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Steam leak reveals popularity of adventure games (Updated)

14 Jul, 2018, 14:48 | Posted by: ThunderPeel2001 | Source: Ars Technica
Updated: Added Thimbleweek Park figures and some comments from Ron Gilbert.

A recent leak in Valve's Steam API has allowed clever people to extract the number of players of particular games, for the first time ever. In an article published on technology site Ars Technica, precise player estimates for 13,000 titles have been shared. Of note are titles published by DoubleFine, TellTale and, of course, LucasArts.

Note: The list shows the number of people who have played a particular game since achievements were added to it (so older games that had achievements added later will have higher scores than shown). And crucially, the list does not show the number of owners (which will be higher than the players).

In the publishers that Mojo readers are interested in, there are some predictable results and some surprises.

From most popular to least, the list is topped with TellTale's most popular license, beating even the most popular Star Wars title:
The Walking Dead - 2,846,244 players
STAR WARS Knights of the Old Republic II - The Sith Lords - 1,529,038

But hot on their heels are the two biggest Double Fine games:
Brutal Legend - 1,235,714
Psychonauts - 1,207,186

After that Campo Santo (well done!) and TellTale make an appearance:
Firewatch - 959,053
Poker Night at the Inventory - 952,378
Poker Night 2 - 671,540

Given the popularity of the Poker Night games, it does make you wonder why TellTale stick to licenses, especially when we drop down and find the bulk of the adventure titles:
Game of Thrones - A Telltale Games Series - 598,965 players
Grim Fandango Remastered - 516,584
Broken Age - 419,666
Minecraft: Story Mode - A Telltale Games Series - 346,763
Costume Quest - 341,308
Monkey Island 2 Special Edition: LeChuck's Revenge - 288,297
Batman - The Telltale Series - 272,720
Game of Thrones - 272,599
The Cave - 271,663
Day of the Tentacle Remastered - 265,169
Stacking - 248,039
The Walking Dead: Michonne - A Telltale Miniseries - 197,450
MASSIVE CHALICE - 161,770
Gemini Rue - 130,615
Iron Brigade - 109,286

And then, for some comparison, several indie adventure titles, including Ron Gilbert's Thimbleweed Park, and a big shock at how far down DoubleFine's last adventure game remaster is:
Thimbleweed Park - 98,491
Batman: The Enemy Within - The Telltale Series - 80,154
The Blackwell Legacy - 79,474
Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series - 69,783
Full Throttle Remastered - 61,757 players
Costume Quest 2 - 57,457
Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards: Reloaded - 56,138
Blackwell Unbound (Blackwell 2) - 52,347
Blackwell Convergence (Blackwell 3) - 49,385
Blackwell Deception (Blackwell 4) - 46,844
Headlander - 44,476
The Shivah - 38,128
Blackwell Epiphany (Blackwell 5) - 20,146

Also surprising is how a sequel to DoubleFine's most popular Amnesia Fortnight title, Costume Quest, performed so poorly when compared to the original. This explains why there were no similar attempts at sequels.

Finally, perhaps unsurprisingly, is the VR only title:
Psychonauts in the Rhombus of Ruin - 2,155 players

Are adventure games dead? You decide.

UPDATE

Thimbleweed Park figures have been added (I searched for them before, I swear!), and Ron Gilbert offers the following interpretation:

"Remember these numbers are terribly skewed for games that have been on sale (sometimes in deep discount). Also games that were part of Humble Bundles where the play quickly booted it but never played it. Don’t read too much into these numbers. TWP has been massively successful on Switch and I have no doubt that is cannibalize Steam to some extent. By next month we will have sold more on Switch than Steam and Switch shows little signs of letting up."

And also:

"...games that are on sale for $1.99 are going to have horrible skewed numbers from games that are $19 and rarely go on sale. When a game gets past a point, it’s bargain binned and if you only look at units, you not getting the whole story. I’ve bought several $1.99 games, booted them once and never again. I don’t think this is a “valid” sale when comparing to other games (it’s even worse for games that have been in a Humble bundle). As a dev, you’re moving a lot of units at $1.99 but making very little money. If the game is 5 years old, that’s OK. Just don’t compare units from that 5 year old game to a 2 year old game that’s rarely been on sale. It’s not a realistic or even useful picture."

What does everyone else think about this?

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  • Avatar
    Comment by: Scummbuddy | Posted 24 Jul, 2018, 03:20 | Quote
    NEWS: So apparently that German fan-game-group "catmic" did actually release something of their "Return of the Tentacle" fangame! At least the prologue.

    https://kotaku.com/fans-create-day-of-the-tentacle-sequel-and-its-pretty-1827817840

    https://catmic.itch.io/return-of-the-tentacle
  • Avatar
    Comment by: ThunderPeel2001 | Posted 22 Jul, 2018, 20:06 | Quote
    Yes, apparently someone else did something similar to this article on the TWP forums a few days before me. Interesting to hear his response.
  • Avatar
    Comment by: Jennifer | Posted 22 Jul, 2018, 03:51 | Quote

    Jansenjfa

    ThunderPeel2001

    Oops! Updated the article with Thimbleweed Park figures (I don't know how I missed them before) and a quote from Ron Gilbert putting the figures in perspective.



    Where did ron write his comments?


    In this thread at the Thimbleweed park forums
  • Avatar
    Comment by: Jansenjfa | Posted 22 Jul, 2018, 01:41 | Quote

    ThunderPeel2001

    Oops! Updated the article with Thimbleweed Park figures (I don't know how I missed them before) and a quote from Ron Gilbert putting the figures in perspective.



    Where did ron write his comments?
  • Avatar
    Comment by: ThunderPeel2001 | Posted 21 Jul, 2018, 12:12 | Quote
    Oops! Updated the article with Thimbleweed Park figures (I don't know how I missed them before) and a quote from Ron Gilbert putting the figures in perspective.
  • Avatar
    Comment by: elTee | Posted 20 Jul, 2018, 18:51 | Quote

    Rum_Rogers


    Best 150 bucks I've ever spent!


    I keep saying it: the easiest way to take all of my money is to offer a big box adventure game tier on your kickstarter
  • Avatar
    Comment by: Rum_Rogers | Posted 20 Jul, 2018, 13:51 | Quote

    Jones Jr

    ThunderPeel2001

    (Incidentally, best guesses put TP in the 100,000+ range.)



    As far as Steam customers go, don't forget to consider the 16-odd thousand purchasers from the Kickstarter...
    Not that they didn't pay, they paid way more (well I did anyway), but still a chunk that didn't necessarily buy through Steam.


    Best 150 bucks I've ever spent!
  • Avatar
    Comment by: Jones Jr | Posted 20 Jul, 2018, 13:05 | Quote

    ThunderPeel2001

    (Incidentally, best guesses put TP in the 100,000+ range.)



    As far as Steam customers go, don't forget to consider the 16-odd thousand purchasers from the Kickstarter...
    Not that they didn't pay, they paid way more (well I did anyway), but still a chunk that didn't necessarily buy through Steam.
  • Avatar
    Comment by: ThunderPeel2001 | Posted 20 Jul, 2018, 09:53 | Quote
    Nobody is paying $30 for an indie point and click adventure game, no matter what the quality. The Blackwell series are about $4.99 each! Thimbleweed Park sells for $20 and is definitely on the higher end.

    (Incidentally, best guesses put TP in the 100,000+ range.)
  • Avatar
    Comment by: popularsoup | Posted 20 Jul, 2018, 09:08 | Quote

    Rum_Rogers

    ThunderPeel2001

    Are adventure games dead? You decide.


    Financially speaking, it looks like they pretty much are.



    I don't think so - the cost of making games is a fraction of what it was back in the day, thanks in part to the panoply of different low-cost engines available. AAA titles getting steadily higher priced has raised the pricing ceiling for other games. To illustrate, 50,000 players at $30 after Steam's cut is $1.5mil. Wadjet eye, for example, has 3 employees. The economy is there if the games are high enough quality to command a sensible price.
  • Avatar
    Comment by: J0j0 | Posted 18 Jul, 2018, 20:12 | Quote
    It is interesting that Broken Age is the second profitable point and click game. I wonder also about the position of Thimbleweed Park...
  • Avatar
    Comment by: ThunderPeel2001 | Posted 17 Jul, 2018, 03:11 | Quote
    I think Schafer's cache would allow him to comfortably get 300,000 players on Steam. Question is if he could produce a game with a budget small enough to make a comfortable profit.

    Side note: Gang Beasts (which Double Fine produced), sits above all: 1,689,567 players. That's more than LA Noire and slightly less than Metal Gear Solid 3. Maybe DF are doing OK after all. (He says hopefully.)
  • Avatar
    Comment by: ThunderPeel2001 | Posted 16 Jul, 2018, 23:07 | Quote

    Laserschwert

    Weird that the first MI Special Edition isn't in there.



    Not really, it didn't have any achievements. It's a shame they didn't scrape Thimbleweed Park, though.
  • Avatar
    Comment by: Rum_Rogers | Posted 16 Jul, 2018, 10:04 | Quote

    ThunderPeel2001

    Are adventure games dead? You decide.


    Financially speaking, it looks like they pretty much are.
  • Avatar
    Comment by: Laserschwert | Posted 16 Jul, 2018, 07:19 | Quote
    Weird that the first MI Special Edition isn't in there.
  • Avatar
    Comment by: NightShadowPT | Posted 16 Jul, 2018, 04:23 | Quote
    I for one have a huge collection of adventure games on steam (360 games) but have played only around 20%.

    For the most part I got them to play at a later date that never came.

    Anyway, I'm still supporting adventure game companies, even if I am not playing as much games as I should. :)

    Adventure games will never be dead. They live in our hearts.
  • Avatar
    Comment by: Jones Jr | Posted 15 Jul, 2018, 10:16 | Quote
    Interesting info indeed!
    I for one am not helping the stats as I've been buying more from GOG.com over the last couple of years or so - especially the DF Remasters. I actually can't remember the last time I bought anything on Steam. Still play stuff there though, which reminds me, I need to get back to Headlander!

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