2009 Failure Rates of Roguelike Games

It is now time for my sixth annual analysis of roguelike game development.  I shall first present some dubious statistics and then you shall complain that they don’t accurately reflect roguelike development.

To find the previous five studies, search for Failure inside this newsgroup.

The data for this comes from: http://thelist.roguelikedevelopment.org/ which I have been theoretically maintaining.

Much thanks to Slash’s Temple of the Roguelike for keeping up to date with roguelike releases so I can update in swift time.

I have decided for this year that roguelike pages that go to direct downloads or dead pages when I first try to view them are not recorded.  This cut the number of 7DRLs down this year.  People are encouraged to use Roguebasin if they want a permament reference page for their 7DRL.  I decided this after the 1kbrls, so they mostly made it in these numbers.

First, the meaningless bargraph.

1    #
1  # #
1  # #
1  # #      #
1  # #      #
1  # #      #
1  # #      #
1  # #      #     #
1  # #      #     #          #
1  # ##     #    ##          #
1  ####     #    ##          #           #
1 ######    ##   ##          ##          #
1 ####### # ##  ###          ##          #
1 ####### # #######  #  #   ###          #
1 ################## #  #   ### # #      ##
1 ################## #  ## ######### ##  ##
1 #################### ### ######### ##  ###
1 000000000111111111122222222223333333333444>+72
1 123456789012345678901234567890123456789012>

This tracks the number of roguelikes by last release date.  The first column has a # for every roguelike released in the last month.  I have omitted the last column which would have all the roguelikes over 42 months old or without known release dates.  There are now 72 such roguelikes being tracked.

The peaks at 4, 16-17, 28, and 40 month marks are due to the 7DRL challenges.  The peak on the 11th month is due to the 1KBRL challenge.

Next, we will look at the cumulative totals for the last year.

Numbers: (July, 2009)
Month   #   Total  Percent
1       6       6       2%
2      16      22       8%
3       7      29      11%
4      17      46      18%
5       8      54      21%
6       6      60      23%
7       5      65      25%
8       3      68      26%
9       5      73      28%
10      3      76      29%
11     14      90      34%
12      6      96      37%
Rest  166     262     100%

Copying from the last five year’s reports:

Numbers: (July, 2008)
Month   #   Total  Percent
1      11      11       6%
2       5      16       8%
3       6      22      11%
4      12      34      17%
5      14      48      24%
6       6      54      27%
7       1      55      28%
8       5      60      30%
9       2      62      31%
10      2      64      32%
11      4      68      35%
12      2      70      36%
Rest  127     197     100%

Numbers: (July, 2007)
Month   #   Total  Percent
1      10      10       6%
2       6      16      10%
3       9      25      15%
4      11      36      22%
5       9      45      28%
6       5      50      31%
7       5      55      34%
8       3      58      36%
9       3      61      37%
10      2      63      39%
11      1      64      39%
12      2      66      40%
Rest   97     163     100%

Numbers: (July, 2006)
Month    #    Total   Percent
1        9        9       7%
2        3       12       9%
3        3       15      12%
4       11       26      20%
5        5       31      24%
6        1       32      25%
7        2       34      26%
8        3       37      29%
9        1       38      29%
10       3       41      32%
11       4       45      35%
12       2       47      36%
Rest    81      128     100%

Numbers: (July, 2005)
Month  #  Total  Percent
1     15     15      15%
2      3     18      17%
3     10     28      27%
4     12     40      39%
5      2     42      42%
6      1     43      42%
7      5     48      47%
8      2     50      49%
9      3     53      51%
10     2     55      53%
11     3     58      56%
12     2     60      58%
Rest  43    103     100%

Numbers: (July, 2004)
Month  #  Total  Percent
1      6      6      10%
2      5     11      19%
3      2     13      22%
4      3     16      27%
5      0     16      27%
6      0     16      27%
7      4     20      34%
8      0     20      34%
9      0     20      34%
10     1     21      36%
11     2     23      39%
12     2     25      42%
Rest  24     59     100%

The increasingly meaningless Percent Actively Developing Roguelike has maintained its position despite what would seem an inevitable trend to zero.  This year the 37% of tracked roguelikes were updated in the last year, up from last year, despite an increasing number of 7DRLs in the list.

More interesting is the absolute number of touched roguelikes.  2006 seems to have been an anamoly as we’ve continued to see growth in this area with 96 roguelikes updated in the last year.

This chart shows the number roguelikes touched in the last 6 months, 12 months, and the percentage the twelfth month number comprises of the total number of roguelikes being tracked.

I have added a new column this year for Old.  These are roguelikes that have been tracked for at least one year and have been touched in the last year.  The number is simply the 12 month total minus the new listing number.   This hopefully discounts the coffee-break effect of the myriad 7DRLs and lets us see how many “real” roguelikes are currently being updated per year.

Year    6     12     %     Total   New  Old
2004   16     25   27%        59     -    -
2005   43     60   42%       103   +44   16
2006   32     47   36%       128   +25   22
2007   50     66   40%       163   +35   31
2008   54     70   36%       197   +34   36
2009   60     96   37%       262   +65   31

So where does six years of data put us?  We are doing very well for roguelike creation – five new tracked roguelikes per month, a new peak.  The new Old column, however, I think shows where some of the sense of stasis in the genre comes from.  The early increases may be due to sampling effects as existing roguelikes were largely added to the list.  But for the last three years we’ve seen a balance at about 30 roguelikes being actively worked on.


Jeff Lait, July 1, 2009

One thought on “2009 Failure Rates of Roguelike Games

  1. Pingback: :: Temple of the Roguelike - Roguelike News, Reviews, Interviews and Information :: » Blog Archive » 2009 - Failure Rate of Roguelike Games Analysis

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