tl;dr Questions about data are on topic, but still subject to site standards, and this particular question likely falls short. The motivation matters insofar as it is necessary for us to understand what constitutes a good or bad answer from the OP's perspective, which is relevant for both editing to clarify and answering. If, on the other hand, the question is sufficiently clear and objective, to the point that motivation won't affect what constitutes a good or bad answer, we don't need to worry about the motivation underlying it.
I think that questions about data are a great category, and the site would benefit from having more of them, but they do need to be well-written. There should be a clear, specific question. If there's potential to get side-tracked into debates, that's a bad sign.
Unfortunately, this specific case seems dodgy. First off, it was asked as a recommendation question, where the OP would've pretty clearly been happy with answers about popular games, without a lot of solid data. Yes, that was edited out, but what's left is fairly vague. I think we would be better off starting from scratch, with an OP who's clearly looking for data, and writing a clearer question that's less likely to solicit opinions and debate.
For example, there's the question of what counts as a card game - are we including things like Magic, or just standard playing card games? Are we talking about time spent playing, in which case casino games will likely rank highly, or number of people who play/have played the game, in which games played at home will have more of a chance? Different countries play different games - is this a global question, a US question, or what?
And on top of all that, the OP clearly was interested in this for the purpose of discovering games to play, which means that however this all gets clarified, it needs to match the OP's preferences. This is where the motivation bit comes in: the only information we have to help refine the question is the fact that the OP wants to use it as recommendations, which makes it pretty impossible to clarify the question without either making a total guess or turning it right back into a recommendation question.
So if you, or anyone else, wants to go ask a clear, specific question asking for data about popularity of card games, awesome! It'll be on-topic, we won't close it as a game recommendations question, and it will be good for the site to have questions like that. On this point I think we're all pretty well agreed.
But this question hasn't gotten there yet, and we can't force it to, because some of that is up to the OP. Keeping it closed doesn't mean we won't ever take questions about data, it just applies to this particular question.
What about the original form of the question? It's a recommendation question. It said:
Recommendation, card game
Could you make me recommendations for card games? Whatever type it was. I just want to know what is most played at this time with respect to card games.
It's asking for recommendations for a set of games, with some criteria that aren't terribly clear or objective. It meets the literal definition of recommendation questions here, so it's off-topic. It was absolutely prone to turning into a poll (X is popular in this context, Y is popular in this other context, etc etc).
Yes, it could conceivably be salvaged into something that's no longer a recommendation question. The edits made are a start. But that doesn't change the fact that the original question absolutely solicited recommendations, and since it's not trivial to edit to avoid this (in large part due to the original motivation, as noted above), the voters were right to vote to close.