Survival game 'Valheim' sold four million copies in three weeks of early access

Players have collectively spent more than 10,000 years in the Viking afterlife.

Iron Gate Studios/Coffee Gate Publishing

It's only been three weeks since Iron Gate Studio, a five-person team in Sweden, released Valheim and it already has a massive hit on its hands. The co-op Viking survival game has sold over four million copies even though it's still in early access on Steam.

Valheim takes place in a procedurally generated open world in the Viking afterlife, where you start with almost nothing. You'll need to scrounge up food and materials and you'll craft tools, build shelters and fight gods and creatures. That all might sound familiar, but it's more accessible than many other survival games — you won't die if you don't eat, for instance. You don't have to worry about taking up arms against other players unless you want to either. The co-op feature supports up to 10 players, so you can play with nine of your friends.

With the help of all of that, plus a degree of polish that's missing from many early access games and an extremely metal trailer, Valheim has taken off in a huge way. Last weekend, it hit a peak player count of over 500,000, a feat that only four other games have ever achieved on Steam. Even big hitters like Grand Theft Auto V and Destiny 2 topped out in the 130,000-150,000 range. Iron Gate says that players have already spent more than 10,000 years exploring, building and battling in its game.

Valheim has proven to be popular among Twitch streamers and viewers too. It hit peak concurrent viewership of 188,000 earlier this week.

It remains to be seen whether Valheim can sustain this level of interest and momentum in the long run as Iron Gate continues to work on the game. Although it's PC-only for now, future console and mobile versions would surely boost interest. At least for now, Valheim seems untouchable.