A Report about the Activity in the Oddworld Fandom
Recently I voiced my concerns on OWI’s Discord when I noticed that it seemed like less and less people wrote on the server daily. I did this not to start drama, but out of a geniuine worry that it seemed like people are abandoning ship and the earlier we try and find out the reason and stop it, the better. However, I was met with skepticism and dismissal. Fair enough, ‘feelings’ and ‘I think’-s alone can’t really be trusted, but the whole thing made me curious enough to find out how much truth there actually was in my observations. Thus I spent the last few months recording data from the varying fan and official communities to find out. In this post I wish to present these results, along with some commentary.
Abe: The truth, as it turned out, now that would blow my mind.
Table of Contents:
- Social Media
I will start with OWI’s Discord, since it is the place I believe most of us see day-to-day and also the platform easiest to gather data from. I have created a few graphs using Discord’s own search function and Gnuplot to showcase that the lack of messages on the server isn’t in fact just a one time fluke, but rather a very real and observable downwards trend. As a reminder, you can click on any of the images to open them in their original size.
I’ll start with the smaller scope graph, that measures the number of messages between March and the beginning of July. I chose this range so that we can see activity before, during and after the game’s release.
As one would expect activity surged during the release period, however, what might surprise the reader is that just as quickly as it came it disappeared too. In about a week the number of messages normalized and has been on a downwards trend since.
However, just to get an ever clearer picture I also made a graph that encompasses the whole existence of the server. I recorded the total sum of messages grouped by months.
As you can see there is a slow, jagged upwards climb before the game’s release culminating in April only for activity to fall to 1/8th of the maximum in only two months. It’s too early to tell how July will look, however, based on 5 days it currently seems to be about as active as June was.
So what does this mean? While of course there are a few outlying points where suddenly people started having long conversations, in the grand scale of things it can be fairly safely said that unless something is done with the place, activity will further plummet until it reaches a minimum point, which depending on the few remaining active members could mean about <300 messages a day or virtually no activity.
Side note: The #chat Channel
Just for fun I also recorded the activity in the off-topic #chat channel and it turns out more than 70% of the messages can be attributed to just 8 people and 44% to the four moderators of the server. Just to put that in perspective, OWI’s Discord has over 4000 members.
I’d like to continue with the Reddit, because being a mod there I have access to the traffic stats that other members can’t see. And even without any further description, the graph is quite telling:
Posts go days without getting responses and even the more active threads die after a day or two. The only kind of posts that get any remotely major attention are memes which, let’s be honest, don’t exactly start conversations or foster the community.
Finally let us focus on the social media pages of OWI. I have to admit, I’m not really a follower of these pages, because the content posted here doesn’t really interest me. However, what I do follow is the subscriber counts of these pages using a very handy site called Socialblade. To provide grounds for comparsion, I will use the metrics from my previous writeup about the social media pages, which can be found here.
To give OWI credit, their Twitter page has shown pretty a consistent growth of about 30 people / day for quite some time now. So I suppose out of all the other platforms this one is succeeding. I honestly don’t really know what’s the reason behind this, perhaps the short message format of Twitter makes it convenient for people to add OWI as one more voice into the pile of their followed accounts. It has gathered in total around 2.3 thousand new followers since previously inspected.
However, it is also worth noting that despite the positive numbers, as the image above displays the sum of last month is still in the negatives. This might be a one time thing or a warning sign.
OWI’s Instagram is a bit of a mixed bag. The site oscillates between gaining and losing followers, but in total it has gained about 1.5 thousand new followers. While there is no trendline, the gained followers graph seems to be slowly shrinking, which might imply that the new followers are drying up.
Due to how the YouTube statistics API works, we can’t really get a concrete number of how many subscribers they get daily, however, the page has since gained about 1.5 thousand new followers and on average 40 thousand views / video.
Now that we got the previous pages out of the way it’s time to finally inspect OWI’s Facebook page and oh dear lord it’s not pretty. Since the last time it has lost nearly 1.3 thousand followers. Interestingly out of all the pages this one was the least affected by Soulstorm’s release providing only a meagre bump in followers that was quickly consumed by the ongoing like-bleeding. Cue the Boardroom scene…
Bonus: Acoustic panels
I know this isn’t a social media platform, but I figured the numbers might interest some. Using a clever, yet perhaps obvious trick we were able to find out how many of each panel was sold.
In total it’s 24 panels, which makes up 4% of the 600 pieces printed. From what I’ve seen most name the price as the reason why they can’t/won’t buy them, which makes me wonder whether creating a substantially cheaper (and simpler) version would’ve been much more successful.
As you can see… things are looking down-ish. As the numbers show the fandom won’t just disappear overnight, however, based on the data and the anecdotical evidence of talking to quite a few people, it’s obvious that the fans already want “something new.” Whether that’s a new game or something else they can sink their teeth in, it appears that Soulstorm simply didn’t have enough content to sate people for longer than a few weeks.
Considering the game’s bumpy release and the fact that most of the team is still working on fixing things up I’m honestly not sure what could be done, though I guess low-maintenance things like community competitions (draw the nicest drawing, get a free Soulstorm), continuing the Lost Archives, holding Q&A-s and similar could at least dampen the effects of the content drought even if it can’t stop it. Perhaps the recently released physical edition and book might provide a temporary respite, but once people are eventually done with that, something has to be done.