IF User Base

Hi all,

Just a curiosity question: What do you think, how large ist the user base for IF currently?

How many people can be considered more or less regular players of IF? How many authors are active in the scene?



Gargoyle has about 1650 downloads per month.

Parchment (iplayif.com) has had 40k page views in the last three month, or about 444 per day. It also had 10k page views at Jim Munroe’s website, which I didn’t count, because he included the game on the side of his blog. I am planning to make Parchment have a click-to-play thing (imagine it being like an embedded youtube video) but I haven’t done it yet…

Quest (textadventures.co.uk) gets around 400 online plays per day, as well as 140 game downloads per day.

SPAG gets about 80 views per day, but less than 10 of those are for the latest issue (which I edited). :frowning:

I don’t know how many transcripts were recorded in the last IF Comp but I imagine it would be in the tens if not hundreds of thousands. But there were only 120 voters.

This may not be relevant since it’s a slightly different fan base, but I’ve had about 200 users per month over three months create a username for my incomplete adventure on Story Nexus. Many of these are probably people from Fallen London browsing.

I’m impressed. These numbers are an order of magnitude higher than I would have guessed…


I know Guilded Youth got about 6,500 players in a month during IFComp, and both of my online CYOA stories got about 3000 plays each during the first month.

Speaking from the iOS market… Shade has sold a couple of hundred copies (for a dollar each). Heliopause has not yet reached a hundred sales. These are obviously not life-changing numbers, but if I’m doing this indie-developer thing, I’m happy that these things are on my CV.

Dreamhold, as a free iOS download, has gotten something like 4000 downloads. How many of those people have played more than thirty seconds, I don’t know.

(Yeah, I should have installed some kind of progress-tracking feature in Dreamhold. Part of the business… but I didn’t.)

That’s pretty good, in light of how little press these releases have seen.

If it’s any comparison, most estimates of the MUD game playing community put it around 10,000 regular players, and probably 50,000 casual players. I wouldn’t be surprised if the numbers for IF were within the same range.

In the light of these numbers, isn’t all the talk about IF being a “niche” product which is doomed to oblivion, a bit exaggerated?

I mean, not exactly mainstream, but still commanding a community of decent size…


Well, ‘commanding’ and ‘community’ are both rather strong words for what’s going on here.

Like most niche media, IF has a set of Dedicated Enthusiasts and a much larger set - a nimbus, if you prefer - of people who are aware of it and consume it sometimes but leave little evidence. These range from outright lurkers who play a fair number of games but have no interest in being part of The Community, to game-industry people who keep a discreet eye on what’s going on in IF design, to people who don’t really seek out IF but will totally recognise Galatea if you bring the subject up, to people who are just interested in I7 because it’s so weird and awesome.

So, yes, the greater IF-noticing world is larger, probably much larger, than it appears to the casual eye. The question of amateur IF’s long-term viability involves even harder-to-answer questions about what the population of the nimbus looks like, how and why they might shift from passive interest to active contribution, and so on.

Great analysis!