Sometimes, the most surprising games end up becoming the most popular.
We all remember the unexpected rise of Flappy Bird and Among Us, to name just two.
Well now we have a new hit – Vampire Survivors – and it could be the most addictive of all time.
The $3 game has rocketed to the most played charts on Steam and has peaked at 77,000 concurrent players.
It’s also become very popular to stream, with thousands of viewers at a time watching people play the game on Twitch.
The game was created by Luca Galante, who started working on it in December 2020 while he was unemployed.
He did manage to find a new job in January this year, but the success of Vampire Survivors has been such that he was able to quit after only being there a week.
It’s a retro-styled game with pixel graphics, very simple controls (the only controls are up, down, left and right – the player’s character attacks enemies automatically) and very simple game mechanics (you try to survive for as long as possible against hordes of enemies, collecting coins, powerups and weapons – the coins can be used to buy upgrades between rounds).
This brilliantly simple game has earned impressive review scores on Steam.
“Best value I’ve had for the price of a cup of coffee since I first started gaming,” wrote one user.
“Gaming in 2022 has come a long way,” one other user put more eloquently.
“Some games now have budgets and cast lists that rival movies. Gaming can be like sitting down for an elegant 10-course meal at a fancy restaurant. But sometimes you just want a handful of m&ms. This game is a bag of m&ms,” another said.
“There’s no nutritional value, it’s not burdened with plot or story or fancy graphics or forks or plates or anything that’s standing between you and shoving what you want directly into your facehole.”
So, why is it so addictive? Apparently, it’s no accident.
Galante used to work as a software developer in the gambling industry and used the same methods that make slot machines addictive to create this video game.
“Slot games are very simple,” he told The Verge.
“All the player has to do is press one button, and the game designers have to find a way to push the player to press that button.
The game is currently in early access on Steam, but is expected to have a full launch next year.
This will also mean the game will become more expensive than the $3 it currently is.
Will that price hike diminish the popularity of the game? Probably not.
Luca Galante seems to have found a winning formula here.
It may be the gaming equivalent of a bag of M&Ms but, sometimes all you want is a bag of M&Ms.