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This Unexpected Game Just Overtook GTA 5

Every once in a while, a video game will seemingly come out of nowhere to become insanely popular. This happened with Among Us late last year, as that title transformed from an obscure release into an absolute smash hit. Now it's happened with what's described as "A brutal exploration and survival game" where you play as a Viking.

You may be unfamiliar with Valheim, an early access game from developer Iron Gate. But you might want to start paying attention to it. At last checkValheim now has more concurrent Steam players than games like Grand Theft Auto 5 and Apex Legends. That is quite an accomplishment for a game that only released on Feb. 2.

So how did Valheim pull off this impressive feat? The game's rise might have seemed improbable to some a few weeks ago, especially since Assassin's Creed Valhalla did the Viking thing back in November, and likely had a bigger budget to work with. According to Iron Gate's Facebook pageValheim is the studio's first project, so the team didn't even have a built-in fan base from past games. From the outside looking in, it may seem like Valheim just appeared on Steam and hundreds of thousands of players instantly fell in love with it.

The truth is, though, that you may have seen Valheim in the past and simply forgot it. It was shown off during last year's PC Gaming Show, and was covered by some press afterward. And though it wasn't the biggest game to be unveiled in 2020, it's possible it cultivated enough of a following to ensure its success upon launch. 

And what success it has seen.

According to a news update Iron Gate posted on Feb. 10, Valheim notched over one million sales in its first week and had "160,000 peak concurrent users." Those sales figures are nothing to sneeze at, and as mentioned, the game's concurrent player count now has it competing with huge triple-A titles on Steam. It remains to be seen whether Valheim can keep this momentum going — there are plenty of "flash in the pan" titles, after all, that experience early success before quickly disappearing. Based on how critics have talked about the game so far, though, one could argue that Valheim isn't going anywhere anytime soon.

Valheim is available on Steam right now via early access. If you like Vikings and survival games, you might want to give it a go.