Welcome to the Online Gaming Zeitgeist.

This small website gathers data such as the number of players online for various First Person Shooter games, and then build graphics with that data. With this, it’s possible to compare the size of a certain game’s community to other, and then notice certain patterns such as players rushing to a newly released game, players that stop or start playing some game after a new patch, how a game gains momentum over time after being well received by the community (or the other way around), and so on and so forth.

The whole idea was born out of the geek desire to look at graphs of how the online gaming community had progressed over the years – I had a fair idea of how certain group of players had risen and fallen, but I wanted to see that in pretty lines.

What the scripts on this website do is visit the Gamespy Stats page once an hour and grab its data. Then, at the end of each day, new graphics are generated, updating the page. With these graphics, it’s possible to see how a the online presence of certain games – and its community, consequentially – is born, increases, decreases, and dies.

This is not a 100% scientifically accurate representation, though. No online gaming stats are; in this case, this one only covers the servers known to GameSpy (regardless of server connection client). Other sources with similar information will have slightly different results. Still, I think the overall player flow is pretty much enough to detect the transformations on online gaming usage.

One important thing to point is that this is just a personal experiment. I don’t work in the industry – neither for a developer or a publisher – and I don’t have a point to prove. I’m not a journalist either, and don’t intend to be. I just want to watch.

Technical details

Right now, there are graphics available for the online share of players per game (SKU), gathering around 160 games for now, and for the online share of players per game mod (or gametype) also separated by game (SKU), counting around 2700 different mods right now. Some other data is also kept (for example, server count) and might be used for something in the future.

These pages mostly follow GameSpy’s stats in naming conventions. Some games are excluded from the list because they’re not related to the player range I wanted to cover (that is, First Person Shooters for PCs).

I started my data mining on late december of 2004, shortly after Half-Life 2 was released. Only the last year is plotted in the graphs, but the old data is still kept and I might do an historic graph in the future. More graphs will be added on the future, hopefully; that depends largely on how much CPU time I can allocate to the graph generation. Right now I’m hoping for specific games pages (so you can see the share of mods for an specific game) and Developers share in the future.

About the author

My name is Zeh Fernando and I live in São Paulo (Brazil) and work as an Interface Designer/Developer, developing mostly on Adobe Flash and working on a few different mods from time to time. Obviously I like First Person Shooters and games in general, too, otherwise I wouldn’t even be here writing this. There’s more information about me here.

I can be reached at the email zeh AT zehfernando DOT com. Comments, questions, and suggestions are welcome.

Again, this is just a personal experiment; don’t take it too seriously or too literally. Play whatever you like, and forget about the numbers.

Other acknowledgments

The “Zeitgeist” name was suggested by Herman ‘FUX‘ Fuchs.

The website (and its data mining scripts) are proudly hosted at DreamHost. If you follow this link to their page and end up signing to any of their plans, 10% of your payments are reverted to pay for this website’s hosting.

This website’s skin was based on the Modern skin by Ulf Pettersson.