On February 14, Valheim hit an all-time peak of 367,443 players on Steam, barely two weeks following its February 2 release. Compared to the most popular survival games on Steam, this makes it the fastest growing game in the genre ever. Its key genre rivals, Rust and ARK: Survival Evolve, cannot boast such a high number of concurrents in their entire lifetimes, and only hit comparable peaks years after launch.The only barrier to Valheim claiming the crown of ‘most concurrent players of a survival game ever’ is the all-time high held by Terraria, which hit 489,886 players in May 2020. It should be noted that this was a short and unusual spike caused by the announcement and launch of Terraria’s final ever update. On a normal day, Terraria pulls in around 30-50,000 players, with its prior highest peak occurring on June 29, 2015, with 159,171 players. As such, Valheim is already bigger than Terraria has been for almost all of its lifetime.
For a better comparison, look at the two survival games that stay almost cemented near the top of the Steam most played list; Rust and ARK. Despite launching in early access in 2014, Rust only hit more than 100,000 concurrent players as recently as March 2020. ARK had a much faster trajectory; after launching in June 2105, it hit over 100,000 concurrent players in January 2017. ARK’s all-time peak is 157,400, which it hit in March 2020. Rust, meanwhile, hit its all-time peak of 245,243 in January 2021.
This puts Valheim’s growth far ahead of its genre competition, and more in line with the viral explosion of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. But even PUBG, which launched in March 2017, took three months to hit more than Valheim’s current high of simultaneous players, with a then-high of 382,779 concurrent back on July 10, 2017.This means the only truly comparable games, numbers wise, are major AAA titles. But these games tend to peak immediately at launch and then quickly taper off. Indeed, the curve of Cyberpunk 2077 is essentially the complete inverse of Valheim’s. The RPG started life at an all-time high of over a million players, but had less players than Valheim currently has within a fortnight.
Because of AAA, Valheim can’t quite claim to be the fastest growing game on Steam ever. But it certainly is one of, if not the biggest indie success story on the platform. It’s particularly notable how close to launch all this comes; while Among Us has a higher all-time peak at 447,476, it took over a year for the game to catch on, spending much of its life with barely a few hundred players. Among Us was also fuelled by streamer culture, something which hasn’t been a notable part of Valheim’s success. From what we can see, there’s no other survival game on Steam that’s had such a remarkable launch.
For more on this massive early access success, take a look at our essential tips for playing Valheim.
Matt Purslow is IGN’s UK News and Entertainment Writer.