That's not true at all. They can't identify the most powerful strategy by doing that. Collecting data on what is popular is in an attempt to elevate the less popular strategies to become more popular. This is because Developers like to see full range of ideas become popular in their game, rather than just a few. However, most developers don't just change things because something is unpopular. Competitive players play a certain "popular" strategy because they're fun to them. A part of how players perform is related to how comfortable a player is with a strategy. I would say it is usually 60% comfort, and 40% power level of the deck. Being comfortable with a certain strategy will always make a player play better, mostly because they believe in what they are doing. The flaws in your logic IMO is as follows: 1. popularity is often determined by the "lemmings" mentality. If a player gets beat by a deck, he/she will say that's too powerful, and thus follow that strategy instead of improving their own strategy. This would make said data a poor predictability for "power level". Instead of inventing new technology, they rather buy the latest technology, leading to a "lost technology" phenomenon. 2. Players are often too "lazy" (may not be the correct word) to find their comfort level, and love to just copy and paste what's-popular-today. This leads to a highly skewed data in the fact that other strategies don't have enough numbers to make them statistically significant. P.S. your quote is not true "Your competitive players show you what's powerful with their actions. Which is why developers track this data. Cards are banned, or champions are nerfed, based on the actual play data not impassioned forum posts." You have to realize that ultimately, the game is about the players, and not the other way around (players are about the game). This means that balance of certain things have to be in line with the demands of the player (which is completely logical). Power isn't what determines how the game is balanced, popularity does. This is true across the board. The developers will always do this because at the end of the day, they're selling a product, and it has to be as popular as possible. This is especially true in LoL. The only reason Korean players stay ahead of the curve is because they always try to find their own comfort zone, and discover new technology, rather than following the latest news (one reason Moscow 5 became amazing).