If you’ve been living under a rock for the last month or so you might not know about survival exploration game, Valheim. Valheim was developed by a 5 man team known as Iron Gate Studio. This small development team has created a game that critics and the average gamer alike are absolutely raving about. Yesterday the game broke 5 million copies sold after a landslide release. The developers shared this message to the Steam news and later shared it on the game’s subreddit.
Many gamers are comparing the success of this early access title to the early days of Minecraft, where although the game isn’t in a finished state, people are still getting in and having an absolute blast with what has been offered. What has been offered isn’t the average early access release. Among some usual (but very few) bugs in the game is a beautiful game that includes many hours of fun. So what has made the game so successful in the last month?
Why Has Valheim Gotten So Popular?
I believe there are a few reasons to look at when it comes to the popularity of Valheim. To be honest you can’t leave it too much up to the marketing. There was very little press about the game before it launched and very few people even knew about the development of the game. The game was in production and had some closed betas but I would say there was little to no hype at all surrounding the release of the game. This may have worked in the games favor, as we’ve seen some titles suffer from the mountain of hype that is built for them, only to have an avalanche come crashing down when expectations aren’t met. (Sorry Cyberpunk)
A Fantastic PvE Co-op Experience
Valheim is just one of those games you can boot up with a friend and dick around in doing whatever you want. Even if you are just walking around your base, adding a room for chests, laying out an area to build or collecting wood you are always working towards something. It’s great to be able to quickly log on and grind something out with a friend. With the massive popularity of PvP online games I think players are getting sick of the competitiveness of titles such as Call of Duty or League of Legends. Sometimes you just want to jump on the computer and hang out with your friends. Stardew Valley’s success is a clear sign players are still interested in a chilled out, gaming experience.
Playing Valheim with friends is awesome. Everything about it is cool. From crafting your first shield and fighting off skeletons together, to building a large longhouse to sailing around the ocean in your own ship, Valheim is just a great game to experience with your friends. Early access has started to have a bit of a bad reputation on steam with some developers delivering a less-than-playable product to purchase. The early access program IS for gaming projects that are not yet finished and is a way that players can help the development of a game but if the player spends their money and still doesn’t see a decent product years into the project it leads to some understandably negative feelings. One such example of this is DayZ. From a massively popular mod for Arma 2, the developer for the mod Dean ‘Rocket’ Hall decided to create a standalone game building off the popularity of the mod. A bug-ridden, bad release left a lot of players with a bad taste in their mouth and unhappy with their decision to help fund the game.
A Fantastic Accessible Entry Price Point
On the US store currently on sale for around $20USD. This is deemed relatively affordable for the gaming world and technically once the game is finished you will receive the entire game for this point. Personally I think one of the main factors that contributed to the games overwhelming success is the highly accessible entry point. Even if you just see Valheim as a game you want to play a few times with a friend in co-op $20 is pretty affordable. The value for money in Valheim’s early access is great. You are getting a fantastic game, which is completely playable and full of fantastic content as I wrote about in my review of Valheim the day it came out. The game will keep you busy, even when playing with a large group of friends, for many hours.
Think of it this way, if a friend of yours told you that there’s this great game that came out in early access that you’ve never heard of, it isn’t finished but it has heaps of content, if you wanna play with me it costs 40 bucks. How likely are you to buy it and play with them? Most, (and by that I mean an overwhelming majority) of players feel like the game is more than worth the price that it is currently set at, and the game isn’t even finished! If the developers can keep up the updates and keep bringing in content when it is ready to show then I believe this game will be an absolute gem.
The Community Support
A success of a game can’t solely rely on developers and publishers however. The general populous is what makes or breaks a game. We’ve seen rocky decisions as with Star Wars Battlefront 2’s microtransaction fiasco cause a huge hit to the success of the game. This article from Inverse explains how the system and comments from members of EA’s community outreach created one of the biggest gaming fails of the century, which also made reddit’s most downvoted post of all time, (at the time).
Valheim has a great community. Over the last month the Valheim subreddit has grown to over 214,000 members. Memes, showing off builds and other wholesome content features across the subreddit. It’s really great to see the stories and see how everyone is enjoying a game with their friends. Word of mouth is still one of the greatest marketing tools that publishers and developers can have at their disposal. Sure if your favorite reviewing website writes a review praising the games mechanics and graphics you might take a look at it, but if all of your friends are playing a game telling you that you need to buy it, that is very powerful.
What is the Future of Valheim?
Developers take notes. If you are looking to look for how to launch a brand new game look at Valheim’s release. Although the success of the game can’t solely lie on the development team, some of the success must go to the publisher Coffee Stain for their promoting as creation of promotion materials for the game. Having personally reached out to some members of Coffee Stain by email they were always eager to talk about the game and talk to Set Ready Game about what they were expecting with the game. The game has a roadmap for 2021 with the developers sharing what they want to add to the game in the coming year. In total the game will have 9 biomes each with a unique forsaken to hunt down and defeat. Given that players are spending so many hours just on 5 finished biomes and forsaken I wonder how many hours will be spent playing the fully fleshed out game. In an interview with PC Gamer, co-founder of Iron Gate Studios Henrik Törnqvist, explained that the focus of the development teams at the moment is fixing bugs and issues before they start to work on bringing more content to the game.
For one, we are excited to see how Valheim continues to break records and succeed in the gaming world. I personally am loving playing the game with friends and attempting, (and dying a lot along the way) to bring balance to the 10th Norse world. I can’t wait to see what the game becomes as it develops and see what new and exciting content the team at Iron Gate Studio has planned to help improve an already fantastic game.