‘Valheim’: Coffee Stain Studios Dishes On Iron Gate’s Success, Winning Formula

Valheim has proven once again that quality core gameplay and a heavy dose of love and passion can beat out all the bells and whistles in the world. The development team at Iron Gate Studio, coupled with Coffee Stain Studios, has made massive waves in the gaming world with their beautiful and engaging Viking survival entry. Now, Coffee Stain is dishing on the game’s success and the struggles that came with it.

‘Valheim’ experienced wild success

A viking stands in a meadow in Iron Gate's Valheim, produced by Coffee Stain Studios
Build your own longhouse in Iron Gate’s Valheim | Iron Gate Studio/Coffee Stain Studios

Iron Gate’s Valheim has experienced incredible success since its release on February 2, 2021. In its first week, the game sold 1 million copies. In its second week, 2 million. As of early March, the game has sold approximately 6 million copies. 

“We knew from the beta period that the game was well received by players, who played more than we thought they would — that set us up with quite positive expectations. We were confident that the game would do well, and definitely sell in the tens of thousands in the first week,” Sebastian Badylak, executive producer for Valheim at Coffee Stain Studios explained to Games Industry.

For an indie game studio, this is huge. In fact, so huge that it came with some hurdles. A small but dedicated studio like Iron Gate is bursting with creativity and passion, but they just don’t always have the resources they need to keep up with the incredible demand for Valheim updates and fixes. 

“The small development team of five people would still be bottlenecked the way they are now, even if there were significantly fewer players,” Badylak told the publication. 

“It’s one of those situations where we obviously want to keep up with the growing demand and we want things to be done quicker, but in the end it’s just not humanly possible to some extent.”

Coffee Stain dishes on Iron Gate’s winning formula

Explore new biomes to advance in Valheim
Explore new biomes to advance in Valheim | Iron Gate Studio/Coffee Stain Studios

Over the last few years, it’s become apparent that Coffee Stain Studios has a keen eye for games that have heart. The studio has found unparalleled success not only with Valheim, but also with the beloved Deep Rock Galactic, developed by Ghost Ship Games, as well as Satisfactory, developed by Coffee Stain. 

According to the Coffee Stain crew, Valheim ticked all the boxes for a winning formula.

“The way that the game doesn’t present everything it has at first glance has also helped. It’s created a sense of discovery — the way we’ve seen the community discover the game is similar to how people were waiting for the next episode of Game of Thrones and speculating what would happen,” explained Coffee Stain CEO Albert Säfström.

“We had that with the launch, where the community [was] discovering mechanics rather than the game revealing them all in the first 15 minutes.” 

As for their success in publishing the game, Coffee Stain isn’t shy about praising Valheim and granting the development team the credit they’re due.

“But that’s definitely down to [Valheim] being the right game at the right time, and above all being high quality,” said Badylak.

‘Valheim’ hits the perfect price range


‘Mortal Kombat’ Director on Potential Sequel: They ‘Are a Bit Tricky’

Valheim‘s price range has also been a point of praise for many players. At $20 on Steam, it’s an incredible amount of gameplay. This is especially refreshing for players who are feeling frustrated with the current prevalence of microtransactions.

“This way of not heavily monetizing things…with Valheim, we’ve shown that you can make a very successful game — both in terms of the amount of players and financially successful — without focusing so much on how you’re going to make all of the money,” said Säfström.