Recently decided to look into some Google Trends info on Defold vs other games engines that I see being used for similar purposes or mentioned occasionally here on the forums.
The following graph shows interest in the Defold web search over the past five years, worldwide:
The highest two points were March 2016–Defold was released as a publicly useable game engine–and May 2020–Defold source code was made available and the Defold Foundation took the reins from King. These spikes in popularity (less so for the May 2020 event) did not last long. The other thing to note here is that Defold has been relatively stagnant in popularity for the past five years.
Let’s take a look at Defold compared to some other relevant engines over the past five years, worldwide:
I did not include more than five engines to keep things readable. Unity is sometimes brought up on the forums, but I did not include because it focused mainly on 3D games and is obviously wildly popular.
RPG Maker seems to be decreasing in popularity, Cocos2D seems to be decreasing in popularity, and GameMaker is relatively stagnant. Godot (perhaps the most relevant competitor to Defold) is steadily gaining popularity, taking the spotlight from other engines quite significantly. YouTube searches show the same result for Godot.
That leaves us with Defold, which is super glued to the bottom of the popularity chart. It also does not seem to be growing, despite the recent advancements with corporate partners (which I thought would show a boost).
Finally, here is a graph of the same engines over the past twelve months:
Looks like each of them have traded flat for the most part.
This brings up a couple questions in my mind:
(1) What makes Godot more attractive than Defold?
(2) What catalyst(s) are needed for Defold to start gaining traction?
I initially thought that the success of a game engine generally depends on the success of the games made with it, however according to this one cherry-picked anecdotal data point (because I can’t think of any other games to use as an example) of GameMaker and Undertale, this hypothesis doesn’t seem to hold up:
Despite the available knowledge that Undertale was made in GameMaker (also touted on its original Kickstarter) the popularity of Game Maker only continued to decrease, and did not see any boost when Undertale was at its peak popularity.