Valheim went live on Steam exactly five weeks ago, and it’s been on fire ever since. Iron Gate’s Viking survival sim rocketed up the charts, hitting 5 million copies sold after just one month in Early Access and surpassing huge titles like Dota 2 in terms of concurrent active players.
Steam reviews for Valheim exude a palpable sense of awe and relief. Players regularly compare the feeling to the first time they played Minecraft, marveling at the game’s scope, depth and atmosphere, and questioning how a team of just five developers managed to pack such an engrossing experience into a 1GB download. Valheim sets players loose in an original realm of Viking purgatory, a vast, procedurally generated world filled with mythical Norse beasts, high seas, hunting and crafting. It’s dense yet forgiving; action-packed yet peaceful.
To date, Iron Gate has sold more than 5.7 million copies of Valheim. There are still only five people on the development team.
“We’re doing our best,” Iron Gate co-founder Henrik Tornqvist told Engadget. “It has become pretty hectic around here since launch.”
Tornqvist and studio co-founder Richard Svensson are looking to hire a few more people, including a QA manager to handle the influx of bug reports from millions of new beta testers. Otherwise, it’s getting support from Coffee Stain Publishing — the folks responsible for Goat Simulator, a veritable granddaddy of viral video games.
Svensson began working on Valheim in 2017, as a side hustle. By day, he and Tornqvist were colleagues at Swedish studio Pieces Interactive, but by early 2018, Svensson had left to focus fully on Valheim.
“At the end of 2018 I also left to join forces with him,” Tornqvist said. “We founded the company Iron Gate in April 2019, and by then we pretty much knew where we wanted to take Valheim.”