Eric Barone started making a clone of one of his favorite games to teach himself how to code in C#, and now that project is one of the most successful releases of 2016.
Stardew Valley, a simple-looking farming game, has done something rare for a PC indie release: it has has surpassed 1 million copies sold. This is something we don’t see often. To put this into perspective, by September 2015, only six games released last year had sold more than 1 million copies on Steam, according to data-tracking website Steam Spy: Grand Theft Auto V, Ark: Survival Evolved, H1Z1, Cities: Skylines, Rocket League, and Besiege. That’s good company for Barone’s game.
More recently, the kindhearted Undertale role-playing game surpassed 1 million copies sold in early February after debuting September 15. But few have ever come out of nowhere and reached this milestone as quickly as Stardew Valley. The game’s $15 price is helping, but plenty of other games have debuted at that price on Steam, and few have ever reach 1 million copies sold throughout their lives — let alone after 1.5 months. The rural-life simulator’s booming success has almost certainly helped out Barone’s bank account as he benefits from capturing the attention of a gaming market worth $99.3 billion.
“I’m very happy that so many people around the world are enjoying Stardew Valley,” Barone told GamesBeat. “I just want to thank everyone for giving me this amazing opportunity. With the success of Stardew Valley, I’ll be able to continue doing what I love … making games. That’s a priceless gift, and I’m very grateful for it. Thank you.”
Publisher Chucklefish Games confirmed the sales (via Polygon), and it noted how much fun it is to work on this game that only lists one person in its credits (as opposed to hundreds of people in the credits for something like Call of Duty). Barone, previously a part-time usher at a movie theater, released the game with almost no expectations. But since its February 26 launch, it has sold more copies than any other 2016 release on Steam, according to Steam Spy.
Stardew Valley has players farming and dealing with other rural-style business opportunities while simultaneously dealing with a surrounding community of locals. You can trade with, befriend, and even marry these characters. If this sounds familiar, you’ve maybe played a Harvest Moon game before from publisher Natsume. Fans of Stardew Valley claim this is the game they’ve wanted from Natsume for years.