Stardew Valley had a huge year on the Nintendo Switch. The title ranked as the Switch’s most-downloaded game of 2017 according to Nintendo, and SuperData Research has insight into why the game has been performing so well.
Since Stardew Valley first came out for PC in 2016, the game has built up an enormous following. Over the past two years, over 3.5 million copies have been sold, and as of January 2018, 700,000 active monthly players are enjoying the game. SuperData Research cites this as a 13 percent increase year-over-year.
SuperData Research senior analyst Elena Fedina believes the game’s Harvest Moon influence and “incredible amount of work and dedication” makes for the title’s success. She says Eric “ConcernedApe” Barone also continued to maintain the game and improve it, releasing new features regularly to convince players to keep coming back. That includes an upcoming multiplayer mode slated for later this year.
“ConcernedApe spent 10 hours a day, seven days a week for the entire four years of development working on Stardew Valley,” Fedina said in a report . “He was active on Reddit and on the game’s website since the very first playable build was available.”
Fedina warns that Stardew Valey is “an exception in many way,” however. Barone was able to clock in a full work day regularly to create Stardew Valley, which is something particularly rare in the indie world. Most developers have to work to create games, and that means taking on a job outside their indie project. And while some indie developers can resort to crowdfunding to support themselves during development, the field isn’t necessarily a solution either. These days, sites like Kickstarter have become saturated with new product pitches looking for public support.
“Few aspiring developers have the starting capital or steady income to spend eight or more hours a day working on their dream game,” Fedina wrote. “For indies, a potential solution would be turning to crowdfunding, but that is an incredibly competitive space. For example, as of January 3, 2018, there were 11,000 projects in Kickstarter’s video games category, 80 percent of which met less than 75% of their funding goal.”
So while Stardew Valley may be a major success across platforms, it tends to be an outlier as far as indie game development goes. Check out SuperData Research’s full report online here for more information about the game’s rise to success.
Update 3pm CT: Nintendo revealed Stardew Valley’s ranking as 2017’s most-downloaded game, not SuperData Research. The article has since been updated to reflect the error.