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.
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."
"...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."