NOTE: this page is outdated. See my updated report here: blog.subsquare.com/state-of-the-demoscene-1991-2014/
This is an update piece for a quite extensive post I wrote more or less exactly one year ago called State of the demoscene: 1991 – 2011 which you should probably check out for the background on this post. To put it in short and simple terms: I looked at the data from Pouet.net, the biggest and most complete database of demoscene productions in existence, and collected the numbers into categories and graphs to more easily spot trends and ongoing changes within the scene.
I have now refreshed the data with info from 2012, and will present a few charts and highlight a few observations on the activity of the previous year.
But first, some non-charts
I also looked at a few stats that are not illustrated with graphs:
- The amount of associated parties with releases (aka “demoparties with releases”) which peaked in 1999 with 113 parties and hit a low in 2010 with 63 parties. It went up a bit in 2011 to 81, and back down again to 71 last year.
Conclusion: fewer parties are being arranged, but thankfully the amount seems to have plateaued at a steady level.
- The amount of active (aka “logged in”) users on Pouet. This is not as much of a production statistic, but more a reflection of the average activity level of the surrounding community of this particular site. It might be true then to say that the activity of discussing demos have moved to other venues, because it’s been a steady decline in user activity since a the monthly average peaked in 2008 with 633 logged in users, which is now reduced to 524 in 2012 – a 17% reduction in activity over four years.
Conclusion:less people are logging in to Pouet and posting either in the BBS or on prod pages, and this amount also seems to have plateaued. Discovery of new prods as well as the discussion and commenting on them seem to have move to other venues, such as Facebook and Twitter.
- The amount of groups associated with releases. Again, not much of a prod statistic, but more of a reflection on how demos are being published. From a peak of 1032 registered groups in 1996, we are now down to 575 in 2012 – a 44% reduction in 16 years.
Conclusion: the old paradigm of getting together in a demo group and then sticking together and only releasing productions under that “label” is indeed going away. The way demos are being made these days are more free-form and less formal. People from different groups band together to release co-ops.
Total demoscene production output, all platforms
I’ll start with perhaps the most important chart, for those interested in knowing the pulse of the current demoscene community: the total amount of productions released in 2012, compared to the past. The total is 859 productions, up from 794 in 2011. Overall, the last four years seem to have declared the current production level, which has indeed plateaued. So, we can say with some certainty that the decline has apparently stopped for now, which is good news.
When we break it down to the various platforms represented in the chart above, things start to get interesting. For the first time since 2005, Windows is showing increased activity. In fact, Windows is the main driver behind the overall production output, since most other platforms are more or less at a stand-still, with only minor changes from previous years.
If we remove Windows from the chart, it allows us to take a closer look at what’s going on on the other platforms:
The big surprise (apart from Windows) is the resurgence of DOS, which keeps the momentum from last year and have doubled in activity since the all-time-low in 2010. One theory is that the tiny intro categories is driving this trend.
So far, we’ve only looked at the platforms that the productions run on, but as with last year’s report, I also looked at what types of productions are being created.
Demos, the oldest and most popular form of demoscene productions appear to have fought off the decline, and is now actually showing an increase in activity of 4%. Not a lot, but at this point, any increase is positive. The other two major categories, 4k intro and 64k intro have also plateaued, with 4k intro staying still while 64k intro actually also showing increased activity – 32% more to be exact. Still, 4k intro remain a twice as popular category as 64k intro.
So, there you have it. In short: things appear to have stabilized when we look at the overall output volume, which is a very good thing. It appears that the current demoscene community have reached its comfort level in terms of the amount of demos and intros it creates every year, but we should not overlook the perhaps more important factor, which is the quality of the productions released.
Since this is highly subjective and hard to quantify, I will not go into detail and instead encourage the reader to visit Pouet.net and have a look at the top 100 productions released in the last year.
(note: that link shows you the last 365 days from when you click on it, so it’ll keep sliding into 2013 if you happen to read this post at a later point — just so you know :)