What an incredible few weeks it has been for Iron Gate AB and Coffee Stain Publishing – just over three weeks ago only a small number of people had heard of Valheim.
At GPORTAL, we have known about the game’s existence and upcoming early access release for quite a while. Speaking to numerous people from various companies, everyone knew it was going to be a “good” game – however being a “good” game does not necessarily mean that a game is destined for success.
Everyone knew it was going to be a “good” game – however being a “good” game does not necessarily mean that a game is destined for success.
There can be all kinds of factors involved, how well received the first reviews are, has the game been marketed correctly or even at all, are there similar games releasing at the same time, does it fit with the current trend of games, does it give content creators the freedom to make videos and stream live.
Additional to this list is – what does the development road map look like? A development road map is a guide to where a studio wants to take their game, be it bug fixes, new features, UI and graphical overhauls, expansion packs, DLC etc. I have kept it separate from the above list as there have been plenty of games that have done well on release and have been “good”, but have failed to take the game any further, or the development has been too slow.
Over the years there have been plenty of “good” games that have released, where the concurrent player count has not reached any significant number and they have then vanished from existence; any of the factors above can be accountable for this result.
If you are unfamiliar with Valheim, it is a brutal exploration and survival game at its heart, in a procedurally generated Viking themed world. You will fight creatures of chaos and ancient enemies of the gods – sounds good right!
Just like most survival games, a player must harvest materials to build tools, workbenches, weapons, buildings, and longboats. A player will need to forage for food and keep themselves hydrated; this is all basic survival game mechanics – except the longboat.
Whilst there is not a lot new about Valheim on many fronts, Iron Gate AB have ensured there is player progression with boss fights – each boss fight unlocks new skills, so until a player defeats the first two bosses, they cannot utilise iron – or even harvest it.
Iron Gate AB have put a lot of thought into what makes a “good” game and they have certainly achieved it.
Additional to this progression that a lot of studios forget about in this genre, are the sturdy game mechanics and simplification of some of the genre specific features. Yes, you must keep yourself hydrated and fed, but unlike many survival games, your belly isn’t growling every 5 minutes and it is relatively easy to find food too.
Iron Gate AB have put a lot of thought into what makes a “good” game and they have certainly achieved it. Without exception, every person I have spoken to about Valheim have said it is one of the best games they have ever played!
So, what does success look like so far for Valheim?
Within the first week, Iron Gate AB were celebrating 1 million downloads, this is a huge number for any studio, an even more incredible number when Iron gate AB has had only 1 – 4 developers working on Valheim at any time.
Less than a week later and Iron Gate AB were celebrating again with 2 million downloads and now here we are three weeks after release, and they have celebrated 4 million downloads.
At the time of writing this article, Valheim is currently the third most played game on Steam behind Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Dota 2.
The highest concurrent players so far are 490,099 – which is incredible. Only two weeks ago I was a gasp when I learned that 120k players were playing it and here we are three weeks later, and that number has quadrupled.
Players are not just playing it though, they are streaming it too and during the last few weeks Valheim has regularly been the most streamed game on Twitch, with a peak audience of 188,959 viewers.
With this number of players, Coffee Stain Publishing must be paying a fortune for dedicated servers, right?
I will get to that in a moment, but beforehand I want you to cast your mind back to late 2019 and to a game called Escape from Tarkov. That game was doing well already, but an incredibly famous streamer started playing the game and instantaneously the number of concurrent players went up.
The issue with Escape from Tarkov though, is that they chose to just use dedicated servers and dedicated servers can cost a game studio hard earned revenue. That meant that the player demands far outnumbered the servers available and this resulted in players waiting over an hour to join a game.
Have you heard of any such thing with Valheim? The number of concurrent players is easily three times as much as the peak number of players for Escape from Tarkov.
100% of the servers meeting the player demands are private game servers.
The answer is, there’s no one waiting and you may be astonished to learn that there are no dedicated servers either; 100% of the servers meeting the player demands are private game servers.
So, to answer the question: this number of players must be costing a fortune – no they aren’t costing Coffee Stain Publishing anything.
The beauty of deciding to solely go with private game servers means that the number of servers will always meet the player demands. The more players who want to play Valheim, the more servers will be rented and eventually when the play counts start to come down the number of servers rented by players will also decrease.
Valheim is still in its infancy and will continue to be developed and improved AND powered by private game servers – Valheim is going to be around for a very long time.
To read more about the benefits of private game servers, click this link