If it seems like Valheim came out of nowhere and has had an unfathomably meteoric rise, that’s because it’s true. It might just be the biggest viral hit on Steam of all time if we’re going by the numbers. In less than three weeks, the open-world survival title has achieved three million downloads.
Valheim was released earlier this month on February 2. On February 10, a mere eight days later, indie developer Iron Gate AB announced that its Early Access title had sold over a million copies. Less than a week later, on Monday, February 15, it had attained two million copies. By the end of the week on Friday, it had achieved three million downloads.
The announcement states the team has achieved the milestone of over 60,000 “overwhelmingly positive” reviews. As of the writing of this article two days later, Valheim has gained over 13,000 more of those reviews, amounting to more than 73,000 reviews averaging out to an “overwhelmingly positive” rating. As I write this article, it is the 13th most-watched game on Twitch with 104,000 concurrent viewers. An hour ago, the game had almost 500,000 active players.
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It’s nothing short of incredible, especially considering the fact that Iron Gate AB is a studio made up of five people. While co-founder Henrik Törnqvist told PC Gamer the team “had a feeling that it would sell pretty well, at least to sustain us,” they are blown away by the support. The team is starting up the process to hire more people and expand, for its members “have reached our limit by now of everything we can do.”
Those hires will help the team realize their roadmap, which has also been detailed at PC Gamer. The first update, Hearth and Home, will focus on the game’s house-building aspects. The second, Cult of the Wolf, will focus on exploration and combat, introducing different encounters for players. The third, Ships and the Sea, will add more ship customization “to try to flesh out the ocean biome a bit more.” The fourth, Mistlands, will implement an entirely new biome — one with new enemies, items, bosses, resources, and more. Valheim is still in Early Access, but it will have nine biomes with nine bosses in the finished version of the game.
While I haven’t played Valheim myself, I see my friends on Discord playing it every single night. It’s inescapable, as chances are that you’ll see it several times a day on your social media feed. It has been increasingly wonderful to see the immense success of indies like Valheim, Among Us, and many more. There are so many fantastic indie games released in 2020, some of which you might have not played — and so many more on the way in 2021.
There’s no telling which will be the next major indie hit, but one thing is for certain: the indie games space only continues to become more exciting. It’s getting increasingly difficult to define them and our expectations of what they look and perform like. Titles like last year’s Hades (which is the second top-rated Steam game of all time), new IPs from established global franchises like Ruined King: A League of Legends Story, cultural juggernauts like Undertale — these all constitute indie games. Valheim is only the latest to take the industry by storm. Given its already amazing success, the Viking game seems perfectly poised to thrive for a long while to come.