Failure rates of Roguelike Games

StatsMr. Jeff Lait (creator of POWDER and many other smaller Roguelikes), has finished his six-month report on the activity level of the roguelike development scene.

As evident from his data and analysis, we are seeing more and more activity on roguelike projects lately, which is always good. The genre today is more alive than ever, and it is up to the developers and the player to keep this tendency like this for the years to come!

By these numbers, it has been a great year for roguelikes. We have seen the % active jump up to 40%. This is not just due to new roguelike creation, but is also due to a lot of roguelikes surfacing from the bottom of the list. After the first year, I had commented that roguelikes have a slower development cycle than people give them credit for. This is underlined once more as we see the tenacity of roguelike developers.

The absolute numbers are equally impressive – 66 projects saw another point release in the last year. Of those, an astounding 50 were last updated in the last six months.

You can read the complete report here

8 thoughts on “Failure rates of Roguelike Games

  1. If the roguelike genre is ‘more alive than ever’, why is community traffic in forums and so on so dismally slow?

    It seems like the activity level of rl developers is disproportionate to the number of people actually who actually still play them.


  2. Well… i think that roguelikes are in need of more variety to attract players again, i’m a roguelike player, but i’ve got enough of lord of the rings type roguelike, maybe that’s why there’s fewer people playing, and remember that not all players post on forums and newsgroups, i, myself, never posted… i guess more variety in roguelikes would attract players again… i’m making my first roguelike, it’s a survival horror roguelike like resident evil and silent hill, it has the style of movimentation from this games and the crazy cameras too, it’s 3d with ascii characters, i’m curious to see what the community will think of it.


  3. Malkyus, that sounds interesting. Where can we follow the development of your game? Do you have a blog or website? I’ve been playing a lot of Tower lately which uses OpenGL for 3D rendering. I like that. It also adds robots and animatronics into a fantasy world which works quite well.

    But if you’re looking for variety go for Dwarf Fortress. I think this is putting a new meaning not only to the roguelike genre but also to the whole gaming world.


  4. Andrew, that’s a very good point.

    We developers do our best to promote the games, but we DO need more players spreading the word around. There is a place for roguelikes in modern world.

    Malkyus, your point has been made many times in roguelike community, and I think most developers currently avoid being cliche on their genres. You may want to take a look at my games at


  5. You have to have something to promote is the first problem, most RL developers dont have much or cant get anyone interested in their game. RL development is harder than anyone thinks. Do RLs have a future? I very much doubt it. Apart from Slash who else promotes these games? We all know they are great but we are a dwindling community no matter the stats, which are based on development games not completed ones, anyone can start a RL, not many can complete one.


  6. I feel like Roguelike developers and their fans need to get out of this mindset that RL’s have to be ASCII, that they have to have a million commands, that they have to be niche… there’s so much room for expanding the genre, but the community is a bit too self-involved to get anyone else interested.

    Instead of seeing people make RL’s out of every possible theme or try to outgun each other in terms of complexity, why not focus on making them more exciting, more interesting, and more user-friendly?


  7. Lose the ASCII and tricky interfaces, lots of people would love to play but can’t invest the time to figure things like that out or to learn what monster √© is supposed to represent.


  8. I don’t think the ascii is the largest stumbling block, personally. People get interested in games with all sorts of quirky looks. The complexity of the interface and the cost of just getting started is, I think, a major deterrant, but also part of the game style that core devotees adore. There’s plenty of room for getting away from that interface complexity, but there has to be enough to the game to keep players coming back.

    I’ve played plenty of ‘dumbed down’ roguelikes that are just no fun at all. Without the complexity they typically become simply unfair or cakewalks. If I had to point in a particular direction for a successful formula, I’d point to MMOs, which have a large overlap in game style, but a huge disparity in popularity. They’re easy to get into, they do not punish failure overmuch, and yet they provide a very large amount of content to explore.


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