Valheim Publisher Coffee Stain Reacts To The Game's Unprecedented Success
Coffee Stain Publishing will focus on games with a model similar to Valheim's going forward.
Valheim publisher Coffee Stain said it was caught off-guard by the game's massive success. The publisher, which also has two other successful titles under its belt--Deep Rock Galactic and Satisfactory--scrambled to deal with the success of Valheim, according to an interview with GamesIndustry.Biz.
That's not to say that some level of success wasn't expected by Coffee Stain. "We knew from the beta period that the game was well received by players, who played more than we thought they would--that set us up with quite positive expectations," said Sebastian Badylak, Valheim's executive producer. "We were confident that the game would do well, and definitely sell in the tens of thousands in the first week."
However, those expectations were easily met and then surpassed. Valheim has been one of the hottest items on Steam since its early-access release on February 2. A week after release, it didn't just sell 10 or 20 thousand copies; it sold one million. Within six weeks of releasing, Valheim had moved six million units.
Coffee Stain CEO Albert Säfström was taken aback by the game's success. Also speaking to GamesIndustry.Biz, he compared its sales to knocking over a bathtub full of water.
"But normally you sell the most at the beginning and then it starts to taper down. For at least the first week, every day we outsold what we'd managed the previous day. It was like if you knock over a glass of water on your desk. Most of the water comes out in the beginning, and that's what your sales are like. This felt more like if you tried to tip over a bathtub full of water."
This success, spurred on by the pandemic, the popularity of Vikings in mainstream culture, and even the success of Rust, according to both Säfström and Badylak, has radically shifted the post-release plans for Valheim. For instance, as an early-access title, Valheim has a lot of bugs. Now, instead of a trickle of bug reports, Iron Gate is flooded with them. According to Badylak, the only reason there are more reports is because of the game's high player-count, not because the game has a myriad of bugs.
For the team at Iron Gate, which consists of just five developers, squashing these bugs while also updating the game with new content has presented a problem. To alleviate that stress, Iron Gate is hiring new developers, and Coffee Stain is even working with Unity, the company that built the engine Valheim runs on.
Past the struggles that came with Valheim's popularity, Coffee Stain has learned something that it will be applying to future titles. The game only costs $20 and has no microtransactions, and is admittedly high-quality. Prioritizing games with this model will be a key strategy for the publisher moving forward.
"We want it to feel like you're getting a good deal when you buy one of our games," said Säfström. "That you almost feel bad for the developer or publisher that you can get so much game for that amount of money."
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