2010 Failure Rates of Roguelike Games

It is now time for my seventh 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 six studies, search for Failure inside this newsgroup.

The data for this comes from: http://thelist.roguelikedevelopment.org/ which Michal Bielinski has been maintaining.

First, the meaningless bargraph.

1   57!          #
1    ^           #
1    #           #      #
1 # ##           #      #
1 # ##           #      #
1 # ##           #      #
1 # ##           #      #
1 # ###          #      #
1 # ###          #      #     #
1 # ###          #      #    ##          #
1 #####         ##      #    ##          #
1 #####   #    ####     #    ##          #
1 ######  #    ####     ##   ##          ##
1 ######  #    ###### # ##  ###  #      ###
1 ####### #    ###### ##### ###  #      ###
1 ####### #    ###### #########  #  #  #####
1 ################### ############ ### #####
1 000000000111111111122222222223333333333444>+94
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 94 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 23rd month is due to the 1KBRL challenge.

Note that this year’s 7DRL challenge caused that month to hit 57 roguelikes last updated then! To conserve USENET bandwidth, I cut off that bar.

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

Numbers: (July, 2010)
Month   #   Total  Percent
1      14      14       4%
2       7      21       6%
3      14      35      10%
4      57      92      27%
5      10     102      29%
6       5     107      31%
7       3     110      32%
8       1     111      32%
9       6     117      34%
10      1     118      34%
11      1     119      35%
12      1     120      35%
Rest  223     343     100%

Copying from the last six year’s reports:

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%
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 35% of tracked roguelikes were updated in the last year. This is largely due to the enormous success of this year’s 7DRL challenge.

More interesting is the absolute number of touched roguelikes. 2006 seems to have been an anomaly as we’ve continued to see growth in this area with a record 120 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.

The New column records the increase in total tracked roguelikes. The assumption is that these roguelikes were added in the last 12 months since the last report, but it is possible that older roguelikes were added to the list that inflates this number.

The last column is 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
2010  107    120   35%       343   +81   39

So where does seven years of data put us? We are doing very well for roguelike creation – 6.75 new tracked roguelikes per month, a new peak. It is tempting to dismiss this as a 7DRL effect, but the Old column I think is correctly tracking the creation of larger projects. While it is a new high, I’d hesitate to call that a trend. I suspect we are seeing a continuation of the 30 new roguelikes a year rule identified last year.


Jeff Lait, July 1, 2010

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