tl;dr I realized while I wrote this that it was getting more and more boring and I’m probably the only interested in this, so I’ll summarise: people are making more games than ever and reviewers are more active recently than they were in the past. Both choice and parser formats are healthy in growth.
IFDB is what drew me into IF. In 2010, I bought an iPad and vaguely remembered seeing Zork as a kid, so I searched for it and found Frotz, and with Frotz, I found IFDB.
I thought at the time that IF was a ‘dead’ field. I stopped playing (Vespers and Varicella freaked me out too much), and didn’t check IF again until 2015 when I redownloaded it and tried again.
I noticed around 2015 that IFDB seemed to ‘peak’ around games from 2000-2008, which had hundreds of ratings. I felt like it was just in slow decline.
Now, in 2020, things are very different!
For instance, compare these three links:
The expectation with ratings (with people slowly playing older games less) is that, if things are dying off, old games will have way more reviews overall than new games; if things are steady, that there should be a big step over a few years, and that if things are increasing then new stuff should have about as much or more activity than in the past.
From 2005-2009, there are a few absolute standout games (Lost Pig, Violet, and Bronze) with over 200 ratings, and several other games that are very popular (like De Baron, Blue Lacuna and Gun Mute).
Overall, only 870 games are listed, and the bottom of the page (of 20 items) has games with ratings in the 60’s and 70’s.
I think these few games with high ratings happened because IFDB started around Oct 1, 2007, and people felt obligated to help fill up ratings for games, since there were none at first. So games that people really remembered (like that year’s IFComp winner and the next) got unusually high numbers of ratings.
From 2010-2014, there were 1857 games, a far higher number. This includes the ‘first wave’ of Twine games. Of the top 20 most-rated games, exactly half are choice-based. The most-rated game is Counterfeit Monkey, with 136 ratings, and the 20th most-rated game has 53 ratings, not too far off from the 2005-2009 range, despite the fact that less time had passed.
From 2015-2019, there were 2241 games (including some pretty big comps like Twiny Jam). The highest rated game, Birdland, has 115 ratings, and the 20th most-rated has 40, again not too far off from the set 5 years earlier, showing that there’s a lot of ratings going on recently. Out of the top 20, 10 are parser, 8 are choice-based, 1 is a parser in choice-based format and the other is choice-based in parser format.