportionate number of female players choose it, because female players tend to prefer attractive female avatars. But for the purposes of this column, when I say “female” I’m talking about the human being at the keyboard, not the toon.

So let’s kick this off!

First, what’s the Horde/Alliance breakdown? We looked at two different sources to get this information.

One, you can look at a huge sample of individual GamerDNA members. If you look at literally thousands of profiles, you get 60% Alliance, 40% Horde. Or, you can pull raw character data from the Armory. That gets you… 58.41% Alliance, 41.59% Horde.

That’s close enough for government work, as my dad used to say. It’s safe to say that there is a definite preference among players for the Alliance side. If we look at last week’s data, we can even venture an explanation – that there are more players choosing to be a human (human beings tend to enjoy pretending to be… human) and the “standard” elf, and both of those races are Alliance options.

From several correspondents, I got an interesting note. Some people have theorized that the preference for humans in WOW is even stronger than the usual human bias (seen in every MMO, since, um, ever), because of the reputation bonus humans get that cuts down on grinding. That makes perfect sense to me, but in a future column, we’re going to have to check that out. It seems to me that the human bias in WOW is not that much bigger than the usual human bias, which would suggest that the “powergamer” faction is even less relevant in WoW than it normally is – and I am not convinced that the data will show the powergamer faction is ever all that important. But that’s another column.

How do the classes break down for Horde and Alliance? Well, if you pull the raw character data from the Armory, with thousands upon thousands of characters, you can get a look at the big picture:

The percentages are the breakdown by faction. 10.5% percent of Alliance characters are Druids, whereas only 8% of Horde characters show up in the Druid group. As we saw last week, the Hunter is the most popular class, and that’s true of both factions. The Shaman is the least popular, but that’s not equally true for both Horde and Alliance.

You can see the breakdown is pretty even, and that three classes are not really in proportion. I think this chart shows the issue a little more clearly:

The default split we expect to see in a perfectly balanced game is 60/40, in favor of the Alliance, since that’s the breakdown in the population. And in fact, that’s exactly what we see with the Hunter, Mage, and Paladin classes, and it’s reasonably close with some of the others. But the Shaman is split 51/49, and the Warlock is split 53/47, making those classes disproportionately the choices of Horde players. The Druid is slightly out of whack, biased towards Alliance players with a 64/36 split. Is the explanation related to the races? Perceived strategy? Lore? Hey, that’s what the comments are for.

So how does gender play into a love for Horde or Alliance?

Both men and women prefer Alliance to Horde, but that difference is more pronounced for women. Men favor Alliance characters 58% to 42% for the Horde (hey, the same numbers that we get from the straight Armory data dump), but among the ladies, the numbers are 65/35. Because the classes are identical for both sides, the only explanation lies in the race selection. Dwarves and Orcs are neither one of them typically feminine choices, but it seems that given the choice, we ladies prefer to be short and bearded than lumpy and brutish. And to both of those, we prefer to be beautiful and sexy by the standards of our own species.

Let’s take this horse down the homestretch. How does gender play into class choice, and how does that choice further break down by faction?

Now, THAT’S the stuff that makes my nerd heart sing. The most popular class, the Hunter, is slightly preferred by female players by the same margin in both factions. Same for Mages. Priests skew heavily female in both factions, again by roughly the same margin. Rogues  and Paladins have the same stair step proportion across the factions, but with men outnumbering women. More men play Warriors than women across the board, but the difference is more pronounced on the Horde side thanks to the whole “women don’t do Orcs” thing.

But that’s the last of the results that are male or female oriented regardless of faction. Horde men outnumber the women by a good bit with the Shaman, and by a little with the Druid. Alliance women outnumber the men by a little with the Shaman and the Warlock.

Then we have the outliers. With Horde Warlocks, the exact same proportion of males and females play – 5.01%. Finally, for the most interesting result, 11% of all female WOW players are running an Alliance Druid, compared with only 5% of male players.  That puts the two groups almost even in raw numbers. Given last week’s results, where we learned that Night Elves skew to the feminine, this is not really that surprising.

The moral of this story, gentlemen, is that if you want to talk to a woman in game, find yourself an Alliance Druid. Half of them are actual females.

I look forward to everyone’s explanations and theories… ready, set, POST!

Posted in the categories: Market Trends


  • JDH

    That’s good stuff. I’m a male and I play “For the Horde!” as a Blood Elf Paladin. Great stuff!

  • Whipray

    Very interesting stuff to read and think about. Though I’m curious as to what races are specifically preferred as well as classes with gender as well.

  • Siobhann

    The horde shaman bias may be because shamans were horde-only and paladins were alliance-only until Burning Crusade. Alliance shamans can only be played by Draeni, a non-human race with blue skin and hooves. Horde paladins are blood elves, one of the prototypical elven races that you state are popular in MMOs so they may have caught up to their alliance counterparts more easily.

  • Satanisti

    interesting, even though i absolutely hate alliance i suppose it is good that there are more of them than horde, more kills for us!!!

  • Rebekka

    Very intresting to read! That females play night elf druid didn’t surprise me at all – I’m one of them. Same thing for horde priest. Looks like I’ve chosen two class/faction combinations were we girls are in miniority, though. Horde shaman and horde warrior (come on, everyone wants to play a Forsaken warrior?…Right?)

  • Ghostwheel

    As a 30-something woman who plays a female orc shaman, I’m apparently the minority among the minority!

  • Tersch

    Very interesting reading and your effort is appreciated.
    Being an altoholic myself I’d be very interested to see the stats behind “First Choice” characters. In other words, the first character that was made by the account. I think that would lead to more accurate assumptions regarding female/male character selections, though I’m not sure it is possible.

  • Cyress

    Ive played both alli and horde, personaly i evjoy my Alli human Warrior, Fantastic artical thx for the time you spent doing it ;}

  • Ajarat

    <—-Female Horde warrior for 3+ years now. XD

  • Luvia

    I guess I fit into the statistics perfectly. :)

    Female IRL – main characters are Druid, Priest, and Hunter.

  • Qaos

    I’d like to see the demographic breakdown between Horde/Alliance according to age, actually. I have my own suspicions about the prevalence of younger gamers choosing Alliance, and would like to see the chart.

    For the record – I’d rather not play WoW than play Alliance. o.O

  • Bree J.

    When I first started play, about a year and a half ago, I instinctively ran against the grain by leveling two of the most unpopular choices for ladies, Horde side — shaman and warrior. In fact, I chose my faction based on a similar desire to rebel. :) I’d wager personality type creates those outliers . . . some of us love to do the opposite of what’s expected of us.

  • Silver

    I’m a bit surprised about this, as I am female and love my dwarf paladin more than any other character I’ve created. My second favorite is a fury warrior (admittedly alliance).

  • Telch

    would love to see the “current” characters – ie not armory where some toons have been sitting not logged on for years. Is there someway to view “logged on” data for periods. At the moment, every second player I see is a paladin but likely they have hunters/druids etc sitting in armory but not used for years. Would be good for Blizz to check this data – its probably a good measure of OP characters lol


    In closet to 5 years playing wow, and being a 40 year old male, I've played most races and classes to end game or near end game.. my current main is however a UD Mage… and Tauren DK.. My observation has been that there are more cordial, mature and competent players in Horde than Alliance as a rule. But as with any rule, there are exceptions.

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